Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Query Critique Round 1

I’d like to take a moment to thank my first victim lovely query-supplier for the chance to look over her letter (which she’d like me to disclaimer by saying she came up with and wrote in 2 minutes, which is pretty damn impressive considering the writing is so nice and tight—that last part was me speaking). Alright, let’s get started! My comments are in blue.

Original Query

Dear Agent Last Name,

            To do what is right, she has to neglect her heart. Twice.
Recaptured by the Primes, Ellanue is given a choice. Be sent to Earth to train the new Warden, preparing him for the incoming war, or be judged for her crimes and, most certainly, executed. For her honor, she would rather die, but because of a secret unfinished business, she accepts the offer.
            Though, convincing self-centered Blake of his own mission is a hard task, worsened only when people she thought as allies, ambush and betray. Heartbroken, Ellanue sets to face her enemies alone, even if the price is her own life.
            ENERGY is a new adult sci-fi romance complete at 75,000 words. It stands alone, but can be developed as first in a trilogy.
            I’ve taken five writing courses, two self-editing workshops, and I’m a member of RWA, FF&P, and Savvy Authors.
            Thank you for your time and consideration.

{Name and contact info redacted}

Query After I Got My Grubby Paws On It

Dear Agent Last Name,

            To do what is right, she has to neglect her heart. Twice. Nice opening
Recaptured by the Primes, Ellanue is given a choice. <Having read this over a few times, I’m wondering who the Primes are. I know you probably don’t want to give everything away in the query, but I’m afraid we do need a bit of orientation so this letter isn’t confusing or vague. I’m thinking something like ‘Recaptured by the Primes, the extraterrestrial police organization who’ve held her captive for the last twelve years, Ellanue is given a choice.’ Obviously inserting your own information in there. Also, a colon at the end of this sentence leading into the choice would work well. Be sent to Earth to train the new Warden, preparing him for the incoming war, or be judged for her crimes and, most certainly, executed. For her honor, she would rather die, but because of a secret unfinished business, she accepts the offer. Nice, I’m interested.
            Though, convincing self-centered Blake of his own mission is a hard task, however, worsened only when people she thought as allies, <Delete comma ambush and betray. <While I suspect there’s something interesting going on between Ellanue and Blake, I’m afraid this is again too vague. I’m sure you did this on purpose to intrigue the reader, but I’m worried that too many unknowns will have the opposite effect and make a reader lose interest. Just my opinion here, but I’d like to see more detail re: their history, his mission, and possibly a bit about her enemies. Your query clocks in around 155 words, so you certainly have room for expansion if you’re using the general 250-word limit rule (some say as high as 350 is okay). Heartbroken, Ellanue sets to face her enemies alone, even if the price is her own life.  Nice high stakes
            ENERGY is a new adult sci-fi romance complete at 75,000 words. It stands alone, but can be developed as the first in a trilogy. All good here.
            I’ve taken five writing courses, two self-editing workshops, and I’m a member of RWA, FF&P, and Savvy Authors. Nice credentials, me likey.
            Thank you for your time and consideration. Just another point here—this query arrived double-spaced. Query letters should be single spaced.

My apologies for all the blue--I'm wordy and also can't help myself. Overall a great start here that, with a bit of tweaking and detail-adding, I think has potential to lure in some agent interest. Thanks again for sharing J

Monday, January 30, 2012

So now that I've got street cred...

Who wants me to crit their query letter?

Contrary to a lot of people, I love query letters. Reading them, writing them, critiquing them--I love it all. And I'd REALLY love to help someone hone their letter. So, anyone who would like me to critique theirs please email me at michelle.k.krys@gmail.com. If a ton of people submit I can't promise to crit every single letter, but I can promise to be nice. Picky but nice.

Disclaimer #1 -In agreeing to this critique you are agreeing that your query letter be posted on this blog.
Disclaimer #2 -I don't claim to be a professional and my opinions are my own
Disclaimer #3 -The Query Shark is awesome and the pioneer of the blog query critique.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

How I Got My Agent!

First, some mood music:


So, you want to know how I got my agent?

Short answer: The old-fashioned way. Via the slush pile. 

Long answer: I’d like to take you all back to January 8th, 1985. I was born naked and helpless…okay, maybe let’s skip a few years. In January 2010, I had a baby (a wonderful, magnificent, sweet baby named Ben). He slept through the night from under 3 months old, in addition to napping 3-plus hours in the day. Being on maternity leave, I had an AWFUL lot of free time on my hands that I was COMPLETELY not used to having (a year—I live in Canada). So naturally, instead of relaxing, I decided to write a book—something I’ve always wanted to do, but had been too intimidated to try. 

