Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rejection. Maybe. Sorta. Yes? No.

So, I recieved a rejection for a partial I had on for In The Eye of Death. Every author on submission knows that rejections should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, most agents don't give us good reasons for rejecting, even if they read a partial or full. Agents are too busy to give heavy critiques. I'm personally fine with that. As long as I don't get a form rejection on my full.

Well, I recieved my rejection today. Here it is:

Dear Katie,

I finished reading your chapters for IN THE EYES OF DEATH over the weekend. While I still really love your idea for this story, I was not able to connect with the writing. I do think you've created a likable and interesting character in Jonah, however, without a strong connection to the story, I would not be the best agent for this project.

Thank you again for the opportunity to read your work, and I wish you the best of luck in finding an agent who is right for you.


Super Star Agent

I can see some of you looking this over and saying to yourselves, "But this looks like a standard rejection letter. Great, but not for me."

And I'm not denying it's a pretty standard format. But the fact that this agent mentioned that she liked my MC made me exceedingly happy. Why? Because I suck at writing characters.

A great deal of my free time is spent trying to figure out how to write a goddamn character. I'm a plot writer, through and through. Betas are impressed with my ideas and my plots, but not so much my characters. Most of my partial/full rejects state that the agent couldn't connect with my MC.

"But Katie," I can hear you say, "It's still a rejection. Shouldn't you be a little bummed?"

Yeah. Rejection bites the big one, I'm not denying that. Once the high of realizing someone actually likes my MC wears off, I'll hit the chocolates. And even if it's small, and probably just a generic comment, I feel really good about this rejection. I'm allowed to be happy, even if I acknowledge that the agent just said that to make me feel better about the reject.

If there are any agents out there who happen to be passing through: I really appreciate the way you word your rejections. This one in particular made me really happy. Keep up the good work, guys!



Saturday, July 10, 2010

Query for In The Eye of Death

So, since I'm such a lovely person, I thought I'd post my query for In The Eye of Death. I was planning on going through and explaining my thought process and how to write a good query and so on, but I realized: I have no bloody clue how to write a query letter.

I think my query is good. But I only became good after I practiced, practiced, and practiced. Then, just like writing a novel, you find what works and what doesn't. (Usually more straightforward, as you know something is wrong when the rejections start to pile up.)

So here it is, complete without personalization or credits. Enjoy, and make of it what you will:

Dear _________,

Cursed with a weak heart, all Jonah has ever been good at is suffering near-fatal heart attacks. He used to be good at Magik too, before he learned that every cast shortened his already dwindling lifespan.

So Jonah’s decided to retire at the age of fifteen, teaching children a Magik he can’t use until his life runs out. But when his students disappear in a puff of green smoke, the parents decide that Jonah’s to blame. To rescue the children and salvage his honour, Jonah will have to venture into the outside world and hunt down the Order of Grie—a group of religious fanatics who want to use the children’s youth to summon the God of Death.

With every cast, Jonah brings himself one step closer to an early grave. All he ever wanted was to live to thirty, but it’s becoming clear that he won’t survive his rescue mission. When he finally confronts the Order, they promise him a long and healthy life—everything Jonah has ever wanted. All it will cost him is the lives of his students... as well as his soul.

IN THE EYE OF DEATH is a young adult fantasy novel completed at 80 000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration, ________. I hope to hear from you soon.

Katie Carson

Friday, July 2, 2010

"That's Not Supposed to be Funny!"

Hey y'all. Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. I've fallen into a bit of a funk, in all aspects of writing. I can barely upduate my facebook status (Sadly, not kidding.)

So, today my friend and I went to see The Last Airbender. I am a huge fan of the original cartoon, and I was really excited for this movie.

I won't spoil it for anyone, but my friend and I laughed all the way through the movie. I'm sure the other people thought we were insane, especially during these emotional scenes where we couldn't stop laughing.

Now, as you can tell from the previews, this movie is not a comedy. M Night Shyamalan did not intend for it to be funny. In fact, if you watch the movie, it's supposed to be very serious and dramatic.

Is this a bad thing? I had a great time at the movie. A movie has never made me laugh harder. (Though that was mostly due to how bad it was.)

Now, way back when I was in ninth grade drama, a similiar situation came up. We were forced to write monologues and preform them in front of the whole class, a daunting task for a bunch of fifteen year olds. Now, this one girl I remember was very shy and didn't want to go up. When the drama teacher finally convinced her to go up, she began her monologue talking about how hard it was for her to be a blonde. She said something about not getting blonde jokes and I laughed. I thought it was funny. She became so enraged she refused to continue.

My drama teacher then responded with, "It doesn't matter what type of response you get. Your job as an artist is to put your art out there, and how other people respond is based on their own perception."

I think you get where I'm going now. So, we've all become published authors with big fat paychecks and our work is out in the world. So what happens when someone takes your book and doesn't understand what you're trying to convey? What happens if you have the complete opposite response that we think they should? Of course, none of us want to be hated. But I'm not talking about a reader hating your book. I'm talking about the weirdest interpration of your book you have ever seen.

What if the romance scene makes them angry? What happens if when your heroine dies they laugh? What happens if the heropic climax makes them cry? Does it make you question your worth as a writer? Does it make you wonder if anyone will ever like your book?

Well, of course not! I mean, that was only one reader, right? Surely there are other who will just love and understand your book so completely. There is nothing you can do about this reader. You move on.

So why don't I see the same thing when it comes to literary agents? Why do so many writers place their entire worth as an author on literary agents? Yes, they are important in the process, but so are readers. When that agent isn't working on a contract, isn't talking to publishers, isn't going out to meet editors, when they are sitting at their desk reviewing your manuscript, they are readers.

So, let's say that you recieve a rejection on your full manuscript and you recieve reasons why the agent rejected it, (I can hear the submitting writers laughing from here.) So you review the list, the things that this agent didn't like about your manuscript and that needs improvement. And you think to yourself, "What was this agent thinking? This isn't my book at all!" And you think, surely, positively, they read someone else's book and the email wasn't meant for you, because these changes are proposterous.

So what does it all come down to? Is your manuscript in ruins because you couldn't sell it to that one agent? Would you pull your book off the shelves for that one reader who just didn't get it? Of course not! Because surely, someone else will love the book.

And if no one else loves it, if everyone else thinks you're a fool for writing it, does that mean you have no worth as a writer?

Well, do you love what you've written?

Forget all the nay-sayers and the bring downs: Do you love your book?

If the answer is a yes, then you are a writer. You're a good writer. The true writers are passionate about their work and write what they love despite what anyone else will say.

After all, you cannot control other people's responses to your work. All you can do is, as an artist, create something beautiful and set it free in the world.