Welcome to the blog of science fiction author Eileen Rhoadarmer--where science fiction and Mommyhood collide!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A beginning

Seven moments of terror
Seven internal screams
Seven query letters emailed off into the ether
Two confirmation emails received
Many weeks and months of waiting ahead

Moonfall is off on submission!!!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Losing my head

That moment you realize you've been so focused on getting your queries ready that you haven't researched, visited, or interviewed any elementary schools for your prospective kindergartener... and enrollment deadlines are looming.

And it doesn't help that schedules are reduced and wacky because of the upcoming holidays.  I'm going to have to get this ball rolling next week!

But I can't!  He isn't ready!  He's just my little baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah right, Mom

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We're Off to See the Agent...

Just a note to say that hunting for literary agents is taking MUCH longer than I had anticipated it would.  My rookie status in the publishing industry wasn't clear to me until just a few weeks ago.  I created a l-o-o-o-n-g list of agents from Agent Query, and then began ranking them in order of preference.  After getting about 8 that I felt really good about, I thought that I would send out my first wave and then keep building the list while I waited.  (Technically I found 10, but I want to save two of them for round 2, in case my query is universally crappy and I decide to re-work it.  If, on the other hand, fate smiles at me and I get several requests in round 1, I'll send it quickly off to the remaining 2 agents in the hopes that they'll join the game.)

With list in hand, I thought it would be relatively quick work of personalizing query letters and sending everything off.

Not.  So.  Fast.

As I began personalizing, I did quite a bit more reading (and I didn't shirk this to begin with) and learned what signs of success and red flags to watch for.  More digging and research was required on each agent.  I've already found that one of them has a questionably small level of sales and has a potential conflict of interest.  It's not an outright scam by any means, but I'm planning to email Writer Beware to see if they have any dirt.  Even if it turns out to be fine, I will probably bump them toward the bottom of the list pending more verified sales to big publishers.

Having not bothered to do industry research in favor of using my limited time to actually finish the novel, I now have a lot to learn in a short time.  I'm glad I'm doing all this, even though I'd hoped to get wave 1 out already.  Still, it's still frustrating to think of how little I'm getting done.  I'm also sweating the query letter, even though I think it's pretty polished, but...

Breathe, writer.  Just breathe.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Synopsis Writing - An Exercise in Brevity

Lately, I've been working hard on preparing Moonfall for submission which has included, among other things, writing the synopsis.  I've never written a synopsis before, so I scoured the internet looking for advice.  It's amazing how many different suggested tactics and lengths there are out on the web, including one site that made writing a synopsis sound like writing a term paper on my novel.  Bleach!  I finally decided to start by writing a no-holds-barred synopsis, chapter by chapter, in order to get all the main points down on paper.  By the time I was halfway through, I was already condensing chapters and plot points, grouping things together and deciding what to omit.  Signs that I was already learning what I was doing.

That first, barfing-on-the-page draft clocked in at 2,756 words.  Now, I'm fully aware that my writing is puffy in first drafts, and this was no exception.  After editing, I got it down to 2,234 words, which was about seven pages, double-spaced.

I'd already learned, during my excessive researching of synopsis writing, that a lot of places will want things shorter than that.  Much shorter.  The thought of getting it under 1,000 words made me want to cry, but instead I decided to approach it incrementally.  I figured that different agents would ask for different lengths, if they specified length at all, so it wouldn't hurt to have three different synopses in my arsenal that I could whip out as the situation warranted.

So I made some edits, removing the most obvious elements and condensing things down.  That mid-length draft came in at 1,567 words.

So far, so good.  My next goal was to get a third draft at 1,000 words or under, but I started running into trouble.  After around 1,200 words, I found that I had to cut things that felt essential to the plot.  So I decided that instead of three synopses, I'd have four.  The 1,190 word draft was the shortest I'd use by choice, and the shortest draft, painfully edited to 986 words, would be used only when an agent specifically requested something that short.

The interesting thing, though, is that after painstakingly summarizing my 99,000 word novel into 986 words, I realized there were nonessential things still in my longer synopses.  I decided to go back and work on them again.  The results surprised me.

The longest synopsis I edited down from 2,234 words to 1,845
The mid-length synopsis went from 1,567 to 1,372
The shorter synopsis went from 1,190 to 1,181

I meant to write this post a few weeks ago and didn't get around to it, so I have a little distance from my synopses now.  In penning this post, I went back and read them all again.  I still don't like the 986 word query--it feels rushed, though it isn't as horrible as I remember it being.  It tells a complete story, it just doesn't feel like it does my novel as much justice as I'd like.  To my surprise, my favorite versions are the 1,181 and 1,372 word drafts.  Being more concise than the longest one, I think they pack a greater punch.

The moral of the story is that writing the synopsis helped me to strengthen my writing all the way across the board.  It was still an arduous, nineteen-day process from start to finish, and I can't say I really enjoyed doing it, but I think it was a useful exercise.

Have you written a synopsis, or many synopses?  What did you think about the process?