Friday, August 23, 2013

Super Sweet Blogging Award














I have to say a huge thank you to Crystal Collier for giving me this award. I think she is so super cool and talented. Thank you.

The Rules:
  1. Thank the Super Sweet Blogger that nominated you. 
  2. Answer 5 super sweet questions. 
  3. Post the award.
  4. Nominate a baker dozen (13) bloggers. 
  5. Notify your nominees.
The Super Sweet Questions
  1. What is your favorite dessert? There are so many I cannot just choose one. But what I don't like for dessert is any type of fruit. 
  2. Cake or ice cream? Cake of course!
  3. When do you like desserts most? Anytime of the day. I have a really sweet tooth.
  4. Would you choose cookies or cake? Cake! I love cake.
  5. Vanilla or chocolate? Chocolate. 
Nominees...
I know I am being a bad sport, but I really hate having to choose who gets what award. Plus, I had a list of people to give this award to, but there were more than 13 people, so I just couldn't make up my mind. So please, if you follow my blog, feel free to grab this award. You deserve it, because you guys always give me so much support. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Feedback received from first few query letters

As you know I have sent out a few query letters to literary agents and in the past few days I got a few replies. Three were the same as the other rejections that I have gotten in the past, mentioning that my book was not right for them at this time or that it wasn’t right for that specific agent, but that they encouraged me to keep querying other agents. The fourth one said that though this project was not right for them at that time, they encouraged me to submit any of my other projects to them in the future.

Now I know that might not sound like a big deal, but to me it means that though they didn’t like my paranormal romance novel, perhaps one of my contemporary novels might be to their taste. On the other hand, I have written one, but I never went on to edit it. I just always felt that The Amaranthine (book I am querying now) was the most important book to me, as it was the first book in my Undying series.

I also sent out two query letters to publishers, but they might take months to get back to me, if they even have the time at all. So for now I am just doing more research on who to query next. I am planning on sending away a few more query letters next week.

What are you up to my dear friends?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ignorance and submissions

I never thought I would live to say this, but I had the worst evening last night. I was invited to dinner by my cousin and I had been dying to see her for so long. I knew some of her friends would join us and I didn't think anything would go wrong, but it did. There was this one woman that just made me feel like shit when she started going off about how stupid people in my town and country was and how European people are the best, and yes, she is from Europe. It was just vile. I didn't even get to talk to my cousin, who I wanted to see. This lady was seated next to me and took over the whole conversation for the rest of the night. She didn't think much of me being a romance writer either (my cousin mentioned that I was a writer, not me) and the worst part is that most of the guests didn't contradicted her about anything that she said, except for two of us, but she just made a lengthy debate out of everything, when all I wanted was to have a good time. So I just gave up. If you are ignorant, you are ignorant and no one can convince you otherwise.

I finally took the plunge and submitted my novel to Avon Romance and Kensington Publishing Corp. I just felt that it was time that I took a chance. I have 20 different versions of The Amaranthine and I have even changed the name of the novel a few times too. I feel that I have tried to make this book perfect for so long, but I have done everything I could for it. It is time for it to go out into the world and be seen. If I get rejected and it never gets published, I will be sad, but at least I can say that I had tried. I just can't worry about this story any more. If I want my dream to come true of being published, I have to take the step of actually submitting my work. How else will it be seen?

So, what are you up to?

Friday, August 16, 2013

I got tagged

I was tagged for this meme by the wonderful and talented Julie Flanders, author of Polar Night. Thank you Julie!

The rules of this tag are very simple.  I have to answer four of the following nine questions, link back to Julie and then tag four other writers.

The questions:   

1. What are you working on right now?
2. How does it differ from other works in its genre? 
3. What experiences have influenced you? 
4. Why do you write what you do?
5. How does your writing process work?
6. What is the hardest part about writing?
7. What would you like to try as a writer that you haven't yet?
8. Who are the authors you most admire?
9. What scares you? 

So, here are my four questions: 

What are you working on right now?
I am between projects. I am in the editing process of The Amaranthine, a paranormal romance about soul mates and then I am trying to finish another novel, Island of Manoa, a contemporary romance about a type of love that is so strong that it will move through time, if it has to.  

How does it differ from other works in its genre?
The Amaranthine does not have any sex in it. Sure the characters fool around, but unlike other paranormal romance novels, the sex only comes in book two. I just felt that the characters weren't quite ready yet. As for Island of Manoa, think chick flick in book form.  

