Monday, December 4, 2006

Finish up and Hurry

Non-Smoking Status:
Surprisingly good. I've only had one pack of cigarettes in 12 days. Of course it could be due to the fact that I had a really bad cold for 7 of those days. I think I've discovered a cure for smoking. Pneumonia!

Novel Status:
It’s the seasonal slow-down of creative projects. However, I DID meet my 10-day challenge and sent query letters to 10 agents. See below.

On the Reading Pile:
I just finished a quick read ofThe Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. If you've never read it before, it's a must. If you haven't read it in a long time, read it again. I understand it on a much deeper level than I did as a kid. I'm having my middle-grade students read it and they said "it's weird and doesn’t make sense.” This particular group of kids takes everything far too literally. Sigh. I’m trying to teach them to think outside the hexagon.

I’m also reading Busting Loose from the Money Game by Robert Scheinfeld. Now, this book’s title, and more so its cover, don’t do the book justice. Bruce and I agree that the look of the book is misleading. It’s really “out there.” Even for moi (and you know I put the “woo” in woo-woo). But even if you don’t buy his whole premise that we are all simply each other’s holograms and nothing is real, his exercises are pretty awesome when you put them into practice. Bruce and I have been checking in with each other daily about how it’s changing our lives. As Johnny Carson used to say, “It’s weird, wild stuff.”

Blog of the Week:


Wading through the sea of Print-on-Demand titles, one overpriced paperback at a time--and giving you the buried treasure.

Cuz not all POD in print is crap. She stresses that POD is not synonymous with self-publishing or vanity press. Lots of smaller, independent, boutique publishers now use POD. Check out one close to my heart: en theos press.


10-Day Challenge:

Thanks to those who sent private e-mail messages about your own 10 day challenges. One person said she was going to spend ½ hour per day just for herself (she has two young boys and works) and another said he was going to read every day. That’s cool and I challenge the rest of you to join us next time.

I sent 10 query letters in 10 days (and even a few questions to some agents that weren’t official queries). I think things are slowing down in publishing because of the holidays, which could actually be an advantage. Agents can spend more time reading queries since editors are all getting ready for vacation.

agent - action/response - result - response time

Kristin Nelson (Nelson Literary Agency) – requested partial from e-query- "not a match" - 10 days

Michelle Andelman (Andrea Brown Literary Agency) - e-query with partial - "not for her but recommended two other agents and called my writing "lovely" - 2 days

Jen Jaeger (Andrea Brown (as per Michelle's referral)) - e-query with partial – polite and personal “not for me.” - 2 days

Amy Tipton (Peter Rubie Literary Agency) - sent e-query - waiting for response

Megan Atwood (Firebrand Literary)requested partial from e-query – waiting for response (and actually, the lead agent, Nadia Cornier (who started Firebrand) e-mailed me to say that Megan was no longer in publishing. Nadia had been going through Megan’s queries and found mine and wanted to see some pages.)

Zoe Fishman (
Lowenstein-Yost Associated, Inc) – requested partial from e-query – waiting for response.

Kathleen Anderson (Anderson Literary) – sent e-query – waiting for response

General Query (Levine Greenberg Literary Agency) – sent e-query – waiting for response

Ginger Clark (Curtis Brown, Ltd) – sent e-query – waiting for response

Michael Bourret
(Dystel & Goderich Literary Mgmt.) – sent e-query – “dear author” form reply rejection – 1 day (fastest rejection in the West)

Sara Crowe (Harvey Klinger, Inc – that cracks me up. Remember? Marcia Brady had a crush on a geeky kid named Harvey Klinger. He was a budding entomologist.) – sent e-query – waiting for response

Andrea Brown’s policy is to send pages in your e-query, which is not very common. Aside from those two agents who got partials in my original queries, 3 out of 4 requested partials from my query. I’d say that’s pretty good odds.

Oh, yeah… the title of this blog entry. That’s how this time of the year always feels to me. Finishing up all the little tasks and projects and winding things down only to find myself with one day to shop or to pack for my one-month vacation.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

The 10 Day Challenge

Smoking Status:
Over the past four days I've had a total of 9 cigarettes.
I stopped having my morning 1 or 2 and replaced it with drinking my coffee in my room while doing my millionaire mindwork.Talk about a positive change of habit! I also realized that if I kept up at my current rate, due to the expensive brand I smoke, I would be spending almost $1,000 per year on cigarettes. Now that's enlightening.

