Teaser Tuesday – YAified AFTRLYF 1

Okay, so I’m going to pretend like I’m not obsessed with the iPod Touch I just bought myself (sadly because my beautiful iPod is dying) and do a teaser while it syncs.

I’ve been working on making AFTRLYF YA.  The biggest challenge in that is lowering Sam’s apparent age.  He started at “sixteen” and now he’s going to “thirteenish.”  Tia started at “twenty-six” and now is going for “eighteen.”  These are quote-unquote ages because Tia’s really 2000-and-change and Sam’s really about 200.  I’d love to make Sam younger, but I can’t justify to myself his older girlfriend younger than “13.”

This is the introduction to Samael, one of my favorite characters.  Context, Tia couldn’t get to her “clients” in time to pick them up at the time of their death, so she called her brother.

A young, blond kid leaned against a blue Ford Mustang and waved at me as I approached.  A teenaged Filipino girl and an old Caucasian woman waited with him.  “Thanks, Sam.  I owe you one.”

“No problem.  It’s a nice change from animals.”  One of the younger A.D.s in the field, Sam had the vet route.  San Diego’s animals that died in veterinary offices came into his care.  How lucky I would be to only have to frequent hospitals to collect my spirits.  Half of them died at home.  That was where being invisible and incorporeal came in handy.  If they couldn’t see you, nobody could object to you touching them, and, if you could walk through walls, they couldn’t keep you out.  But until I got off probation, I’d have to make do with my charms.

“Do you need any more help?” Sam asked.

“No, I have an hour before my last charge, and tomorrow’s looking much lighter in comparison.”  I patted him on the head, noticing his golden locks were a little shorter and more even than the last time I had seen him.  “How’d you get your hair cut?”

He grinned at me.  “You noticed.  Helen decided I needed a trim so she took some scissors to it.  I said it was silly, but she insisted.  Do you like it?”

“It’s just weird.”  Off his crestfallen expression, I added, “But good.  Anyway, thanks for your help.  Remind me to buy you an ice cream.”

He made a face.  “Please, I’m, like, two centuries old.  I’d much rather you put in a good word for me with Dad.  Could you?”

“If you think it’ll help.  I don’t exactly have his ear these days.”

“More so than me.  Come on.  Maybe he’ll promote me to humans.  These girls were pretty nice.”  The younger of my clients beamed, and I couldn’t help but suspect Sam of flirting with her, despite the fact that he looked like he had just barely hit his teens.  What would Helen think if she knew what her boyfriend wanted out of a transfer?

I sighed and gave in.  What could I do?  I owed Sam for saving my butt tonight.  “Don’t blame me if nothing comes of it.”

“Thanks, sis.”  He grinned as he turned the corner of a car.  “You better get going before the crowd’s around to see you teleport.”  And then he was gone.

Now that he had mentioned it, I noticed the trickle of people leaving The Q.  Chargers fans clad in blue and gold exited the stadium en masse, and Sam was right–if I wanted to teleport with the clients, I’d better make sure nobody was around to see it.  Spotting a Hummer 3, I ushered my charges towards it, hoping to use its girth to hide our disappearance.

So how am I doing?

Currently on old iPod: Cab by Train

Currently on new iPod: Sync in Progress 😉

Lots of love,

Sage

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One Year Ago

So this is the story of my first offer.  Today is the one-year anniversary, so I thought it was a good time to share.

It starts off with a trip to Martha’s Vineyard.  Mid-winter I was going stir-crazy, and I was stuck on the computer all day long at work, and I decided I needed a break.  We were also planning to look at houses and get a loan for one in the summer, so I knew that if I was going to go on a writing vacation (as I had the year before), it should be before we started that process.

The house in Martha’s Vineyard was awesome.  It was right on the water and had lots of great windows.  It was the perfect atmosphere for writing.  Also, it had a ghost.  There was a computer in a corner under the stairs, and myself and a writing friend who was there the first weekend heard someone typing on the computer when nobody was there.

I have recently posted about the query addiction that started during this vacation.  It was only supposed to be one query for every 1000 words, but once I started getting requests, I started querying more and more.

