Saturday, September 29, 2012

October Contests & New Blog Schedule

New Post Schedule

Some of you may have noticed some changes to our blog schedule.  Mondays will now rotate between the Industry Month in Review, Writers Resource, Villain of the Month, and the YA Book Pick of the month.  Wednesdays Lauren, Jenn, Triona and myself will wax poetically about writing, life and everything in between.

Hope you enjoy!

October Contests 

Upcoming October Contests
I'm just starting to come down from my GUTGAA high (thank you to Deana Barnhart for hosting and organizing!) There were soooo many amazing entries - I don't know how the judges and agents picked.  (a special congrats to our very own Triona who got THREE requests from the agent portion of the contest!)

Congrats to everyone who participated in GUTGAA, and best of luck to those who have moved onto the Small Press Pitch contest - my fingers and toes are crossed for you!

If you're looking for something to fill that GUTGAA void, there are some fantastic contests coming up for the month of October.  I've heard of six so far (six!!)  If you know of any others, please post in the comments section and I will update the list.

Oct. 13-16 - Spooktacular Pitch Extravaganza (Both participating agents were part of GUTGAA, so this contest is great for those that didn't make it into the agent round.)
Oct. 15-19 - Pitch Live
Oct. 30 - Third Annual Baker's Dozen

As if I needed another reason to love the month of October (any other Halloween geeks out there?)

Hope to see you at a few of them!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Twitter-ific: Twitter for Writers

Once upon a time, I kind of looked down on people who were obsessed with Twitter. Guess they don't have anything better to do than tell a bunch of people what they're eating for breakfast, was generally how my thought process went.

Then I joined Twitter to participate in an agent contest, about three months ago.

Ahem. 1900 tweets later, I would like to sincerely apologize for those uncharitable thoughts. I get it now.

I love Twitter

The thing no one told me: how many writers were on Twitter. How many talented, hilarious, kind, and - above all - supportive writers. I now am an active member of a large group of awesome people. We cheer the good news and boo the bad news together.

I had a very rejection-filled day a few weeks ago and was feeling pretty low.

I give up kitty
This was me.

I tweeted about it - nothing too hopeless, just something like, "Why do all the rejections have to come at once?" Within minutes, I had a dozen replies from other writers, some who are right there in the query trenches with me and could completely relate, some who have agents and book deals and just wanted to tell me to hang in there, it gets better. It was the best pick-me-up I could have imagined.

Beyond the support system, Twitter is also an excellent source of valuable information for writers at any stage of the process. I follow many agents and editors who are founts of tips and inside scoops on what they're looking for (and what they're rejecting). Even if a Twitter newbie didn't feel comfortable putting out tweets of their own, there's a whole lot to be learned just by following a bunch of reputable agents and editors and doing some "listening."

My advice to new writers who want to be Twitter-ers (I'm still not totally hep to the lingo, obviously!) is to first follow as many industry-professionals as you can. They usually list their Twitter handles on their blogs or websites.

Then keep an eye out for Twitter contests. Even if you don't participate, it's a great way to find other writers who are at the same stage of the process as you. One of my best Twitter friends (now a real-life friend who I met up with at a recent conference!) made the first contact by telling me she loved my contest entry. I've now done the same thing to others several times.

So if you're an aspiring writer and have been wondering if Twitter can help you: the answer is yes. Try it out and see if you like it!

And for the record: I'm @trionabmurphy if you want to say hi.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

To Outline or Not To Outline

Blank book

When I got the idea for my first manuscript I was pretty psyched.  This was going to be my ticket to success!  I knew the start, I knew the ending, now I just had to write it.  So I started to write, and write, and write some more. I had about five chapters down when I attended the SCBWI Niagara  conference and received notes on my first chapter and synopsis.

The notes all around were invaluable but it was the note on my synopsis that really hit home.  "This doesn't sound fresh".  My first thought was well of course not, you don't understand, there's so much that's not on the page, I only wrote the synopsis in a day, blah, blah, blah...
Girl frustrated at computer

But lucky for me, one of the things I pride myself on is my ability to chuck my ego at the door (I'll even grind it to a pulp if asked nicely).  The real reason why it didn't sound fresh was because I didn't know where it was going, who the characters were and why they were doing what they were doing.  Because I didn't have a sense of the overall story, I couldn't answer basic questions like the ones asked here and here.  I couldn't effectively communicate what the story was in the synopsis.

