Tag Archives: restless writers

Agent aficionado

Pinch me, please. I have an agent!

After many months of queries and pitches, it happened. I received an offer of representation. And not just for one manuscript, but for three of them: a middle-grade novel, a children’s picture book, and a non-fictional proposal. My head is still spinning. Spin, spin, sugar!

Prior to the offer, I received plenty of the standard rejection responses, with the usual one-liner pass. Then I started to receive referrals to ‘other’ agents, invitations to query ‘other’ manuscripts, and even personalized feedback—still in the form of rejection; however, it was some of the nicest, kindest, rejection yet. And for me as a writer, this was truly encouraging. In speaking with these agents by email and phone, I learned that my submission was one of value, even if additional work was required to make it shine.

Then I met Kathy LaVergne of Word|Link USA—and the rest was simple. I said “yes” to her offer of representation and signed, sealed, and mailed the agreement!

I’m thrilled to bits to be represented by Word|Link. In the short time I have worked with Kathy, she has been incredibly kind, supportive, and quick—with all three manuscripts currently on submission, and editor’s comments surfacing in my in-box. I’m fantastically fortunate to be working with an agency that, according to Publisher’s Marketplace is one of the top 20 dealmakers in the United States.

My hubby, the analogy-king, sums it all up like this: “It’s like you’re Danica Patrick, you have a car, but now you’ve gotta go to the races.” He’s right, I’m in the driver’s seat and I’m on my way,  über excited, as I enter this next chapter in my writing life—one step closer to publication.

And I must must must extend a gargantuan thank you to my readers (friends, family, beta testers), and especially my critique group and fellow Restless Writers, for helping me get my manuscript to a level worthy of submission.

Having an agent still means more waiting, more finger-crossing, more cringing, and of course more rejection. But I am stoked. Bring it on!

BJ

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Filed under Getting published, Success stories

Faking True Grit

True Grit movie posterI am surrounded by exceptional women. Within my own writing group and among the spunky Wordbitches out west, I see plenty of examples of women who have achieved truly amazing goals. They have completed novels; they have run marathons; they have travelled the world; they have borne children.

So when I read the article about “true grit” in the April edition of Women’s Health magazine, I immediately thought about my writing girls. They all have what this article calls true grit, or the drive, persistence and fortitude required to set a goal and take all the steps necessary to achieve it.

What is true grit? If you’re a marathoner, it’s what keeps your legs pumping when all you want to do is collapse into a puddle of goo. If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s what keeps you working when everyone says your idea is crazy. If you’re a writer, it’s what keeps you picking up your pen or starting up your computer everyday and wrestling with those voices in your head.

How do you know if you have true grit? You can read more about it in the article in Women’s Health. You can also take the Grit Test.

Writing a novel is an apt illustration of true grit because it is a long-haul kind of a project that requires passion, motivation, skill and persistence to finish.

Yes, I took the grit test. As I suspected, according to the experts, I don’t have true grit. (No surprise there. I’m notorious for starting up new projects and abandoning others.)

So what does that mean? That I’ll never finish a novel/paint the bathroom/start my own business? Since true grit, or stick-to-it-iveness, is a trait rather than a skill, I imagine experts would tell me not to quit my day job.

But I won’t despair. If I don’t have true grit, and I can’t learn it, I’m going to fake it. Here’s how:

Define my goals: And by this I mean both my long-term goal (e.g. to publish my novel by January 2013) and my performance goals (the milestones I need to reach to achieve my long-term goal, like writing 1,000 words each day for the next 6 months).

Visualize my finish line: Okay, it’s a bit on the woo-woo side of things, but picturing myself signing a contract with my newly minted agent or drawing an audience at a reading can’t hurt!

Commit to my goals: I have to make sure they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Yes, SMART. And I have to work towards those goals like it was my job!

Practice, practice, practice: This means reading and writing constantly, even if I’m not working towards for a day’s specific word count. All writing counts, because it keeps me in the habit of writing daily.

Don’t stress about setbacks: If I miss a day, or there’s a snag along the way, all I can do is keep going. How I bounce back from setbacks is just as important as achieving success.

Lean on my support group: They’re the ones who motivate, inspire, cajole, harangue, entertain and teach me. I will look to their awesome examples to keep me progressing towards my goal.

Hmm, goal-setting, visualization exercises, commitment, hard work, and support. You know what? That looks pretty close to true grit to me.

Maria

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Filed under Motivation

Practice makes perfect

Girl at pianoGetting back to thinking about writing as a happy chore

When I was a little girl, like other little girls, I had to take piano lessons. This was not a happy time for me. My piano teacher, Mrs. Kimpton, reduced me to tears on many occasions. It wasn’t her fault though; I take all responsibility for each week’s emotional drama. The problem was that I didn’t practice.