One request was for a snail mailed full.  I freaked out a little because I had no way of printing out the novel (which was Love Sucks), but a friend of mine offered to print it out at work and send it off for me.

I sent the query on Monday, and the request was also on Monday.  I believe the full was put in the mail on Wednesday.  I actually had more full requests before the vacation ended.

On Saturday of that week, I had the fun task of driving home.  I had to go to work on Monday, and I was undecided whether to make the full 15-hour drive from Martha’s Vineyard to Ohio that day or to stop at my aunt’s on the way back.  On the way to Martha’s Vineyard, I had stopped at a hotel halfway there, but I wanted a recovery day before going back to work.

But when I got to the ferry, I was in for some bad news.  There was almost no way I was getting on the next ferry, and it wasn’t looking so good for the one afterwards either.  I was looking at possibly not even getting off the island until 1 p.m.  I bought a standby ticket and put my car in line, then went and got myself some breakfast.  I was back in the car with plenty of time to go, but once they started loading cars, it seemed like the lines that had formed after me were going before me, even though it had looked like they had already let in the cars who weren’t in standby.  I was getting anxious.  But finally my line moved, and while I didn’t get on that ferry, I did get in the spaces where they had the next cars for standby ready.  So all I needed were five spaces to be open on the next ferry and I could get in.

First I had to wait for it.  I wondered if I should call my aunt and uncle and ask to stay the night.  I actually dialed them, then after a ring, realized it was still Saturday morning, and maybe they were still asleep, so I hung up.  Then I got out of my car, took some pictures, wandered around a little, and ran back to my car when the ferry showed up.

And that was about the same time my phone rang.

My first assumption was that it was my aunt calling me.  I didn’t recognize the area code as being the same as the number I had called a little bit before, but it was the only thing that made sense.  I answered.

The voice was strange, but he introduced himself immediately.  It was the agent who had requested the snail mail full.  The whole time I was thinking, “No way.  Seriously?”  But I am a big multi-tasker, so I was also thinking about what he was saying, reminding myself that in ten minutes when I was off the phone, this really did happen, and more than anything, worrying about the ferry and whether I’d get on and whether they’d let me on with a phone at my ear when there was a sign that said “No cell phones” and whether I could safely drive on to a ferry while talking on the phone.

And very sadly, all this ferry stress kinda stole my big “OMG, an offer” moment. 

So Agent offered me representation, gushed over how high concept Love Sucks was, told me it needed revisions, but when I asked for details (Hey, I had a long drive to think about them), only gave me one.  He then told me that he knew I had to contact my other agents, but if I could give him an answer by Friday, that’d be great.  We hung up.  I got on the ferry.  I texted everyone I knew 😉

Once I was off the ferry, I drove very quickly, watching every sign as soon as I was on a major freeway looking for a Panera.  Usually I would try to have lunch as late as possible to break up the drive, but I didn’t want to waste a second.  I found one pretty quickly and got lunch and used the WiFi to e-mail the other agents with fulls, half of which had requested in the last week.  Of course, it was Saturday, so I figured that some of them might not be checking their e-mail until Monday, but still, it felt good to get it done. 

I sped home and by the time I got there at about 11:30 p.m. (I managed to knock two hours off the drive by ignoring the speed limit), a few of the agents had already passed.  One asked the next day to have time to read the novel, but she was on vacation at the time, so she said she’d talk to me on Wednesday when she got back.  She ended up requesting revisions, all of which made sense, but in the end, I couldn’t say no to the guaranteed offer.

Of course, as you know, I am not currently agented, but… that is a different story to be told on a different anniversary.

So interestingly, at the time, I had always expected those Martha’s Vineyard fulls to last a long time.  That had been my experience so far.  I had a 6-month full, a 5-month full, and a 3-month full, and never had had a rejection from any of them.  My experience was that I would send out fulls that would never get answers, not even if I status queried them.  So the call was a complete surprise.

It’s a stark contrast from these days, where I’m anticipating The Call (or E-mail) at every moment.  If the phone rings and it’s not a specific ring tone, I freak out that it might be an agent.  I track agents on Query Tracker and Twitter to try to guess their response times and if they’re reading my mss.  Not having The Call before, I dreamed it would happen, but didn’t really expect it.  Knowing it can come, and how soon after a request, has made me more impatient, as I’m sure you’ve all figured out.

