Staying Home

Well, it’s been almost six months and I still haven’t mastered the art of staying home. For those who don’t know, this spring, I decided to take a medical leave from work. My RA has gotten bad enough that I needed time to pull myself together. Medications aren’t helping like I’d hoped. And I take so many of them that I decided a break was in order.

So here I am, trying to find my place in my own home. When to write, when to clean, And just how does one muster the drive to take a shower, put on half-way decent clothes and make up to just stare at the same walls that were there the day before?

That sounds like depression, but it’s not. I was actually trying to be funny and failed miserably. I’m not unhappy at home or bored. It’s just that I haven’t quite figured out the rhythm. I had a plan for my week. Get up with my husband each day. Didn’t happen. Cook myself breakfast after I get the boy to school, nope. Well, I got the boy to school, but then I came home and grabbed a bowl of cereal and started to work on my WIPs.

And then the summer hit. Yow-sa!

I got some writing done, but not near enough for my schedule. I did manage to edit three books (actually 2 but one of those I had to do twice. :D) Lovely, lovely edits.  I also managed to start a new project–this one contemporary. Yes, a new venture for me.

August again and time for the boy to go back to school. More time to write and get those household projects complete. Right?

I just wonder how long it’s going to take to get me used to him not being here and having the house to myself. Man, am I going to miss him!

To Agent or Not to Agent

So you’ve finished a book, you’re writing a book, or you just want to write a book, and you’re wondering if you need an agent. Honestly, I don’t know. I will say this: a *good* agent is never a bad idea.

But allow me to tell you my story. There was a time in my writing career when I wrote secular romance. I wanted to sell to Avon–So. Very. Badly. Avon used to be very tight and for a long time only accepted agented manuscripts. So I set out to find an agent. I needed one to get into Avon and if nothing else, an agent would give me more credibility–an industry person in New York who believed in me.

So I made a plan and a list of potential agents. I went though the RWR and found names of credible agents. I also researched my favorite authors and their agents. Once I had my list, I sent out a mass mailing. I believe there were sixteen names in all. (Most agents won’t read unsolicited manuscripts and I’ve always been told to be leery of those who do.)  I wrote a query letter stating who I was, awards and contests I had won, my past publishing credits (I wrote true confessions for a while), and anything that would sell them on me as a writer. Then I put in a short synopsis about my manuscript, selling them on my book. I ended with the status of my manuscript–“complete and ready to send upon your request.”

Of the sixteen letters I sent, only one replied with a positive response–Mary Sue Seymour. Mary Sue has changed my career in ways I had never dreamed possible. Will you have the same experience with your agent? I honestly don’t know. But I’m glad that our relationship has worked out the way it did.

My question to you is what will/can an agent do for you? Why do you want agent? Why do you feel you need one? Okay, that’s three questions, but I think they are all valuable answers.

If you are successful on your own, I say keep going.  But on the heels of that, I’ll tell you that I was glad to have Mary Sue on my side come contract time. It was so nice to sit back and relax (and bite my nails) while she negotiated the movie rights clause and my advance. I would have never been able to do that myself. Not with the first contract for sure.

Please keep in mind that the above is my story and only my opinion. Everyone has a different take on the “to agent or not to agent” question. I have friends who are like me and likely wouldn’t have sold without an agent. I have a friend who is crazy successful without an agent, and then I have a friend who scoped out the agents, found one she liked but didn’t query until Harlequin called. JFTR–I totally disagree with this last method, you just did all the leg work for the agent and they’re still gonna take their 10-15%. Also your agent may have contacts that can further your career and if you don’t sign quicker than this, you may have just struggled through some totally unnecessary work. But who’s to say?

However you get there (or don’t) signing with an agent is a personal thing. Everyone’s career is unique. If it’s right for you, then do it.  It’s like the measure of success, only you can decide. But that’s a bog for another day.

How to Tell that You Live with a Writer by Rob Lillard as told to Amy

This post is for all the spouses out there. All the sisters, brothers and moms whose writing family member falls off the radar a couple of times a year. You don’t know if you are one of these abandoned loved ones? There are certain key indicators that you may live with a writer. In any given week, you may find yourself saying something like this…

Monday:

“Do we have any Q-tips?”

What do you mean you don’t know you have a book due?

“What’s for supper?”

“Well, I guess a sandwich is okay. Sure…I can make it  myself.”

Tuesday:

Did you go to the store today? We need Q-tips.

Sure I can make a sandwich for supper, but..we’re out of lunch meat.

I’m out of underwear and socks. Can you wash a load of whites for me?