I was supposed to practice 30 minutes every day, starting with scales, working my way through the Royal Conservatory lessons, and experimenting with Hooked on Classics.

But here’s what usually happened: I would get home from school and either watch TV, read a book, or chase muskrats at the creek behind our house. (Yes, it’s hard to believe I was a tomboy once, considering what a delicate flower I am today.) To me, practicing piano was a chore; it was something I had to do. And there were so many other more enjoyable things to do instead.

As a consequence, I never ended up loving to play the piano. Although I enjoyed the end product, I was happier to be done, than to be doing.

Fast-forward to today, and I’ve fallen into some of those same bad habits.

The Restless Writers have monthly (-ish) sessions. The day after last month’s session, I promised myself that I would write 500 words a day, just like those classy and committed Wordbitches out west.

One day into a week filled with work, freelance commitments, household responsibilities and an attempt to fit in some exercise, I was telling myself, “Okay, you can skip today, but you absolutely must write 1,000 words tomorrow.” The next day was worse. I’m sure you can see the inevitable word-count snowball coming a mile away.

Our meeting’s on Friday—and if I don’t write a novella by Thursday evening, I’ve got nothing for my girls. Sigh…

So my lesson for today is to get back on track. Get back to writing a little every day. And get back to loving writing a little every day. Don’t let writing become a dreary chore—write for the beauty of language, the pleasure of creation, the excitement of story-telling.

Every session with the Restless Writers is an opportunity to get motivated. Here’s to backing up that motivation with action, and thinking about writing as a happy chore.

Have you ever considered writing a chore? And does that thought motivate or de-motivate you?

Maria

2 Comments

Filed under Motivation, Trials and Tribulations

Be yourself

On the eve of a very busy week ahead, I offer this:

“BE YOURSELF; Everyone else is already taken.” — Oscar Wilde

To all you Restless Writers out there, here’s to a great week and to awesome wordcounts!

BJ

3 Comments

Filed under Inspiration

Writing on the run: paper or pixels?

Texting on a BlackBerryDo you scribble in pen on any writable surface when you’re out and about?

Or do you record your thoughts on whatever mobile device you happen to be lugging around (i.e. BlackBerry, iPhone, netbook, laptop)?

For me, it depends where I am when inspiration strikes. I was putting on mascara in a late-for-work panic this morning when I had a great idea for some dialogue. Luckily, I had my BlackBerry within reach, and emailed myself the details. (Yes, I had my BlackBerry with me in the bathroom. You’ll never know when I’m tweeting “en toilette,” will you?)

At the doctor’s office last week, I was well prepared with a little spiral notebook and my favourite pen. I was still scribbling when the nurse was taking my temperature.

So how about you? Is it paper and pen, or thumbs and phones?

Maria

12 Comments

Filed under Life and stuff

Let us write! Let us write! Let us write! (sung in a falalalala kind of way)

Holiday meetings are the best.

Our writing group held its final meeting for the year and oh what fun it was! There were pretty gifts and sprinkled cupcakes—and heck, even prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe. And PAGES; yes, we managed to consume treats, whilst still making time for each of our critiques.

We worked through 2 queries (1 rated PG-13; 1 rated G), 1 red carpet synopsis, 1 alien picture book manuscript, and 1 sleep-inducing essay (or not) for the insomniacs among us. We were also fortunate to receive personal feedback from LD’s 6 year-old son, aka the Simon Cowell of children’s literature, who we lured a critique from with Lindt chocolate Kinder eggs.

All in all, it was a productive meeting, with ‘minutes’ to boot, albeit recorded on a yellow sticky note (the jumbo kind—with lines). It was a terrific meeting, stuffed full of encouragement and advice (and a party dress exchange?) as we journey the road together to that paranormal place called publication.

And so, for the record, here are the sparkly business bits.

Restless Writers commitments for 2011:

  • LD: to tweak her query & synopsis for sending to agents in January
  • LD: to do a proposed table of contents for her humour non-fiction project
  • LD: to submit a story to Chicken Soup for the Soul
  • MM: to revise her sleep essay for submission to the Globe & Mail
  • MM: to clear her plate of indexes (for good, this time)
  • BJ: to revise her picture book and send the baby to agents
  • BJ: to continue querying her middle-grade fiction

HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all! May you have the time, the wine, and the gusto to write your pants off this season.

BJas

7 Comments

Filed under Getting published, Group meetings, Motivation

You Come Here Often?