But that’s okay.  I’m still waiting.  Because even though it’s been a year since that offer, it hasn’t been a full year of wall-to-wall querying.  There were revisions and new novels and even newer novels.  And even though one agent has had Love Sucks for 9 months now (LS does seem to be the mss that sits on agents’ desks forever…, with one exception, of course), one agent has had Fireflies for less than two hours, lol. 

So that’s my offer story.  If an agent were to offer this March 28, it would prove to be less stressful and way more exciting.  All I have planned today is lab work, and I’d love a break in that, to be honest 😉 Hint, hint.

Lots of love,

Sage

P.S. (I forgot) Currently on iPod: The Bonny Swans by Loreena McKennitt

100 Sentences

So I hit a rut in TM, but I’m going to work through it in a minute.  In the meantime, I’m doing a little exercise that a couple of friends suggested to me.  They are represented by Mary Kole of Andrea Brown, who wrote a blog post about brainstorm ideas.  One of the ideas there is to write 100 declarative sentences about your MC.

100 Declarative Sentences

This is a great brainstorm tool, and it’s really hard. This works best with a character or a setting that’s giving you difficulty. Maybe your critique group thinks it’s thin or flat or unconvincing, or it just doesn’t feel right to you. Concentrate on this place or this person and write 100 declarative sentences about her, him or it. Sounds simple, right? Well, it really calls into question how well you know what you’re writing about. A declarative sentence is just an informative sentence that states a fact. Let’s say I have a character called Claire who isn’t working for me. I would start my list:

  1. Claire plays JV tennis.
  2. Claire likes to eat ice cream but only after she wins a game.
  3. Claire wishes she had long hair like Abby does.

Etc. etc. etc. A lot of it will feel like you’re just riffing. You’re making things up. You’re improvising. But you’ll come up with some great surprises, like quirks of a character that you never thought of. Then, around sentence 80, you will feel like you will never finish this stupid exercise. And you will hate me. And you will probably give up and watch some TV. So it goes. But the point here is that you’re thinking of the place or person as something real. Declarative sentences are simple and informational. It will force you to think about things you haven’t been considering yet.

Who knows if you will use all of the 100 things you come up with? But the truth and beauty of fiction always lies in the specifics. Here, you have an opportunity to come up with specifics, quirks, tidbits and other things that will flesh out your character or setting and make them seem more real, more significant. Some of my favorite details about a character or place, the ones that stick with me long after the book is over, are small things like this. That Claire has the purple nail polish chipped off the big toe on her left foot. That Bellmeadows, the town where Claire lives, has three car dealerships but no gas station. Character and setting are in the details. Force yourself to come up with some. You’ll get maybe 10 or 20 new things to add throughout your manuscript.

Since I’m having a harder time connecting to Rosie than Taylor, I’m doing it for her.

So the first 15 were things I already knew about her.  Things like how she wants to fight for BOIS rights and why and where her family works (for EDEN, the company that makes the BOIS) and how she feels about that.  The next few were things I sort of knew.  They were general concepts I had pictured but not put much thought into, or things that explained her reaction to Taylor but there was no history there.

Then I started going, “Well, I’m at number 24.  What other things can I come up with?”

This is where I was worried the exercise would be worthless.  I’ve done some of those surveys for your characters, knowing that sometimes they help and sometimes they don’t.  100 facts about your character is a lot, especially when you’re within your first 3000 words of the novel.  So I might put in “Rosie likes cats.” And, sure, maybe something will come from that, but probably nothing that I couldn’t have made up for plot purposes at the moment.  In a book about a girl and her android boyfriend, I’m probably not going to have much use for that information.

But then I went, “Okay, well, I know Rosie is involved in at least two extra-curricular activities.  Many people join those to add them to their applications.”

24. Rosie plans to go to college.

Speech and debate probably looks really good in those applications, and she just got through Regionals.  For finals she gets to speak in front of the President.  That’s got to get her a scholarship, right?  Well…

25. Rosie hopes that she will get a speech and debate scholarship for college

Which led to:

26. Rosie’s not willing to sell out her beliefs for this scholarship, even though her defense of BOIS rights will probably lose her it, she wants to make the president think.