So I decided that before I continued to write my manuscript, I was going to finalize my synopsis.  Fast forward four months and several edits and revisions later, that synopsis has turned into my outline and bible for my novel.  It's also resulted in a number of things including the scrapping of several chapters, the shrinking of the scope of the story and a newly defined antagonist just to name a few. 

Was this exercise beneficial?  Will it help me to create a better manuscript? Will I be a millionaire with a six figure advance?  Yes. Yes. We'll wait and see.  Overall though, what it has allowed me to do is communicate my story better, write chapters that advance the plot and save time that may have been wasted developing ideas and moving in directions which weren't vital to the story. It's also helped me to get feedback on the story at a high level and fast.  There are a number of individuals who've graciously given me their time to provide feedback and comments.  Reading a ten page outline at this early stage is way easier than reading one hundred pages of a poorly drafted manuscript.  As this stage, I'm more interested in issues like voice and pacing than grammar and sentence structure. 

Is outlining for everyone?  I envy those with the talent to put fingers to keyboards and blast out a manuscript without one.  But for me, I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On How to Avoid Turning Into an Agent-Stalker or (gasp) Vanilla Ice

Within 24 hours of being rejected by both man  & agent. I only remember the fun.
I’m someone who has dated more than my fair share. Probably more than the fair share of entire sorority houses, really, considering how freaking long I’ve been at it. And wherever there is dating, there lurks rejection of the most powerful kind. Not that I’ve ever been rejected, I’ve clearly always done the rejecting, ahem, or not. But the fact is that most of the time one of the two of you is going to feel the sting of rejection in the quest for finding a great match.  And that’s why, I think, finding an agent-client relationship is often described as dating .
And now apparently we’re learning that, like with dating, where there is rejection, there may be stalking and violence. Really? One much-Tweeted/blogged story burning up the blogosphere right now is about an agent who was most-likely attacked by a rejectee. Yikes!
So since I have more practice being rejected than anyone I know, I am AWESOME with rejection (there’s a flow you pick up once you hit quadruple digits). We all have our skills. I thought I’d share with you some of my hard-fought favorites for dealing with rejection, and maybe you all can give me some new tips as well. Perhaps our public-service-announcement-ing will help keep these poor agents safe and back to their hovels to slosh through even more manuscripts . Hopefully with chocolate.

The Tips

At Chuao on a good day

1.      Chocolate. 73% dark. Single-origin. Chuao is my local favorite, but if you’re in NYC La Maison, Michel Cuizel,  or Kee’s are phenomenal. Think that the high rejection rates of NYC correlate directly with the location of many of the world’s best chocolatiers accidentally? Ha!

2.    Friends who don’t date/write. I meet with mine at the Chuao chocolatier cafe table most days a-la-Friends circa 1999. My friends are hilarious, especially when the blended chocolate drinks start flowing, and they start quoting everyone from Putin to Pee Wee Herman. Reminds a gal that the small world I’m being rejected in isn’t the only world, or even the only world I’m in. I can still make a Putin joke with the best of ‘em.

3. Friends who do write/date. This one often comes after experience with aforementioned because friends not in the trenches don’t understand.  From a distance, things always look so simple… Your friends in the trenches can validate the suckiness and avoid condescending or rude comments so much better. And the gallows humor potential? Awesome.

4. First World Problems. I love the website of the same name. Now, whenever something annoying happens like being rejected from someone who is not a deep love (luckily I’ve never had that one yet; parting from real loves is hard enough & a real human problem), I can write it off. THIS is my problem? Really? I am SO LUCKY! Hard for me to be whiny that someone who doesn’t actually know me all that deeply isn’t moved to a be with me right away. Way better than losing a child to hunger. Way better. (Despite its lackluster placement at #4, I think this one is the anchor of the list. Gratitude is its own beautiful breed of savior.) Also, if the person has been cool to me (and any agent who is taking the time to read your stuff has been cool with you), I like to end by giving them a specific "thank you." Always better to put more gratitude out there and acknowledge those who have been kind.

