when productivity attacks (aka epic blog fail)

Yes, I'm the worst blogger ever these days. Let's just get that out there. But I have good excuses (note the "s"! You know it's serious when there is more than one excuse!). Seriously blogriends, the last thing I remember was August. I have no idea what has been happening since then and now. Like, it's November? Seriously? This isn't some elaborate joke?

Between querying, working on my WIP, working my full time job, doing the family thing, and doing the friend thing, I feel like I don't even have time to think, but you don't come here to listen to me complain so how about we ignore what an inconsistent blogger I am at the moment and focus on something good...

Umm, well, I don't really have anything good to share except that my total requests for Chameleon is now 15! That sounds much better than it is though because many of those 15 have since passed on the project, citing it isn't quite right for them, but always with lots of positive comments and encouragement and I just want to pull them all in for a giant group hug! And maybe while we're hugging, one of them might change their mind....... Ok, maybe not, but a few truly excellent agents still have partials and there is still lots of hope that it will be just right for one of them. This whole processing is just so emotionally draining because you feel torn between disappointment over rejection and understanding that if the project isn't right for them, then they probably aren't right for you so it's all for the best.

So, since it's November and I'm sure that this month (and next month) will go by so quickly that I'll wake up tomorrow and people will be passed out on my couch, covered in booze and cheetos, mumbling something about "Hooray for 2010!" and I'll be all "Frak, I haven't blogged since early November", I wanted to take a moment to talk about 2009.

I don't recall if I've mentioned this on the blog before, but my birthday is September 9th (or 09/09). This year, my birthday was 09/09/09, which was not only cool cause, come on, it looks cool, it's also cool because 9 has always been a lucky number for me. Because of the whole 09/09 thing, I always pick 9 whenever I have to pick a number for a lottery ticket, or place a bet on roulette or whenever someone at my gamblers anonymous meeting asks me to pick a number between 1 and 10 (ok that last part isn't true. I don't even remotely have a gambling problem. I've been to a casino like twice. Ok maybe three times, but I kinda just go to stare at all the lights and make fun of people. And I hardly ever buy lottery tickets. I shouldn't have even made that joke to begin with because you probably don't believe me, do you? Gamblers always lie about stuff....)

Anyway, the point is that 9 has always been significant to me and it's often paid off. Maybe it's just that I notice 9s more, but I see them pop up all over the place. The floor I lived on in residence at universtiy was even called Could Nine. I don't want you to think I'm some crazy numerology chick or anything (cause you know, liking 9s probably doesn't have anything to do with real numerology, which I know nothing about), but yeah, 9s = lucky number for me.

That took way too long to explain. You're probably super bored now and the pay-off is so not going to be worth it, but here it is:
Since 9 is such a lucky number for me, I entered this year thinking something big would happen. Not "I found ten bucks in the couch big", but big, life-changing even. One could argue that the fact that I finished editing a book and have been querying it to moderate success (success is clearly not the right word here, but you know what I mean) is big, but there's no permanence to it. If none of these queries pan out, I'm back at square one with the next book. Not the big life change I was expecting. I'm starting to feel it isn't coming.

Maybe I'm stupid for putting pressue on a year that has no say in whether or not it contains a 9. Or maybe something big will still happen. It's impossible to say, but I'm still holding out hope that 2009 has something good in store for me. Otherwise, I might have to break-up with you #9. And then I'd have to find a way to change my birthday... Or maybe we can just stay friends?

hello fall

Fall is officially here. I love fall, but I hate winter so this is always a strange time. I guess all I can do is enjoy the fall weather as much as possible before the first snowflake falls (and truthfully, it's not the first snowflake I hate. In fact, I love the first day of snow. It's the months of snow that follow that I'm not too keen on).

Nothing much to report on the query front, which makes me anxious and sad. I thought September would bring more reponses, but so far it's been as quiet as August, only without the excuse of summer vacation. So I continue to wait and hope and hope and hope and, well, you get the idea...

