Friday, February 26, 2010

On Dressing for Success

"The clothes make the man."

"Dressed for success."

"Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have."

Today, in a fit of delusion almost unprecedented in my grand history of delusion, I realized I've unconsciously been following these rules for years. See, the job I want is to be a writer. So, I wear jeans, comfy shirt, and slippers or flip flops. Not to mention the hairstyles I sport should probably never leave the house. Lord knows my roots should make me eligible for one of those eyesore citations from the neighborhood association.

My power suit is jeans fresh from the dryer and a shirt that makes me sigh with happiness (could be extra soft, extra flattering, or just the right shirt for the moment.) And on those days that I really need something to keep me going, there's nothing like new socks and The Underpants of Confidence. A good friend of mine said that good underwear is like wearing a superhero costume under your clothes. You feel like you have a grand secret that the world would clamor to know if only the had a hint....

I've digressed (as I so often do) into underwear again. I had a point, and it was this:

All this time I thought I was a slob, but I was actually visualizing success!

- Liz

**This post brought to you by Delusion. Delusion, when reality is just not working.

Writers: What's your uniform of choice?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Goodbye Hypocrisy

The longer I hang around Twitter and other writers' blogs, the longer my To-Read list gets. I'm excited about that because it's so much easier to know what you're looking for at the bookstore or library than it is to browse the exposed spines of books hoping for something to call to you.

As I look for some of these titles, though, I find that some of the books with "buzz" haven't made it to my library yet. At first, I was really heartbroken. Then, I remembered that I am gainfully employed and in possession of two fingers, a working knowledge of the internet and a valid mailing address. Enter Barnes & Noble (before the Common Sense debacle*.)

I flinched a bit when I started adding books to my shopping cart. It's rare for me to buy new books--a hangover from my childhood in poverty. But then it occurred to me:

I expect people to do this for me some day. How can I possibly ask the consumer public to shell out their hard-earned dollars for my books someday, when I'm hesitant to do it myself?

So, I have a belated New Year's Resolution: Buy at least one brand-spanking new book per month. It's a small thing, but it's something I can do easily. And just think of all the happiness I'm giving myself.

Sidenote: when my package arrived from Barnes & Noble, I almost wet myself with joy. Here's what I ordered:

(Click the authors' names to be instantly transported to their websites, where you might be able to put a hat on a cow. Trust me. It's like magic! Or, the Internet, which is kind of the same to me.)


GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray

Woo, I'm so excited! Reading heaven!

- Liz

What's the last book you bought? Should I read it?

* Thank you, Meg Cabot, for inciting a riot and standing up for freedom to read!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jill Kemerer: Cupid's Target: You and Writing

Jill Kemerer: Cupid's Target: You and Writing

In keeping with yesterday's post "SWF Seeks Literary Agent for Long-Term Commitment, Good Times", the talented Jill Kemerer has written a blog about being bitten by the writing bug. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll love it!

A New Critique Contest

C.A. Marshall is hosting a contest at her blog for a critique of the first ten pages of her manuscript. Easy rules to follow and a new source of great information and entertainment.

Check out her contest here.

She also mentions a great service I was previously unaware of in the post for this blog. A service that gives you books to read in exchange for reviews! A great idea for voracious readers who would read their way through the budget of a small country in a year.

Good luck in the contest!

- Liz

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

SWF Seeks Literary Agent for Long-Term Commitment, Good Times

The other day it occurred to me that the whole pre-publication process is like dating. Maybe this association took me so long to see because I have such a thin dating history myself, and the rest of you are thinking, "Duh," but this is my blog, so I'm going to wax pathetic for bit, capisce?

A query is like a blind date with someone you met through a personal ad or an on-line dating profile. You might be able to learn a little bit about them, or maybe even a lot, but in the end, you're still left to put yourself out there and hope he or she likes you.

When an agent asks for a partial or full manuscript, a writer sort of feels like she's just been asked to go steady. An agent is probably seeing this as more of a second date. I suppose in the world of He's Just Not That Into You, writers are like women and agents are like men. (No offense intended to either gender in this instance.)

