Summer Vacation

crazy dog

Summer is here and that means it’s about time to really concentrate on my novel. I’ve met with a few agents who had positive things to say, but more revisions are still needed. I’ll be taking next week off from my day job and during that time I’m hoping to concentrate on the novel for the first time ever.

So it seems like a good time to take a vacation from blogging. Between the day job, the novel, freelancing, researching agents, querying, and blogging, there’s no time left for sanity. I’m amazed that anyone ever finds the time to do it all. There’s all that to do, and then I still need to somehow become fluent in Italian and learn how to play the fiddle.

I’ll miss everyone and will try to visit when I can. I’m planning on joining Twitter at some point and will look for you there. You can also find me at Goodreads, where I’ll be trying to catch up on my reading challenge of 50 books for the year (maybe it’s about time to go for 30 or 20 instead).

I’ll be back in September with book reviews from summer reads, Cape Cod stories and photos, and hopefully a few posts on how to get through the querying process and find an agent. When I reappear, I’m going to try to be more consistent and will post every Wednesday. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Thank you for visiting, commenting, and following – but most of all thank you for your friendship. Wishing you a summer or winter filled with laughter and love.

So You Wrote a Novel? Now the Real Work Begins!

Writing fiction has never felt like work to me. It gives my mind the chance to wander and play. So if writing fiction is like a recess, then query submissions are the exams.

Anyone who can write a novel should be able to write an exciting query letter, right? I’m not so sure. Maybe it’s the pressure of exam time. Maybe it’s harder to find those perfect words when they’re limited to just a few. Still, it’s something we have to do if we want to traditionally publish our books and find the perfect agent.

Finding the right words for a query letter can be as difficult as capturing a butterfly. Yet, they are all around us.

Finding the right words for a query letter can be as difficult as capturing a butterfly. Yet, they are all around us.

There are a lot of websites out there filled with advice on querying. Nathan Bransford is one of the best for general advice. Query Shark is a fun way to learn how to catch an agent’s eye because Janet Reid, the agent behind the shark, publishes real, live query letters and rips them to shreds while showing what was done wrong (or sometimes, right).

One way to tackle the query letter is to come up with a few general sentences about the book before writing it. Then everything doesn’t have to be siphoned down afterwards and the resulting blurb can act as an outline.

When emailing query submissions, it’s best to email them to yourself first so that you’ll see if any formatting issues come up. Especially if you’re copying and pasting, some email programs may add double or triple lines or may not recognize paragraph breaks and of course these things only happen after the email is sent.

For anyone querying or researching agents, these publications by Agent Noah Lukeman are free on Kindle: How to Write a Great Query Letter: Insider Tips and Techniques for Success and How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent. After reading through those and other publications, stalking the above websites, and attending a query letter writing class during a recent writer’s conference, I just might be able to find those magic words. Maybe.

Traditionally publishing a novel is a slow process. Ask any turtle.

Traditionally publishing a novel is a slow process. Ask any turtle.

Have you found the magic words to describe your novel? What’s the best querying advice you’ve received? What has the querying stage been like for you? 

Lucky Seven

I love the game of tag. It reminds me of running around the neighborhood while blending in with the twilight and feeling daring for being out so late. Kasia James of Writer’s Block tagged me for Lucky Seven. She’s a talented writer and friend from Australia. Please take a look at her site if you haven’t yet – it’s a great one.

Here’s how Lucky Seven works:

  • Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
  • Go to line 7
  • Post on your blog the next 7 lines or sentences – as they are
  • Tag 7 other people to do the same

Lucky me – I have two unpublished novels to choose from for this! The excerpt from the novel I’m querying gives too much away, so here’s the excerpt from page 7 of my first unpublished novel:

Cars of different colors and in different stages of disrepair glided easily along. From the outside looking in, everything seemed so simple. Every car stayed separate, yet the same road connected them all. That idea fascinated her. Where were they all going? Where would they end up? She peered in, catching glimpses of people she would never meet.

I’m going to reach out and wildly tag five people just to be different:

Joy in the Moments

Ross Gale

Bookish and Odd

Frivolous Monsters

Bailey Is Writing

Ocean Influences

It’s impossible not to be affected by the ocean while living on Cape Cod. Even if I don’t see it every day, I breathe it. The sound of distant fog horns brings the ocean closer to home. The air, after being touched by waves, sounds like waves as the wind roars through the trees. There are many gray, fog-filled days, but then these make us feel closer to the ocean. They smell of seaweed and adventure.

Adventurous people live here. People like whalers and sea captains once used the ocean to roam the planet. To them, the sight or smell of the ocean must have brought up an urge to be off again in wooden ships that would be tossed around like driftwood.

My novel, In the Echo of the Ocean, wouldn’t have been written if I lived in any other place. Even though the story is more about people than the ocean, I hope the sound of the waves and adventure can still be heard through the pages.

To me, the ocean will always bring up memories of salt-encrusted skin, playing in the waves with my brother, and searching for hermit crabs at low tide. I will always cherish it for those memories, for its beauty, and for the stories it tells.

The ocean means different things to different people. What does the ocean mean to you?

Oceana – Protecting the World’s Oceans

The First Novel I Ever Tried to Write

I’m excited to go on to something new, but just might go backwards instead. Back to the first novel I ever tried to write. I haven’t looked at it in more than two years. I’m a little scared to even open it up again. I don’t really know why. It’s not going to bite me or anything. But then, you never know. Drafts can be vicious and unpredictable.

After just finishing a novel, it could be that I don’t want to dive right back into another huge project. But then, I don’t like the idea that this other book has been sitting around for years either so I should probably just get back in there and finish it.

When I stopped writing the first book I ever tried to write, I thought it was about halfway done. That was before I knew about word counts and what they mean. It’s about 75,000 words. Pretty funny. These days, we’re supposed to be wrapping things up by then. I had no idea how long it was when I was writing it. I didn’t have a word count goal or anything like that. I just kept writing.

I told myself that I stopped writing it because of the research involved. I wanted to really research everything about the 1920s through the 1980s so that anyone reading it would feel like they’re living through all of it. I love research like that, so much so that I end up getting lost in time while doing more research than writing. So, I stopped and wrote another novel instead, something completely different.

This was supposed to get me into the mood to dive back into that first novel I ever tried to write, but I think it’s doing the opposite. Maybe I’ll try writing a short story instead…