I'm currently working on two story projects--one that I've been working on for a while, plus a new project I'm really excited about. So excited that WIP #1 might have to step aside so that WIP #2 can stretch out. WIP #2 is feeling good right now. It feels the way Chameleon did when I started writing it. More to come on that eventually...

sometimes you just need a break

I know I've been a terrible blogger this summer. I'm sorry for that and unfortunately, I don't see things changing dramatically anytime soon. I do want to try and post something every now and then, but as long as I'm in the middle of this enormous confusing question mark that is the query process, things are going to be slow. I'm finding it hard to share the ups, when a down is just around the corner. That said, I'm going to try and get back into the swing of things in the fall, and who knows, maybe I'll eventually have some really good news to share, and I do want to try and post more about my WIP, which I am actually pretty excited about.
For now, this blog's sporadic nature can be attributed to "summer vacation" (the quotes are due to the fact that I'm not really taking much of a summer vacation this year, with the exception of the trip boyfriend and I are taking to Halifax over the Labour Day weekend).

Speaking of taking a break, have you ever wondered what a hummingbird looks like when it's sleeping? Ok, you probably haven't, but if you have, wonder no longer! It looks like this:

For some reason, I was thinking about hummingbirds on the way to work this morning. It's nice to know the little guys aren't moving 100 miles an hour 24/7. Everybody needs a break sometimes.

Quick QQ09 update:
I currently have 3 partials and 2 fulls out there (I somehow managed to go from no full requests to quite a few, with 2 more that have since been very encouragingly rejected--that is, the rejection letters were encouraging. The rejection itself was not.)
I also have 11 unanswered query letters.
I'm hoping to hear back from any of these 16 agents soon.
One truly amazing agent regretfully passed on a partial recently, citing the many things she loved about the manuscript. It was a little heartbreaking that she had to pass, but she made me feel pretty good about the story I'm telling and my chances for one day seeing Chameleon published. She also referred to it as "Spiderman for girls", which I love, and can't thank her enough for drawing the comparison. I'm going to have to keep that one in mind for future marketing of the book (you know, should I be lucky enough to be in such a position one day...)

I pretty much feel anxious all the time these days, waiting, and waiting. I'm still waiting to hear back on a partial from that very first agent I queried back in April. The wait may kill me, but from what I've heard, the agent is worth that kind of damage so I continue to wait.

I think that's all the news that's fit to print. Oh man, now my tea is cold :(

stats, romance in washington, and tossing the cookies

Good morning blogoblogs,

As promised, I'm going to post my updated QQ09 stats, though yes, they are a day later than I'd hoped.

I've been a little swamped helping everyone prep for the RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference in Washington (which starts today, though most of my HQN people won't depart until tomorrow as we spend today putting the final touches on various presentations, etc) so yeah, my days have been busy as of late. "When are they not busy?" you ask? When everyone has finally left for Washinton, that's when! I plan to hit that slush pile hard.

In addition to being busy, I'm also very tired today. Last night, around 4am, I awoke to the sound of sweet little Oliver kitten retching in the living room (it wasn't very loud--I must just have an ear for kitty barf). I wonder what made him so sick?

Oh I see....

After cleaning up the multiple messes (he's a bit of a traveling cookie tosser) and steering him toward a large bowl of water, I headed back to bed only to find I was in that zone where I'd been awake just long enough that I was too awake to sleep and just hungry enough that my stomach began to growl. I'm not big on the idea of eating during the night. I'm convinced it will give me weird dreams or an upset stomach so I convinced myself to toss and turn through the growling stomach and around 5am, I finally fell back asleep only to find myself cursing at 6:45am when my alarm went off. On the upside, Oliver seemed to be back to his chipper snuggly self when I went to feed the kitties.

So yeah, Kate = tired, but still mildly glowing from her first FULL request!! Here are the stats:

Query Rejections: 20
Partial Requests: 6
Partial Rejections: 3
What's that? A new category, you say?
Full Requests: 1

Hooray! Let us all rejoice and dance and sing to celebrate this next milestone in my publishing journey! I know I will be celebrating with my family this weekend at the cottage.

One more thing before I sign off. Harlequin Teen has launched a new website to correspond with the imprint launch later this month. It's very shiny. Check it out.

fill er up!

