Tag: literary agent

WWW and Seven Kinds of Rain

October was a great month for travel, and the Pacific Northwest put on a beautiful show for Women Writing the West in Redmond. This month also brings a sense of direction for my latest novel, SEVEN KINDS OF RAIN.

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In Oregon we walked and drove through breathtaking landscapes, visited the Imperial Livestock Ranch where we met an amazing Western woman entrepreneur, learned about the latest trends in publishing and honed our craft. Not to mention having a great time catching up with old and new friends! Endless inspiration . . . I came home energized to write more. I also met some very nice sheep.

I appreciate receiving an honorable mention for my short story, “Fool’s Moon,” which you can read along with other LAURA Short Fiction Award winners here. I read an excerpt at the awards dinner and people laughed in all the right places. A writer always hopes for that!

Since returning from Oregon, I’ve been editing my novel-in-process, which I’ve titled SEVEN KINDS OF RAIN. Yes, this the working title announcement and you saw it here, first. I’ll publish a sneak-preview synopsis soon.

While I had expected to self-publish this novel and its sequel, my professional editor surprised me with her favorable response to the manuscript. When she said loved it so much, she’d be reading it in “all six of her book clubs,” I began to rethink my publishing and marketing strategy. I’ve already designed a book cover and a book trailer. It felt good to move in that familiar direction, but . . .

I’m not one to think less of a self-published novel, or more of one that’s traditionally published. Literary excellence can rise or fail and there can be pitfalls, either way. But after self-publishing THE DARKWATER LIAR’S ACCOUNT, I understand more of the difficult aspects of doing everything myself. The most difficult parts are gaining reader and professional reviews, garnering publicity and otherwise expanding my reach to more readers.

Of course, an author gives up control when she joins with a professional team to produce a book. It’s business. It’s about sales number and the bottom line. I will face difficulties, simply different ones, if a publishing house sees potential in my novel. I’ll still be engaged in the marketing, as every author must be in today’s competitive marketplace.

So, SEVEN KINDS OF RAIN now begins the query circuit, seeking literary agent representation. I’ve done this before, so I’m pumping up for the emotional and mental exertion—many successful novels have endured more than seventy rejections before an agent fell in love. Each one of those attempts signifies selecting and researching an appropriate agent, crafting a personal pitch letter, tailoring a novel synopsis and then waiting, sometimes from 6-8 weeks, for a reply. My first novel, THE DARKWATER LIAR’S ACCOUNT, went through thirty attempts before I decided to self-publish. It takes a thick skin to find an agent, then to endure numerous rejections by publishing houses. So, we’ll see how it goes . . . because unexpected, amazing things can happen.

And one can always use  one more item to cross off the Bucket List.

Exceed seventy literary agent rejections for one novel manuscript.

Better yet, let’s be optimistic. Send your good wishes to SEVEN KINDS OF RAIN, my latest and best story yet. I hope to share it with my faithful and new readers, soon!

The Darkwater Liar’s Account as The Next Big Thing

Thanks to Kourtney Heintz for nominating me for The Next Big Thing blog award. She has inspired me to keep standing up when rejections smack me down. Thanks, Coach. I look forward to reading some of your work soon.

What is the title of your Work in Progress? The Darkwater Liar’s Account

Where did the idea come from for the book? About four years ago, I read about yet another Nazi who’d been hiding since WWII under a secret identity, only to be brought to trial in his last years. I realized that there must be many people still alive who cooperated in Hitler’s Germany to varying degrees, people who go on with their lives and never admit their involvement.

What genre does your book fall under? Commercial, historical fiction with literary value (I’d like to think so.)

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I would love Cate Blanchett to play the main character, Bridget, and Ryan Gosling as her adult son, Erich. Yes, I have a vivid and specific fantasy life. But that’s a good thing, right?

 What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book? After crossing a continent, an ocean and two decades, Bridget lives a lie to hide her Nazi complicity during WWII, but the truth still breathes, and worse, it intends to kill her.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? That is a very good question. We are all still deciding, but I’m not getting any younger…

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? There was much to research, so it took three years.

What other books would you compare this story to in your genre? Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay and Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

Who or what inspired you to write this book? As in my own life, when a person is young, it’s easy to rush in, to make unwise commitments without foreseeing the consequences. That doesn’t mean there are none. We live with what we chose in our youth and redemption can be elusive, even fatal.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? The novel follows Bridget from 1930s London, through Germany from 1936-1945, then into Nebraska through 1968. I use actual excerpts from my late grandmother’s early 20th-century accounts ledger as a device and structure where Bridget chooses to settle her own “account.”

My nominees, based on my love for their current work and my curiosity about their WIPs:

Anna Solomon I just read her novel, The Little Bride. Wow! A great historical work about Russian Jewish immigrant settlement in Dakota territory.

