Our Pages

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Is there a little bit of crazy in you?


I’m in a position to once again be writing query letters.  I can honestly say I did not miss the process of trying to condense a 100,000 word book into two, short, mind-bogglingly terrific paragraphs that will make the biggest agents in New York sit up and take notice, but what can I say?  I must be masochistic to have put myself here again or smart. I’ll let you know when the jury comes in with the verdict. 
I had forgotten how obsessive I can get when writing a query letter.  Go ahead and think about Anne Bancroft from Mommy Dearest as she is screaming in the wire hanger scene. That’s me if someone dares to interrupt me when I’m working on my query.  “No more interruptions I say!  No talking for five hours.  Don’t breathe.  Forget dinner.  You want to go out?  I said, sit there!” All joking aside, I have mentioned in the past I’m type A, haven’t I?  I don’t really carry on like Anne, but I do get twitchy if you interrupt my creative flow. 

I’ve also noticed that I do go at the query like a dog goes at a good bone. I attack it.  Repeatedly.  Until the darn thing is done, and done well.  I feel really bad for my critique partners.  I hit them again and again with my newest restructured query.  I ask for their suggestions, take them in, restructure, and then start all over again.  Right now I’m about at the ‘almost done’ stage, but starting version two of ‘almost done’ query. That’s right folks; I like to have two final versions to beat everyone over the head with.  I will then poll every person unfortunate enough to answer my e-mail to see which version of the two shiny, but vastly different queries, they like. Then, I will take a breath and start to send them out.  Cross your fingers for me.  May this be the book and the query that takes me straight into talks with Columbia Tristar Motion Picture Group.

And here’s a sneak peek at the book that I’m making myself loopy writing the query for.  This is the first time my heroine meets my hero.  The book is entitled ECHOES IN THE SILENCE and is book one in The Siren Saga.
I blinked as a deep voice brought me back to the present.  The voice, so unlike my father’s, made me want to cry with relief.  A perfect stranger stood there.  I was back, but I had no idea how long this stranger had been on the elevator with me.  The thought made me jumpy, his intense indigo gaze made me even edgier.  I could handle this.  I was practiced at ignoring men’s admiring stares in order to protect myself and them. 

I tried not to look at the stranger, but he was no ordinary man.  He was breathtaking to behold, and his scent of lemongrass and patchouli made breathing steadily an effort.  He smelled pure, like the waters from Angel Falls in Venezuela.  Every time I took a breath, his essence filled my lungs and left me dizzy.  The only men I had ever met that smelled this way had not been mortal men.  They had been Cordisi.  There are times when you meet someone and you know, without a doubt, no matter how much incredible, instantaneous attraction you feel, you should run away from that person as fast as you can. 

This man, this too beautiful a creature, could not be human.  A whisper ran through my head, growing louder each second.  Cordisi, Cordisi.  I wished I had hazy visions of the future as my mother sometimes did, but all I had was this whisper that had come to me a few times in my life, hissing in my inner ear as if to impart a warning. 

Fresh sweat trickled down my sides.  If I was right, it was more vital than ever before that I appear human, unaware of the invisible thread of desire trying to pull us together and bind us for worse and never better.  I shivered, and those eyes, those impossibly violet-blue eyes flicked open a centimeter more in concentrated observation. 


I’d love to know your process for writing query letters or tackling anything of the upmost importance to you.


Have a great day!

Julie Johnstone, the Marchioness of Mayhem

24 comments:

  1. Poor Julie. You torture yourself. :)

    It's been a long time since I've written a query, but I always used what I thought would be good "back of the book blurbs" and I do still write those. I'm not a huge fan of the process, however. I just think "conflict, conflict, conflict," (advice I was given by Deb Marlowe a long time ago.)

    I do one draft. I start with either my hero or heroine. Give you a taste of who they are, what they want, and what stands in their way. Then I switch to the other character and do the same. Then I'm done.

    I am anal about certain things, but since I don't particularly enjoy this process, I don't let it kill me. I tend to obsess about other things.

    You know I think your book is awesome! Good luck with your querying process. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ava! Wish I had your attitude for this, but I'm almost at the finish line!

      Delete
  2. Julie,

    I follow much of the same process as Ava, but that doesn't mean I enjoyed it. I haven't needed to write one lately, thank goodness. I remember thinking once that I would rather have a root canal than write a query letter and synopsis. I think your query letters are great, by the way, and I really like this book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Amy! I'm with you on the root canal!