Novel Status:
The word count is actually coming down now, due to tightening the manuscript during the final polish. I'm on page 110 of 160 and heading for home...

On the Reading Pile:
After reading the fabulous On Writing by Steven King, I was encouraged to read more fiction. I've been reading an unusual amount of non-fiction over the past few years (unusual for me, that is). I've gone through Freakonomics (recommend), The Tipping Point (recommend), Secrets of the Millionaire Mind (recommend), Screenwriting: the Sequence Approach (recommend for screenwriters), and more.

Madame Bovary - Not my choice. The student I'm tutoring has to write a paper on it, and since I haven't read it in 18 years, I'm reading it again. The writing is lovely, but I find the detail a bit tedious.

Angela's Ashes - Yes, technically it's an autobiography and therefore non-fiction. But it is a narrative story. I may not finish it, though. It's starting to be repetative. Yes, I get that the family is tragically poor and the father drinks all the money away and the kids are sick and starving and living in Limerick sucks... I love the way he writes dialogue. I just feel like I'm wading through mud.

Plus I'm reading a script for a client. (A repeat customer - woo-hoo!)

The 10 Day Challenge - What's it all about?

I do a 10 Day Challenge of some sort 4 or 5 times a year. It's a great way to get started on a project or push through to the end of a project, kill writer's block, and create good habits. It's completely personal. There are no rules except that you have to complete the assignment every day for 10 days IN A ROW. If you miss a day, you have to start over.

Make the challenge something that's doable, winnable and within your control (as they say in The Mastery). If you want to work on a novel, maybe the challenge is to write 3 pages a day, or 2 pages a day, or even 1 page a day. Whatever you can do. In the past, Tod and I challenged each other to write a short script per day for 10 days. Some were dumb. But there are a few that have become my favourite short scripts. The last challenge I wrote 500 words a day on my novel (after I discovered that 5 pages of writing a novel takes a lot longer than 5 pages of writing a screenplay).

It doesn't have to be about writing, either. Or any kind of art. It could be to read a book for 1/2 hour a day. Take a walk every day. Wake up at 6 AM every day. Whatever it is you want to do.

I started my current challenge on Monday. My goal is to query one agent a day for 10 days. I had already queried one agent before I started and I've added three more. I've listed them below with their responses and response times in case you're curious. The response time is taken from the day I sent my query to the final result. Many agents take queries via e-mail now, which speeds up the response time. Works for me!

agent - action/response - result - response time

Kristin Nelson (Nelson Literary Agency) - asked for partial - "not a match" - 10 days

Michelle Andelman (Andrea Brown Literary Agency) - sent partial - "not for her but recommended two other agents and called my writing "lovely" - 2 days

Jen Jaeger (Andrea Brown (as per Michelle's referral)) - sent partial - waiting for response

Amy Tipton (Peter Rubie Literary Agency) - sent query - waiting for response

So, as per my challenge, there will be 7 more names on this list in a week!

Now... are you up for it? Sure you are! Let us know what your 10 day challenge is.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Procrastination Part Three - Daydreaming

Smoking Status:
total yesterday: 3
total today: 5 (including the one I'm going to have after blogging)
Not bad. I think my average is going down. Although I know eventually, it will have to be cold turkey.

Novel Status:
Word Count: 41,990
I had finished my final hard-copy edit and transferred the info for the first three chapters... so I went ahead and sent in my query to Nelson Literary Agency (thinking I had lots of time to transfer the rest of the editing marks). FIFTEEN HOURS after I sent my e-mail query, they wrote back to me asking for the first 30 pages. I did one final edit of the first three chapters and Fed Exed them in (or at least, Tod did for me from the U.S. - thanks, Tod!). Whew! No matter what happens next, I'm proud of myself for sending my query and delighted that it actually worked. Now I'm visualizing a big smile on Kristin Nelson's face as she reads it.

