Not a Crisis of Confidence, Per Se… Just a Numbers Thing

Chip MacGregor point out on his blog yesterday that only about 15 agents represent 95% of the Christian books out there.

Fifteen.  Fif.  Teen.

Of those 15, a number (including Mr. MacGregor) only take on clients who have been previously published or are strongly recommended by their current clients or have something else going for them (it appears that the agency Karen Kingsbury works with, for instance, represented Sarah Palin and Going Rouge.  Governor Palin was not previously published, but… she’s Sarah Palin…).

So that leaves me with… ten?  Maybe?  Who are even willing to possibly even consider looking at my work.  You hear stories about ‘I got hundreds of rejections before finally having someone take a second look!’  Well, there’s not hundreds of agents out there to reject me :p.  It feels like putting all of my eggs in very few baskets, but when there aren’t that many baskets out there…

/sigh/

The reality is that those 10 agents are probably only going to take on 5-6 new clients a year.  That means 50-60 authors all together are going to find representation without some kind of ‘in’ that I don’t have.  Each agent can realistically expect to get several hundred queries a month.  Rachelle Gardner gets 4-500 queries a month but can only say yes to a couple of them.  In a good month.  When the industry isn’t basically shut down for the holidays and such.

I know ‘if God be for it, who can be against it’ and if this is what God wants for me the numbers, the odds, don’t matter, but simply looking at the numbers makes it seem nearly impossible.   I know Unbreak Her Heart is good.  I know it is.  But that doesn’t mean I’m going to catch the right agent on the right day when he or she isn’t already mad at second cousin Mandy for boycotting the family reunion and automatically have a sort of iffy feeling about my Mandie for reasons that have nothing to do with me, the book or my ability to write a compelling story…

But I’m still going to do it.  I have a list of about 9 agents that I’m interested in.  That means I may have one or two more to find.  I’m planning on sending out a query or two next week but don’t want to send them all out at once.  I hope to set up meetings with Les Stobbe and Mary Sue Seymour at the Heart of America Christian Writers’ Network Conference this November.  I plan to query Steve Laube and a couple others in early fall.  Am I likely to get rejected?  Yes.  Am I going to do it anyway?  You betcha.

What I’ve Read…

I’ve read three books this weekend :).  It’s been a LONG time since I’ve done that!

Saturday, my sis and I took all three girls to get library books.  I picked up three.  Here are the reviews:

Amazon Book CoverSaturday night, I read Always a Bridesmaid by Andrea Boeshaar.  It was… okay.  Spoilers coming.  It’s the only book I’ve read by this author so I don’t know if it’s the author or this particular book or what, but parts of it seemed contrived and forced a bit, even skimmed over.  We didn’t get to see the big confrontation at the end [and I understand why – neither the male nor female romantic leads were there and the book was written strictly from their POVs – point of views – but I still feel a bit cheated].  I’m sure some of it was the type of book – it’s a Heartsong Presents book which has, as I understand it, strict [shorter than most] word counts and ‘rules’ so that may have played a role in it.  I think if it was about 1.5xs as long, more in depth on some things, etc. it would have been much better.  But that’s just my opinion of course :).

Melody in her early/mid-20s and moved home after her boyfriend, Scott, disappeared.  She then discovered that he’d had several other girlfriends, including one who eventually had an abortion.  She dropped out of college but has been slowly getting her degree.  Her little sister, Bonnie, comes home one day, announces she’s engaged then introduces the whole family to Scott.  Scott denies there was ever a relationship with Melody.  She tells her family about it, but because she hadn’t told them about it when it happened (she’d never mentioned Scott at all) and because she’d crossed certain physical boundaries (they never had sex and I’m not quite sure how far they ended up going), her parents, particularly her mother, choose to believe Scott’s version of events over Melody’s.

That annoyed me to no end as did how her parents, particularly her father, treated her at times.  Yes, she was living with them and needed to follow their rules, but when she left to go drive around one night and didn’t return, it was like she was a sixteen year old with a brand new license.  There were a couple of other things like that that annoyed me as well.  I get the ‘you’re living in our house, our rules are you let us know if you won’t be home after x time and if not doing it becomes a habit, we’re going to have to rethink this arrangement’ but this was more of a ‘if it happens again, you’re grounded, young lady!’ type of thing.

