Query writing part one: research and finding an agent

3 Apr

As promised here is the first part of what I have been learning. I’m taking an online class taught by the lovely Bree  Ogden, who is a literacy agent herself.

Most of the stuff in this first post will be stuff that you might already know, but if not here are some important steps on the way to querying.

 

  1. Polish!

Make sure you manuscript is complete, polished and free of errors. This might seem like a no brainer, but it’s essential. You don’t want to have an amazing story turned down by something technical.

 

  1. Research, do it.

Get a big cup of coffee get comfy and do it. This is an important step. Familiarize yourself with all aspect of the publishing process and get your info people. Do not test the waters until you know what you are getting into. Here is an awesome list of publishing terms, incase you are ever caught off guard…  http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/08/book-publishing-glossary.html

 

  1. Nail down your genre.

If you have already done this, good, but this means more than just fiction and nonfiction. Sub-genre is important it will help you determine what agents are right for your manuscript.

 

  1. Write query

I’ll go more into this in the next post, but for very basic tips you van check out my last post  http://justatasmanian.com/2013/12/11/writing-tip-number-four-query-writing/ it’s a start 😛

 

  1. Research agents.

Another super important step, know the agent you are going to be querying make sure they are a good fit for your manuscript. Make a list, try to have about a 100 or so agents. Make sure you this list can be simple just name and agency. Next research each one, look at twitter, blog, Company website, just to make absolutely sure that you are the agent are a good fit.  (below there will be a list of westies that will help you in this step) google will always be your best friend in research. This will narrow down you list.

Once you are sure that an agent is right for you, create another list, an excel sheet is probably going to be the neatest for this and keep details. How they like submissions, genre, preferred contact method and of course agency. Also include what you have sent them and what they have requested of you. Colour code it if that helps. Useful things to keep track of are: query sent, Partial requested, partial sent, full requested, full sent, Pass on partial, pass on full, haven’t received response, etc.

Don’t query too many agents at a single time, this is a burning all your bridges thing. Do it in lots of about 5-8, that way if you find out that you have something wrong in this first round you can fix it before sending it off to the next.

 

Useful websites

PublishersLunch.com

PublishersMarketplace.com

PublishersWeekly.com

Agency Websites

Twitter (use Twitter directories!)

WritersMarket.com

WritersDigest.com

GuidetoLiteraryAgents.com/blog

AgentQuery.com

AbsoluteWrite.com

Literaryrambles.com

All for today, more as I learn it people 😀

 

Happy writing!

 

shan

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Breast Cancer Awareness

22 Mar

Facebook is going off with women posting ‘naked’ selfies, for breast cancer awareness.

Personally I’m not a huge fan of selfies, I hate my picture being taken, but I liked this idea. Will it help in the grand scheme? No, but it take a certain amount of courage (for women at least) to post a picture of themselves without make up. Especially in a world that places so much stock in looks. Originally the idea was to post a picture of bare breasts, while I’m sure some people out there might have preferred that idea, it was rightfully decided that it would turn into more of a spectacle than anything.

I’m not vein, but I will admit, I will not leave the house without at least foundation on and not to mention hair gel, (need something to take the wild mess of my curls) but I too decided to do this. The women, out there, who are fighting, have fought and won, fought and lost, to breast cancer you have my utmost respect, and admiration, for your bravery and courage in what must have been such a hard time. So if posting a ‘naked’ selfie can help in any way to increase awareness I’m going to do it.

So please, everyone, share and post your own, help spread the word 🙂

 

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have an awesome days guys!

shan

Okay guys, I get it! but bullying is not okay!

16 Mar

dyslexic

This is going to be a little rant post, because I’m just a little bit over having to say it.

As anyone who reads my blog regularly will know, I’m dyslexic, a uni student, and I love to write!

I mention those three things quite a bit.

But I want to make it clear that I’m not perfect. I don’t have perfect grammar, I generally suck at spelling and I am really bad at self-editing. I know this, and I do everything I can to try and improve. I have so much, but no matter what I do, I will never be perfect.

I have a best friend who screens all my posts before I post them. Now, she’s a vet nurse, not an English major, a writer, or an editor. So she’s not perfect either.

I hate that at the beginning of the post’s I have to say,’ look, I’m dyslexic, sorry if I stuff up.’ yes, I know mistakes are distracting. Yes, they seem unprofessional, but the thing is I’m no professional. I don’t get a million views a day, and I don’t ever expect to really. So yeah, I’m sorry I suck, I’m sorry I make mistakes, and you know what?  If I could change it, I would, trust me.