5. Remember I’m Becoming More Likable. People hate those who gain early success. So un-relatable and boring. Where are the stories? They certainly can’t throw down a “DTC” story to make someone else feel better in point 3. (“DTC” Delta Ticket Counter: I was stood up at the Delta flight counter once. He bought the flight to see me a week before. Never got on plane. I ended up with fridge of boy food. Would’ve been nice if he’d told me.) Great friendships form over the telling of a “DTC” story.

6. Time. Once you’re married/get published, there are luxuries you don’t have anymore (impromptu road trip to SF riddled with shenanigans? No prob.)  Might as well appreciate the benefits each place because, well, like it or not, that’s where you are. It also allows you to take self-inventories and get better thereby leading to a better match in the future, as well as time to strategize what to do when there and to prepare more fully than those suckers who didn't have time to do as much in-depth study of what has/has not made long-term success. Remember: Vanilla Ice hit big at 23 & stupid. Last week I think he performed at a Zumba convention (really. I looked it up. Next month? Pineapple festival).
Dancing with best friend.
(I took picture)
Summertime in the city!
This may or may not have
been immediately after some
form of rejection. Fun, right?

7. And when all else fails, dance party! Or as my brother calls it, “flailing around to loud music by yourself”( or with one or two good friends.) Lately my best friend and I are finding Florence and the Machine particularly fantastic.  Really, I think Ellen Degeneres says it best in her post-Katrina Tulane commencement address when she quotes one Lady Gaga's "Just dance…"

So what are your favorite ways to handle rejection with style and grace???

Monday, September 17, 2012


On the second Monday of every month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review. We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors!

This month's Book Pick is UNRAVELING by Elizabeth Norris.

Unraveling book coverSynopsis (from Goodreads): Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she's opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn't possible, she knowswith every fiber of her beingthat Ben has somehow brought her back to life.

But her revival, and Ben's possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI agent father's files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something
but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what's right in front of her: Everything that's happenedthe accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben's sudden appearance in her lifepoints to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she's going to need to uncover Ben's secretsand keep from falling in love with him in the process.

From debut author Elizabeth Norris comes this shattering novel of one girl's fight to save herself, her world, and the boy she never saw coming.

First Line: "I can tell the exact moment Nick steps onto the beach."

Unlike some of the other books we've featured for YA Book Picks (like LEGEND or BITTERBLUE) this one doesn’t have a "grabby" first line. But to be honest, this book doesn't really need one. The inciting incident—the turning point that propels the whole story forward—happens on page seven. We get to know Janelle and something about her attitude and her family situation… and then boom, we're into the action, hurtling forward toward the inevitable climax.

Highlights: I really liked the characterizations in this book. Janelle, her friends, and her family all had good reasons why they acted the way they did. They weren't one-note characters, and they sometimes behaved irrationally because of strong emotions—like real people do. 

I'm a big fan of sci-fi (and am currently working on a sci-fi thriller of my own!), so the twist in the middle of the book was right up my alley.

And finally: I'm a huge X-Files nerd, so all the references to the show kept putting a grin on my face.

Notes for Writers: If you're writing action, suspense, or thriller, you've probably heard the "ticking clock" advice. Having a deadline or a kill date helps heighten tension and drive the reader forward.

Elizabeth Norris takes this advice literally in UNRAVELING. The book's tagline is "Stop the countdown. Save the world." Each chapter begins with a number that shows exactly how much time is left before… well, you'll have to read the book to find out. But trust me, the stakes are really high.

A Good Read For: Anyone interested in sci-fi and action-packed thrillers, or anyone who wants to see an example of breakneck pacing done exactly right.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

On Realizing I Might Fail

About a month ago I had a really bad day.

After months of polishing my query letter and putting the finishing touches on my manuscript, I was finally ready to put myself out there. I sent off my first batch of query letters and entered my first contest since wrapping revisions.

Then the day came for the contest participants to be announced. I opened blogger, heart pounding and hands sweating, sure that I would be among the chosen few selected to participate in the multi-agent event.

I wasn't. My entry didn't even get an honorable mention.

I opened my email in an attempt to distract myself. My first two form rejections were sitting in my inbox, smiling thier evil smiles.