... which brings me to today's procrastination device: daydreaming.

I've always been a daydreamer. I used to get harassed about it as a teen (my best friends would call me “air-head” – thanks, guys). But it’s always worked for me and I’m not about to stop now. The key is to become a focused daydreamer. That way it becomes creative visualization. And creative visualization is an excellent way to manifest what you want in your life. It’s very productive, actually, even though it seems like you’re not doing much at all (or even being “idealistic” or “getting your hopes up” as some of my more cynical friends might say).

You can poo-poo the idea, but I’ve done my fair share of manifesting out of creative visualization. There’s my wonderful husband, our cool house, my cool jobs, my screenwriting agent, and smaller things, like a free pair of boots (I was daydreaming about boots, I needed comfy warm boots for the winter. An hour later Rev. Angelica called asking me what size shoe I wore because she had some boots that were too small for her. They were warm and comfy). A few times when I was very low on cash and out of work, I sat in the kitchen thinking about the phone ringing, visualizing myself picking it up and being offered a job. That’s worked a few times.

There are only a few literary agents for screenwriting in Vancouver. And once I had decided which one was mine, I got to work. Several of my close friends know I used to visualize myself riding up in their elevator, meeting with the agent, etc. etc. Whenever I passed by, whether I was alone or with a friend, I would point up to the seventh floor of their building and say, “That’s my agency up there. My agent is up there. See my agent?” I daydreamed long and hard on that one. It took two years. Of course, I worked on several scripts over those two years and kept in touch with them until I finally hit them with something they really liked. It wasn’t as easy as a pair of boots, but it’s the same concept.

So lately I’ve been daydreaming in coffee shops (when I go to work on my novel). I visualize my book in the window display of bookstores. I visualize book reviews in the papers. I see myself giving readings to thousands of people. (That’s easy to do… I’ve been on stage many times and I know what a big crowd looks like, so I just cut and paste those images together). I visualize myself on a red carpet opening for the movie. And just for kicks, I’ve been visualizing myself on Oprah. Hey, you gotta daydream big.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Procrastination Part Two

Smoking Status:
Total cigarettes yesterday - 7
I tend to have 2 with my coffee in the morning and two when I get home in the evening, so I've decided to commit to not having two in a row any longer. Let's see if that brings down my average. I'm going on a field trip HERE tomorrow, so perhaps I'll end up quitting after viewing a cross-section of a smoker's lung.

Novel Status:
41,820 words
I'm really not adding to the plot at all. I've printed out a copy and edited it by hand. There are just a few better word choices to make and I noticed a few places where I was telling instead of showing. Some additional description here and there. But in general, I love it! I'm days away from sending my queries out.

Today's procrastination technique is a more recent one: blogs.

I was at first skeptical of the whole idea of blogs. Mind you, my first exposure to blogs was the rantings of a few crazy poets. But now, I see not only the usefullness in them, but the fun, too. I swore to someone about a month ago that I was not going to start blogging. I resisted. I just thought I didn't have the time. But then I thought I could use it as a way to focus myself before I write each night. Or at least that's what I told myself.

There are only a few blogs I visit on a regular basis. One could spend their entire day reading blogs.
I'm as selective about my blogs as I am about the television shows I watch. I'm not really looking for any new places to go, but wouldn't mind hearing about where others visit, especially if they pertain to the film, tv, publishing industries, because that's practical procrastination.

Of course I visit my hubby's blog. For those of you who don't know, he's studying for his Master's degree in Music Business Management at the University of Westminster in Harrow, England. He'll be back some time late next spring. It's the wise-ass ramblings of a mature student as he battles the forces of the British govenrment, the British culture, and drunken underclassmen.

Since I've been investigating the publishing world, I've found Kristin Nelson's (of Nelson Literary Agency) blog very useful. She gives good solid advice and she's a very nice person.

For sinfully snarky advice, I visit Miss Snark. Another agent. Not as nice. But oh, so snarky.

Then, for kicks and giggles, it's Evil Editor. He posts queries and quotes from sample pages and makes fun of them in his blog. A guilty pleasure.