And then I changed 25 to:

25.  Rosie hopes that she will get a speech and debate scholarship for college, but there’s only one available through the competition, and EDEN is offering it.

And all of a sudden, I had a new piece of conflict.  Hello.

Of course some of this is probably going to end up being worthless.

39. Rosie has a cat

But, I guess the gems are worth the experience.  I just hope I get at least one more gem in the remaining 55 sentences I have to do.

In other news, yesterday I had all yellow lights on my way back to work from lunch.  I made it through all of them. 

Currently on iPod: Bolero by Ravel

Tomorrow: I will post about my first offer, which was on March 28, 2009.

Lots of love,

Sage

Teaser Tuesday – More from the AFTRLYF

So this week, I figured out how to YA-ify AFTRLYF.  Yay.  This has been something that’s been bugging me for a while.  People tell me it sounds YA, that it’s paced YA, that Tia sounds YA, that my queries sound YA, but I had put Tia mentally at 26 and her brother at 16.  I’m still a little worried that Tia is out of “school” and both she and Sam are focused on their jobs, but even in the New Adult contest, where I focused on her job (and of course the angel murder), I was told it sounded too YA.  But anyway, I figured out what to do with their ages, so I’m going to be working on that for a while.  I’m still working on Taylor-Made, it’s just going slowly.

First scene from AFTRLYF:

As the cold steel of the knife slipped between my ribs, I had only one thought.  Oh, gods, this is going to create so much paperwork.

The knife’s owner stared with wide, frightened eyes.  No doubt he hadn’t actually planned on using the knife in his mugging attempt, but I had been in too much of a hurry to find my own victim to pay attention to which way his weapon was pointing.

Note to self:  Pushing past your mugger proves to be fatal.  Next time be more careful.

“Relax, kid.”  With one tug on the wooden handle, I pried the blade from my gut and dropped it to the ground.  A carving knife.  Obviously, there hadn’t been much foresight on this mugging attempt.  “Don’t have a heart attack.  You haven’t killed anyone tonight.”

The scrawny teen stared at the wound–even in the dim light of this downtown San Diego alley, we could both see the lack of blood–then at the knife on the ground.  He hugged his quivering body and clutched his arm.  “Wha–”

I ignored him, sifting through my options.  I could let him go.  Even if he told someone, who would believe him?  But if he told the wrong someone, there’d be Hell to pay.

Then again, if I reported him to the Waiting Room for memory modification, I’d have that paperwork and another mark on my record.  While erasing his memory was clearly the right choice, plenty of my colleagues would sidestep the rules for such a minor blunder.  It was more than jealousy that led me to suspect some of those perfect records were obtained by ignoring the cases that could blemish them.  Since he was the only one around, what harm could there be in letting him go?  What was he going to say?  “I’d like to report this non-murder I committed a block away from Broad.”

Not until I looked back at him did I realize I had another option.  The punk’s shivering had become more pronounced, and he had fittingly turned as white as a ghost.  But the glowing, black symbol that had appeared on his forehead caught my attention more than his body language.  The sun cross, a cross inscribed in a circle.  Like the passing of the seasons the symbol represents in the human world, it informed me that this human was due to pass.  It’s The Symbol–or my symbol, I wasn’t sure what others saw–of Death.

“W-w-what are you?” he finally managed.

I removed one of my black gloves and touched him on the shoulder, making sure my finger glanced his bare skin through the hole in his sweatshirt.  “Don’t worry.  Everything’s going to be fine.”

His body fell to the ground, but his spirit stayed behind.  “I told you to relax,” I said.  Pulling out my cell phone, I dialed 911, and put on my best frantic voice.  “Hello?  There’s this guy in an alley off of Broad Street.  I think he had a heart attack or something.  Could you send an ambulance?”

The operator told me to stay on the line, but I hung up anyway.  It wasn’t as if they could trace my call.  You know those fake 555 numbers they use in movies?  My cell phone actually used one.

“What did you do to me?” the guy asked, staring at his body.