That grand shining moment when an agent offers representation can best be compared to a marriage proposal--every writer wants one, and the ones that have an offer and just as girly-squirrely as a newly engaged women. Trust me, I know two of them right now (the fabulous J.A. Souders and Kelly Gibian) and they're giddy. They practically have the vapors. And like a terminally-single friend of a newly engaged woman, I am thrilled to death for them, but not a little jealous.

After the wonder and glamour of the engagement/agenting, the writer "moves in" with her agent, digging deep into revisions and bringing her manuscript to a high gloss. And, together, they start planning the wedding, er, going out on submission. This is when the agent beings his or her own querying process, offering up the project to editors and hoping for that nibble of interest. Or better yet, those dozens of nibbles that lead a book to sell at auction.

So, now you've got a planned release date for your book (a.k.a. your wedding date), but what you never saw coming was how many details there are in planning a wedding. Quite frankly, I'm a little fuzzy on this part, since I'm still in the blind-date phase, but from what I hear, the work has only just begun once you've got a fiancee, I mean agent.

A lot of this is probably self-evident. (Thank you, Captain Obvious.) We could probably overlay any number of application processes, or relationship-based models onto the pre-publication phase. The reason that the dating metaphor rings so true for me is seeing how I, and my writing friends approach the querying process. We really are like women deep in the trenches of dating.

We check our e-mail obsessively, we stalk prospective agents on-line, we dissect every word over every rejection with our friends. We are filled with hope when we get asked on that second date and devastated when a partial or full request ends in rejection. Probably we could all do well to read He's Just Not That Into You and realize that some writer-agent relationships are just never going to work. Both people have to be just as interested in one another. And as any sensible woman will tell you, begging, insulting or continued stalking are not welcome by the object of your affection. It's time to move on.

There are plenty of fish in the sea.

- Liz

Anyone care to extend this metaphor? Share a story of agenting heartbreak?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Love Story

In honor of Valentine's Day, I've decided to post a very short story. This is just a bit of anonymous love between two people. I hope it puts you in the mood and makes you appreciate the one you're with, or the one you're wishing you were with.

“Oh my God, what time is it there?”

“It’s about nine.”

“In the morning?” I was confused.

“At night.”

“I can’t believe you’re calling me.”

“I had to. I miss you.”

I smiled. “I miss you, too.”

“Besides, I wanted to wish you a happy—”

“No!” I cut him off. “We’re not doing this, remember?”

He laughed, “I don’t even get to say it?”

“No. We’re celebrating after you get home.”

“But today’s the day.”

“Yeah, I know. But we agreed to pretend it’s next week.”

“I know, I know. 'The Twentieth is the New Fourteenth.' But I figured you’d like to hear from me on the actual day.”

“Today is not the day. Not for us,” I said.

He laughed again. “I didn’t realize you were taking this so seriously.”

“I am. I’m in total media blackout mode.”

“What does that mean?”

“I’m not acknowledging the holiday. No cards, no chocolate, none of it. I won’t even say it.”

“You do realize this is a completely fabricated holiday, right?” he asked. “It’s just the greeting card industry making some money.”

“Not from me they're not. Not today.”

“Well, if it makes you feel better, I haven’t said it to anyone today.”

I nodded. “I appreciate that.”

“So, I guess I just wasted a very expensive phone call to not wish you a Happy…whatever.”

“It wasn’t a waste,” I assured him. “I’m just happy to hear your voice.”

“Well, that’s good.”

“Hurry home, okay?” I said, blinking hard.

“I’m trying.” He sighed. “I should probably go.”

“Okay. Have a good night.”

“Have a good day,” he countered.

I smiled. “I’ll try.”

“I luh—” he started.

“Nope!” I interrupted. “Not today you don’t.”

“Yes, I do,” he laughed.

“Well, fine. But save it for the Twentieth, okay?”

“Okay, crazy girl. I’ll humor you.”

“Thank you.”

“But, I do. Just so you know.”

I smiled. “Yeah, I do, too.”

“Bye, Babe.”


Happy Valentine's Day!

- Liz