Writing Question

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012 07:58 am
marthawells: (Teyla)
I'm answering questions in the order they showed up in my inbox, from this post and the Dreamwidth mirror post:

Vaughn Roycroft asked: How did you land Ms. Jackson? Was it a blind query, referral, had you met her? Is she as great to work with as I imagine?

I had never had to look for an agent before, because my first agent found me when I was writing The Element of Fire (he was referred to me by another writer). So when I started writing The Cloud Roads in 2007, and I was looking for a new agent, I really didn't know where to start. I put together a query package (the first two chapters, synopsis, and a letter) and sent it to an agent who had contacted me about the time City of Bones came out. He had been interested in representing me then, so I thought I'd check with him first and see if he still was. I waited a couple of months, still working on the book, then finally got an email from an agent in his office expressing interest in the book. So I emailed her back, and then waited and waited and waited. A couple of months later, I finally got an email from the agency, but from someone else, who told me the agent I had been speaking to had left the agency and that they were "only interested in established authors." (Yes, I had listed my past published books in my original query letter, and also mentioned them in the email I had sent.) So that was a combined punch in the face/huge waste of my time.

So then I emailed Rachel Caine to cry on her shoulder and ask for help, and she gave me a referral to her agent. I queried her agent, who got back to me in a couple weeks but didn't want to represent the manuscript. Rachel had also recommended Jennifer Jackson. So I looked up the Donald Maass website and found the query instructions, and sent a query to Jennifer. I heard back from her right away, and ended up sending her the first half of The Cloud Roads (it was December of 2007 at that point, and I had about twelve chapters of the book finished.) She liked it, and signed me up, and when the book was finished in early 2008, started sending it out to publishers.

Is she as great to work with as I imagine?


(no subject)

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 08:22 am
marthawells: (Manly Hug)
I made beef stew last night and it turned out really well. I use a variation on this Food Network recipe, which is a variant of Julia Child's famous boeuf bourguinon recipe. I use shallots instead of onions, added sweet red wine to the stock, and didn't use the flour or the whole tomatoes.

The [community profile] con_or_bust fundraising auction is about to get started up again in February, and people are starting to post items for auction. My item is an autographed copy of The Cloud Roads. Bidding will open on February 21.

The posts on The Night Bazaar this week are about finding an agent.

Weird Tales has a new web site. Several exciting developments mark the start of 2011 for Weird Tales. In addition to launching this new website, editor-in-chief Ann VanderMeer and publisher John Betancourt have raised the pay rate to 5 cents per word and implemented a new submissions portal for potential contributors.

These changes come on the heels of the news last year that VanderMeer would be taking over as editor-in-chief, with Paula Guran retained as nonfiction editor and Mary Robinette Kowal named as art director. This is the first time in the magazine’s 88-year history that Weird Tales has had an all-female editorial/management staff.
marthawells: (Zoe)
A while back on Facebook we were talking about the TCM documentary Complicated Women, about pre-code movies of the early 30s. I knew the 30s movies were a huge contrast (especially in depictions of women's careers and sex) to 40s and 50s movies, but this documentary had some really good examples. (I'd seen some of the ones featured, like Babyface with Barbara Stanwyck and "Queen Christina" and a lot of the Kay Francis movies, but many of these I'd never heard of before, like an early 30s "Gentlemen's Agreement" about a woman and two men in a menage a trois.)

It reminded me of this book which I wanted to recommend again:

Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood by Cari Beauchamp

From a couple of earlier posts on it:

It uses the life and career of Frances Marion as a framework to tell the story of the women writers, directors, and studio heads of the 10s, 20s, and 30s. It's really fascinating, showing how women started out in influential positions but were eventually edged out of the Hollywood power structure in the 40s. Frances Marion wrote more than 300 scripts and produced over 130 films, and won two Academy Awards for writing. Yet just before she retired in 1946, the only writing job she could get was with a studio who required her and the only other female writer to sign a contract stating that they would not tell anyone that they were working as script writers; if asked, they had to say that their job title was "secretary."