In 3 months time, I wrote a book.  I joined a website, Writersbeat.com, where I met my internet bestie/crit partner, whom you all know as Ruth Lauren Steven. After an initial major bitch moment from me (which we shall not discuss!), Ruth and I began exchanging critiques and became fast friends. We moved on to another website, Scribophile.com, where I met a ton of amazing friends who were, in addition to Ruth, completely invaluable in honing my writing. This book needed the rest of the year to edit, as it was sucky. Boring and sucky and will never see the light of day. But I learned a lot.

After this book I began another, which I gave up after a whopping 26,000 words because I had AN IDEA. An idea for a YA Urban Fantasy that I couldn’t ignore. I needed to write it—now. So I did—3 months later, my 81,000-word book was complete. And it needed less than a week of editing until I felt ready to start querying. I felt confident! I loved the book and my query letter felt strong. I knew this was going to be IT. Then the rejections started rolling in. After the first 15, I was starting to feel pretty dejected. I know 15 is not that much in the bigger picture, but 15 in a row after I’d felt so confident? Well let’s just say my confidence waned. But then I got a partial. From a major agent. The next day, another partial from a major agent. A few weeks later, the first partial-requester wanted the full. I almost died! That meant she read the first 50 pages plus synopsis and liked it. My book??!! A huge happy moment for me. But it wasn’t the first. Over the next few weeks, the full requests started rolling in. Six in total (Nine if you count the 3 requests I got after I’d already landed my agent!)

Then came the holidays, when all of the literary world shuts down from December 23rd to January 3rd. This was a dark time. There was a lot of internet stalking involved, which I’m not proud of. Then came January 11th. I got a reply from one of those agents. She’d just finished reading the book…and completely loved it! She wanted to set up a time to talk on the phone. AHHHHHHH!! She called the next day and offered me representation (in addition to giving me a HUGE ego boost with all her compliments about the book). My initial reaction was to say “YES! WHERE DO I SIGN? MWUHAHAHAH I’VE GOT YOU NOW!” But there were other agents who had my full. In order to be professional, I needed to give them the courtesy of replying to my manuscript.  I alerted the other agents, and holy crap, several of them were interested, too! But in the end, it was the first agent’s major enthusiasm and extreme likability that sold me. So now I’m repped by Adriann Ranta at Wolf Literary. Wohoo!! 

Here's me signing my contract. There was absolutely no preparation involved here. It's just a totally candid picture.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Things that are AWESOME!

And here we are again, for another edition of Things that are AWESOME!

Time off work is awesome. I've had the last 17 days off work (random vacation time I took), and I can't believe how much stuff I've accomplished in that time. Like what, you ask? Like I created this blog. Like I created a website. Like I completed the first round of revisions for my novel, plotted out the ENTIRE follow-up novel, wrote a synopsis for said follow-up novel, and wrote 12,000 words! And that's just the writing related stuff I accomplished. There were other things (ie. craptons of laundry and cleaning) but you don't care about that. So yeah, time off rules!

Another thing that is AWESOME is the THE TROUBLE WITH NIGHTINGALE, a just-released horror novella by the amazingly talented Amaleen Ison. I've had the privilege of exchanging critiques with Amaleen, and trust me, she's Terrific with a capitol T, and you should definitely check it out. Plus, if you hop on over to her website, you'll find a recorded excerpt of THE TROUBLE WITH NIGHTINGALE from non-other than Amaleen herself (she's got an English accent--extra cool points!)

That's all, folks.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Review: The Count of Monte Cristo

Rating: FIVE STARS!!!

**Disclaimer: I suck at book reviews. I just liked it, okay? What more do you need to know?**

I started reading this book by accident. I was in the mood for a classic and, as I was perusing the book store, recalled that my crit partner Ruth Lauren Steven's favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo. So I bought it (despite the fact the thing is MASSIVE, as in, just shy of 1500 pages massive). Then I let Ruth know the next day that I'd bought it. Imagine my surprise when she wrote back to say she had no idea why I thought it was her favorite. Turns out it was Captain Corelli's Mandolin. HA! I'm such a loser! But I bought it and was now officially committed to it.

Turns out I'm glad I made that mistake. The book was AMAZING!