I told myself that it was just a stupid contest and only a few measly rejections. There would be plenty of opportunities, the business is subjective, I was earning my stripes, it only takes one yes, etc.  But something inside of me had shifted, because it was the first time I really considered the fact that I might fail.

Outside my window was a sea of grey - the fog had rolled in overnight, and San Francisco looked as bleak as I was starting to feel. It was July, but the temperature had dropped to the upper 50s. It was also Friday the 13th.

Pity Party, table for one.

Several weeks later I went for a walk with a friend and lamented about my struggles. I looked her in the eye and said the words that had repeated in my head since that gloomy Friday afternoon:  I might fail.

"Fail?" She said, eyebrows raising. "But you wrote a book.  You. Wrote. A. Book. How is that failing?"

I'd never really thought about it that way.

I wrote a book. I actually finished an entire manuscript. In the process of doing that, I learned a ton about the publishing industry, met some new and wonderful people, improved my craft, started a blog, read and edited other writers' manuscripts, received positive reviews from beta readers (even had several stay up late reading because they couldn't put my story down). So why was I so obsessed with the idea of failure, when I had accomplished so much?

It's simple: I developed such a finite view of what success looked like that I lost sight of everything else. I couldn't see the trees for the forest, so to speak.

There are artists with paintings that will never make it past the refrigerator door, dancers who will never make it off the recital stage, and bands that will never make it out of their garage.  But does that make them failures?

I would argue that the simple act of trying is a success in and of itself. How many people do you know that have actually attempted to make their dreams come true versus just talking and day dreaming about them?  My guess is not many, because there is safety in not knowing.

For those of you who are on this crazy path to publication, don't forget to celebrate your small successes along the way. And don't lose sight of the biggest success of all - you wrote a book. You were brave enough to put yourself out there.  You were brave enough to try. That alone deserves a little celebrating, no matter where your story ends up.

What have your recent successes been?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

GUTGAA Tag: I'm it!

Participants in the Gearing Up To Get An Agent blogfest are having a game of tag! I was invited by the lovely Rachel of You Are What You Write to answer the questions below about my current manuscript.

What is the working title of your book? THE LONG-TIMERS

Where did the idea come from for the book? The seed of the idea came from a Popular Science article that talked about one man's quest to slow down the aging process.

What genre does your book fall under? It's one of those slightly tricky ones, but the closest I've come is YA sci-fi/thriller or thriller with sci-fi elements. At conferences, I've had agents/editors call it speculative fiction and light dystopian too.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I have the perfect person in mind for Remy, the book's narrator: French actor Gaspard Ulliel. I was so excited to find a picture of him—he looks exactly like I pictured Remy.

Gaspard Ulliel

For Marisol, the main female character and one of Remy's best friends, I'd go with Columbian actress Catalina Sandino Moreno. Isn't she adorable? 

Catalina Sandino Moreno

What is the one-sentence short synopsis of your book? When a privileged teenage boy learns the horrific truth behind a miracle drug that prolongs the life of the rich, he must try to bring down his parents' all-powerful company from the inside.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I'm interested in getting representation from an agency and doing the traditional publishing route.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? About three months, which is average for me for first drafts. Then I probably spent another four months revising—also average.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? I tried to include all my favorite elements in this book: action/adventure, humor, romance, sci-fi, suspense, some dark moments, and a (hopefully) satisfying ending.

I'm tagging three other GUTGAA bloggers who might want to answer the same questions on their blogs (apologies if you've already been tagged!):

Sarah (@SJSchmitt)

AG (@agwickedspirits)

John (@ABoredAuthor)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Villain of the Month: Teen Picks.

