Monthly Archives: September 2011

A New Fire

Let me preface this by saying I’ve been reading a book. Imagine that. 😛 But this isn’t an ordinary book. It’s a book centered around finding a purpose for your life that changes the world. Sound strange? I thought so, too, until I realized WHY it sounded so strange.

As you guys already know, I’m big on dreams. I’m constantly talking about dreams and your determination to get them. There is not a single successful person out there (who’s become successful by admirable means) who has not had a dream. I’ve struggled, though, because my dreams have lacked motivation. My life itself has lacked motivation. I want to publish a book so badly but I struggle to find the time to write it. I want to invest and make a difference in people’s lives, but I don’t know how. Have you ever felt like that? Where you know something is important, but you don’t know what it is or how to get there? I have a fantastic job where I get to help women realize their true beauty, but I wasn’t excited about it. I have the ability to write great stories, but it was hit or miss.

And then I started to read this book. I realized that my life wasn’t going anywhere. I was living each day like I was running on a treadmill. I forced myself to wake up in the morning, do my routine with the baby, stare at the disaster of my house, sit down and waste time on the computer, put him down for a nap, stare at my work and try to find the energy, wake him up, do chores, freak out about all the things I was failing at, make dinner, worry about money, put the baby to bed, and “relax” from a long day by watching tv. I was exhausted every single night, and every single night I’d fall into bed wondering where all the time was going. I was running in circles, stuck in a loop.

But now I’ve found an outside motivation. R. Lynn has it with her desire to educate young women about the truth of love and sex. C. S. Lewis had it in his desire to share a more relatable form of his beliefs. Ray Bradbury had it in his desire to warn future generations, as did George Orwell. Mother Theresa had the desire to help those in desperate need. Martin Luther had the desire to free his people from prejudice. Abraham Lincoln had the desire to begin the fight for equality. And I’ve joined their number. I am, undoubtedly, a very small part but I’m no longer trying to find the motivation from within myself.

So, after all this talking, this is my question: what drives you? Is it bringing light to some much ignored problem? Is it to support a cause? Is it to spread a certain idea? What is your outside motivation? What gives you the fire to get up and get going every day, that makes an impact on the world around you?

Mine is to empower the women around me to realize their part in life and to raise my children in the same way. 🙂

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Dear Dream Agent….

Ah, the mysterious, ellusive agent. For those of you who dream of or seek representation, what are you doing to establish yourself? In an effort to help out my fellow writers, since many have come asking me about it, I thought I’d offer a few tips. FEEL FREE TO TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT!

I have a few questions that I ask myself every time I begin thinking about representation (and yes, I am an over-achiever. My book is only 2/3 done and I’m already shopping for an agent).

Have I established myself online? (i.e. a blog, a Twitter, a facebook account, a BookRix account ;), perhaps an online book)

Is my manuscript polished to a shine? (Have you edited it over and over again, had two or three beta readers read it? A beta reader is NOT your mom or your husband or your sister. It is a fellow writer not afraid to be almost cruel in their assessment of your book. Better a friend than a stranger who receives hundreds of books JUST like yours.)

Have I done my research? (Yet again, I will reference Twitter. It’s why I have my twitter, aside from those days I just need an outlet to vent. None of them follow me, so I foolishly assume I’m free to say whatever. Still, follow them and you will see into their personal lives: the names of their cats, the coffee they like, the books they’re reading, the things their 2 yr old does. Any extra knowledge you can gain is good for your query.)

And finally….

Have I created a strong query?

For those of you asking what a query is, it is a short, PROFESSIONAL letter asking for representation. ALWAYS address it directly to the agent unless otherwise specified. ALWAYS follow their submission guidelines on their websites. Some ask for 5 pages attached. Some ask for just the query.

NEVER put questions in your query. For most of us, that seems like a hook, but to them it’s just annoying. You don’t want to start off with the agent saying, “In a world full of evil and darkness, who will step up and save them all? I don’t care.” Rather, it is much better and much more professional to write something like “Amanda was Chosen. Before her birth, she had been Chosen, marked with the star prophesied so many years before. The world had collapsed in darkness and she was the only one who could stop it.” Sound a little more interesting? Is there any point in which the agent is required to do more than nod along with your words? No. Easy is best. No fancy-pants stuff, except as you describe.

Also, use that research knowledge you’ve gained to add something personal. If they’ve represented a book similar to yours, put that, but ONLY if it is similar. Don’t say “I saw that you represented Twilight and think my book Day of the Dead is similar. Both have heroines that fall madly in love with someone who wants to kill them.” Zombies and vampires don’t equal the same. Now, something like “I saw that you represented Twilight and think that my book The Beast Within is something you might enjoy. Sam is a sophomore in college who is inexplicably drawn to the mysterious Garrett, a demon-vampire hybrid.” Yes, iflylikeninja, I did piggyback off your book. I just couldn’t remember the title, so I ad-libbed.

Finally, put in something personal. Not, “I saw your purple striped socks yesterday and love how it shows your unique personality.” Creepy. However, something like, “I saw that you are a fan of the Dallas Mavericks. Go Mavs!” Yes, that was lame, but this is all off the top of my head. As is most of the stuff I post….

So, that’s today’s blurb. How many of you are dreaming of the agent to propel you into Stephanie-Meyers-dom? How many of you are already sending out queries? Let me know so I can cheer you on!

Beam me up, Scotty!

hard sci-fiWhat is it about Science-Fiction that bothers you? What just drives you insane? For some, it might be the technicalities. For others, the idea that you have to have aliens. What is the biggest thing that gets under your skin? If you’re not a sci-fi junkie, what’s preventing you from really getting into it? If you’re already addicted, what’s one thing that wears on you about the genre?

For me personally, it’s the old-school science-fiction. You know, the alien invasions where Earth is en route to being destroyed and suddenly a hero appears and beats off the invasion. Some stories can pull it off, but…it’s annoying to me. The reality is that Earth would almost always be taken over. I guess the impracticality of the situation prevents me from really getting into some of the old-school material, the traditional forms of science-fiction. On top of that, it annoys me when writers make up words that sound like gibberish. If I can’t wrap my mind around it, I don’t like to read about it, and so many old-school authors liked to create this strange weapons or weird warp speeds that just…don’t sound real. If you have a nanolaserwarp gun that can stun from 57 millijoules worth of power, I don’t wanna read your book.  I try to keep things simple, and if it’s something that isn’t readily explainable or automatically understood, I try to explain it. Now, if it’s a language, I’m cool with made-up words. 🙂

Some names are definitely real, like cryotanks and nanobots. Before, those would have sounded so strange, but they’re real. It’s when things like cybertoniolite or sub-zero grafterbeam guns pop up that I begin to question an author’s legitimacy. They sound cool, definitely, but what are they? If I can’t relate it to something in this world, I won’t write it. My readers wouldn’t understand. Now, something like a wire travelling from the surface of a planet to a space station above: believable. Or, cryotanks, to use an above example. It’s explainable. As long as it’s something that can be written in terms an everyday reader, like me, can understand, I’m cool with it.

 

Other than that little quirk, I’m a total junkie. What about you?