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Being Dyslexic is not easy, it’s not fun and unless you have it yourself you can’t possibly understand how frustrating it can be. When I was in school, I tried four time harder than any kid my age did. I couldn’t understand why, reading, writing, spelling and grammar all come so easily to my classmates and I struggled to keep up. I worked so hard at it that it wasn’t until I reached year 11 that I even knew I was dyslexic. I thought I was stupid, I believed that I was just bad at English. I was and A to B student, in maths, chemistry, biology, psychology, physical science, so even then I couldn’t work out why it was so damned hard. Even, in those classes I had difficulties, but I had just gotten so used to it. It was my biology teacher, who originally suggested I had a learning disability and booked me an appointment with the school councilor to be tested.

I was out raged; I couldn’t believe that anyone could possibly think I had a learning disability. I worked hard damn it! I got good grades, but still, deep down I knew it shouldn’t be that hard, I knew I wasn’t dumb. So I went along and I done the test. I was so sure it was a waste of my time, until I got there. I felt like a child sounding out words, reading cards, matching letters to pictures and at first it was easy, until it wasn’t. It was during this test, I realised just how bad it was, it was a wake-up call. My entire life, no matter what I had done, people had always written me off as stupid and I wasn’t. I was also given an intelligence test, but I received no response on the day. A bit over two weeks later I was called back to the councilors office, sat down and told that I was dyslexic. That I had always been Dyslexic and that it should have been caught at a much younger age. She explained it all to me, what it was, how it affected some people differently, and that it was just a matter of working out what works best for me. My reading and writing was at a level much younger than I was, and I felt like an idiot. the councilor  told me that I wasn’t stupid, a fact I had always firmly believed, but in fact I had a IQ of 116 which was above average. Not extremely high, but still, it made me feel better.

I was upset at first, finding this out, but in a way, it was a relief. I learnt new ways to teach myself new things, and I decided then and there that I wanted to write.

I had always loved to read and write, I read slower and my writing was full of mistakes, but I have hundreds of note books filled with stories I wrote when I was younger. I decided I wasn’t going to let dyslexia stop me from doing something I loved. So I did, and I still do. It’s what made me write this blog. Sharing knowledge is the best way to learn.

So that’s what I do, and apparently a few people out there can’t accept that. I don’t want to stoop to their level, because having to deal with it myself is bad enough but, if you was a true writer, you would understand the passion us writer feel. The joy it brings just to write and share our stories with the world! But in reality this is my space. I post because I like to do it, and because I want to share advice with other writers.

Now I shouldn’t grumble too much, I have some awesome readers, which are super nice. But others? Not so much.

Remember guys, leaving nasty comments is a form of bullying. It’s not fair to me, and saying it doesn’t make your life better in anyway. I won’t approve them, so if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t bother, because I don’t want to read it.

I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but each time I post somewhere, either here, on other blogs, or guest posts, there is always that one person. The one who could have corrected me nicely, but didn’t, instead they poke fun at me, and at a piece I have worked so very hard on. And it hurts guys. So yeah, I could stop posting if I don’t like it, but you know what? You could also stop reading. I didn’t force you here; I’m not making you read, if it bothers you that much, stop. It’s that simple.

So next time you run someone down because they are dyslexic, think about it for a second. Remember how hard that person works, have some consideration for what it feels like to be in their shoes. This is good advice in general. Bullying is never okay, it hurts, and it’s not nice. Take a second to think before you post nasty things to people’s blogs, walls, photo’s, anything. Because I guarantee that if the roles were reversed, you wouldn’t like it either.

Anti_Bullying

shan

Another Haunted House Post!

4 Mar

Hey guys,

Thought since I haven’t done a post in a while I’d do one now.  Of course this was a decision I made at four o’clock in the morning, so I promised myself I wouldn’t post this until I re read it in the morning. I suffer with a case of insanity when I’m tired but in all fairness I have that when I’m fully awake as well.

A little update before I get into the title subject of this post, I have decided to write a more in depth query post. My original post got a lot of views, and still does, even now, so I decided to go more in depth. In order to do that, (and this was not the sole reason either, but it sparked my decision,) I am taking a class on the art of query writing. It’s a two week class, in which a literary agent will be teaching me, and my fellow class attendee’s the art of the query. Also critiquing and helping us write a compelling one. So I’ll take notes, be a good little student, and relay all I learnt to all you writers out there in Webland, for free, yep totally free :P. I’ll also post a copy of my finished and amazing Query, when I write it, as an example. So that should be fun.

