Going to the Prom

I don’t normally blog about writing because, you know, everyone and their dog does that and mostly my writing posts are not very interesting. But, every now and then I break my rule and ponder this business and wonder of writing and writing to be published.

You know how you feel when you’re not dating anyone special, but you want to be? You dress nice, act friendly, try not to act too dorky and hope he notices you in the right way.

Then, the big dance approaches. It’s the prom. You don’t have a date and you really want to go, but he hasn’t asked you. Even worse, he’s being friendly to other girls! What if he asks one of them and you wind up without a date and have to go alone? Well, there’s always next year, unless it’s the senior prom, of course.

Now, let’s face it. I’m not normally the shrinking violet type. I’m the one who went up to a bareback rider who looked like a young Brad Pitt a rodeo and asked him for a kiss on a bet. Seriously, it was a $10 bet, and you know, bareback rider Wrangler patch. Who would pass that up?

Wrangler patches!

He thought I was trying to make a boyfriend jealous at first. When I pointed to my girlfriends and convinced him it was a bet, he kissed me and we wound up dating for six months.

Anyway, back to the subject.

We’ve been discussing querying on the Compuserve Lit Forum. There are a few writers there entering the query stage. There are all kinds of questions being floated around.

Should I not query until after January?

Varying answers on that. Some agencies shut down during the holidays. Most get slower for understandable reasons. New Leaf Literary recently posted to go ahead and send, something was in the water and they had requested several fulls lately. So, it runs the gamut.

Agent Natasha Alexis natasha@chalbergsussman.com (email) posted on twitter she is out of reading material and will be in her jammies searching for submissions over the holidays! How perfect is that? She WANTS submissions. She wants them NOW! She can be found here chalbergsussman.com  

I stalked checked her out on Agent Query and there were some nice comments about her from people who had queried her and she was very nice on twitter. What a great opportunity for some lucky writers out there.

For me, I’m going to keep querying unless the most current information says they are shut down. I figure they will just get to me when they get to me.  I’ll wait patiently in the pile doing my nails, eat bon bons, collect Wrangler Patch pictures or something equally exciting. I’ll be gainfully occupied whether my query is in the pile or it isn’t. I might even be writing!

Do I need a synopsis?

Even if an agent doesn’t want one up front, they will probably want one later. A synopsis is not the place to be coy, by the way.

“Beautiful and desired by all, Caitlin Everlust must save the kingdom, but evil lurks behind every bush, including the dark prince who knows her secret. Will she succumb to the powers no one can overcome or will she resist and live happily ever after? Also, are her eyes really green?”

Who is the main character and what do they want? What’s the inciting incident? What is the first turning point? What’s the second turning point? What is the conclusion? Does the story have a shape? Have you shown you really have a story?

Synopsis sniffles.

The synopsis was tough for me. I may write more about it someday, but honestly, hundreds of people have written about it. Suffice to say, I read everything I could and then I posted it for friends on Lit Forum and got lots of excellent feedback.

Once I had the five-page synopsis, I pared it down to the two-page synopsis. I still don’t have the three paragraph synopsis.

Best advice, aside from reading, reading, reading, about how to write one, is to get fresh eyes to read it. (And that doesn’t include Mom.) It may seem perfectly logical to you, but when your pirate flies to capture the beautiful princess, readers will wonder. They won’t know he’s descended from a long line of dragons even though it’s in the manuscript.

http://misssnark.blogspot.com/search/label/Crapometer-synopsis This is an excellent resource.

How do you find an agent?

Check Query Tracker, Agent Query, Facebook, Twitter and web sites for the most current information about agents. Sometimes an agent will tweet they are closed to submissions, but the information doesn’t change elsewhere or vice versa. It’s good to check them all to make sure you don’t query unnecessarily, and also cause them undue stress. Oddly enough, while I was reading comments about one agent today she was open to submissions when I started reading comments on Query Tracker and she changed to closed before I finished. It was mildly amusing.

I used to read the acknowledgments in books, but it takes so long I worry the information will be out of date.

How to keep track of the process?

I’m a list maker. I made a spreadsheet and put down pertinent information and color coded certain things. I can take a quick glance and see where I am. I think the main thing is to track who you are submitting to, when and what you submitted and what your results are. You certainly don’t want to resubmit to agents or submit to more than one agent at an agency. Whatever works to keep you organized should be fine.

But what about the prom date?

Oh, you thought I forgot, didn’t you? What if you get an offer from an agent you really don’t want for whatever reason? Maybe things have changed since you queried them. They posted a rant on twitter about how they hate pink ponies and you are the champion pink pony breeder in Virginia. I marked a few agents off my list due to twitter comments. It was plain we wouldn’t be compatible. Nothing at all against them or me, it was just a compatibility issue. How dare they not like pink ponies!

Are you obligated to settle? How badly do you want an agent? Is any agent better than no agent? Is any husband or wife better than no spouse? There you have it.

What if the guy you’ve really got your heart set on has been hinting he wants to take you to the prom and asking you what color your prom dress is and if you have a date yet?

So, your dream agent has your full and another agent your really like also has the full and makes an offer? Lucky you. I can tell you from experience…well, no, I can’t.

Actually, I have had dream children’s agent offer representation and then had some other agents call and before my letter got to them telling them I had an agent. It was a lovely position to be in, but I felt bad to have to decline an agent.

To the other situation, ask questions of the agent offering representation. Let agents know you’ve been offered representation. Perhaps dream agent wants to make an offer also. Honestly, I don’t think there is one dream agent. Life isn’t going to end if the one you thought was for you isn’t. It’s entirely possible there really is another perfect agent out there for you. This business is slower than molasses in January and if you’re going to sit around waiting on Mr. or Ms. Perfect before you query anyone else, you better plan to live a very long time. Trust me. I know what it is to be sleepless in Eau Claire, but sometimes you get over that first crush and go on to find the perfect love.

Remember the Garth Brooks song, Unanswered Prayers?

I had a friend who had a full with a top agent for years. They went back and forth on revisions for five years and never got to the publisher submission stage. Finally, she just decided they were just making changes to be making changes and parted ways. She had stopped querying five years before because he was the one. It’s entirely possible the book wouldn’t have been right for another agent either, but at least it would have been circulating.

I hope you get to go to the prom with your dream date. I hope he or she is all you ever dreamed of. In the meantime, Here are some more Wrangler Patches. Hey, what can I say? Everyone needs hobbies.

Notice, no Wranglers were harmed in the making of this post.


  1. Hey, Donna. You know I love you and your writing. It’s time for your darling to find a home. Women everywhere need to love the Scot. *wink*

    You need a home for that amazing historical also.

    Yep, we shall keep on keeping on.



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