The plot was fast-paced, intricately woven, perfectly executed, and in one word--brilliant! It featured just enough romance to make it non-boring in my eyes--I do like there to be at least a little romance in my reads, and this book delivered--and is, in my opinion, a great read for men and women alike. There were times it seemed that characters were introduced that were irrelevant to the plot, and we'd spend a lot of time in their point of view, but in the end it became clear that not a detail was mentioned that wasn't crucial to the well thought out ending.

A great book, and I suggest you all read it if you haven't already. It's a classic for a reason, people!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Links! (Well, okay, just Link)

No real post today (what do you expect, people?), but I did want to share a link for an awesome, amazing, helpful website, which you are all probably already very familiar with but I'm going to share with you anyway because I can. It's Miss Snark's First Victim, and she's got an awesome post today about creating titles. This just happens to be something that interests me greatly. I LOVE titles. I LOVE coming up with titles. A great title will make me buy a book, no matter what the genre. Examples: Anna Dressed in Blood--how freaking awesome is that title? A Tree Grows in Brooklyn--amazing! Water for Elephants--yup, bought that right away. But more often than not, I see crappy titles. There, I said it. So you see, you need this link. Happy reading/titling!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What's the deal with adverbs, anyway?

They're just words that modify a verb, and usually end in ly. Sounds pretty inoffensive, right?

Wrong. They're evil. Or at least that's what writers are often led to believe. I'm sure you've heard it all before--adverbs are a sign of weak writing, of telling instead of showing, of overwriting, etc etc. And I have to admit that for a long, long time, I hated adverbs too. Then I found out adjectives are to be hated as well, and so those also had to be used with caution. There are rules for a reason, right? I wasn't so overconfident that I thought my novels would be the exception to the rule.

But then something happened. Well okay, nothing really happened, but that sounded very dramatic, didn't it? What actually happened was that time passed, I grew as a writer, and I learned lots. And of all the advice I took in (and trust me, there was A LOT), this one bit stuck the most, so here I am to share it: Don't say something in ten words if you can say it as well, or better, in five (I can't remember/find the source, so my apologies for that).

Great advice, right? So now instead of focussing on adverbs and adjectives, I simply ask myself 'How can I effectively (ha!) say what I want to say in the fewest amount of words possible?' Sometimes this involves using a stronger verb in place of the verb+adverb. Sometimes this involves omitting an adjective that was unnecessary. Sometimes it's none of these things--it depends on the sentence. But yeah, using this question as a guide definitely cleared things up in my head.

So there it is, folks. Do with it what you please :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Going to write now. Right after I check Twitter. And Facebook. And Perezhilton...

Hello. My name is Michelle Krys, and I'm a Procrastinator.

I'm sure I'm not the only writer with this problem. I KNOW I'm not. Still--how annoying. I look forward to the times of day I'll be able to focus completely on writing, and I obviously want to optimize every minute of it, so why then, when this time arrives, is it that I absolutely have to check Twitter, and Facebook, and Perezhilton, and all the blogs I follow, and have my electric heating pad going, and have a tea, and...you get the idea.

Answer: I don't know.

I guess you all thought there was going to be a lesson at the end of this rant. Nope, it's just a rant. Don't get me wrong--I still get pretty massive amounts of word countage done per day. It's only that I sleep less and drink lots more coffee than I should. But hey, it works for me. And after trying to change my procrastinating ways, I've realized that these distractions will just peck at the back of my mind and, well, distract me, until I finally give in. So I just do, and it's part of my writing routine now (which also includes blogging, as of yesterday!)

How about you? Are you a procrastinator? What do you do about it?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Things that are AWESOME!

I have some very exciting news to announce shortly (but not yet!) Until then, I'd like to show you this AWESOME congratulatory gift I received from my sisters and mom.

It's an assortment of YA and classic novels from my Goodreads to-read list. Seriously, how freaking awesome is that??? I can't stop staring at my gift and it's making me have heart palpitations. Which shall I read first? (Fun fact-this picture actually contains a hint, albeit very, very difficult to decipher, about my news). 

Also AWESOME is this card that my eleven-year old niece Rhys gave me:

 It's a witch cheerleader (my YA Urban Fantasy novel, THE WITCH HUNTER'S BIBLE, is about a cheerleading witch, believe it or not!) This picture is awesome in too many ways to count. 

Okay, I caved

So, after approximately one zillion years of saying I was NEVER, EVER going to start a blog, that's it'd be too much work, that I'm too busy, that it'd interfere with time I could be writing, I did it.

And...it's fun!!

I've only just started, but I can already see how much fun it's going to be subjecting unsuspecting victims to my thoughts on writing, books, and everything else I can think of. MUHAHAHAHA!

So, having said that, welcome to my blog.