What experiences have influenced you? 
I have always felt like the odd one out. I never felt like I really belonged anywhere specific and growing up it can be pretty tough feeling that way and not really having friends. So in my books it is important for me to have the underdog come out on top and for my characters to get their happy endings. 

Why do you write what you do?
Living happily ever is very important for me. Even though I might not experience it in real life, doesn't  mean I can't have my readers enjoy a happy ending. I also believe in love, even though I have never experienced it personally. So I guess that is why I am so obsessed with romance novels. My characters get to have their happy endings. 

So, now for me to tag 4 other people: 

C R Ward, Tonja from Tonja's MusingsKatie Cross and Beverly from the Beveled Edge


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Editing done and research begun

I had just spent that last week in my room editing the crap out of my novel the Amaranthine. There was not as much to fix as I had initially thought, but it was pretty bad. I am at the 'I hate you stage' of my editing now. I had to really push myself to get the editing done, as I am currently unemployed, which mean lots of time for editing and when I do get a job soon, my writing may suffer again.

I was curious and started looking at a few literary agent's websites, just for curiosity and man have things changed. These days there are online submission forms and most agents ask for electronic submissions only, which I like by the way. I noticed that the agents I looked at only asked for query letters. They didn't want to see a synopsis or sample pages, which means more pressure in getting my query letter just right.

Though, I have a strategy this time. I am only querying agents that are on the Preditors and Editors website and a member of the AAR (The Association of Author's Representatives). If an agent does not have a website with information, such as clients and book sales, I am passing. This time I am only querying the best of the best, which could mean that I might not get representation at all, as your writing has to be pretty ground shaking to secure representation, but better safe than sorry.

I have this fear this time around that I didn't have before. This time I am so afraid of the whole process. Of the rejections. The fact that nobody might like my book but me. The fact that I might have spent 5 years on a project that is never going to happen. I looked back at my old rejection letters and 99% of the letters said, "I am not the right agent for this project, but I encourage you to keep querying, as the the publishing business is subjective." This means that there is still hope for my book, right?

I am going to take a break from editing and go back with a fresh pair of eyes at a later stage. For now, I guess I will do my research about which agents to query in the future.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

What to look out for in a literary agent

I had recently decided to query literary agents again. Now for you who do not know this, I had been a victim of a literary agent scam. Having been through all this I now know what I should be looking out for the second time around. I thought I would share my thoughts about what to look out for, just in case there are other writers querying as well, who could do with the information.

What to avoid:

  • When an agent asks for fees upfront – Never pay any fees upfront. I had known about this rule when I had paid my agent an editing fee. I made the mistake of paying an editing fee anyway, because she had me truly convinced that I needed the editing. Trust me, they can sound really persuasive and when you feel really desperate, as I did, it will all makes sense at that moment in time. But do not pay any agent any fees of any kind in advance. They will get their final fee after your book is sold.

  • When an agent offers representation, but shows no interest in your work – Looking back, I should have known something was wrong, because an agent should be excited about your work. They should ask you questions about your book or characters or offer suggestions on making it better, or perhaps suggest certain changes that would make it better suited to a certain market, as they know what works. If your agent does nothing and just accepts your work as is, then you know something is fishy.

  • When your work has not been edited too much – An agent knows what potential publishers are looking for. They know what a finished manuscript should look like and if you only get a minimally edited manuscript back, that looks a lot like the one you originally submitted, be worried. I was not asked to do any rewrites, just to delete a few unwanted words. I don’t think my work was that perfect. I know a few writers whose work was much better than mine, but their work had been drastically edited.

  • When there is no regular communication between you and the agent – Obviously your agent can’t be in contact with you everyday. But during the submissions process, you should at least hear from your agent once a month. Just so that you know he/or she had not forgotten about you. If you never hear from your agent again after you submitted your submission package, be worried. I would never have heard from my agent again, if had not been the one to constantly contact her for information.

  • If your agent does not want to communicate – I had once asked my agent if I could call her to talk about a few things that I was concerned about and she had all kinds of excuses as to why I could not get in contact with her. She said she would prefer an email. Emails are good, but this was my career on the line, I had paid her a lot of money and I wanted some information. If you are a client and you are willing to pay for the phone call, there is no reason why an agent would refuse to talk to you on the phone. Just as long as you make arrangements upfront, like finding out when and if your agent is available to talk on the phone.

  • When your agent is super nice and never has anything negative to say about your work – The only negative information I had gotten from my agent, regarding my manuscript was that it needed lots of editing. But when it was time for the editing, not a lot was changed. An agent sometimes has to tell you things that you don’t want to hear, like this manuscript might not work for a certain genre, or it is not right for the market you chose, unless you change this or that. But saying everything is always perfect, is highly unlikely.

