the glamorous struggles of an aspiring author...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Great Editing

Stacy Whitman, an editor late of Wizards of the Coast and Mirrorstone, will do critiques of the first 30 pages of your novel and your query letter. In my opinion, her work is detailed and insightful. She also teaches writing and it shows in her level of interest in plot and character mechanics. She specializes in fantasy and science fiction. Read all about her and her editing service at I think you will agree with me that we are lucky to have an editor with this much talent available to us writers.

Friday, March 20, 2009

What Every Agent Wants: The Perfect Rejection Form Letter

Yeah, I read the agent blogs. The way some people I know tune into American Idol, I tune into Query Shark, Nathan Bransford, and The Rejecter. And they all want one thing. For all of us aspiring writers to go away. I sympathize. I really do. But there is no need to be nasty about it. Repeat some clich├ęs about honey and lemons and oh, there are so many, take your pick.

The truth is, you have to find a way to reject something you don't want, and never want to see in your inbox again. If you are too rude, writers e-bomb, yeah, that's unpleasant. If you are too nice, they send you the whole manuscript with the first line changed and ask how you liked the re-write.

Where then is The Perfect Rejection Form Letter? Right here:

Dear [insert writer's name for that personal touch],

We at [insert your agency name here] read your submission with the utmost interest. Thank you for sending it to us. It has transformed our lives.

Clearly, your keen insight and original word choices distinguish you as a writer with great talent. It is with paramount regret that we feel unworthy to represent such a seminal work.

Indeed, it was only the thought of my poor ailing mother, who would be destitute without my support, that I did not immediately commit seppuku after reading your submission and realizing I would never be worthy to represent work of this calibre.

Yours in awe,

[insert your name here]

Plot Pivot

I'm afraid I'm still waffling around, but the basic plot line is that a minor German nobleman mortgages his property to go on crusade but unable to raise enough funds, so he marries a merchant's daughter, though he suspects the merchant is a Jew, and uses her dowry to finance the journey. The persecution of the Jews in Germany during the first crusade killed many and forced others to convert, so this is possible.

It is an inauspicious beginning to the relationship, as she is willful and not eager to be her father's pawn, and her new spouse is not interested in her other than producing an heir before leaving.

What happens? I don't know yet. I'm not even sure if the lovely couple will actually get together at the end. At one point I had considered having her husband return from the crusade with a holy relic in his mailed fist, sit at the great table, beg her to bury him with honor and fall silent. She opens his visor to find him horribly dead, eaten away with leprosy. I do like that.

But then some dashing somebody would have to be in the wings the whole time and not sure who that could be, but if she is at home the whole crusade, then a plot must be afoot... something that involves her merchant father with the debacle in Venice, and a whole lot of unladylike behavior on her part to smuggle her family out of the way, or protect that heir she produced, or something. She can stay home I suppose, but I refuse to write the damn thing if I can't write about medieval Venice.

Hugo Awards 2009 Finalists

Anathem by Neal Stephenson (Morrow; Atlantic UK)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen; HarperVoyager UK)
Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi (Tor)

Way to go Neil!!

2009 Arthur C. Clarke Award finalists

Song of Time, Ian R. MacLeod (PS Publishing)The Quiet War, Paul McAuley (Gollancz)House of Suns, Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz)Anathem, Neal Stephenson (Atlantic)The Margarets, Sheri S. Tepper (Gollancz)Martin Martin's on the Other Side, Mark Wernham (Jonathan Cape)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A choice is made

On the historical front, I was all set to go 4th crusade and started my research in a serious way. Now, the 4th one was after the 3rd (funny how that works) where Richard the Lionheart was holding sway and making friends with Saladin. Lots of English in that one. No official involvement by Britain or France in the 4th one because they were too busy fighting each other. But the appeal of the 4th crusade was Venice. Did I mention I was once an Economist. Trade practices make me salivate. And here is Venice in all her glory, poised to become the greatest trading center of the world and the undisputed queen of the Mediterranean because of this baldly muricurial crusade. Dishy, right?

My mind slipped off the nooks and crannies of the history books like an oil slick on glass.

I can't quite figure out why. I even picked up Crossed: A Tale of the Fourth Crusade by Nicole Galland, a decent read, by the way, but to no avail.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Going historical, thats historical, not hysterical...yet

So, I've been blabbing, as usual, and getting allot of feedback. Based on this unscientifically selected sample of friends, family, acquaintances and service professionals who cannot politely escape my queries, my next project will be .... a historical romance.

But here is the thing. I love history. Every two years or so I zoom in on one historical period and read everything I can about it. So now I have way, way too many options.

I know, Tudor England has been hot for awhile, but it is so done. Henry and all his wives, Liz and all her lovers, if she really had any at all. It is a really good time to write about: all those plots and factions fighting over money, sex, power and religion. Sweet. But again, so done.

What time period do you think will be the next hottie? Crusades? the repentant Hospitalier, The Children's Crusade... tragic slave girl, too dark, maybe... The Rump... now there is a name with possibilities, throw in a Roundhead decapitation or two, a highwayman... defaming the defamed King John, or King Richard III, or King Stephen... oi, how is a girl to decide?