Nichole Bernier Her new novel, The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D, moves the mind and heart to consider loss, friendship, parenting and marriage.

The Writer’s Life Jenna Blum has two great novels available now, Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers. I’ve read and love both.

Unreliable Narrator I’ve read Dell Smith’s work on Beyond the Margins. I love his insights on story and writing.

Word Love Randy Susan Meyers’ novel, The Murderer’s Daughters took my breath away with her bold tale of the everyday horror of childhood amid and after domestic violence. I see on her blog that another novel is coming soon.

Be sure to visit these blogs. These authors are worth your reading time. And thanks again, Kourtney.

Considering the Writer’s Life

late summer horizon

Summer’s leaving. We’re experiencing a drought here, as are most of the Great Plains states. Of course, this has nothing to do with my infrequent blog posting these days. I am well-watered and fed, unlike the corn plants I see from my window.

I love to write. I even love to edit, which is an acquired taste. As in drinking whiskey or brandy, revision can involve the same tendency to hold my breath as it burns and the same hope for euphoria, which may or may not come. Although my blog doesn’t reflect it, I’ve been writing and editing during almost every available hour. Keeping momentum, I revise and edit and soon, my current novel will, like a college freshman leaving home for the school year, try to make friends with a literary agent, improve itself and live a life fraught with moral dilemmas.

It’s a big job. There’s not just the novel to write and perfect, but also synopses of varying lengths, sales pitches and query letters tailored to those agents I desire. This is all part of the writing life.

Today I read this wonderful article by Dani Shapiro, “On Living a Writer’s Life.” If you are a writer or if you ever dreamed of being one, you’ll appreciate the romance and the realism of the life she describes. Thanks to Dani for her contribution to my blog today.

I hope you enjoy it. I’ll be in the next room, revising that query letter.

Mysterious Mathematics, Beauty and Truth in Fractals

image from zoom sequence of a Mandelbrot set

Fractals fascinate the eye, but their beauty is more than skin deep. Their self-similar structure iterates, meaning it repeats a process where the result forms the starting point for the next step. Their structure originates in and develops out of their geometric, mathematical formulae. While only recently acquiring their name, in 1975 from Benoit Mandelbrot, mathematicians explored related concepts in the 17th century.

In 1918, Gaston Julia published a paper on the formula for the design we now know as Julia sets. Other contributors include Sierpinski, Koch, Menger, Harter and Heighway, Before the mathematical potential of computers, however, theorists were limited in following their formulae beyond one dimension to their macro- and microscopic potential.

a series illustration of a Koch snowflake

As in so many other areas of discovery, computers have liberated mathematicians to study formulae in greater depth. Computers also permit fractals to express their nature in colors and three dimensions, beyond imagination.

My son introduced me to fractals ten years ago. (As for the frontiers of mathematics, my son and daughter have both boldly gone where I’ve never dared to go.) My attraction to fractals is artistic but their underling logic appeals to me, as well; I recognize suggestions of fractals in nature in the patterns of blood vessels, tree branches and crystals, the coil of a snail’s shell, the fronds of a fern and even in a cluster of broccoli.

a Julia set

Link here to Wikipedia’s page on fractals. Far better than I might, this page gives a broad overview of the origins, evidence and characteristics of fractals in science, creative works and nature. It also provides an abundance of links to take you beyond that page, if you dare. This Wikipedia page illustrates and animates a zoom sequence of a Mandelbrot set as it repeats. The illustrations I’ve included are in the public domain, from Wikipedia, as well.

No genius, I’m grateful for the mathematicians and computer scientists who materialize these beautiful truths for our eyes and minds to appreciate. It’s hard to look at fractals for very long without sensing that there’s something very important and true going on in their interplay of mathematics and matter. As literature is my preferred domain, for my tribute to the science, mystery and art of fractals, I quote John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn.”

“‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty’—that is all

Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

Who, me? Modern?

I’m not a kid anymore and most days I’m really happy about that. Fortunately, my own kids have kept me up to speed on technology. When I get stuck, they help me out. But as someone who’s been writing for LOTS of years, I see the world changing exponentially each day. When I first started writing, a writer didn’t even need an agent. You actually sent your manuscript in a box to publishers. It’s true. But we did have fire and the wheel.

I want to share a wonderful post about authors and technology. Kristen Lamb is not only funny, but persuasive and ready to share knowledge with those of us who are trying to catch the brass ring on the publication carousel (I just dated myself again with that analogy, didn’t I?). So go to Kristen’s blog, read what she has to say and remind yourself, that if Kelly can learn this stuff, anybody can. Especially when we have people like Kristen to fire us up and light the way.