      Delete
  3. Julie, I'm like that with everything I write--obsessive! I've learned not to write when my kids are home because every little interruption brings on a psychotic mommy meltdown (picture Cruella Devil when she's chasing the puppies down with her car. Yeah). And my bite lives up to its bark. Sooo to avoid time well spent behind prison bars, I just don't do it. ;]
    I dislike writing queries not so much for their difficulty, though they do stress me, but because everything hangs in the balance of getting them just right. No pressure there! What I really despise is the stinking synopsis. Ack! Devil's stepchild right there.
    Love the excerpt! It pricks my curiosity and makes me want to know more about the Cordisi!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Julie,
    You crack me up. We are alike in so many ways. I'm glad I'm not the only obsessive person in the writing group.

    I have to write three different types of summaries for my publisher: a very short positioning statement (I guess it's kind of like the hook), a 2-3 paragraph summary, and a longer synopsis. I don't worry about the positioning statement and short summary being perfect, because the marketing department rewrites everything. But I want the synopsis to be as accurate as possible, because the people making decisions about how to package my book don't have time to read the story. What I dislike writing is the biography.

    The way I tackle any hard job is to break it down into steps. I love check lists. Sometimes I'll even add something to the list that I've already done just so I can check it off. LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Samantha,
      I had no idea you had to write all that! Poor baby! Byt this stage I imagined you were sitting back eating bon-bons and thinking only of your next fabulous character! I like to make checklist to, and I've been known to add to the list after everything has been checked off!

      Delete
    2. I only wish I was sitting back eating bonbons. :)

      Delete
  5. Andris,
    You crack me up! I love your Cuella Devil analogy. I'm acutally not as obsessive about the synopsis as I am the query. I guess I think with the query it's like your one shot to win gold at the Olympics. If you don't win the race, you don't get a redo. I'm glad you like my excerpt. Hopefully, you'll see the book on the shelf someday in the near future!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhh - the query. I think that if you loved doing them, we'd all worry about you, lol. They are a necessary evil, however, and I agree with Ava - I wrote mine as close to a book blurb as I could get. And, interestingly, it ended up being the framework for the real book blurb.

      I'm so excited for this project - I know you will know those agents! and editors' socks off!

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Erin! I hope I wow some socks off!

      Delete
  6. Great excerpt, Julie! Love it!

    I don't have a problem writing queries, but I don't think my queries are very good. Does that even make sense?

    I seem to have no flare with this part of the submission process at all. Yet I get requests?

    Go figure.

    I'm not type A when writing blogs, queries, and synopses, but I am with the manuscript. I can never edit enough, and recently an agent said one of my manuscripts sounded like it had been edited to death through contests. Not through contests. Nope, that was just me being obsessive. I actually edited "voice" right out of it. How sad. And how to fix?

    So I guess there's such thing as too much editing.

    Thank goodness I have an agent now who has years of experience as an editor. I sooo need it.

    Good luck and please keep us posted on how the querying goes.

    Callie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Callie,
      I've edited my voice right out of a manuscript before, so I know exactly what you mean. I now only let a few people read my manuscripts. I learned the fewer but wiser opinions the better! I'm so glad you liked the excerpt of my book!

      Delete
  7. I hate writing blurbs, whether they belong in a query or on the back cover of a book. They are the same darn thing either way, and they sap all of my creative energy.

    So I usually just write something that is really bad, and then send it to Ava for "tweaking" which really equates to much striking out and rewriting. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, Catherine! I wouldn't say "really bad" just "longer than necessary" ;) Much easier to edit when you have a lot of material to work with.

      Delete
    2. Everything I write is "longer than necessary." It's part of my makeup. LOL. Hence the reason my Creative Writing professor in college described my writing style as "maximalist." I've never outgrown that.

      Delete
  8. Ooh, Catherine, I love that term! I think I'm a maximalist too! Let's start a club!

    And Julie, I think we should not call it obsessiveness, but stick-to-it-ive-ness--and we all want that!

    Best of luck with your queries!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I start with the hardest part first...After I've gone on Twitter, facebook and pinterest. Research, you see, is vital. ;)

    Good luck on your query. And what a great excerpt, Julie!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marquita,
      I love your kind of research! And I'm so glad you like me excerpt!

      Delete
  10. Ugh I absolutely hate writing queries, blurbs or synopsis and I avoid them like the plague! I simply cannot figure out the formula to writing them. I wish I could give advice but I'm clueless. In fact I'll go so far as to say that if you figure it out please, please, please, *begging here* pass on the information! They're my nightmare, my headache and will be the death of me. Good luck with your query. I'll be keeping all my fingers and toes crossed for you girl!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Suzie! I'm not sure there is any one formula that works always. Wouldn't that be great if there was!

      Delete