Melody falls in love with boy-next-door Luke who has been pining for her since childhood.  He believed her from the beginning.  Bonnie finds out about Scott when Scott tries to convince Melody to break up with Bonnie for him.  He’s leaving for medical school and doesn’t want to be entangled while there.  That’s a lie, of course, and when Bonnie and Dad confront him, he’s living with another pregnant fiance he plans on leaving behind as well.   That’s the confrontation I felt cheated out of.  The family ends up taking the pregnant girl under their wing and the book ends with Melody and Luke’s wedding.

It wasn’t a BAD read, but not a GREAT one either.  I’d give it 2.5 of 5 stars.

The other two books I borrowed were by Deboray Raney.  I started one Sunday night and read about ten chapters.  I finished that one then started and finished the next on Monday.

EDIT: I took out the next two reviews and will post them later – changing the format to one per post =D.

One of the other books I read, Yesterday’s Embers, may have also broken a logjam for me in my second novel, currently underway, and the sequel to my first.  The title of the first book is currently Unbreak Her Heart by the way.  I don’t think I’ve actually mentioned that…  Anyway, Yesterday’s Embers may have been a bit of an answer to prayer in that way – but time will tell :).

Hope everyone has had a fabulous holiday weekend.  Tomorrow… potty-training the two-year-old…

Happy Birthday, America!

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

John Adams to Abigail, July 3, 1776

John may have had the date wrong, but the sentiment remains the same (the vote on the Declaration took place on July 2 but the text was sent to the printer on the 4th).  The text is found in the last post.  So…

Hope every on of you out there is having a great 4th!  Went to church this morning and held a sweet baby girl for a while [okay – she’s like 9mos old now but still a sweetie] in the nursery.  Olive Garden with Kelley.  The Davises, sis, and Kelley came over and hung out until time to go to see fireworks at Twin Oaks Country Club – the parking lot across the street has a great view!  Davises, some of their family and my neighbor’s parents came with us.  After that, neighbor’s dad and I showed the kids the planets in the night sky [okay, after Terry showed me!] and then did a bit of star gazing around the glare of the fireworks coming from all directions.  Maybe we’ll get a chance to look again later this week!

The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett     Lyman Hall     George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper     Joseph Hewes     John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge     Thomas Heyward, Jr.     Thomas Lynch, Jr.     Arthur Middleton

Column 3
Massachusetts:
John Hancock    
Maryland:

Samuel Chase     William Paca     Thomas Stone     Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George Wythe     Richard Henry Lee     Thomas Jefferson     Benjamin Harrison     Thomas Nelson, Jr.     Francis Lightfoot Lee     Carter Braxton

Column 4
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris     Benjamin Rush     Benjamin Franklin     John Morton     George Clymer     James Smith     George Taylor     James Wilson     George Ross
Delaware:
Caesar Rodney     George Read     Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd     Philip Livingston     Francis Lewis     Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton     John Witherspoon     Francis Hopkinson     John Hart     Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:

Josiah Bartlett     William Whipple    
Massachusetts:

Samuel Adams     John Adams      Robert Treat Paine     Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins     William Ellery    
Connecticut:

Roger Sherman     Samuel Huntington     William Williams     Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

I Love It, I Love It Not…

I caved in and downloaded Liquid Story Binder.

So far I can’t decide how much I like it.  I haven’t played with it too much but when I went back and tried to outline and timeline and dossier [like how dossier is a verb there?] everything from Unbreak Her Heart, it just frustrated me.  It could be that it will work much better when starting from scratch or when I’m not feeling the ‘I ONLY HAVE THIRTY DAYS’ pressure.

