Friday, October 5, 2012

After a long year and then a bit more

 We are back to blogging.  A move is so difficult, and when one moves a household, and an office, it gets even more difficult... "To say nothing of the dog!" who doesn't fly... so we said, "Roadtrip!"

Wiley and I survived the experience and after so many months we hope that all the bits of paper and bytes of information have settled out in spots where we want them... or can at least find them.

Wiley informs all the people passing by the door that he is on duty and I enjoy the beautiful view out my window between bouts of agenting.

We will be making appearances at SteamCon IV in Bellevue, WA October 26th through the 28th (2012) and be in Portland, OR for OryCon 34 Nov 1 thru 4, 2012.  We hope to make a visit to Portland's Art Museum that weekend, as well, and see the Greek exhibit "The Body Beautiful."

And return to regular blogging.

See you all around!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Temporary Break from Blog Land

Hello readers,

We've been undergoing some radical reorganization at the agency due to computer and network failure, both of which have been operating only intermittently. So, apologies for not updating you sooner, but we promise to return to our regular postings by Friday, Oct. 15. And we've got plenty of projects in the making, so stay tuned!

However, we do have some exciting news for our very own A.M. Dellamonica. Indigo Springs was the winner of the 2010 Sunburst Awards! This highly prized award is for Canadian Literature for the Fantastic. Dellamonica was competing with big name authors such as Charles de Lint and Cory Doctorow. Congrats Alyx!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Querying for a Series

First, one must acknowledge ones utter and complete absence from the digiverse. One month off the blogosphere and it feels like a dead-zone!

This here blog, I doth declare, is about the series phenomenon. Okay, not so phenomenal. In fact...sometimes downright scary! For an agent that is. I'm talking about one thing right now: Do we agents want to read that you have written your sixth book in a twelve book series? Don't we want to know that you have a never ending Old Faithful of Imagination?


We agents do NOT want to hear that you have written twelve books and that you are proudly submitting #6. You wanna know why? Because I don't want to have to read Books 1-5 just to understand Book 6. And in most cases it's worse if the other books have been published before (traditional or self). 

If they've been published by a traditional publisher before, then it's likely that they were dropped because of sales. Not many publishers are going to want to pick up a book in a series that didn't do well in the first place. "But it didn't get the right marketing!" you might say. And you might be right. No matter, numbers are numbers. 

If you've self-published the first five books and Book 6 is knock-my-socks-off stellar, a traditional publisher isn't going to want to have Books 1-5 out there for free while Book 6 is on the shelves at B&N, so really you're back to square one...or Book 1, that is. And maybe Book 1 just kinda stank. 

So you're best bet when querying -if you intend for your ms to be part of a series- is to say something like, "Though I have written this book as the first in a series, it can also work as a stand alone novel."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Author Tip #7: Creating Voice

Yes, we all love a book with a good, strong voice. But...what does that mean, exactly? Let's say you are writing in 1st person POV. That's certainly the easiest way to create voice (though not to say it is easy). How do you create this elusive voice? My first answer would be to really make sure you know your character. Is s/he strong willed? Funny? Sarcastic? Sweet?

Spicing up your narrative with the occasional dose of humor (if appropriate to the story) may be a  good way to create voice. Funny is hard, though. If you are writing YA, don't just read everything that's out there in the genre to determine what is funny to teens today - though that's a great way to start. Watch the successful movies and TV shows that have humor that works for that age group too. 

Sarcasm. A very common way to provide voice to a teen protagonist. Of course, right? All teens respond to sarcasm. IMO, there is witty sarcasm and then there is just plain mean, non-witty sarcasm. If you're doing that second one chances are your main character is going to be really unlikeable.  Ask yourself, if I were to have a conversation with my protagonist, would I want to listen to them go on and on for another 200+ pages? If the answer is no, you need a new voice. Also, keep in mind that a lot of other people are trying to write similar, angst-ridden hormone-driven characters. Maybe your protagonist is special. How?

How else can you create voice? There are more subtle ways than those two. Maybe your character is just sugar and spice and everything nice. A really sweet girl, who never thinks a bad thing about anyone. So much opportunity for her to make excuses for and misread the people around her! That's her voice! TaDa. 