 I'm gearing up for a great year with my AP Literature students & when asked about who their favorite villain is and why, here is what they came up with in under two minutes:
Captain Hook: Because he’s very funny and has a pet crocodile.
  • Syndrome from the Incredibles: He wasn’t born with super powers, he created them himself. He was a genius who just wanted to be a super hero, but he was turned away and turned evil.
  • James Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes: Because he’s really brilliant and is Sherlock’s equal. Plus he doesn’t have any advantage, because their intelligence is on the same level. Making him the perfect enemy. –Brittany Rodriguez
  • Manray from Spongebob: he  is easily the best villain. He has all the best gadgets and a cave underground pretty much like an evil Batman, and Batman is badass. Darth Vader is a close second. –Andrew Solomon
  • Queen Beryl from Sailor Moon: She was tall, had purple skin, bony limbs, and frizzy witch’s hair. Everyone was afraid of her because she was heartless but she ended up falling for Sailor Moon’s Boy Tuxedo mask and she ended up dying by his and Sailor Moon's hand.
  • Ice King from Adventure Time: Why I like him: He is obsessed with capturing princesses for a bride but is really dumb and weird. Evil: because he kidnaps princesses and is always trying to defeat Finn and Jake the heroes. – Kailey Castro
  • Green Goblin:  He is just really scary and I know that I would lose a fight with him.
  • The Penguin from Batman: That guy wore a suit and had a cane; that’s a classy villain. And Darth Vader too, self-explanatory. –Daniel Charette
  • Ursula: She has Octopus arms and is very scary. She’s mean and not pleasant to hear about.
  • Darth Vader: He is the peak of evil at a point in his life. He is unwavering and loses his true self to the evil within. However, I believe that there is always good within that can change a person back to good. –Ben Lee
  • Gaston from Beauty and the Beast: You would first think the Beast is the villain, but the person who thinks he’s doing the most good is actually the worst. –Grace P.
  • Frankenstein’s monster is who I think of when I think of a villain because he is the epitome of a being that wreaks havoc and spreads disdain. He’s not a cliché character and gives a tribute to literature. He also has a wretched appearance.
  • Captain Hook: I love that he’s probably never going to give up on trying to capture Peter pan even though he’ll never beat Peter because he’s never going to grow up.
  • Cruella De Ville: Because she is just such a mess and basically is ruining her life and other’s lives just to get the dalmations. –Shireen Karimi 
  • Bane from The Dark Knight: Because he is very manly and very skilled at being the bad guy that even though you know he is going to lose to Batman, you enjoy his winning scenes and battles.
  • Scar from Lion King: I like Scar because he’s very clever although he uses it in a bad way. He has a strong personality too and has great power over other animals.
  • Bane: Because his voice is awesome and that thing on his face is frickin scary. He just has this horrifying presence about him that is really frightening. – Mariah M
  • Cruella De Ville: 1. Her hair is rad. 2. I like how she wears fur coats and diamonds while smoking her long skinny cigarette. She’s different from other villains. –Coral Jones
  • Lord Voldemort: Because he’s just mean and his face and characteristics and the symbol of the snake. It’s just plain evil. Not nice. –Caroline
  • Voldemort: Evil man, part murderer, part wizard, part demonish looking. He is a little bit of everything and lots of people know about him. Harry Potter was such a big seller that tons of people know about him. Just a good combination of part imaginary, part human.
  • Voldemort: Because he manipulates people for his own self-preservation and kills without regret.
  • Voldemort! Even though I don’t like him he’s still my favorite villain because he is so evil. He is so creative and never gives up. I like villains in stories because there would be no story or conflict without them.
  • Voldemort:  Not only does he have a really cool nose but he also has the best lines in the books “there is no good or evil, only power and those too weak to see it!” –Kelly
  • And then a ton of votes for one villain who received so many that he'll receive his own column next month. Any guesses?????

PS: Props to University of Chicago for the best college application prompts on analyzing enemies and posing the age-old important question: Where is Waldo? Looking forward to reading those essays.

Monday, September 3, 2012

GUTGAA Meet & Greet

Gearing up to get an agent logoTwo of our contributors, Stacy and Triona, are participating in Deana Barnhart's Gearing Up to Get An Agent Blogfest! (She's wisely calling it GUTGAA for short.)

Stacy and Triona, along with our other blog contributors Jenn and Lauren, met at the Big Sur Writing Workshop in the spring of 2012. We became friends and critique partners, and then co-bloggers. We try to spotlight resources and information of interest to writers. Fun stuff like chocolate and knitting slips in from time to time, too!

