I Have An Agent

I am extremely pleased to announce that I have signed on with Beth Campbell over at BookEnds.  She will be representing my novel Sleep Over.

It has finally happened.  I have an agent.

I have been waiting to say those words for a long, long time.

Beth has just switched over to helming the representation of scifi and fantasy over at BookEnds.  She wants an author who isn’t just a flash in the pan.  She loves my manuscript, and my head is still swilling from all the gorgeous things she is saying about my writing.

And the writer’s head grew three sizes that day hahaha.

I won’t be able to share too much about the process of finding a publisher as it’s happening (super secret stuff), but you can bet your butt you’ll hear it loud and clear when I have signed with a publisher for Sleep Over.  My only hope is that it takes a bit of time, as that’s a good sign that more than one really, really wants it.

Meanwhile, I will keep on posting for you, my dear, dear readers.  I am so glad you could be here with me when I was finally able to give this good news!  Your support has meant so much to me over the years as I continue on this wonderful journey to authordom.

I will continue to share a great many and varied things with you. Including, if you’re interested in the details, How I Got a Literary Agent.

In addition to my fantastic announcement, here are some more things just! for! yooou!!!

Episode 7 AND episode 8 of my Oddcast, Forgotten, are up! Episode 8 took the longest of all of them and had so many outtakes.  I’m really pushing the form to the limit, and “the voices” really had a tough time of getting this one to work.  It’s getting better as it goes along, and I’m really happy with where it’s heading!

We’ve also got more videos from my husband’s Wild Gears Creations channel.  Are you ready to see something wild? This one is crazy!

And are you ready for parallel lines?

 

Something else fun: the tale of my Message in a Bottle which was answered by The X-Files (4 images in album- clicky).

Also, here’s a little comic I made about how I make coffee.

That’s all for now, dear readers.

I think we’ve entered into a new and exciting phase of my career here. I am one step closer to having a major work published, and hopefully soon I can share that with you too.

Cheers.

Heidi out.

Checking In While Waiting for Good News

Just wanted to say Hey.

Whatcha thinking bout.

Me?  Oh not much.  I haven’t written anything for a few weeks.  A strange feeling.  I’ve trained myself so well that it feels really odd to not be writing.  Like petting a cat the wrong way.  But I needed a break.  And it’s good.

My manuscript is out with several agents now.  It’s a wonderful feeling.  “Waiting while hopeful” is a different sort of anticipation than the previous bouts of waiting.  Not that I wasn’t hopeful those other times, it’s just… several full manuscript requests.  From amazing agents.  I just… it feels like I’m really close here.  I hope I catch one of them by the heartstrings enough to go to bat for it.

There’s a few funny things below, and after, some Original Content of my trip to the Vancouver Aquarium!

Tales From IT, part one and part two.  A good and terrifying read.

Someone has been waiting literally 20 years for me to get this joke:

And a good ol’ knee slapper:

Also, last night I went to a preview performance of The Tempest with my friends. It was great! The Tempest holds a special place in my heart, because it was the first Shakespeare that I studied. I was worried my opinion of it would be tainted by nostalgia, but this latest viewing of it proved that it stands the test of time. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would recommend it. Bard on the Beach never ceases to amaze.

The portrayal of the sisters Stephana and Trincula absolutely slayed me. I was in stitches. You ladies nailed it!

And now, some pictures from my recent trip to the Vancouver Aquarium!

The Octopus came out to say hello!

It’s MEGA big. Like, I got Deep One vibes off of him.

Coelacanth!  I made a post in /r/Dinosaurs about this specimen, with more pictures.  

And, one more of the Octopus.  He was the highlight of the trip!  More photos of the octopus can be found in this album, right here.  

Aaand, a kitten picture.  Lemon sleeps with her leg splayed out weirdly sometimes.  

That’s all for now folks!  While I play the waiting game, I’m playing Minecraft again, the Apocalypse Server of course.  I’ve only been senselessly killed half a dozen times so far!  My little farms are going well, and I’m digging a *huge* inverted pyramid, which I will name something like “Monument to Waiting”.

Just didn’t want you to think I’d forgotten about you.  Hopefully good news soon.  😉

Thanks for sticking around.

Heidi out.

Stay On Target

Sorry for the long time between updates!  I have a draft of something I was working on, but I won’t post that yet.  For now, news on the novel.

Things have been smoking along at quite the clip.

