I know I should have updated like right after WisCon, but I have a good excuse. This time I didn't have a fever during WisCon, but it hit me after. So, all last week I was in a fever haze and couldn't concentrate on much of anything. Now, I just have a cough and stuffy nose, so I'm a bit better at least.
I'll cover some recent news before I delve into WisCon (this might be a long blog, I'm not quite sure yet - depends on how long the steam lasts). Last Saturday, while feeling miserable in my illness, I received a rejection from the agent I queried. Bleh. When things hit me, they wack me over the head until they think I'm unconscious. So, yesterday I walked my butt to the post office to submit another query (did I pick a hot day to do so). Here's hoping number two will at least come back with a request for a partial. These first two agents are ones I really wanted, so that's why I'm not sending multiple queries out. After residency, and if I get a rejection from this second agent, I'll likely send more than one query out at a time. Maybe four.
As for other writing, I've been decent with getting a couple things rolling this week. Did at least four hours worth of writing work Monday and Tuesday. Sadly, I have a week and half until residency! I have to get my thesis organized and professionally printed, pick excerpts to read, read the residency novel, critique five stories, and prepare my entire 50 minute presentation. Yikes! The panic will set in next week. It's going to be a bitch finding high quality, acid-free, watermarked paper that's not going to cost me $70 for 100 sheets (mind you I need to print out 2 copies, 450 pages each about).
Now for WisCon. It was great! I'm glad I went. Sadly, though, my room was on the floor where the parties were held. It would have been okay if things would have wrapped up at 1am, like they were supposed to, but they didn't on Saturday night (kareoke right next door to me, through the connecting door, and people shouting in the hall right outside my door). I did encourage myself to go to a couple parties. Stopped in at the TOR one, looked at the book covers on the wall, grabbed something to drink, then felt stupid standing around by myself because everybody was talking in groups, so I went back to my room. I was more successful on Sunday night, when I went to the Film Noire and Broad Universe parties. I actually started talking to someone that I'd seen in many of the writing panels I had gone too. So there, I was social. Reminds me, I need to e-mail her. :p
But I'm rambling. I'm sure no one much cares about my social handicap. This is why I write and blog, I can think through what I'm going to say, and I don't have to actually approach strangers. Anyway, the panels. Some great panels! I loved it that I recognized so many people from last WisCon, and in all honesty, putting names with faces will more likely make me buy a book by certain authors. :)
Before I go into details about some of the panels, I'd like to comment on one of the guests of honor - Robin McKinley. She snuck onto one of the panels on Saturday morning, and one of the things she said was that if you know you're not the type of writer that can sell yourself, and if you're not a social butterfly, that you feel your best effort with writing is to stay at home and work on it, then don't force yourself to go against your nature. When she said this, I was so happy! She had said she doesn't usually go to Cons and such because she's not the best in front of people. I felt like I came across a kindred spirit. :) I've had so many people saying I have to sell myself, that I have to totally put myself out there, and now I hear this from her. I am not comfortable with trying to sell myself because I trip over my own words, and say stupid things most times. She's right, it would just make it worse to force myself. With that said, I don't plan to become a total hermit writer. I do enjoy going to the Cons, and will continue to do so, and maybe one day I'll have enough courage to be on a panel. But I'm not going to force myself across the line into total discomfort.
Okay, I was just talking more of my social handicaps, wasn't I? :p Onto the panels! I'm not going to cover every panel I went to, just some tips I received which other writers might find useful. Some are things I knew already, but they're worth repeating.
Panel: Common Questions for Pros First some query notes. It's good to have something in your query letter that stands out, that will make the agent/editor remember you. This of course should be related to your writing and not something totally out of the blue. Perhaps something that proves you're knowledgeable in what you're writing (I have yet to find my "query letter hook" - I'm too humble). If you're writing a trilogy, make sure each book is stand alone. In the query letter, or synopsis, if you're querying about the first book in a trilogy, make sure you sum up in a sentence or two what will happen in the second and third novels. Also, personalize the query letter - don't make it look like it's from a template you found online or in a book. One thing this panel also recommended was going to your local bookstore readings - you never know who you'll meet!
Panel: Common Neo-pro Mistakes This could be used for people that have a couple things published (stories or novels). These are some good recomendations no matter what, in my opinion. Don't become so publoucation driven that you forget why you started writing in the first place. Know the rules and break them (I've always loved this one)! There is a need for a cultural diversity in fantasy and science fiction - explore cultural backgrounds and such - step away from the caucasian. And make sure to emotionally engage the reader.
Panel: Pauses This was mainly a writer's block panel, but I figured I'd go to it. As many long time readers of my blog know, I don't believe in writer's block, only writer's lack of motivation. These are just some reasons why people might have problems. You can't predict how long a novel is going to take. When you've been working on something so long, thinking of completeing it creates a void. The momentum is the hurdle, when you've finally started, you wonder why it took you so long to get started (this would be me). Don't forget to have fun while you're writing! A cool writing exercise that was suggested was to write from the viewpoint of your critic, then from the viewpoint of your muse - then have the two characters meet. I hope to try this one. I might even post the exercise on my website. I could only imaginr the cat fight my critic and muse would get in...and I have no clue who would win.
Panel: The Business of Publishing Okay, here's a reason why you need an agent - they already have established credibility in the publishing world. Also I got a good link for a place to search for an agent. The Association of Authors' Representatives This was recommended by an agent.
Panel: Dealing with Burnout Some factors of burnout. There is a realtionship between burnout and depression. Too many things to do could burn you out (this would be me) - the whole you freeze because you're so overwhelmed thing. Suggestions to help with burnout. Simplify - do you need to do everything you're doing? You can't do it all, so you need to put some things on the side and give yourself time. You need to find a balance. Don't worry about what you're not achieving - it's a trap. Sometimes it's just general stress, and exercising can help (just another reason I need to start doing my yoga again). You have to believe in yourself (no pessimism for me). Always remember that reality doesn't always match the romantic image of being a writer. And you should always ask the question - what's right for you?
Okay, I think that's much of the good advice I received. I tried to cover the important things. :) Hope it's helpful! So, this was a long post. I made up for some of my past blog negligence. Until next week. Happy writing!