I know you are under a deadline,  but you can write while the clothes wash.

Wednesday:

Did you remember to get Q-tips?

I know you have a book due, but it’s been three days since I asked you.

You went to the store to get coffee but you forgot Q-tips? Yes, I do believe Q-tips are just as important as coffee.

Can you wash some whites?

Thursday:

I’m down to my last pair of underwear and socks. Did remember you wash some bleach clothes?

Have you taken a shower today? This week?

Honey, setting partially opened cans of cat food in the floor is not really feeding the cat.

Yeah, take out is fine. Yeah…I’ll go get it.

Friday:

I’m going to Walmart. We need lunch meat, Q-tips, and new underwear and socks.

How much longer before you hit your deadline?

If you can say yes, that any or all of the conversation above has taken part at your house, then most probably you live with a writer. Never fear, this insanity usually occurs at this magnitude only around deadline time, but beware of plotting a new book/series.

And good luck to you all. Living with a writer can be a challenge. Yet rewarding as well. After all, they know how to  spell everything.

It Is Done.

And after all the waiting and exercise of my patience, I finally got it–the real deal. The Contract. Dah, dah, dummm. How incredibly exciting. What a wonderful opportunity. Such a–Holy Cow, you want it when?!?!

And that’s when I got the very real experience of a deadline. (Dah, Dah Dummm) It was September 12, Saving Gideon was at 67,000 words–a completed first draft. (Key word here, draft.) B&H wanted the completed manuscript by October 1. And at a word count between 80,000 and 85,000 words. Now for those of you out there who are mathematically challenged, that’s 13,000 to 18,000 (THOUSAND) *more* words. In eighteen–yes, eighteen days. That’s a thousand words a day–in addition to a full-time job, a husband, a child, cub scout meetings, guitar lessons, a cat who won’t eat, a dog who needs to lose weight, my birthday, and…life.

Being the consummate professional that I am, I panicked!!

Okay, not really, but I’m sure I was very hard to live with at times. But because I feed everyone in this household and in turn they fear my culinary wrath, they have yet to complain about the two weeks of chaos that followed the signing of the aforementioned contract. (Dah, Dah, Dummm)

But I do believe God was on my side. Maybe He’s who encouraged the boys to tiptoe around the house when I sat down to the computer. And He was responsible for making meals pop out of no groceries. And allowed me to retain as much of my sanity as possible until somehow…somehow…I got the words written and the manuscript sent in. Whew.

And yet…this is a trilogy. For those non-astute with math, that’s 3 books–tres. The next one’s due at the beginning of May 2012. I haven’t written a word on it. Just a one page synopsis to let the publisher know that I have an idea. And not a very detailed one.  That’s 212 days  minus Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, New Years, Valentines Day, and our wedding anniversary. Asa’s birthday, four doctor’s appointments and…uhum, I think I’d better go. I have another book to write! :)

Lots of <3–Amy

Waiting Some More

In the immortal words of Tom Petty and the Heart-breakers the waiting is the hardest part.

I have been waiting as patiently as I possibly can. And that really is the hard part. That and thinking about signing a contract on a book that isn’t ready to go to press. But I’ve been doing some deep breathing exercises, and I think I have that part under control.

But I’m waiting. And really expected to find out something today~hey, a girls’ gotta have hope! So when I get a call on my cell phone from an out-of-state number. I immediately think publisher. I don’t know why. They aren’t going to call me. They’re going to call my agent. But that’s what I thought, so I answered.

It wasn’t the publishing house wanting to offer me large amounts of money for Gideon~hey, a girl’s gotta dream. It was the contest coordinator for the Northwest Houston RWA’s Lone-star Writing Competition. Saving Gideon is a finalist in their inspirational category!!!

Whoo-hoo!

And even better–2 of the 3 judges gave Gideon a perfect score! WOW! I’m speechless. Okay, maybe not*speechless*, but I am really, really happy. Been floating on that cloud all day.

The third judge wasn’t quite as kind. But she gave me some straightforward comments and corrections. As much as I hate to admit it, she’s right about some of them. (okay, okay, *a lot* of them). Thankfully I get a chance to “correct” my contest entry before I have to submit it for the final judging.

And so while I wait, I get the chance to make Saving Gideon even better. So thank you, contest judges. Two for stroking my fragile writer’s ego and the other for giving it to me straight. I really appreciate you all.

Winners won’t be announced until October 15. So I’ll be waiting some more.  Ah, it’s the writer’s life fo me!

I’ll keep you posted! Lots of <3, Amy