I have another day of read-through and editing to do, and then my manuscript will be ready for the beta readers!  I am so excited.  I’m already feeling relief; I have written so many challenging things these past few weeks, and I really will be glad to be done.

I have to make a tough call tomorrow about cutting a piece.  The fact that it’s on the chopping block means it’s probably already been chopped, but for some reason my current self hasn’t accepted it yet, so I’m still “considering” it.  I am being careful not to say the same thing twice in this book… so I need to really look at what I said and see if I come at this part of the event at two different enough angles.

Of all the segments I had to write, the pregnancy miscarriages and deaths of infants was one of the hardest.  In the insomnia apocalypse I’m writing, children get a pretty shitty deal.  I wanted to cover it but not dwell on it- because it might come off as shock-value- but damn.  It really took it out of me.  And I fricking wrote the damn thing twice.  One from a paediatric nurse working the neonatal unit, and one from a medical hypnotist.

Guess which perspective is more interesting?

See, it’s obvious.  But my stupid writer brain is clinging to the nurse.  It took so much time to pull that off, it was haaard, it thinks.  Cram it brain, the Hypnotist is better.  But the nurse shows it better.  The Hypnotist is all about The Hypnotist.  

Ugh.  Cutting is hard sometimes.

Sorry, this is all abstract.  Here’s a bat.

This is the most challenging thing I have ever written, and keeping it held together in my mind, dozens of stories, vignettes, characters, locations, research- it’s messing with my brain.  …And my life a little.  Like missing appointments, shifts at work… my brain is just about at its limit with this one.

I got four hours of sleep last night, then went to the cafe, and spent five hours fervently writing (one segment completed) and editing (perhaps 45,000 words read-through/edited.

Once I get this book done I can go back to the methodical agent researching.  I already have notes on several whom I’d love to work with- I hope one of them loves my project enough to work with me on it.

A new apocalypse scenario, who would have thought, right?

Onwards.  Oh god I just devoured The Handmaiden’s Tale.  Man alive, that one will stick with you.

Banished is an amazing medieval city building game.  If you like resource management and seeing your villagers die of starvation, this game is for you!  T_T

It is hard as butts.  But addictive, and also fun.

And also we’re getting another kitty, a kitten.  Will post pictures, of course.  It’s going to be a toss up between news about this book and a kitten.  …I will try and mash them together, maybe like a cute kitten photo with a caption that’s all business.

*

Today I got a full manuscript request from the most amazing agent ever!**

*not my kitten

**is only a caption example, has not happened (for this particular manuscript, yet, as it is not finished).

Ta ta for now, beautiful readers.  I will have a tidbit of good news to share with you soon.  😉

And then, hopefully soon, the best news.

Thanks for reading.

Heidi out.

What Makes Agents Stop Reading (SiWC), and We Have a Winner!

First off, congrats to Phillipa, the winner of my first ever book giveaway!

Thanks to everyone who entered.  I will be doing another one soon, and you’ll have another chance to win then, by commenting here, on Reddit, and my Facebook page.  🙂

And now, more notes from SiWC!  This time I’ll be taking a look at their wonderful “Surrey International Writers’ Conference IDOL”.  Basically, it’s four people skilled in the art of rejecting authors, and one person who reads.  What do they read?

Everyone is invited to submit the first page- ONLY the first page- of their manuscript.  It’s blind and it’s stark and brutal and beautiful; the words have to do the work, there’s no preamble, no explanation, no baggage of any kind to go along with them.

Here are the rules: if one of the four judges raise their hand, the reader keeps reading.  But if a second judge raises their hand, the reading stops, and the judges explain why they stopped it.

If they get to the end with one or zero hands raised, they also talk about it.

It’s absolutely fabulous.  Riveting.  There were some amazing first pages mixed in with the mediocre and the just plain bad.

To give you some context, the judges were:

Michelle Johnson, founding agent of Inklings Lit.

Nephele Tempest, an agent at The Knight Agency.

Patricia Ocampo, an agent at Transatlantic.

Bree Ogden, agent with D4OE Lit.

And the reader was the illustrious Jack Whyte, author of such novels as The Camulod Chronicles, The Knights Templar Trilogy, and The Bravehearts Chronicle, and owner of one of the most magnificent voices I’ve had the pleasure of hearing.  I would have listened to him read a phone book.  But instead, he kept me captivated with stories of every kind, his sonorous Scottish accent lulling me into that wonderful state of “I’m listening, please, never stop.”

So that’s our setup.  Four amazing women in the industry waiting to blind judge the first words, sentences, and, if the writer was lucky, the first paragraphs of as many first pages as they could get through.

Here’s why they stopped readings, peppered with reasons why Jack Whyte made it to the end of a page without the hammer coming down.

Please note- the first pages spanned every genre and tone, and going into the specifics of what they contained would not add to this; the reasons for stopping reading are universal.  I hope my notes are enough to give you an overall sense of why agents put work down in the first few sentences.  And as usual, this is a mix of the agents’ words and my own interpretations and additions.

x= complete stop, 1/2= one hand up, but made it to the end, and ✓= no hands raised.

x  too much happening- what is going on, we the reader cannot make heads or tales.

x  too boring, there’s no hook.

x  who is talking?  And why do we care about them?  (Not identifying your narrator or having a clear main character was a much-repeated reason to get the agents to stop the reading).

✓  pacing was great, and there was a good balance between setting and character.

✓  the voice was clear and captivating, there was an excellent balance of setting, character, all aspects; drew us in.

x  too much description, going nowhere.

x  there’s more to a story than beautiful imagery.  Wonderful writing, but flowery descriptions are not what draws people into the beginning of a story.

x  to local- super specific small town setting was a turnoff (so we need to set our stories in Anytown, USA?  Dang.).

1/2  (one hand raised, this first page barely squeaked past)  not much happening, nothing at stake, no conflict.  No reason to put it down, but also no reason to keep going either.

x  too much exposition- thinking about thinking, telling not showing, no action, the age of the narrator is inconsistent (the voice was inconsistent, giving the reader mixed impressions of the narrator), what is the conflict, and there were 2 typos ._.

x  cliché and lame, plus the implausibility of a 14 year old being in handcuffs, AND being able to pick them.

1/2  we’re lost; it’s interesting, but *what* is going on.  Confusing your reader is not the same as hooking them.

x  waking up (don’t start your story with your character waking up.)  (Seriously, don’t.)

1/2  good description but confusing- who is the protagonist, who is the narrator; beautiful, but what is the story?  Sometimes it’s useful to flip the first chapter, putting the end at the beginning, to draw the reader into the story (the setup comes after drawing them in).  Telling not showing…

1/2  all backstory and repetitive writing.  Varying sentence structure was great and switching up what the sentence is about (switching between character, description etc).  Cliché opening line was a turnoff.

x  descriptions galore, choppy, unrealistic depiction of emotion, unrealistic reactions.

x   waking up (don’t start your story with your character waking up) (seriously, don’t).

x  word usage- “lovers” and other sex specific words (this was an agent preference).  Trying to be clever- the writer getting in the way of the tone (see my previous post on how the author intrudes on the story).  The description doesn’t match the tone and content; huge disconnect between content and the voice.

x  a lot of telling, no showing

x  description of how someone travelled- who cares, and now we’re in another location.  We don’t need to know what airline they flew.  Rule of thumb for backstory: a little at the beginning, some in the middle, none at the end.

1/2  saying the same thing in several ways, get on with it.  Beautiful sentences, but telling not showing.  Whose story is it.

1/2  great voice but too many adjectives, cliché and poor word choice.

SO!  That is the list of commentary I took down as the judges meted out their sentences on those authors lucky enough to have their first pages drawn for the reading (it was random, and no, mine was not one of the lucky to be eviscerated evaluated, which is a shame, because none of the others started off the way mine did, and it would have been lovely to hear what they thought!).

Hope others find this helpful.  I surely did, and it I was glad to have had the opportunity to hear this raw and unfiltered look into what gets an agent hooked enough to want more.

Several of those writers whose work made it to the end were asked to approach the agents afterwards.  One of them was Russel, a young man whose story of a jester on stage absolutely captivated the room.  When Jack Whyte looked up at his audience and found us spellbound, and we realized there was no more to the story, there was an audible reaction from the crowd.  We wanted more.  And so did two of the agents.  I went up to Russel afterwards and offered my congratulations; he hadn’t finished the manuscript, but he had talent enough to hold a room full of his peers.

What an opportunity!  This is one event at SiWC that I will attend every time.

Cheers.

Heidi out.

P.S. It’s the last day of Aaron’s (well funded) Kickstarter campaign for a superior Spirograph!  Check it out and join the fun!

MATHEMATICAL!