From the prologue:

(Frances Marion) was credited with writing 325 scripts covering every conceivable genre. She also directed and produced half a dozen films, was the first Allied woman to cross the Rhine in World War I, and served as the vice president and only woman on the first board of directors of the Screen Writers Guild. She painted, sculpted, spoke several languages fluently, and played "concert caliber" piano. Yet she claimed writing was "the refuge of the shy" and she shunned publicity; she was uncomfortable as a heroine, but refused to be a victim.

She would have four husbands and dozens of lovers and would tell her best friends that she spent her life "searching for a man she could look up to without lying down." She claimed the two sons she raised on her own were "my proudest accomplishment" -- they came first and then "it's a photofinish between your work and your friends."

Her friendships were as legendary as her stories and some of the best were with her fellow writers for during the teens, 1920s, and early 1930s, almost one third of the screenwriters in Hollywood were women. Half of all the films copyrighted between 1911 and 1925 were written by women.


How to Find a (Real!) Literary Agent by A.C. Crispin -- Agents–When Do You Need One?, Getting Started–Compiling a List, Researching Agent Listings, and Following Submission Guidelines, How to Recognize Real Agents, Writing the Synopsis, Writing the Query Letter, Sending Out Your Query Letters, Playing the Waiting Game, Make Sure Your Manuscript Lives Up to Your Query, The Psychology of Querying.

SF Signal: Donating Books for a Library in Kabul

(no subject)

Monday, August 9th, 2010 08:04 am
marthawells: (Manly Hug)
I've had trouble sleeping lately, which tends to aggravate my anxiety issues, which, by a mental process which makes sense to me, sort of, has led to me re-painting the stairwell of our house this weekend. I'd actually been planning to do it for a while, since the floor has been changed since I first painted it years ago, other adjoining rooms have been painted, and the stairwell color doesn't brighten the space up the way it used to. I had the new color picked out, and decided to go ahead and run with it Sunday and get most of it done, then finish up later this week. Except I've picked a bad color. It's not bad, it's just...not the color/effect it looked like on the paint chip. It's subtle. Very subtle. So subtle as to be almost nonexistent. My attempt to fix it by adding another color for contrast like they tell you on HGTV did not actually work, because the second color was the wrong color too. So I'm going to end up repainting. It's frustrating, because this is the first time I picked a color where I wasn't happy with the final product.

And I forgot to buy cat food! So that was my weekend.


Rachelle Gardner: What to ask an agent: It's exciting to get The Call, but it also means you're going to want to find out as much as possible about the agent before agreeing to representation. In fact, when you get the call, you may want to ask for some time to think about it, then gather your questions and get back to them.


Book rec: I also read Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal and enjoyed it. It's a very low-key fantasy, set in a slightly alternate Jane Austen-ish England, where manipulating illusions called glamour is a skill that young women learn, like embroidery or decorating bonnets or playing the piano forte.

(no subject)

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010 08:27 am
marthawells: (SGA Team)
It's bucketing down rain here, which is good. Late May/June can often be the beginning of the drought season here and temps have been in the 90s and going up and up. Though it reminds me of a few years ago when a friend from Pennsylvania and a friend from England came to visit us for Memorial Day Weekend, and we went to San Antonio. Instead of the stereotypical hot and dry weather, we got the stereotypical violent thunderstorms. The trip was like driving under a waterfall.

Black Gate: Looking Back on the first Sword and Sorceress Anthology This was published in 1984, after Amazons by Jessica Amanda Salmonson. I remember looking for more books with women main characters, women as warriors, around this time (I'd already been reading Andre Norton and F.M. Busby), and these books were treasure troves.

SF/F Art: The 2010 Chesley Award Nominees

A review: Fear and Delight: the Fiction of Shirley Jackson

Write It Sideways: Will Literary Agents Read Your Query?

From Bill Crider: Guardian: The Characters Who Are Going to an Early Grave Writers are vanishing.

Roger Ebert: How Do They Get to be That Way? on the racist attack at Miller Valley Elementary in Arizona.


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