  • When an agents feedback about your manuscript is vague – My agent had said that my work was intriguing and that my characters were complex. That is it. Now these words could describe any manuscript in the whole wide world. She never said anything that made me think that she was talking about my actual work or characters.

  • When an agent makes things sound too good to be true – When an agent is super nice and tells you that you do not have to worry, that your book will be sold soon and that everything will be as you expected, run. Life is never perfect, nothing ever is. So you should always expect a few setbacks. When things sound too good to be true, they usually are.

  • When an agent does not ask you what you wantThinking back, my agent never asked me about whether I wanted to pursue traditional publishing or if I was considering self-publishing. Though she did want to push me more towards self-publishing. She never even asked me whether I was open to e-publishing. The conversation about whether I wanted a writing career or just a one time book deal, also never came up. Though I had told her my book was part of a series, she never asked me about what the rest of the series was about, or how many books I had planned to write or if I had finished any other books in the series. She never asked anything. Actually, just that once, for the editing fee.

These are the things that when thinking back, really ticks me off. I hope it will be of some help to others. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

You guys are just so awesome

Today I am just floating on cloud nine. Why? Because once again the blogger community has come through for me. I have received so much support and kind words the past few days and I am so humbled by them and grateful. I was feeling pretty low, but you guys came around and cheered me up. THANK YOU!

Because you guys have been so super awesome, you made me feel inspired and motivated, so much so that I started working on a new synopsis for my novel The Amaranthine, as well as a new query letter. Now all I have to do is go over my manuscript and make sure it is in the best shape possible and then I will tackle the query beast once more. I am thinking of submitting my novel to publishers, as well as literary agents. I truly believe in this book, as it is only the first in my Undying series. I have just come too far to give up. This time though, I am checking out all the queried parties on Preditors and Editors first and double checking on Writers Beware.

My manuscript is not in bad shape, but I had it edited by someone who did more damage than good, so now I just have to salvage it. A year later and I still love it and it is still relevant to today's market. Lets just hope others see it that way too.

Thank you guys for always being here for me and cheering me on. I will always try my best to return the favour.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Insecure, but free (IWSG)


So much happened to me over the last few weeks that in one way I feel exhausted, but in another way I feel liberated. Free…even.

My contract ended with my agent, who turned out to be a scam artist, which should make me feel sad. But I am happy to be un-agented and in control of my own writing career again. I lost my job, but I am happy because now perhaps I can try and find a job that is more to my liking and which embraces my high moral values instead of trying to undermine them. I really wanted adult braces this year to sort out my crazy teeth, but because I don’t have a job, I can’t get them right now, but I will eventually. I now know how much they cost and I know what I have to work for.

Some good news, I was recently interviewed By Deanie Humphrys-Dunne, so if you want, you can check out my very first interview Here.

So all in all, I got a lot of bad news, but I am choosing to see the good in each. What is happening in your life?

The Insecure Writers Support Group was created by the wonderfully talented Mr Alex J Cavanaugh, so that writers could talk and communicate to others about the fears and insecurities that they might have. You can visit Alex Here, or you if you want to join us in discussing our insecurities on the first Wednesday of each month, you are welcome to join by going Here.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

AWARDS FOR ME AND FOR YOU

I was recently given two great awards. Like with all awards, both come with rules, but I have wrecked my brain deciding who to give these awards to and to be honest all of you are so awesome, talented and you always have my back, providing endless support. So if the two ladies who gave me these awards don’t mind, I am going to break the rules and pass this award on to any of my followers who want it, as all of them are deserving of both these awards.


My first award is the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award. A big thank you goes out to the amazing Deanie Humphrys Dunne, from Thoughts and Ideas from Deanie Humphrys Dunne, for giving me this award. I am really humbled and grateful.

The rules for this award are:

1. The nominee of The Wonderful Team Member Readership Award shall display the logo on his/her blog.

2. The nominee shall nominate 14 readers they appreciate over a period of 7 days, all at once or little by little; linking to their blogs; and telling them about it at their blogs.

3.  The nominee shall name his/her Wonderful Team Member Readership Award nominees on a post during 7 days.

If you follow my blog, then please feel free to accept this award. 



I also received The Sunshine award from the wonderful Beverly Fox from The Beveled Edge. Thank you so much Beverly, you rock!