Tell us about yourselves!
Stacy: I'm originally from Texas, but now live in the lovely town of San Francisco.  I'm a reader and writer of all things YA, currently shopping a YA Magical Realism manuscript and working on a YA Supernatural/Magical Realism Suspense Thingy. I have a secret love of puns (some say lowest form of humor, I say they're hilarious) and I love dark comedy movies (think Drop Dead Gorgeous or Freeway.)  Welcome to our blog and thanks to Deana Barnhart for throwing this little shindig!

Triona: I recently moved from southern California back to the Midwest. I love speculative fiction in all its forms, and my perfect story is equal parts sci-fi/fantasy, action, adventure, romance, humor, and suspense. Easy, right? I'm a Twitter newbie (@trionabmurphy) but a total addict already.

Where do you write?
Stacy: Mostly on my couch. Sometimes on planes when traveling for work or fun. Not very glamorous am I?  

Triona: At home or coffeeshops—probably about a 50/50 split. I find it easier to concentrate and tune out all the other things that should be getting done when I get out of the house. I also recently discovered that my local library of awesome has a lounge/workspace area, complete with vending and coffee machines. What could be a better place to write than one surrounded by books?

Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?
Stacy: A window! It actually has a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge. The fog is rolling in right this very minute. Man, I love this city!

Triona: At home, my preferred writing space is just to the left of a huge picture window. So the first thing I see is morning glories. It's okay to be jealous :-)

Favorite time to write?
Stacy: I'm a night owl, so typically in the evenings. That said, I dream in stories, so some of my best ideas happen right when I first wake up.

Triona: Definitely evening. When I have everything done for the day, I can give writing my full attention. Before I moved, my husband and I used to frequent a coffeeshop that was open until 11 pm. We closed the place out many nights. Now that I live in the Midwest, it's a little harder to find places to write that stay open late, but I haven't given up looking!

Drink of choice while writing?
Stacy: Water. Wow, that sounds boring. But can't blame a girl for wanting to stay hydrated, right? Let's pretend I said something more interesting, like a margarita on the rocks with no salt, which happens to be my post-writing drink of choice.  Nom, nom, nom.

Triona: Coffee, coffee, and more coffee. But I try to balance all that coffee with equal glasses of water so I don't get too dehydrated.
coffee love

When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?
Stacy: I'm a silence girl, but will sometimes put on my headphones and listen to classical music if it's noisy.

Triona: I love listening to music while writing! In coffeeshops especially, headphones and music are essential to tune out any conversations around me.

I have playlists I created in iTunes that are labeled things like "Sad Scenes" and "Action Scenes." Sometimes I pick an album that works for lots of different scenes. Some of my favorites are below: Radiohead's In Rainbows, Modest Mouse's Good News For People Who Love Bad News, and anything by Soul Coughing or Ben Folds Five.

What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?
Stacy:  I had a dream about it. I saw this girl standing on a staircase, and I when I woke up I wanted to tell her story. I knew little bits and pieces about how she came to be standing on the stairs, and oddly knew exactly what the last sentence of her story would be. I barely slept that first week because I was so enthralled with her story.    

Triona: My current manuscript was inspired by an article I read in Popular Science last year. The author was talking about his plan to increase the human lifespan. To be honest, the science itself sounded a bit questionable—but it was interesting anyway! I started to wonder what society would be like if there was a drug that extended life by hundreds of years. When I thought of a truly horrible way they could be sourcing the drug, I knew I had a great idea for a novel.

What's your most valuable writing tip?
Stacy:  Stay positive and find good beta readers! Seriously, the best thing I've done for myself is to reach out to other writers for opinions, input and advice. I don't know what I would have done without all the fantastic beta and critique partners I've had this past year. I've also had the good fortune to read a lot of great manuscripts in the process.  

Triona: Keep writing and moving forward, no matter what happens. There are always going to be reasons why your novel might not get agented or sell, and many of them are beyond your control. Knowing when to move on to the next project is vital.

I'm querying my third novel in two years, and the only thing that's kept me from going stark raving mad is my practice of starting the next book while I query the current one. Each book has gotten better, both in concept and execution (and that's not just me talking. I've had more agent interest on this book than the previous two combined!). If this manuscript doesn't get me an agent—well, I have the next one all outlined and ready to go, and it's going to be awesome.