This is actually the second time I’ve written all this, I didn’t realize my charger to my laptop had unplugged it’s self until my computers little alien head started flashing red and the screen went black. It didn’t even save as a draft! I was pretty annoyed and in my fit of rage at my damned computer, I forgot half the stuff I was talking about, though I think I got the important bits.

I have mentioned in a number of posts before that my house is haunted, it truly is. I know there are a lot of sceptics out there but honestly, some of the stuff that goes on here is just too hard to explain. I think the most exciting thing is that I am now not the only one who had witness the stuff that happens. For a little while there was a serious question of my sanity, (though sadly that is nothing new really) and no one believed me.

So there are four people in my house. Me, (poor broke uni student, who gets free board, thanks mummy!) my brother, (typical brother, mummy’s favourite, unwilling to move out), my lovely mother, and of course my daddy. Also my dogs, but they don’t live in the house, so they don’t count, plus they can’t talk, so they really don’t count.

Usually I have been the only one who has experienced all this strange stuff. My brother did when we were younger, so either he’s just stopped mentioning it or it really only happens to me.  Well not anymore, the other day it happened to my mum, my sceptical, non-believer of a mother! I was so happy; not happy that it freaked her out but happy that someone finally believed me.

This was how my mother’s experience went.

We live in a three bedroom house, my room, the bathroom and my brother’s room make up the back of the house. Then there is a hall, which passes my mother’s room down into the lounge and kitchen. In fact, I’m going to draw you a little picture because setting is important, especially in this case.

          

house

So anyways there is a very accurate (not…) floor plan of my house. The blank space coming from the bathroom is the hallway (I forgot to label that), back to the story.

I was in my room at the back of the house, reading a book on my bed, when I heard the front door creaking. Our house isn’t like huge, so you can pretty much hear everything everywhere, which sucks, any who, my mum who was watching TV in the lounge says my name, quietly at first. I assumed she was on the phone so I ignored her. But then she yells my name asking me where I am. I yelled back, like the civilized person I am, saying I was in my room.

She then tells me come down to her, so i did.  I left my room, glanced into the bathroom as I tend to do when I leave my room. Don’t know why, but I always do it, it’s a weird habit of mine and walked down to mum.  When I get to the end of the hall I notice the front door wide open but the screen still shut.

So I stopped at the lounge room door and asked her what she wanted.

She then asked me if I just came through the door.

I was like no, I was in my room, and I just told you that.

She nodded slowly then asked me “is there someone on the front steps that could have opened the door”.  Now I had only recently come home from work, so I know the screen door is locked because I locked it after I come in. So in reply i said “no, the door’s locked, why?”

She didn’t believe me, so I checked it and it was still locked. confused, I asked her what this was all about, why am I checking the doors? Then she told me the door just opened, slowly on its own, like someone was coming through it.

Our door opens inwards so you have to pull them to open them and this was a 30 degree day, no breeze, outside, so i know it didn’t just blow open. Besides it has one of those door knobs you twist, so you have to turn it to get it open.

I believed it instantly. I’d seen it happen to my bedroom door a number of times, so I knew it happened, but mum never had. I checked the latch on the door and all just in case, but it was all fine.

I then started with a whole lot of ‘I told you so’s’ and victory dancing, which seeing my mum was freaked out, wasn’t very sensitive of me but hey! I was right!

After that I headed back up to my room only to stop dead in the hall, from a case of freak out myself. All the doors of the cupboards in the bathroom were opened. There are five cabinets in there and all five doors were open. Freaking out myself, I yell for my mummy and told her what else had just happen, seeing it must have happened in the time I was down there with her because, I know, for a fact they were closed when I walked down.

I closed them all, super-fast and spent the rest of the day until my dad came home hiding in the lounge. Nothing weird ever seems to happen there so it’s safe.

I want to say that was the weirdest thing that had happened lately, but it wasn’t, this next experience nearly had me in tears, I was so scared.

I was home alone. It was the middle of the day, and I was again in my room, door shut, reading a book.

I heard a male’s voice in the hall. I ignored it, because my brain instantly figured it was dad. Footsteps walked up the hall, (we have wooden floor boards, so when you walk in with shoes on it’s really loud), stopped at my door and then someone cleared their throat.

I glanced at my door expecting my dad to push the door open and talk to me. Nothing happened. I sat up and looked to the door, getting worried. I called my dad’s name, and then realised, oh man he’s at work. It’s lunch time.So I figured it was my brother, so I tried him instead, nothing.