Today I...received my very first FULL request! And it wasn't even from one of the partials I'm waiting on! More to come on this soon, but for now, can I just say YIIPPPEEEEEEEEEEEE! ? I can? Ok, then YIIPPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!! :)

Updated stats to come when I'm not exhausted from a crazy day at work followed by the extremely intense "I got a full request!" dance I did around the apartment tonight... Sorry folks, no pics of that :)

pom-pom hockey

Hello blogoverse,

Sorry for, yet again, taking too long a break between posts. I'm still in this waiting/holding pattern where I'm so anxious I want to chew my own hand off. Ok, maybe not (that would definitely involve an ick factor, plus I tend to need both my hands). Anyway, yeah, I'm somehow remaining somewhat patient as I wait and wait and have a heart attack every time there's new mail in my inbox. It's hard to remember the last time I ever wanted anything more than this.

Boyfriend has been in Germany for business over the past few days, which has been an odd experience--not because I'm on my own (boyfriend travels enough for work that I'm used to that), but because I kept thinking about how far away he was. When he's in Chicago for business, he doesn't feel that far away, but this felt different. I suppose it's probably due to the time zone thing. Either way, I'm not really a fan. I don't like to feel so out of touch. Happily, he comes home today! Yay!

Huntley and Oliver, les petites chats, will be turning two in a few weeks and their personalities seem to grow more and more endearing everyday (which seems impossible, but somehow, it happens). Here's Oliver taking a break from the mad, mad world:

And here's Huntley, enjoying the sink:

Those crazy kitties! Lately, Huntley has taken to a game I like to call pom-pom hockey. To understand how the game works, you have to know that Huntley is obsessed with the drawers in my dresser. I think the obsession began when she realized that whenever she loses a pom-pom (her toy of choice), it's because she's flicked it under the dresser and her mummy has to remove the drawers to get it back out. Now, whenever I open a drawer in my dresser (usually for the purpose of, you know, getting clothes out and NOT retrieving pom-poms), she comes running from wherever she is in the apartment and looks up at me expectantly, OR attempts to climb into the drawer I've opened (I'm not sure where this habit ties into the whole pom-pom thing. I think she just realized at some point that drawers, like boxes, are fun to sit in). Because of her fondness for the drawers being pulled out, I suspect she's taken to shooting the pom-poms under the dresser on purpose and now her favourite thing to do when I pull the drawers out is to climb into the empty space where the drawer was and knock the pom-poms back out herself. This is how pom-pom hockey was born.

The other day, Huntley was lying on her stomach pawing under the dresser, a sign that another pom-pom had gone missing. I pulled the drawer out and she instantly jumped into the empty space, flicking the pom-pom back at me. I flicked it back at her and she threw her paw out to block the shot and flick it back out at me. This continued on for about 10-15 minutes until Oliver woke up from his nap, came over to see what the commotion was all about, stole the pom-pom and ran into the living room with it, but Oliver's sneaky interception didn't put a damper on Huntley's playful spirit. The drawer thing has evolved into her wanting to play pom-pom hockey all the time, so when I pull the drawer out, she climbs in and sits, ready to play. I will get a picture of this eventually to share, but for now, you'll just have to imagine the cuteness.

If I could only get Oliver to join in the game somehow...they could take turns taking shots on goal while the other defends in true Canadian style :)

UPDATED to include pom-pom hockey action shots! (ok so not exactly "action", but you get the idea...)

fast and furious (without cars or lameness)

Quick QQ09 update because things have been moving. Since my last update I've received two more partial requests and a few more rejections so I wanted to update the stats! A more entertaining and informative post to come soon (possibly even later today, though I'm trying to avoid the computer screen today because my contact lenses are suffering from a severe case of wonk).

Query Rejections: 16
Partial Requests: 6
Partial Rejections: 3

So yes, assuming my math skills are correct, I currently have 3 partials out there awaiting judgement, and the agents who have them couldn't be more fantastic! I'm excited, but absolutely desperate for that coveted full request...

just like that

Yesterday, I was hoping that *something* (a full request from one of my partials maybe?) good would happen to put the wind back in my sails and sure enough, something did. I received my 4th partial request! Very exciting! I am still VERY anxiously waiting to hear back about my other two partials that are out there, but having my 4th partial request come in was a very nice treat.