We Restless Writers are still swooning over the great Twitter chat (Twat? Oh dear…) last week with the writing group from Calgary. One question we kept asking – and getting asked – was how we (the Restless Writers) met. It began like many of today’s great relationships do: online.

I had taken some writing workshops with Brian Henry and he suggested that I find a critiquing group for my work in progress. I had no clue how to organize, find or join such a group so Brian offered to put an ad in his popular e-newsletter.

It was like match.com for writers: “Single, writing female seeks same for mutually beneficial relationship. Groups ok.” I received e-mails from an established writer (whose group had broken up a few years prior) and another writer who, along with her friend, was looking to start a formal group that focused more (or at least equally) on the writing as it did on the wine.

Getting ready for our first meeting was like preparing for a blind date: Will they like me? Will I like them? Do I have the goods to keep them interested? We had a meal together and although things didn’t work out with the other writer, Beckie, Maria and I decided to keep going. Now here we are, over a year later, still as enamoured with each other as ever.

Although the wine flows freely and we drown ourselves in a river of melted Brie, the Restless Writers do eventually focus on the job at hand. I’ve basically re-written the first 100 pages of my WIP and it wouldn’t have happened without this group. And we’re not benefitting solely from the critiques at these meetings: the ladies are always bringing magazines and books for general interest or inspiration (i.e. when I had sexy-times-writer’s-block I was given Exit to Eden…consider me officially unblocked, ladies…).

For me, this group is essential. They hold me accountable, bolster my self-esteem, help me through the rough spots and make me a better writer. In fact, they have all the qualities you could ask for in a spouse writing group.

LD

4 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Group meetings, Inspiration, Starting up, Writing resources

Photo Diary of a Restless Writers’ Meeting

The Restless Writers are back in business! In lieu of a post, check out this photo diary from our latest meeting.

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Filed under Group meetings

Can I get a HELL YEAH for September?

Along with the rest of the world, I am attempting to get back in the groove with work, life, and my writing. Work and life are judiciously in check; however the writing has been somewhat sporadic, even lethargic. But that’s all about to change.

We, Restless Writers, begin our regular meeting schedule once again next week (Squeee!). This means dates and deadlines—and of course, a little vino. It also means GOAL-SETTING. September is the perfect time to put the goods on the table, so-to-speak. And I’m not talkin’ butter tarts here (although, I’m sure that will happen too); I’m talking about realistic and achievable goals. You know the kind. The SMART ones. With details. And dates.

One of the most important things writers can do is set clear, explicit goals about what they want to accomplish. Most of us have a bunch of vague goals, like the “one day” kind (as in, “one day, I’m going to write a novel), and then there’s the “some day” kind (as in, some day, I’m going to finish my book and find an agent). Make that day, today. Don’t be a chug-meister. Set a clear goal and get ‘er done.

It’s time to spend some quality time with words. Be an active practitioner of your craft. Commit to improving your art. According to Dustin Wax, an author’s relationship with a work in progress is a lot like your relationship with your significant other. You have to work at it every day, and nurture it, and accept its quirks and even failures. And if you lack real commitment, sooner or later, one or the other of you will flake out.

Sure, you gotta start small. Have some fun with it. But don’t expect the unexpected or worse, confuse your goals and expectations (and end up disappointed). Planning and patience are crucial to your success. Some brilliant advice from Write for Your Life, Iain Broome: Aim high. Expect nothing.

My September Writing Goals:

  • Attend (schmooze) Surrey International Writers’ Conference, Oct 22-24.
  • Polish my LITTLE EARTHLINGS non-fiction proposal, craft query, & send the baby out by Sept 30.
  • Send 3-5 queries to agents (per week) for my MG novel: BILLIE BOOTS, til Dec 31.
  • Give my YA novel (LIGHTS) some lovin’ — review outline, write 1 chapter per week, beginning Oct 15.
  • Select 2 Screenplay Competitions for my family drama: FROM NEBULA TO HERE.
  • Ressurect thriller project (or at least determine its future!) 

 I am WRITER. See me WRITE!

Beckie

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Filed under Group meetings, Motivation

And the powerful play goes on

Today is the birthday of the great American poet Walt Whitman. Controversial from the moment he self-published Leaves of Grass, Whitman has been maligned as immoral, perverse, sacrilegious and decadent. But he is also praised as the poet of democracy, the father of free verse, and possibly the first Beat poet.

I like to think of him as one of the original restless writers—in addition to writing, he made a living as a typesetter, a clerk, a teacher, a journalist and a nurse. “Do I contradict myself?” he once said. “Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
            Answer.
That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

                                                                                                 From O Me! O life!

Maria

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Filed under poetry