That said, I did start brainstorming a new book on it the other day. It’s something I’ve sort of toyed around with and have a very rough outline for in my head.  I started dossiers with exceptional names like ‘Male Lead’ and ‘Female Lead’.  I even found random pictures of people on the internet that sort of fit the images in my head so I could have them for reference points.  This is my tentative NaNoWriMo project so it’s not like I’m actually going to be WRITING it just yet…

I think I need to play with it while when I’m actually writing and see how it goes.  I did manage to get my muse to call in from her extended vacation at a secure, undisclosed location [that I’m pretty sure is somewhere in the Bahamas – I’m seeing somewhere like Mike’s place on NCIS but on an island with a boat that stops by twice a month with mail and provisions].  She ditched the prologue and informed me of the new chapter one for Unbreak Her Heart [or maybe Sarah called her and told her to do it?], but I think that’s the extent of her current involvement with anything WIP related so actually starting anything new is currently out of the question – maybe I can bring her back to work on Jasmine’s story some… she likes Jasmine.  And the prince.  And that’s all the spoilers you’re getting for that…

Anyway – the jury is still out on Liquid Story Binder.  May love it, may not.  We’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, the power went out earlier today and I finished my friend Erin’s book, Between the Lines, and am currently hounding her for a sequel.

I Think I’m in Love

I think I may be falling in love, sight unseen, with Liquid Story Binder.  It can, like, make timelines!  Do you know how COOL that is?!  I have an Excel table in a Word doc that I have literally torn hair out over trying to make the timelines work.  To see if I had it right.

And it has a character generator.  And you can write individual chapter files [my preferred way of writing most of the time] and it will make them into one nicely formatted file.  And character dossiers.  Not just cheat sheets.  Dossiers.  Images.  Mind maps.  Outline trees.  Project goals.  Color schemes.  Backups.  Statistics.  All sorts of cool stuff!

It has a free thirty day trial [usage days not calendar days].  I’d love to try it out but it’ll be September [probably] before I can scrounge together 45.95 for it [though that includes all updates.  Ever.] unless it’s on sale [a Google search for ‘coupon codes’ brought up several sales – including one that seems to happen around Nanowrimo].

So I’ll dream for now, because I’d go through the 30 days in, well, 30 days [maybe 32 or 33] and then I’d have to do without for a while…  Unless it goes on sale between now and then.  Then I’d probably buy it.

Anyone else have any experience with it?  Is it as good as it’s cracked up to be?  I just started trying to use OneNote to make character sheets and I’m just not getting it…

Crisis of Confidence

It doesn’t take much to give me a crisis of confidence.  It never has.  They come more seldom and are over more quickly than they used to be, but they still occur way too frequently for my taste.

I’m doing better than I was a couple hours ago.  Becki helped me formulate a plan.  It’s this:

Continue to improve query letter and manuscript
Send out a few more queries
Talk [again] to a friend who has a book coming out in December and went to the same conference I’m planning on attending
Talk to a friend who’s getting a book published and ask her for advice [will be late July before this can happen]
Query a couple of ‘first choices’ in August/September
Register for Heart of America Christian Writers Network Conference in Nov
Schedule one or more critiques/first pages with agents I’m strongly interested in for the conference

Having a plan is helping.  There’s still dues to be paid.  There will be more crises of confidence.  The query letter has been tweaked and improved.

Maybe it’s a good thing that one of the equeries I sent out earlier this week bounced.  It was an agency that is fairly high up on my list.  Now I can submit a better query letter :).  Maybe God had a hand in it all!

Rites of Passage

Today is the day I (sort of) became an official author.

I got my first rejection!

Yesterday, sent my very first query ever to agent extraordinaire Nathan Bransford and, as expected, he rejected me today.  He doesn’t rep my genre, but he has a fun blog and says that he loves query letters.  One post is even labeled, ‘When in doubt, query me’ – so I did.  He sent a nice, polite form rejection.

So today, I sent out 3 more email queries and am readying my first snail mail query – it will hopefully go out by the end of the week.

I also got my own blog.  For reals.  My fabulous friend, Ang, is working on my website sometime soon because that’s what she does and she rocks.

So today I feel like a real author.  Because today I got rejected.  And that’s okay :).  There’s more to come, but hopefully, there will also be a few requests for partials, some for full manuscripts and, eventually, a contract!  I can’t wait.

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