So quickly, here are the latest standings:

Query Rejections: 14 (most encouraging!)
Partial Requests: 4
Partial Rejections: 1

Now am I just waiting for that elusive full request to add to the list.... (to be sung) Come on full request! I'm ready and waiting for yoooooouuuuuuuuu!


again, i'm not lazy, just waiting

...and yeah, ok, a little lazy. And busy- the last couple of weeks (including weekends) have been pretty packed. I think things are slowing down though.

Still waiting on both partials. I wasn't really sure what to do about sending queries out while waiting on two partials, but after a two week break (during which I at least researched a whole slew of new agents to query), I decided to go ahead and send out four more queries today and I think I'll continue to take it slow from there.

I'm sort of freaking out because I realized I didn't put "Requested Materials" in the subject line of my partial so I think I'm going to send out a little status query soon just to make sure it didn't get lost in the sea of other query letters.

Continuing to keep fingers crossed like you wouldn't believe (I'm losing all feeling in my fingers... ) I promise I'll blog more when all this (particular) waiting is overwith and I don't feel so anxious all the time :)

happy belated b-day TLNTHC!

Many milestones to blog about this week.

First of all, I must wish my dear Chameleon (aka The Little Novel That Hopefully Can), a happy belated 1st birthday. It was on May 28th, 2008, as I lounged poolside at a resort in Cuba that the idea for Chameleon first came thundering into my brain. I couldn't write fast enough that day, not wanting to miss a single character detail or line of dialogue as certain scenes fell into place. We've come a long way my dear and I hope we continue on quite a ways more.

Secondly, I'm VERY excited to say that I've received my third partial request! Since I'm still waiting to hear back from dream agent #1 about my previous partial request, I now officially have two partials out in the world, trying their hardest to shine for two amazing agents. You go little partials! You can do it!

So here are the current QQ09 rankings:
Rejections: 12
Partial Requests: 3!!!
Partial Rejections: 1

I'm quite happy with these stats and I have to say, I've also moved into sort of a zen place when it comes to rejections, which is why today, I want to talk about a bit about my take on them and how it's changed with every one I've received.

I knew going into this process that I would be rejected. And no, I don't mean I knew in the way the dorkiest kid in school knows he'll be rejected by the most popular girl, but secretly hopes that movies don't lie and she'll fall for him anyway. I mean I knew because I work in publishing and I know how it goes and I know that every single one of my favourite authors have experienced rejection. I knew. I was ready. To an extent.

You see, though I was ready for the rejection itself, I wasn't really ready for the ensuing uncertainty. I thought that knowing meant I'd endure unscathed, but knowing you'll be rejected doesn't mean you can convince yourself to not take it personally. Even if you know you shouldn't, you do. At least at first. And, like I said, for me, it wasn't a matter of "I can't believe they rejected me" as much as it was a matter of, "Oh man, was I crazy to think anyone else would like this? What if I'm delusional? What if no agent is going to feel the same way about Brynn and co. as I do?"

But then the first request for a partial came and it was like a light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, the partial was (kindly and encouragingly) rejected the very next day and I felt like I was back at square one. It felt good that somebody took notice (and to know my query letter, on some level, worked), but it wasn't enough to stop me from questioning the worth of my writing.

And then more rejections came. Many were positive and kind, which made them easier to read, but nothing was calming my fears that the story I'd written just wasn't enough.

Then, when the second partial request came, things changed. Not only was the second partial request from one of the agents at the top of my list, it also served as a form of assurance that calmed me into a new way of thinking about rejection. That second partial request was like a second kiss. The first might have been impulsive, maybe even a fluke, but the second, oh, the second means something is right.

Since part of my job is to reject slush unfit for our imprints, I have a pretty good base knowledge of the varied reasons a manuscript might be rejected. Almost everything rejected at my level is either horrendously written or completely wrong for our programs. I think somewhere in my brain, I began to equate rejection with something that was completely off-target, a conclusion which couldn't have helped my uncertainty, but what I had to remember was that in my job, I send rejections on behalf of a major publisher to people who didn't bother to read submission guidelines and the stuff I reject is only a small fraction of what we receive so the reasons I reject projects don't really translate into the reasons why an agent rejects them.

