Thursday, April 30, 2009

Just how busy are agents anyway?

I just got a dose of reality today. I've read it dozens of times. I even told my friends who were asking if I heard back from the agent yet, that it could be weeks, or months. But we has humans don't seem to really believe it until it happens to us.

I got an email from the Secret Agent. "Thanks! I'll do my best to get back to you within two months."

I totally understand. We are all very busy people. I have clients (at my day job) that have to wait quite a while for me to get to their projects too. But still, two months! At least I can hold off checking my email every ten minutes... At least for a few weeks. I mean you never know, she may get to it early. :-)

In the mean time I am continuing to refine the query letter for Noah Zarc, and put the finishing touches on the manuscript. I hope to start sending out to other agents within the next month. So that'll give me something else to fret about.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Noah Zarc Book Two

Before all the secret agent hooha, I began work on the second Noah Zarc book. My son has been bugging me to write the sequel, so of course I had to comply. I'm pretty excited about some ideas I have for it. I've got the first couple of pages written, but mostly I've been mulling it over in my mind. I tend to come up with scenes in my head. Little vignettes that begin to build the plot, and give me an idea of where I want to go with the story. I think it may end up being a bit darker than the first one, but that is yet to be seen for sure.

In the mean time I'm continuing to edit book one. I want to make sure it is ready to go if the agent requests the full manuscript. I also haven't forgotten Crimson Swarm. It is off to one of my crit partners who I'm doing a full novel swap with. Could be a busy summer for writing.

Thanks to all the folks who helped whip the first five chapters of Noah Zarc into shape for the agent. Hopefully it'll pay off.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Secret Agent Results

It is official. I can't stop grinning. The secret agent chose Noah Zarc as one of the runners up in the Secret Agent contest. How cool is that? The prize: Literary Agent Kate Testerman, has agreed to read the first five chapters of the book. Yikes! That means I have to put an end to my continual editing. I need to say "It is finished" and send it out. That's kind of scary in and of itself.

She also asks for a synopsis of the whole story. I haven't written one of those yet, so I'll have to get crackin'. I did just reread the first five chapters (making yet a few more edits) and am pretty excited about it. Chapter five ends with a pretty cool cliff hanger so hopefully it'll get her to want to read even more.

I know it is a very, very long shot that I would ever land an agent on my first try, but still it is cool. And it is still worth getting excited about.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Secret Agent Part Deux

I'm pretty excited... The secret agent commented on my opening, and he/she liked it.

"Secret Agent said... Tension, action, introduction of characters: all in all, a good set-up to a possibly intriguing story. I'd be happy to read more.

Although -- Sam and Ham as matching names bothers me a bit."

It's not that I place agents on a higher pedestal than the average reader... okay, that's a lie. There seems to be this almost mythological view of agents by many unpublished authors. And I can certainly understand, and relate to it. They are the gatekeepers of sorts. If you want to be take seriously by most main stream publishers you have to have an agent. So those few words from the secret agent carry a great deal of weight. I really wonder if most agents understand the power they have. Even our secret agent had some pretty harsh words for some of the other entries... I'm sure she is a nice person and certainly has no desire to hurt anyone, but if I'm this excited about the good things she said, imagine what I would have felt to have her say she "hated" it.

I'm kind of rambling here, but I'm just trying to put into perspective how I feel about the whole experience thus far. There is some guilt for the shadenfreudian thoughts I had when I counted up the nos compared to the yeses (was she hooked?) Hoping that there weren't many yeses giving me a higher chance at winning. But at the same time, that is really how the game works. Agents receive by some accounts a hundred queries a day. As a writer you want your query to stand out above all the others. But that means you want 99 people to be hurt by the rejection, so you can be seen.

Boy, maybe I'm not cut out for this. This started as an I'm excited entry, now I'm feeling a bit down.

Well, if I happen to be one of the ones who wins on Monday, I'm sure I'll get back to excited right quick.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Secret Agent Contest

I discovered a nifty site a month or so ago called, Miss Snark's First Victim. (For those who don't know who Miss Snark is, click here.) The blog author, who calls herself Authoress, runs a Secret Agent contest once a month. It goes something like this. She lines up an actual literary agent to agree to be her secret agent of the month. Then she gets 50 wannabe authors to send in their first 250 words from a completed manuscript. These first pages are posted on the site and then everyone has to critique at least 5 entries from the other authors.

Where the fun part comes in (as if that weren't fun enough) is the Secret Agent will also critique the entries, and in the end award some kind of prize. (request to submit, etc...) This sounded quite exciting to me, and so I submitted my first page for Noah Zarc. You can see all the wonderful feedback I've been getting here: http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/2009/04/20-secret-agent.html Although honestly I was hoping for more "This part doesn't work." statements so I could make it better, my ego also enjoys a "This really hooked me!" every now and again too.

The secret agent has yet to show herself, so it remains to be seen what a professional thinks of the opening. I can't wait to hear. Well, I guess I have to, but I don't have to like it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Noah Zarc Query Letter

While I wait for feedback from my Noah Zarc beta readers, I'm working on writing a query letter. This is the first thing prospective literary agents will see. Here is version one.

Dear Ms. Agent:

I have been following your blog for years, and always find your comments helpful and encouraging. I hope you will be interested in representing my novel.

NOAH ZARC is middle-grade, science fiction, complete at 50,000 words.

JJ couldn’t imagine life without spending his days piloting spaceships through time, visiting ancient worlds and rescuing the Earth’s animals from extinction. Sure not every kid had to dodge killer robot drones, rescue their parents from the Ice Age, and save the Earth from being destroyed – again – but not every kid was a Zarc.

Nearly a thousand years in the future, humanity has moved to other worlds. The Earth, once uninhabitable, is coming back to life thanks to the efforts of the ARC Foundation. Noah Zarc, his wife Hannah and their three kids, Ham, Sam and JJ, have been given the task of traveling back in time to retrieve pairs of now extinct animals to repopulate the planet.

However dissention has arisen between supporters of the ARC Foundation who live on Mars, and those on Venus who think the Earth should be reopened to human population. The Venetian leader, Haon, has vowed to stop the Zarcs, even if it means destroying the very thing he is fighting to reclaim.

NOAH ZARC shows the power of family to overcome insurmountable obstacles, while not losing sight of what is most important, standing up for the helpless.

I am the owner of a website development company with a degree in graphic design and illustration. This is my first novel.

If you would like to see sample chapters, or the full manuscript, please respond via email at drobert@drobertpease.com, or at xxx.xxx.xxxx. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
D. Robert Pease

Friday, April 3, 2009

Beta Readers

Editing has been progressing slowly but surely. I think I'm to the point where both of my current projects are ready for beta readers. I've sent off Noah Zarc to a few readers, and look forward to their thoughts. I'm in the process of trying to line up some for Crimson Swarm too.

My goal (I know I've said that before) is to have them both ready to go in the next couple of months. I'm itching to start submitting them to potential agents. I think I've learned about all I can, at this point, about the process and I'm ready to hit the ground running.