It’s been a busy couple of weeks since my last post. The biggest thing has been the rollout of a new site design and engine at The Mac Observer. Dave Hamilton, Adam Christianson, and Eddie Machado of outside design firm Themble did an amazing job of bringing The Mac Observer into the present.
We also brought back the TMO Spin, a vehicle for our news guys to add perspective, context, and opinion to our news coverage separate from writing up the straight new itself. In that the thing that most interests me in my day job is the analysis side of things, I am super stoked we did that.
But, it’s kept me very busy. Then there was Apple’s iPhone 5 media event and all of the extra news generated by that. The spec comparison I wrote on Friday alone was a 12 hour task, and that’s not counting after-the-fact corrections and responding to comments.
Hence, the lack of updates.
I haven’t made a post in a few days, mainly because I didn’t have a lot to specifically say. As I was trying to think of what to write about, I realized I should rip off John Martellaro, my friend and colleague at The Mac Observer.
He does something called Particle Debris, a weekly column where he throws in whatever he came across throughout the week that didn’t warrant a standalone article. I think I’ll call mine…Scatter Shot. That’ll do for now, at least. I can’t promise to do it weekly, but periodically seems doable.
Quadrophenia on Blu-ray by Criterion
I have been waiting for this since I learned what the Criterion Collection was! The company announced it was releasing Quadrophenia last month, and I immediately ordered the Blu-ray version. It shipped a couple of days ago. Man, oh man, but I can NOT wait!
Jimmy’s Not Having a Good Day
The awesome and fantastic Chuck Joiner of MacJury, MacNotables, and MacTV was kind enough to invite me on to an episode of MacNotables. He wanted my thoughts on the Apple-Samsung patent infringement battle, and I’ll be honest, I kind of went a little foamy at the mouth.
Image credit: Shutterstock
The title is a lie, because I am totally stoked! On Monday morning, I got my first request for a partial! That’s publishing speak for when an author is asked to provide anything less than a full manuscript to an agent or publishing editor, and it’s the first possible step towards getting an agent.
Here’s what I sent him:
How can this not get me representation, right?! It’s illustrated!
Here’s how it works. An aspiring author—that’s me—sends a query letter to an agent. As mentioned in previous posts, I began sending out query letters about six weeks ago. This is a long, drawn out process for just about all new authors, and it can take many, many query letters and sometimes years of effort to finally land an agent, let alone a publishing deal.
I’ve been pretty busy for the last few weeks, starting with sending out a new round of query letters. I’ve found five really kick ass agents to start with, with four queries still out there. With any luck, one of them will request a partial or the full manuscript, and I am hopeful.
Interestingly, the third agent I queried effectively wanted everything an agent might want: a query letter, a synopsis, the first three chapters, and a separate bio. Note that a query letter typically has a very short synopsis/description along with a short bio included, so there’s a little redundancy there, but that’s the nature of the beast.
In any event, I mention it because it turns out that writing a real synopsis is frakking hard. Taking a 119,000 word story and condensing it to 3,200 words while keeping some style, voice, and personality in it is just obscenely hard. You have to get all the major ups and downs of the plot, mention all the main characters—but not to many, mind you, and make sure you aren’t leaving anything out.
Artist’s Rendition of My Synopsis
Well, I’m no longer a virgin—I have received my first official rejection letter. She was nice about it, and everything; we aren’t a good fit. Plus, I evidently have cooties (see below).
And with that, I can now probably call myself a real writer. I have joined the hallowed ranks of, well…every would-be writer who has been told no.
As I blogged last week, this was my first query letter to an agent. Getting an agent is a long slog, and I’m moving on to the next set of query letters this week. Wish me luck!
Image made with additional help from Shutterstock.
I rewatched Trek Nation today, and was hit once again with how awesome it is.
If you’re not familiar with it, Trek Nation is a documentary about Star Trek made by Rod Roddenberry, Gene Roddenberry’s son. Gene died in 1991, when Rod was just 17 years old, and, as Rod tells us in the show, he grew up not caring about Star Trek at all, and not having a great relationship with his father.
Rod Roddenberry in Science Channel Trailer
“You know, I really learned about Star Trek through the fans,” he said at one point in the movie, and that’s what we see in Trek Nation. It’s not so much a documentary about Star Trek, as it is a movie about Rod searching for his dad and finding him in the show, the show’s fans, the people who worked for and with Gene, and even people who never knew him.
Man, oh man! I finally sent out my first query letter to an agent last night. I’m a delightful mix of giddy, nervous, excited, anxious, fearful, trepidatious, and ARRRGGGGHHHH!!!
For those who aren’t familiar with the publishing process, a query letter is sort of a writer’s elevator pitch for a book. It can include a brief introduction and any credentials that you think are pertinent to finding success as a writer, but it must include a very brief synopsis of your full book.
Thanks to Nathan Bransford for all the awesome advice to new writers on his blog, I now know these things. Robert J. Sawyer also has some great advice on his site.
I agonized over each aspect of this, my first query letter, and was lucky to have a few friends and associates help me tweak it. One’s query letter is, in some ways, as important as your novel, because you only get one first impression with a potential agent. If you can’t get an agent excited about your project at this stage, you won’t get another opportunity.
Of course, the vast majority of query letters are rejected, but you have to start somewhere! I’m just glad I was able to get this part of the process rolling.
OK, I know I’ve said that I was finished with my novel a couple times, but this time it’s true! No, really! Actually, they were all true, but “through” is so relative. The first time I was “through,” it was finishing the story, getting that last word in Scrivener.
But from there came some heavy rounds of editing, followed by focusing on serious refinements. When I was “through” with that, the book went out to all my beta readers—and let me say again that you guys are beyond awesome—for as nit picky feedback as I could get.
As this was happening, I had more refinements for later in the story pop into my head, plus I got some great feedback (and an excellent copy edit from Dan). So, then it was time for one last start-to-finish edit.
Once I was “through” with that, I decided I wanted to make some changes to the prologue. This included some foundation changes to one of the military arms in my story. Then I had some other refinements for other parts of the story…
I’ve gotten a lot of help from some amazing friends and colleagues getting my novel to where it is (that is, ready for an agent), but this week I’ve been lucky enough to get input from two new beta readers.
On Wednesday, I spent a couple of hours talking to a fellow aspiring writer, and she gave me some very insightful observations that are going to allow me to make a couple of excellent refinements. Better yet, she’s going to let me beta read some of her own stuff, and I suspect that will be a good process for both of us. All of my beta readers have been fantastic, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to have another writer to talk to.
On Thursday, I got the results of the first copy-edit from another friend. He caught a number of really awful typos (its/it’s, their/there), missing words, double words, some mixed up subjects, and what I thought were some amazingly eagle-eyed grammar catches. He also had some very nice things to say about the story, which is always nice to hear, and offered up some insightful commentary on things that I found quite helpful.
Again, I’ve been very, very lucky to have so many people encourage me and help me with this project, and I wouldn’t have gotten even this far without them.