Monday, May 13, 2013

Is Kagillion a Word?

Writing is my passion! I dream about my characters when I'm doing things other than writing, which is A LOT of the time. I write notes and ideas on tiny scraps of paper and in notebooks and scratch pads that litter my home and car. It's my FAVORITE thing to do. I will NOT call it a hobby though. All of the writing coaches and author-type websites say that diminishes your writer identity and self esteem. I'm OWNING my inner writer here.

I've had lots of friends ask about the writing process wondering when I'm going to publish my first book, the one I just finished editing. And that is a very good question. When I start to explain how it works, that as an author, I need a literary agent to sell a book to a traditional publisher, and that there's this very specific thing called a query letter that I have to send out to a kagillion agents in the hopes of finding at least one that likes my work, and then the agent and I will have to polish it up so they can try to sell it to a publisher, and if I am ever-so-lucky to get to that spot, then I get to spend six months working with an editor to get my book ready for market. Well, by the time I'm done explaining all of that, they are sorry they asked.

I get it! Unless you're in it, unless it's your dream and you've been researching all-things-writer-like and participating in webinars on query letters and synopses and landing an agent, all the while writing and editing until you've lost feeling in your hands, it really isn't very interesting. But in case you have ever wondered about the process that we write about here, or in case there's a tiny little voice whispering to you, telling you that you too have a story worth sharing, here's a bit of information about writing and publishing.

Many literary agents review only your query letter to determine if your book is a match for them. If they like what they see, they will ask for sample pages from your book, the first 20 pages, maybe more. (That's called a partial submittal and it's a really good start.) If they like your sample pages, they will ask to see your full manuscript. (This is really GREAT!) If they like it, if it's polished, has strong and compelling characters, has a marketable plot and interesting subplots, if the conflicts and resolutions move the story along at a quick and engaging pace, if the storyline and thematic elements are unique, if the manuscript is all of these things and there are very few errors or major areas for editing, then you may have just landed yourself an agent. (This is HUGE!) I have to warn you though, some authors land literary agents and their books, for some reason or another, don't make it to publication. And competition is fierce. Most agents receive hundreds of queries a week. It can be a long process. That's why I'm already working on my next book. (With Holly...it's soooo cool!)

So, without further ado, here's my query letter. I've only sent one, to one of my favorite LAs and I got a really nice "No thank you. Your query letter is good but it's not the right project for me..." rejection letter. (I've recovered.) I'm finalizing my bio and synopsis, also needed for submittal, and I will post those here soon.

Thanks for sticking with this looonnnngggg post on the writing process. If you ever wanted to write a book, don't let any of this deter you. The writing really is the FUN part!

Love,

{J}

Dear Ms. Nelson,

I am a long-time follower of your blog and an avid fan of your unique and witty viewpoints on writing and representing. Complete at 106,000 words, THE POSSIBILITY OF HER is best described as upmarket women’s fiction with a healthy dose of romance, and is intended to appeal to fans of authors such as Susanna Kearsley and Jodi Picoult.

Is it possible to attain forgiveness when the person whose forgiveness you seek, is dead?

Gwen Parks was a junior in college in the cozy, coastal town of Seaside, California, when her ex-boyfriend’s shooting rampage almost killed her. Suffering a gunshot to the head, Gwen was left with haunting hallucinations and relentless guilt. After all, it was her fault that her best friend Simone had been murdered. Had she only told someone, anyone, about Garrett’s threats, maybe she could have averted the tragedy that left her alive, but broken.

When Simone’s spirit first appeared to her, Gwen was grateful to have her best friend back, even if she was a ghost. But at the same time, she was terrified to disclose the secret behind Simone's death. In the months that followed, Simone’s presence revealed two things: one, Gwen was capable of navigating life's unexpected and inevitable twists, and two, the only forgiveness Gwen needed to embrace that second chance at life, was her own.

THE POSSIBILITY OF HER is a dual perspective piece that spans two time periods. Woven with Gwen’s heartbreaking junior year is her present-day, filled-to-the-brim life, complete with husband, career and three young children. It's the life she once believed she’d never have. When her husband is diagnosed with cancer, and her annual scan uncovers a mass where the bullet once was, Gwen fears the worst: that she doesn't deserve all this happiness after all. Even more unsettling is the real possibility that Simone is just a symptom of her brain injured beyond repair. The timelines are woven together with moments of strength and sorrow, levity and loss, as together they prove that Gwen's resilience has been hidden within her all along.

In addition to my fiction projects, I am a regular guest columnist in the Orange County Register newspaper and co-author of a community-women’s blog, itsamatterofmoments.com.

Thank you for your consideration and time. I look forward to demonstrating whether my writing matches your interests.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Hale

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