Instantly I thought, oh crap! I didn’t lock the door there is a robber in my house, I’m being burglarized! So in an act of bravery, I grabbed my hockey stick, and pulled open the door.

Heart pounding, hockey stick at the ready, I searched the entire house. No one was in the house and I know what I heard. Puzzled and getting increasingly scared I stood at the end of the hall, wondering if I should leave the house or not. My keys were in my room, I could just go get them and leave. Go to the park with my dogs until my brother or father came home, then the footsteps happened again. Right behind me,  but this time, they were coming down the hall toward me.

All pretense of bravery aside, I screamed, ran to the back door as fast as I could, dove outside, slamming the door behind me, and hugged my staffy for dear life.  I called my poor mum in tears, and then my cousin, because I was too scared to go back into my own house. Neither of them could get to me, and I sure as hell wasn’t going back for my keys.

So I sat outside for four hours with my dogs for protection, until my dad came home from work. I told him when he asked me why I was sitting in my dog’s chair (my staffy sleeps in an arm chair on the deck, I think I have a picture of it…)

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Well that’s a couch, but he ate that one so it got thrown away, though the chair looks just like that, except it’s a chair.

Anyways, my dad asked me why I was curled up in the dog’s chair, which was because I was getting cuddles 🙂 so I told him the whole thing, including how I had spent the last four hours chilling with Titan.

His response?

“Shannon, you watch too many movies.” Then he walked off.

Yep, that was all I got, one of the most terrifying things I have ever experienced and that was it.

Thanks dad, appreciate it!

shan

Sort of Writing tips: Every writer should have a critique partner :)

18 Feb

Been a bit slack with posting lately, between work and my newest Ms, I’ve had no time to slip in a post.

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Today I want to talk about Critique Partners or CP’s.

Until this year I have never had a CP, other than Lauren, though I don’t think she counts.  I was always to weary to try such thing. I have looked at the local listing for critique groups and I’ve wanted to join, never worked up the nerve. So I did the next best thing, I got a CP. A couple in fact, and they are amazing.

I think getting your work Critiqued should be a critical step in you path of writing a novel. I don’t care how good you are there is always room for improvement and even the most unskilled CP can be very helpful. They give you a take on your work that you don’t see yourself. They are a fresh set of eyes, and can greatly help point out flaws, mistakes, flow issues and many things that you might be to invested to pick up yourself.

Recently my CP, who is lovely, we email all the time and I have come to think of her as a friend, picked up something that seems so obvious now, but before she pointed it out I hadn’t even noticed it was there, it was a flaw that wouldn’t have been overlooked.  Since I started working with my CP my MS has improved 100% I have really found it that helpful.

It’s not only that you get awesome help, but you also get to read what your CP’s working on and return that favour. By reading other’s work you really start to see how your own can be improved, and it helps you both learn as you go along.

There are some cons though; most of them I’m sure anyone who writes already will be pretty familiar with this. Sometime CP’s will say thing you don’t want to hear, and putting your work out there is hard, I know, and not every comment you receive will be positive.  Some people can be mean, people can be harsh and after spending, months, or years on something to have it tore down before your eyes sucks. As a writer you need thick skin, you need to be able to roll with the punches, deal with the critics, and improve.  Once you get past all the negativity the comments might just be helpful.

I experienced this before, I had one of my CP’s (well ex-CP’s now) tell me that there was no way I could ever be a serious writer because of my dyslexia, and that I should give up and find a new dream. That being said to me hurt, it also really pissed me off. So my grammar sucks, yeah I know it does, but I’m doing all I can to improve myself.  Each time I pick up a mistake that I have made, I learn for next time. So what, it’s going to be harder for me than others. So what, I will have to work harder than to ensure little things are fixed. So what I have dyslexia. That does not change my passion, my creativity, or my ability to create a good story.  You know what that taught me? it taught me there will be people out there that only want to knock you down, but they are the reason why you shouldn’t give up.

I didn’t, I had a bad experience but I got new CP’s, made some awesome new friends, and improved my writing with the help of people who know what I’m going through. They have been there, they know what it’s like and sometime they can be the best support group, a writer needs.

So while this might not be a tip, I really would suggest you try peer critiquing, because in the long run you won’t regret it.

On another note, I’m always looking for CP’s, so if you’re a writer and want to give it a go give me a shout. I’m always happy to help 🙂

shan