Some of the other folks here have blogs as well. Angelica has one on "metaphysical musings" and another on a 30 day prosperity consciousness program. Erin has started one about her personal journey from the pit of hell to a more conscious way of living. Erin, btw, is one of the most amazing manifestors I've ever met.

Of course, then there are the variosu blogs coming out of the Middle East. There isn't one I visit regularly, but friends have directed me to various sites for particular posts.

Well, that's enough procrastination for one day. I'm off to visit the White Forest.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Procrastination Part One

Smoking Status:
Since Ken left for England I have been smoking about 8 cigarettes per day. I have finally succumbed to the fact that I am a smoker. I've been in denial for years. No one has to comment about it being bad for me and that my father died of cancer. There's nothing logical about being a smoker. But now that I recognize myself as a smoker, I can work on quitting, if that makes sense. I have committed to never smoking while I'm traveling/walking. Never liked that much anyway. Cigarettes count today: 4 (but it's only 6:30pm)

Novel Status:
41,464 words (my guess has always been that it would come in around 42,000 words, which is just about right for a first middle-grade novel (4th - 7th graders)). Working on the final draft before I send my first query! Just finished hand-editing a hard copy. After that, I will do my final rewrite of the screenplay because it's been requested by someone at Imagine Entertainment. Yay!

Okay... procrastination... I'm all for it. But if you're going to procrastinate, you might as well make it something related to what you do (like writing a blog about it, heh-heh). One of my favourites is reading books. And not just books on writing, but those get bonus points.

Currently on the procrastination reading rotation are:

On Writing - by Steven King
It's a dark memoir and it's a lesson. Makes no difference whether or not you've even read a novel by King. I have only read one or two of his and that was many years ago. It's got reading lists, writing assignments, a corrected story, advice on plot and character, and literary models. But truly my favourite parts are the autobiographical stories in it.

The Tools of Screenwriting:
A writer's guide to the craft and elements of a screenplay

David Howard and Edward Mably
This book was a gift from my friend Mickey (who also sent me a box of brownies from the Fat Witch Bakery - yum!). I love this book. And I've read a lot of books on screenwriting. It's hard to find one that gives me something new. It's a required text for USC's screenwriting program and David Howard was the founding director of their graduate program in screenwriting. Really comprehensive and talks about how the 3-act structure can be dangerous in the hands of executives.

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind - T. Harv Ecker
On rotation again because I'm taking the Millionaire Mind Intensive in 2 weeks and I can't wait! I read this book once and got a whole lot out of it. I've even put some of his theories into practice and they absolutely work. Now I'm reading it again and doing every single exercise in it (which is taking a while), even the ones that my mind says I don't need to do. I trust this guy.

On the consideration pile:

In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
My new house-mate has a copy and I've wanted to read it ever since I saw the film Capote a few months ago.

Reading for a Living - T.L. Katahn
Picked this up at the FTX Film and Television Expo. It's about being paid to be a professional reader in either the screenwriting or publishing world. Not that I want to work as a reader doing coverage for a production company, but I am interested in improving my skills in the consulting arena and becoming a story analyst and/or story editor (which is a slightly different occupation in
Canada than in the U.S).

The Writer's Journey - Christopher Vogler
Just because I haven't read it yet and it comes highly recommended.

Three Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama
- David Mamet
Read a selection from this and liked it so I ordered it from Amazon. I love snobby writers and snobby literary critics. I love that kind of confidence. In the end... what do any of us really know?

Busting Loose from the Money Game - Robert Sheinfeld
My housemate Bruce is reading this right now. It was recommended by T. Harv Ecker. Bruce says it's excellent and he's the one who got me into the whole Millionaire Mind thing to begin with.


Reading Like a Writer (Francine Prose) - recommended by a friend

The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery (
Robert Ray and Jack Remick) - goes without saying. love The Weekend Novelist and I refer to it constantly when I'm teaching

Tythe: a modern faerie tale
(Holly Black) - because I want to see what other modern day faerie talers are writing

And whatever the next Harry Potter book is.... I have no idea if it's going to be out in time for xmas.

Next year at this time Brigitta of the White Forest by Danika Dinsmore will be on a lot of people's xmas wish list. You can count on it.