Friday, September 25, 2009

Why can't writers follow the rules?

So I'm finishing edits on my first full manuscript (eek!) and therefore working on my query letter and synopsis. Accordingly, I am soaking up the information on agent blogs like a sponge. There's some darn good information on agent blogs, including some truly important items... rules for submission. However it appears that many writers have some kind of visual blockage that doesn't allow them to see those rules. Hmmm- writers can read just fine until it comes to following rules for sending in their writing. Maybe the AMA needs to coin a new disease name for it: "Writer-itis"

I see so many blogs by agents reminding everyone what NOT to send. On every one of these blogs, I've looked at the rules for submission/submission guidelines. The rules always include the EXACT items they want submitted and the EXACT way they want them submitted. One wants just a query letter, another wants the query plus the first 10 pages. One doesn't accept fantasy, another doesn't accept picture books. Everything is clearly spelled out on the submissions page.

So why do the agents have to keep reminding us what NOT to do?! Why can't writers follow the rules? Every time someone sends in things outside the guidelines, it makes things harder for the rest of us. I for one don't want my submission to be read the same day that an agent has to wade through 50 submissions for adult fantasty when he/she only represents YA and 45 queries with no sample pages. That would be enough to put me in a foul mood, and I'm not an agent. I personally want my agent to read lots of wonderfully compliant submissions, grab a bottle of Chianti and some good chocolate, and then sit down to read my submission in front of a nice fire.

Why would a writer want to do that anyway? Why would you spend all those hours of perfecting and polishing your "baby" and then send it out to someone who isn't going to look at it? And why would you submit something they specifically said not to send and risk them rejecting you on that alone?

Do yourself and the rest of us writers a favor- learn to read the guidelines and follow them. Oh, and one more thing- don't rely on old copies of Writer's Digest from the library. Look up the agent's website and see what they currently are looking for, how they want submissions, and for goodness sakes make sure their bio doesn't say they're closed for submissions!

This has been a public service announcement on behalf of unagented writers everywhere. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. Thank you for your attention!

Oh, and agents... I've got a nice submission for you with only things you want in it that I'll be happy to send along when you're sitting in front of that fire.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

So I haven't posted since the 1st (boo, hiss on me), but this month has not quite gone as planned! :-)

Been hearing about lots of book sales, paperback releases, foreign releases, etc. SO happy for my fellow writers. Their success is all of our success, because it means publishers are buying books. Anything to get publishers buying more books is a good thing for writers, right?! So it disheartens me to see so much negativity all over the Internet with writers criticizing other writers who are selling a lot of books. I'm not talking constructive criticism here people- I'm talking downright attacking.

It definitely puts an ugly spin on things. Now, to be fair, not all writers bash others, and I am not talking about someone saying "I just don't like that book". We're all entitled to our opinion, but over the last couple of years I've seen a lot of "this person can't write at all" or "his/her writing just absolutely sucks". Obviously there is a market out there for everyone, from high literary concept to trashy beach reading. There's a time and place for all of it.

There are plenty of books that I have enjoyed despite poor writing. Those authors know how to tell a good story, even if the characters aren't developed that well, the grammar stinks, or the history is a little "off". In my mind, someone who can keep me interested in the story and focused on it instead of the errors and problems is a great storyteller. Not a great writer, maybe, but a great storyteller.

Compare it to movies... I love David Fincher's directing style, and I love Michael Bay's as well. They are two completely different directors in style and genre. Fincher is very dark, artistic, and symbolic in his directing. The setting is another character in his movies, and his genius continually amazes me. Michael Bay, on the other hand, directs movies that require an "in your face", blunt style. They're over the top and have lots going on at the same time, with things blowing up everywhere. He has signature camera shots that are just cool, and the colors are always vivid.

Would I say that Michael Bay deserves to win an Oscar? No- he doesn't do that type of film. What he does is give me an escape from the stress of the real world. His movies aren't the best written or acted, but I don't focus on that when I watch them. The effects, music, and visuals distract me from the flaws. His movies are candy for my brain.

When I watch a David Fincher film, I think and analyze and pay attention to the symbolism. He directs movies that are complex, nuanced, and layered in the storyline. His way of directing makes me appreciate the story and the acting even more. His movies are gourmet meals for my brain.

Gourmet meals and candy both have their place in life, and both are to be enjoyed and savored. Why should writing be any different? So embrace the "guilty pleasure" book, just like you do movies and t.v. shows. I find my mom's comment the other day pretty relevant here- "most people buying books don't care about how perfect the writing is, they just want to be entertained". I think it's time for us to lighten up on ourselves and each other and write things we enjoy. Hopefully others will get the chance to enjoy our writing too, even if we misuse commas sometimes. :-)

My favorite guilty pleasures at the moment:
T.V. Show- Gossip Girl
Book- Dan Brown- The Lost Symbol (just started it)
Movie- Any movie where things blow up or there are zombies

Got an opinion? Let me know!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What are YOU reading?

When people find out that I’ve written a book, one of the first questions I get is about what I’m reading. So, from time to time I’ll post a list of what I’m reading and what I’ve got in the pile that’s lined up next. Some are new, some old. A lot are YA or MG books. I read what I like, and my tastes vary wildly. I also read multiple books at the same time. :-) People are always lending or giving me books, I pick a lot up in the bargain bins at various bookstores, I buy some that I know I’ll want to keep at full price, and I get the rest from the library. I’ve even got readers on my iPhone and audiobooks, but nothing beats flipping the pages…

Here’s what I’m currently reading:
  • Planet India by Mira Kamdar: I have a fascination with India and its culture. This is an interesting book about the rise of India as a global power. I just started it, but it’s very good so far.
  • Never Give Up by Joyce Meyer: I really enjoy Joyce’s books. They give me the kick in the butt that I need sometimes. This book is all about staying determined to follow your goals and dreams. She intertwines scriptural references and personal stories with profiles of great men and women in history that refused to give up despite overwhelming odds. Very inspiring.
  • The Host by Stephenie Meyer: I’m still trying to get through The Host. I’m determined. I keep putting it down so it’s going very slowly. I hear that it gets better towards the middle. One day I’ll get there.
  • How I Write by Janet Evanovich: I’m reading this very slowly and soaking in all the great tips. Janet is a writer I admire very much. Her writing is fun and so descriptive. She always conveys a lightness to her world, even in dark scenes. I’m enjoying “picking her brain” in this book.
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold: When people hear that my book is told from the POV of a dead girl, they always tell me to read this book. So I finally am.

Just Finished:
  • I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter: I learned about this book several months ago on an agent blog. I thought it was a great cover and neat concept. The story is about a school for girls that is actually a school for spies. It’s a fantastic book, and I wish I had written it! I’m going to scoop up the next book in the series as soon as possible.
Some of the books coming up next:
  • The Good Guy by Dean Koontz: Love the suspense and mystery in Dean’s books. They’re a fun roller coaster ride. I’ve read most of his work, but this is one book I missed. My mom gave it to me for Christmas so it needs to be read!
  • The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton: Really liked the movie with Gillian Anderson so I scooped this up when I saw it in a bargain bin a few months ago.
  • Inkheart by Cornelia Funke: The Thief Lord is one of my all-time favorite YA books, so of course I was curious about Inkheart. Just hadn’t gotten around to it yet!
  • Oh.My.Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs: Part of a series about a normal girl who travels to an island where the kids are all descendants of Greek gods. Too cool.
  • Rampant by Diana Peterfreund: How can you not want to read a story about killer unicorns?!

    So, there you go. I’m never without a book or twenty to read ! I’d love to hear what other people are reading or want to read so comment or send me a message.