As I said, know your character. Let him/her speak to you, and know the lens through which they see the world. How will they react? Let those things be the clues you need when creating voice. -AH

Monday, June 14, 2010

Author Tip #6: 2, 3, 4, 5

Picture a literary agency or, for that matter, a publishing house. Picture it as a gnarly, gnashing, gaping maw into which everyone and anyone -- staffer, intern, service provider, cleaner, random member of the general public, lost kitten and stray dog – is compelled to shove as many sheets of paper as s/he can as fast as s/he can. Half of publishing is filing those sheets of paper.

Nowadays, of course, we're all on our virtual way, and many of these sheets appear first on our screens, Manifestations of the Virtual Universe . Virtual paper is a good thing, insofar as it goes. It saves trees, opens up space and cuts down on litter. It's also easier to organize and store than the real thing.

Sadly, however, working with it requires a device that displays text, and that introduces a sheaf of potential difficulties, not the least of which are Big Butt, Humpback, Stiff Neck, Dead Foot, Prickly Foot, Carpel Tunnel and Red Eye and Glue Eye. Therefore, those of us working constantly with manuscripts that may be hundreds of pages long are often moved to Print Out our documents. I put my pages face up in a box, and turn them over one by one into the box's lid as I read. This would work well, if I were a machine, but I am nothing if not organic. I incline to disorganization.

Invariably, the sequence of pages is lost. And half the time, it turns out the pages ARE NOT NUMBERED. Whole half hours may be swallowed, gone forever, in the ensuing paper shuffles.

People, many people, submit manuscript without numbering the pages. And in that blithe moment when I hit the print button, I blot out the memory of the insanity of it. Nor I do not see it when I glance at the stack; in accordance with tradition, cover sheets and first pages are not numbered.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Cartooga! Zorth! Boolakey and Kindo!

Wow! You guys basically hit (all) the nail(s) on the head, but I'm going to add a few things... 

Here we have it, the verdict on my bizarre little pitch. In Linn's words, "There is no actual connection between sentence one and sentence two."  

When King Zorth of the Quadrons son Cartooga, a half-Boolakey, half-Kindo bastard is thrown into the dungeons on the planet Honpoog, a political nightmare ensues between the Zorths and their blood enemy, the bloodthirsty  Mamyziths. Aided by Zorth's son's friend's, Omipoko the Goolgish, Kinsana the Filtrye, and their omnipedded furry friend HoofHoof, the fellowship enters the dragon's lair to rescue the bastard prince of Cartooga.   

The first sentence is like a pitch in and of itself (albeit a bad one). What about that political nightmare when it comes to the fellowship? These are two different stories.  

The Intern's comments are awesome too:
  • The first sentence is incomprehensible - I'm exhausted by the end.
  • Cartooga is the son? Or is he the place? Zorth a name or a people? Inconsistent!
  • (My favorite) All these names tell me nothing. What the heck is a (or where the heck) is a Quadron? A Boolakey? Kindo? None of these words mean anything to me? Leave 'em out! Who cares!
  • Is the dragon's lair metaphorical? (In SF, you have to be ubercareful about your metaphors. There really could be a dragon!)
  • (another of my faves) What is the plot?
  • The second sentence: GRAMMAR!!! Who is being aided by whom? As it presently stands, the fellowship is being aided by the fellowship.     
TADA. Writing a query is tough, but writing one that seeks to describe a whole new world has its own set of problems. Keep it simple. Remember that the person reading your query hasn't been to this world. Try and take me there. These are still characters and places, though they may have scales and live in upside-down trees on the planet, oh nevermind.  -AH

Monday, June 7, 2010

Author Tip #5: The Imagination is Vast...The Query is Not

When I first started here, I was amazed by the places and people authors had invented and included in the query. On the one hand, I really do want to know how well thought out and constructed your new world is. On the other hand, how much can really get across in a 250 word query letter? I would open the mail and see things like this:

When King Zorth of the Quadrons son Cartooga, a half-Boolakey, half-Kindo bastard is thrown into the dungeons on the planet Honpoog, a political nightmare ensues between the Zorths and their blood enemy, the bloodthirsty  Mamyziths. Aided by Zorth's son's friend's, Omipoko the Goolgish, Kinsana the Filtrye, and their omnipedded furry friend HoofHoof, the fellowship enters the dragon's lair to rescue the bastard prince of Cartooga. 

This little gem is a snippet of my own unruly imagination, but can anyone tell me what's wrong with this picture? I'd like to open the floor and see what you all think about my pitch. Linn is going to weigh in later, after we get some feedback from other authors. 

I'll eat you with my killer x-ray eyes if you do this! ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM!