Wild Gears 2.0!

Hello dear readers!  I’m very excited for my husband’s latest project; Wild Gears 2.0, a spirograph redesign!  One more day to go and it’s already almost 500% funded!

Here’s a link to the Kickstarer:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/465068187/wild-gears-20-reinventing-the-spirograph

He’s successfully done a kickstarter before and everyone was wildly happy with it. His redesign has already funded almost 500%!

Here’s his youtube channel if you want to see him use his sets: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1Japyt2Sp_r_4qq3TGqIjw.

Together, we’ve been to craft fairs and Maker Faires and he has shipped sets all over the world to artists and engineers, children and grandmothers, mathematicians and people who just like to doodle.

Oh and the free shipping to the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and (for the Compact set) Europe is a pretty big plus, especially since one of his stretch goals (already reached!) will get a bunch of designs out in time for Christmas.

If you have fond memories of spirograph, you’ll definitely be into what he’s doing.

Cheers.

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.

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!

Wild Gears is Live!

My husband, Aaron, has been working hard at making an exciting new project.  “Wild Gears” is a laser cut spirograph set that he designed himself, and it’s awesome.  He’s been testing prototypes and experimenting with art made with the circles and gears.

I wanted to share some of it with you, because it’s beautiful!  Our apartment is rapidly becoming filled with this stuff though, so uh, be careful, it’s addictive.

Anyway, here’s some art from Wild Gears!  And a link to the Kickstarter page, in case you want in on it! Also… a link to the video in case you just want to watch that!

The actual clear acrylic, laser cut gears!  You’re seeing right- pentagonal, square, and triangular gears.  He put a of work into getting these perfect, and they’re amazing.

Gears within gears!  Everything works with everything else.  He’s brilliant.

Weird, right?  He’s developed some new technology that allows for the creation of some pretty wonky designs.

And when he uses colour- ah my eyes!  Haha, it’s a fine line between mathematical beauty and crying tears of geometry.

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR ARE THOSE PARALLEL LINES

You’re darn tootin’ right they are.  This is perhaps the most amazing thing he’s developed- the ability to create parallel lines with a spirograph.  It makes for some really interesting pieces.

Another one with parallel lines.

So that’s “Wild Gears!” Thanks for checking it out. The album on Imgur has even more photos, and some descriptions. His video on the Kickstarter Page has even more stuff too!

Cheers.

Heidi out.