Keeping On

I have been working on specific requirements for select agents. I have no idea how anyone can do simultaneous submissions. The last two were very specific in how they wanted the submissions. The good thing is that I am learning so much about the process. I have a new admiration for published authors. It is work.

 I am moving forward with the second book in the series and continue to discover who my characters really are. They reveal themselves as I write. I love discovering where their young lives are leading them. I am still working in my salon and taking a writing course at Emporia State University. So I also have a new respect for the students, especially those with jobs and family commitments. I spend quite a bit of time just working on the assignments for one class so I can’t imagine the challenge of carrying a full load.

The turbulence in our nation and world have been a distraction, but like everyone one we come to a place where we make a decision to move forward. We have our personal agendas but we have a common goal. Every American wants our country to be strong. We all want a strong economy and equal rights. We are still a christian nation. Regardless who holds the highest office in our nation, we are ONE NATION UNDER GOD. One person can not make change without the consent of many. We all have to stand for what we believe in and keep on, keeping on.

Serious querys

It is not that my first query letters were not serious but… I am sure that I need to concentrate on the Christian market. I sent my query to several different agents but have only a few rejections for my effort. That is okay, but I think my concentration may need to be more focused. The last query was sent by snail mail and I am promised a reply. I have three copies of my book in the hands of beta readers and I am anxious to get their feedback. I am going to print my synopsis here and any ideas or improvements would be appreciated. I am also thinking of changing the title. Some agents are cringing right now with any titles that suggest vampires, demons or angels. The synopsis is pretty much a play by play so it might be a bit of a spoiler.

Sela has been best friends with Emily and Zach as long as she can remember. Losing her dog is the most traumatic thing Sela has ever dealt with and her first real test of faith. Then Emily’s mother dies.
Emily does not want to hear anything about God. She has decided that God does not love her and she no longer needs Him. Sela tries to understand, promising Zach and their youth pastor that she will be patient but, it is a real trial for her to go to church camp and spend summer without Emily. She hopes that the beginning of school will help Emily move forward and that their friendship will return to normal.
Emily decides to be the exact opposite of what everyone loves her for. She starts using heavy makeup and wearing all black and decorates her room in Goth icons. She continually wears a headset with music blaring so she doesn’t have to acknowledge anyone speaking to her. Sela attempts to pull her out but she resists the temptation, telling herself that it would be wrong to be happy or to acknowledge God because it is His fault that her mother is dead.
In a moment of frustration Sela petitions her Guardian Angel to help her by intervening on Emily’s behalf. The petition is heard and God grants a redirection. He sends Victorious and Glorious to Roosevelt Middle School and gives them permission to interact with no one’s knowledge that they are angels. Victor and Gloria Way, the new twins, weave their way into the lives and activities of the students. They provide subtle and not so subtle fun and enlightenment. They make it clear to Mara, Sela’s former friend turned bully, and her group that they will make their own choices in friends. They encourage the students to embrace their differences and learn to work out the small things.
Sela and Zach’s youth group have a hayride and barbecue and Zach makes Sela see that she is pushing Emily away. Emily accepts Zach’s invitation after he promises that no one will pressure her. Victor survives his first, date, and successfully directs Mara’s attention to another boy. Emily let’s down her guard and Zach holds Sela to her promise not to push. At school the next week, Mara asks the group to be nice to her new friend and not tell him that she had bullied them. In a moment of daring Sela invites Mara and Emily to spend the night. Sela sees Gloria in the hall and insists that she join the girls as well and Victor playfully pushes her to go and be, one of the girls. Gloria accepts and is able to report to the Guardian Angels later that a good deal of healing took place and the girls are well on their
way to restoring their friendships. Gloria was inspired to suggest that they all try out for the school play and after some cajoling, the entire group agrees. Emily opts to do the lights which she had already promised the drama teacher.
The Angels, Joyous, Sela’s guardian, Anjou, Emily’s guardian and the two visiting angels,
Victorious and Glorious have regular meetings and Joyous reports that she is sure that Sela is beginning to see her. The other angels agree that sometimes God allows a person to have such a special blessing  and soon Sela will probably be aware of all of them. The entire group is soon revealed to Sela.
Emily and her father meet with Max, the youth minister, and Pastor Rick. Pastor Rick helps them to understand that being angry with God is natural when dealing with the death of a loved one. He shares his experience in dealing with the loss of his brother. He points out that all of the people of great
faith in scripture suffered loss and struggle. He tells them that turning to scripture and the support of the Holy Spirit saved him during his healing journey. He tells them that the way to heaven is not the easy path. Even the apostle Peter failed to stay faithful. He encourages them to find one scripture every
day to share with one another. They leave encouraged and hopeful that their family is moving toward healing.
Surprisingly, Mara gets the lead in the play and has to deal with some bullying from another group in the school. She discovers how it feels to be put down by her peers and the group agrees to work together to find a solution to include, Heidi, the girl who is used to always getting the lead and is behind the attacks on Mara. They each share what they know about Heidi and Mara remembers that Heidi prides herself on her ability to redesign clothing. She loves to brag about buying something for nothing and fixing it up to be cool. Sela gets excited and decides that Heidi would be a perfect designer for the play.
The more they think about it the more excited they become. Sela is elected to talk to Heidi and she promises to catch her before the evening cheer practice. Sela runs into a couple of the other cheerleaders before she finds Heidi and they give her a hard time. She handles it well and is allowed to talk to Heidi. Sela tells Heidi that she needs a designer for the play and assures her that she will be acknowledged. Heidi is interested and agrees to talk to Mrs. Carson. Heidi has a purpose and a title and the incidents at school stop.
Sela and Emily begin to become close again and realize that they have each grown from the experiences of the past months. Emily apologizes for her actions and Sela realizes that she was angry at God as well and actually thought she could do a better job of comforting Emily. Emily knows she has a way to go and isn’t sure she is ready to put her trust in God completely but is willing to try. In a quiet moment backstage, Heidi and Sela discuss the characters they are sewing for.