If something in my slush pile looks decent, I can pass it along to an editor for a second opinion, and they can send it out to a freelancer for a reader's report, if it's positive, other editors will look at it, and eventually, it might work its way up the totem pole. If it's acquired, recognition doesn't really go to the person who found it in a slush pile. At that point, it sort of belongs to the publisher, a good find by the team, and if it fails, the publisher will endure.

While a publisher as large as the one I work for has a wide variety of editorial making its way through many editors and imprints, an agent is one person, who can and should only take on projects that really speak to them. At the end of the day, they have to put their personal reputation on the line for you and that's a huge favour to ask of anyone, let alone an essential stranger. Unlike the slush decisions I make, their rejections aren't based on "this doesn't work" or "this might work". Those two thoughts only mean rejection for an agent. "This might work" isn't enough. It has to be "This is brilliant. It speaks to me and I can't put it down!", which, let's face it, is really subjective. It's hard to feel bitter about a rejection when you start to understand that it's really not necessarily you, or your writing, it's the agent and his/her tastes, and availability/time, and whether or not they personally can go out on a limb for you, again, an essential stranger. Even if your book is amazing, they don't owe you anything. It's either there or it isn't and that has no influence over whether or not it will catch the eye of someone else.

So yeah, long story short, twelve query rejections (so far) don't have me down. If anything, they've brought me to this twelve rejection calm, where I'm over the initial uncertainties and I've settled in for the long haul. I have no plans to give up on something I've been working toward and dreaming of almost all my life. Sure, it's very likely that the rejection blues will drop by for a visit whenever a new rejection shows up in my inbox, but they won't be staying long. I won't let them. Feeling down is fine, but feeling bitter about rejection isn't fair to the book I've written, the agents I've queried, or me, and I have three partial requests to re-read if I need a reminder that my writing has worth.

Nobody said this would be easy and I've accepted that. I'm ready for whatever comes next.

Speaking of what comes next, I've been working on my WIP a lot lately and I'm pleased with the way things are going. Unlike Chameleon, my WIP is intended to stand alone (I don't want to start on Chameleon II until I know what's happening with it). I realize it's a bit odd to post an excerpt from my WIP when I haven't posted boo from Chameleon, but here's a little something from the openining (tentatively titled All That Comes After):

Lying in the freshly cut grass, he doesn't look like himself. His eyes are all wrong. The usual dark brown is clouded like a stream of milk trying to find its way through unstirred black coffee.
And they're so still, so peaceful; unmoving, unseeing, but somehow staring at the brilliant sun in a way the eyes of the living never could.
If we left him here, would the grass grow tall around him, covering his pale blue skin in brambles as it drinks up the water trailing from the corner of his mouth? Would he become one with the lawn, enabling him to stay forever near? I can't bear the thought of someone moving him. Can't fathom a world where we'd ever allow tall men in respectful suits to carry him away, while we return to a life without him. He isn't theirs to take.
I reach out a hand to trace two lines down his pallid face, my trembling fingers drawing across his eyelids, closing them, and he's transformed. Only sleeping. But no, he isn't sleeping. This isn't even him.
Here lies my brother's body, yet, he's nowhere to be seen.

i know, i know, i know

Yeah, I totally should have blogged by now, but I've been in this holding pattern, waiting to hear back about my latest partial request. This one is a big deal to me so I'm sort of pulling a radio-silence while I wait. Unfortunately, I feel it's going to be a long wait what with BEA coming up...I can't decide whether long waits make the rejection sting more or less.

I'm scared to even think about the outcome of this one. I know my heart will burst with excitement if the agent asks for a full, but I somehow have to put that hope aside and prepare myself for the far more likely possibility that she'll reject me. So anyway, yeah, I don't want to say too much while I wait, lest I ramble myself into a too-hopeful corner.

That said, I should update my QQ09 stats since I'm now at 10 query rejections (11 if you include my first partial rejection, which I suppose I should, though I see it as an accomplishment so it feels wrong to count it in my rejection tally.)

I've started mapping, re-writing my current WIP, which is something I'd started a few years ago, but I've only recently decided how to breathe new life into it. The approach I'm currently taking feels much better than how I'd gone at it before. I'm hoping this one will keep me distracted as I wait and try to remember that how this agent responds to Chameleon is out of my hands now. I just have to hope she likes it and not worry myself. I can't do anything to force it. All I can do is hope, pray, make deals with the devil...ok, maybe not.