Here are the rules for this award:

1. Include the award's logo in a post or on your blog.

2. Link to the person that nominated you.

3. Answer 10 questions about yourself.

4. Nominate 10 bloggers.

5. Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs, letting them know that they have been nominated.

Because I had received this award before, I had already answered these questions. I you want to know my answers, please go Here.

Once again, if you are a follower of my blog, feel free to accept this award. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

MY BIG SECRET IS OUT

Last year this time I had a big announcement to make. I was proud and happy to tell you all that I had an agent. Well, yesterday my contract ended with my agent and I feel that I have to be honest about my experience. After all, that is what my blog is about.

When I met my agent last year, she had mentioned to me that she would charge me an X amount of money to edit and then represent my manuscript, but that I would not have to worry, as she would give me my money back as soon as she sold the manuscript, which she was confident she could do. I talked it over with my family and even though they discouraged me from dealing with this agent, I went ahead and borrowed the large amount of money from them and paid her the editing fee in order for her to represent my work.

I was desperate and I needed to make all the stressing and waiting stop. It had taken me 2 years to find someone who wanted to represent my work, so what if she wanted me to pay an editing fee? At least I will have an agent, right? After all, she had a proven record of sales to reputable publishers. So, I signed on for a six month contract and then my journey of more waiting and stressing started.

She did edit my manuscript and at first I thought she did a good job. She gave me an example of what my marketing plan and author’s biography should look like, as it was a copy of what one of her other authors had written. I wrote my own version and was only asked to do one correction. When it was submission process time, I made all the changes to the manuscript, and handed over the synopsis I had queried her with, along with the author’s biography and marketing plan I had worked on.

Months past and I did not hear anything. I was making myself sick worrying. I could not think straight or get much sleep. I kept thinking “please don’t let this be a scam”. I was still unemployed at the time, so there was no way of paying back my family the money for the editing fees.

So, I contacted her and she mentioned that we had gotten a bunch of rejections, all verbal, none on print and none of any help. More months passed and our six month contract was almost over. Once again, I contacted her to ask what it would all mean. She gave me three options. Renew my contract, self-publish or go at it on my own. I was ready to end the contract, but my siblings who I had borrowed the money from still believed and I signed on for another six months.

This time around I got even more restless. I can’t write, I can’t think, I am constantly on edge and I am worried about the money I have to pay back. I then go onto the internet and poke around and realize that there were other writers out there like me, who had written about having been approached by my agent and also asked to pay editing fees and that they knew that this was a scam and that all aspiring authors who were approached, should run.
  
I then decide to go back over my manuscript and realize that it had not been edited that much. I had not been asked to do rewrites. I few words were suggested to be removed, a few sentences deleted and my characters thoughts were told to be in Italics. I just found out that publishers hate it when italics are used in a manuscript. Realization? I had paid for not so good editing.

A few weeks ago I started doing more research on my agent and found out that she had been involved in various other scams over the years. She had recently started a new one where she asked other aspiring writers an editing fee too. They were not stupid like me, they did their research and found out that it was a major conflict of interest and it was something that no agent, truly bent on selling your work, would do.

I then approached a reputable source for information, which is when my greatest fear was immediately confirmed. I had been scammed and that I had been doing business with a disreputable agent that has been struggling to make sales in the publishing world and who was just stringing me along till my contract expired.

As a way to salvage some of my dignity and perhaps prove that she actually made an effort to sell my book, I had asked my agent for the list of publishers that my work had been submitted to. She had provided me with a list containing the names of 12 of the largest publishing companies in the US and then I was told from my reputable source, that this was not conclusive evidence to suggest that my work was ever submitted, as only the publishers names are given and never the names of the various imprints under which they function. So there is no saying who saw my manuscript and if anyone saw it at all. I was advised to proceed as I had never been represented at all, which is kind of depressing, but I was grateful for the honest and professional feedback from my source.

I guess many people will say that I am just bitter and resentful that my book was not sold. In a way I am. I just wish that I had never met my agent, who will remain nameless. What really makes me the angriest about all of this is the fact that she was always so polite. Why could she not have just told me that I didn't have a chance in hell and that my book would never sell? Why keep me on a string for a year, give me hope and have it all taken away? She kept suggesting that I self-publish and I guess that should have tipped me off. Why would I self-publish if I wanted her to help me get traditionally published?

I even deleted my posts from last year about how I got my agent, because I didn't want other people to do what I did and end up in a scam. Now I am not sure what I want to do next. I know I still want to write. I had found my calling in life. But do I go back to the query trenches and look for another agent? Do I skip the agents and just go for a publisher? What if I get scammed again?

So…that is my big secret.