They have developed a rapport and tentative respect for each other. Sela tells Heidi that she respects Mrs. Potts because she represents a strong woman holding the servants together while juggling being a
single mother. She asks Heidi who her favorite character is and is rebuffed. Heidi answers that she probably thinks she would say Lumiere and Cogsworth because they represent a gay couple. Sela is genuinely taken aback and Heidi realizes that she jumped to the conclusion that Sela would be judgmental because of her personal situation. Heidi explains that she has two moms. She loves her family but feels she constantly has to defend them. Sela tells her that she never intended to judge anyone and didn’t even know of Heidi’s circumstances. They agree that they can be friends even though they are in different “groups” and have different beliefs.
God reveals to the Angels that their current mission is finished but to expect more to come. He allows the Way twins to finish the play before returning for a sabbatical. Gloria and Victor are fulfilled in God’s presence but can’t help but feel a little nostalgic about their human friendships. They are thrilled to be able to complete the play and watch as it brings the students and community together. Each character in the play speaks to some issue; diversity, compassion, acceptance, pride, entitlement, and genuine love. Sela is overwhelmed with emotion and so happy to see so much accomplished by
everyone working together. She has discovered that although she loved having the, twins, there to help, most of the changes have come about by taking responsibility for her own judgments and actions, and being proactive in following what she knew to be the urging of the Holy Spirit.

Query Re-Write

I have sent a few query letters and decided that the query needs a tweak or two. I have my manuscript in the hands of a few middle grade students and hope to get their feed-back soon.

I am learning so much in this process and my admiration for published Authors has increased by epic proportions!

There are invaluable sites out there to learn from and the authors and agents that sponsor and share this information are great. I have decided that the really good query letter and synopsis are works of art. I have a ways to go to get mine there.

I am also enjoying the experience that I am gaining by taking a class at the University in creative writing. I enjoy the process and the students. Their feed-back is wonderful and I feel validated by the instructor as well. We are working on poetic form and elements and I had no idea that there was so much to learn. I will post my latest poem here as a example!