“Nothing.  Your time was up.  Let’s get going.  I have a busy night.”

“But who are you?  What are you?”

“I’m an Angel of Death.”  I took his hand so I could teleport us to the celestial plane.  “You can call me Tia.”

In music news, I have recreated all the playlists on my netbook from my iPod that aren’t somewhere online (my novel playlists are online).  This means if my iPod battery dies, like it’s threatening to, I won’t lose those.

Yesterday I didn’t hear very many songs, but all of them were good.  “Bad Before Good” by Day One, “Bad Boys” by Gloria Estefan, “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter (which I was kinda having, so it fit), “Bad Horse Chorus” and “Bad Horse Chorus (Reprise)” from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog, “Bad, Bad Boba Fett” by The Great Luke Ski, “Badaboom” from The Fifth Element, and this next one:

Currently on iPod: “Ball of Confusion” from Sister Act 2

(What’s weird is all of those except “Bad Boys” is somehow tv or movie related for me, and as “Bad Boys” played, I thought, “This could be a Trouble song.”) 

Lots of love,

Sage

How Being Brave Has Made Me a Coward Again

Once upon a time, I was so timid about querying.  It would take me several days to send one query.  Just one.  And the sad thing was that despite my best intentions to personalize them, I really suck at it, so they weren’t all that personalized.  Then I would agonize over every word (even though I had already perfected (or, you know, not) the query letter).  Then I had to get through my nerves enough… to… send. 

By the time I got to querying Love Sucks, I was a little braver, sending in batches of two or three a day.  Five would be a very productive querying day (and I spent the whole day on it).  I had to check every one several times.  Did I spell the name right?  Did I follow their directions to the letter?  Did the directions on AgentQuery match their website and everything anyone ever said on Absolute Write about them?  Finally I would hit send.

Something happened when I was querying Love Sucks, pre-revision.  I started to like it.  I had already been querying it for six months and had three fulls that had been sitting.  But I had very few queries out there.  I was on a writing vacation and made myself send one query every 1000 words.  And then I got a new full request.  And then I wanted to send another query before I had finished 1000 words.  And suddenly I wanted to query.

By the time I was querying LS’s revision, I was querying like a madwoman (after the initial check that my revised query worked with a few test agents).  I sent queries in batches of 5-10 and waited a much shorter time between batches.  I’d throw the query in an e-mail, address it to the agent, add the pages they wanted, if any (I had learned to take the first 10 pages and give them their own document with spaces between the paragraphs, just for querying purposes, and that made including pages much easier), the synopsis if they wanted (because I had already “perfected” that too), and it was off.  I still made sure to follow the query directions, but I didn’t agonize over it.

Same routine for Trouble and Fireflies.  I sent in batches, waiting a short time to see the responses, when I got positive responses (especially for Fireflies), I started doing bigger batches.  I got obsessed with sending queries.

But, see, here I am waiting on fulls and partials, and the agents who seem right for Fireflies (and take e-queries) have mostly been queried.  Every so often an agent at a “no from one of us doesn’t equal a no from all” agency will give me a rejection, and I’ll get to query a new one.  Or an agent that never got back to me on Trouble has taken so long that I feel brave enough to query them with Fireflies.

Perhaps because these are kinda trickling now, I’ve suddenly become a coward again.  I put them together the same way as when I’m speed-querying, but I get scared to hit “send.”  I double-, triple-check the query directions.  Check to make sure that this is THE agent I want to query next from that agency. Go read about them on AW again and make sure I’m not missing anything.  Send.

Freak out.  Did I misspell their name?  Did I copy and paste a weird version of my query?  Did I forget the pages?

Seriously, where did this fear come from this time?  I don’t know.  Maybe because I’ve started to think it’s “easy” (the actual putting together of the query, at least), it’s come back and created this fear that I’ve gotten cocky about it and haven’t done what I needed to.  Or maybe one query sent to an agent at the wrong e-mail and without pages when she wanted them has made me second guess myself.  Whatever the reason, it’s not stopping me from querying.  It’s just… more stress, lol.

Luckily, I’ve been waiting on requests, so query rejections in the end don’t seem toooooo disappointing.

Usually.