I'll hopefully update again soon. This waiting will undoutedly make me squirrely.

they should bottle this stuff and sell it

New post! (as promised)

First off, I am reaching ridiculous levels of uber-excitement because I just received a request for a partial from one of my absolute top agents! I pretty much read the email and then went off like a rocket, dancing around with joy. Then the small part of my brain that reminds me to not get my hopes up kicked in and composed myself enough to reply with said partial attached. Now I wait and no, I'm not going to get my hopes up, but yeah, I am going to cross my my fingers and daydream, and pray, and maybe sacrifice a virgin daiquiri (or maybe a non-virgin daiquiri... it is a long weekend after all).

Ok, so here are the current stats:

Rejections: 7
Partial Requests: 2!!!!!
Partial Rejections: 1

Not a bad ratio if I do say so myself.

So anyway, this news is extra amazing because it came to me on my first half-Friday of the summer (ah, summer hours, how I love thee) and we got free hot breakfast and birthday cake at work this morning! Pretty good day all around, yeah? Yeah, and it only gets better because it's the beginning of what is going to be a great long weekend. Tomorrow both of my sisters and my brother-in-law are coming to visit (always a good time) and then on Sunday, boyfriend and I are headed up to the cottage until Monday. I'm was looking forward to this and the added happiness over this partial request just sweetens the pot.

I suppose I didn't get around to blogging about last weekend. Boyfriend and I had a wonderful time in Niagara Falls. We had gorgeous weather the day we went and there were rainbows all over the place (so girly and pretty!). We had a very nice dinner and then headed back home in time to visit the parents for mother's day/my dad's birthday (which always falls near mother's day weekend).

Work has been busy this week as I got back into the swing of things after my leisurely weekend, but I still took some time to make some revisions to Chameleon and start mapping out my WIP. (Gah, I hope those revisions pay off!)

Been watching finales of all my fav show this week- LOST left me a little heartbroken, but The Office healed said wounds with Jimtastic smiles. I didn't think that guy could act any more adorably. Sigh. What a great season ender.

Aright, that's enough of an update for now. The partial request excitement is flowing through my veins and I just can't sit still :) Also, my kitties are wrestling in the next room and from the sounds of it, things are getting knocked over. I should probably put an end to that...

bad blogger!

I know, I know. I need to blog again soon and I will! I promise! I've been so busy catching up after my anniversary long weekend that I haven't had the time to ogranize my bloggy thoughts, but I promise something soon- hopefully tomorrow if not Friday.

I suppose the least I can do is a QQ09 update:
Rejections: 7
Partial Requests: 1
Partial Rejections: 1

That's right, all of my current hopes are resting on the shoulders of the 6 agents who still haven't responded to my initial query (including 2 agents from my first round of queries! *CROSSES FINGERS*)

More to come...

QQ09 downdate

I decided to call it a downdate instead of an update because it's bad news. Well, it's not bad, it's just disappointing, but it's not unexpected and it's not the end of the world.

My partial was rejected. Yes, almost as quickly as it came, my hopeful happy dance has left me. It's ok though, I know that like the flat-out query rejections before it, this is all part of the process.

And I now know I'm on the right track. My query letter got an agent's attention and even as I continue to receive rejections, nobody can take that away from me. I can hang onto it and reread that request for a partial whenever I need to be reminded that I WILL get Chameleon published, it's just a matter of time.

Here's hoping one of the other eight queries I currently have out there comes back with positive news.

As a positive PS to this post, agent Rachelle Gardner held a little writing contest recently on her blog and she chose my 150 word piece about how the publishing journey is like LOST as one of her seven favourites. After that, readers voted on the winner and well, when reader participation is involved, you never know what will happen. I ended up in third place, which is totally cool with me. I was just happy to be nominated :)

happy milestone time!

Quick Query Quest 2009 Update!

Rejections: 5
Partial Requests: 1!!!!

That's right! A real, honest to God agent requested a partial!!! I'm beyond thrilled to know an agent (and one of my top picks at that!) is reading about Brynn and co. and their various adventures.

Must not get hopes up. Must not get hopes up. Hopes up or not, my first partial is a serious milestone and I think that's worth smiling about :)