 

Change

Morning air crisp and cool

with the crunch, crunch

of leaves curling beneath our feet

coloring our world in shades

red, brown, yellow

down, down they float

spiraling, swirling, blowing

Change

Barren skeletons

against dusky skies

the giants soon will sleep

the air pungent, sharp and sweet

the vee of geese flying south

honk, honking they call to us

as they follow the leader

Change

We bundle up for brisk walks

wind chafing our cheeks

donning our coats and gloves

trading flip flops for socks and boots

storing swim suits and shorts

watching the squirrels hustle

cheeks full of acorns

Change

Like the seasons

we must change

nothing ever stays the same.

Rejection

Well it has been awhile. I have received my first rejection from two agents and It is a little discouraging when I have only queried about ten. You have to expect some rejection letters and it is still exciting to know that I am immersed in the process.

I came across a site yesterday called the query shark and was immediately amazed at the way this agent could tear apart a query. I have decided to re-visit mine and take a look from the agent’s perspective. She was harsh but very helpful. A little like the Simon of Queries.

I am also taking a creative writing class and learning so much about poetry. I have always felt that I could write poetry easily but I have a new appreciation for the process and the history behind it. My first presentation was on the Shakespearean Sonnet. Wow, Shakespeare was a rogue!

My book has a pretty defined market so it makes it harder to find an agent but I am setting a goal of sending to at least three more by Sunday. I will go back and follow this outline.

1. Who is the main character?

2.What does he want?

3. What is keeping him from getting it?

4.What must he sacrifice to get what he wants.

Agent search

I have begun the search for an agent. In doing so I discovered, that most agents are looking for diversity. I thought about this and decided that my manuscript could use more diversity. It’s not that it was intentionally written without, I just did not specify race, color, or other diversity issues.

I have a young girl being raised by a single mother but after reading the agents desires I have expanded that. She is also from an ethnic back round. Another character has two moms. The play in the story now focuses on not only bullying, but entitlement, a non-traditional relationship and, also, a single mother raising a child with a handicap.

I feel good about the changes because our children live in such a diverse world and they have to deal with all of those situations. It will make it a more well-rounded book. A more inclusive story. Prejudice and injustice come in many forms. I want the young people who read this to understand that being a Christian does not give a license to judge. It is simply a lifestyle of love. Each person will stand before God on their own merit and we never have to compromise what we believe but we can learn to love our enemy even when our beliefs are different. What we say is only words. How we act on those words speaks volumes.

Preparing to Query

I just returned from a great get away to St. Louis, where we spent time with my sister and her husband and had a wonderful time. Sometimes we need a little time away from every day to appreciate what we have.

I am listening to my coaching call and making positive changes to my query letter and synopsis. My synopsis was much too short and more like the jacket blurb. Mr. Malatesa said that I need to work on clarity, chronological events and comprehension. The synopsis should be at least two pages. Who knew?

I feel much more confident and ready to research agents and send out a few query letters next week. I am so excited to continue to move toward publishing. My editor, Liz Martel, is to be commended because my manuscript is clean and well written. Crossing my fingers and shutting my eyes when I drop the letters in the mail! I can’t wait to receive communication from agents. Even if it is a rejection, I have started the process. Anyone who would like to be a beta reader, let me know and I will hook you up.

Seeking an Agent

I just finished my coaching call with Mark Malatesta and I am excited to make the decision to publish traditionally. Mr. Malatesta was very positive about the manuscript and did not have any criticism of the actual writing. He stated several times that it is well written and had good dialogue, pacing and action.

My challenge now is to take the tips and information that he shared with me and develop a better query letter and synopsis. I have the Best Selling Author list of agents and will begin to send out query’s as soon as I work out some kinks. I feel validated as a writer and my energy to move forward just got a huge boost!

He shared so much information and strategy and it makes sense. One example is that I had suggested that I would start with a middle grade book and then go to YA which would not work well from a publishing standpoint. Each genre is pitched differently and agents would want the series to move slowly into that transition. I will keep at least one more book in middle grade due to his advise.

Paying for a coaching call and all of the tools and information has been a great way for me to continue this journey. It might not work for everyone but I feel like I am on the right track for my book and that feels Great!

Now I have a query letter to rewrite so back to work.