Currently on my iPod: All of This by Shaimus

Lots of love,

Sage

Teaser Tuesday – 3/16/10

So 3-15 was pretty boring.  Maybe next year will be the foreshadowed date?  Even though it was boring, I’ll tell you why I thought it might be exciting.  A couple of years ago on 3-15, the Pick Three lottery numbers were 3-1-5, and they made a huge deal about it because it was the date and a lot of people had picked it.  Well, ever since then 315 has been EVERYWHERE, so I assume it’s haunting me for a reason.  Some kind of sign.

But not this week.

Here’s my teaser from Taylor-Made.  It occurs shortly after the last scene I teased with and is from Rosie’s POV.

She stalked over to a different machine, ordering a water and a sandwich.  Turkey, provolone, light mayo, lettuce, she entered the options with a practiced finger.  Finally, carrot sticks as a side.  The vending machine spit out her order, then Kara’s.

“Don’t you get bored buying the same sandwich every day?” Kara asked.  She was picking at a slice of pizza.

“Makes more sense than getting pizza with mushrooms on it when you don’t like them.”

Kara took another mushroom off, finally clearing enough off to nibble on the end.  “I like the flavor, just not the texture.  Give me a break.”

“I’m just saying, lunch would be easier if you didn’t have to–”

The whine of a siren interrupted her.  Rosie’s heart doubled in speed.  Shit, was this a drill?  She didn’t really have time to think about it before she was grabbing Kara’s arm and pulling her towards their homeroom’s line, their lunches forgotten.  They lined up in the quad, waited for their teachers to count them, then marched, room by room, down into the shelter under the school.

Rosie’s homeroom was one of the last down there.  She watched the overcast sky, listening for the sound of planes or targeting missiles.  Nuevo Angeles was supposed to be safe–anyone attacking the capital would be obliterated in response–but logic was having a tough time battling the fear instilled by the sirens.

Still, by the time Rosie’s class was in the shelter, she was feeling a little more certain that this was just a drill.  No sign of weapons or aircraft.

She had to admit, it was highly unlikely her class would get in the shelter in time if there was an actual attack.  This didn’t keep her from hugging herself and staring at the door, listening with the rest of her class for the sounds of explosions outside. 

So there it is.  My first Rosie tease.

Currently on my iPod: All I Hear by Train

Yep, that’s right, I got through all the rest of the Ws, the Xs, Ys, Zs, numbers, and am in the As.  I seem to remember that there are a lot of “All”s, so I might be there for a while 😉

Lots of love,
Sage

Lost(?) Hour

Today we lost an hour at 2 a.m.  Booooooo.  I’d say this affected my sleep, but it didn’t because I just slept as long as I could. (I’ve been shorting myself on sleep, didn’t sleep in on any of my days off last week, and my eye has been twitching.)  So at 1:30 p.m. I got up, did laundry, played with my cats, then finally went out to run my errands.

I took in the recycling (which I had to go all over town for, because half our recycling bins are suddenly missing), bought spring decorations for the sunroom (which I can’t put up until I have containers to store my winter decorations), went to three bookstores for The Maze Runner and the complete Absolute Boyfriend series (it’s research for Taylor-Made, really), bought The Prestige (which I watched on Thursday for the first time; I knew one of the plot twists and it still surprised me–I spent all of Friday thinking about it and have to see it again), bought pajama pants and bras (I’m down a size, yay), and got my favorite Chinese food.  I got home early enough to watch way too many eps of House, send out queries, and do more laundry.  Lost hour, what?

All this driving around let me listen to a lot of songs, and most of them were awesome.  When My Boy Walks Down the Street by the Magnetic Fields, Where Have All the Cowboys Gone by Paula Cole, Where I Belong by Motion City Soundtrack (a Fireflies song), Wherever, Whenever by Shakira (a song I used to dance to during zumba), Whipping Boy by Train, and Whisper by Evanescence (an EoS song).  This is why I do this.  What a great selection of songs all in one day.

On that note:

Currently on my iPod: White Flag by Dido

In other news, today is Pi Day, and tomorrow is 3-15.  3-15 is a magic number.  I’ll maybe post about it tomorrow.

Lots of love,

Sage