Saturday, February 21, 2015

Choosing The Next Read

How do you choose what to read next?

When I was a kid, I'd borrow Dad's library card (because it had a higher check out limit) and borrow as many books as possible. Then I would read the whole stack, return to the library and do it all again.

Now I'm flighty.

I read by mood and availability. I have a giant To Read list, but if the book isn't available at the library, it gets moved down the list. I do buy books sometimes, mostly when I have gift cards and for certain authors, etc... But I read a LOT (see last year's list), so I can't justify buying every book I want to read anymore than I can justify eating out every time I'm hungry.

Even scrolling through available library books that are on my To Read list, I often fret. It's the equivalent of standing with the fridge door open, wanting something to eat but not able to decide on anything inside that cold food box. Ya know what I mean?

When I finally do start reading a book, I am usually glad I picked that one. But the actual picking can take forever.

I want to be that girl again. I want to check out a stack of books and then read them all without getting distracted by some other book that arrives in the mail or deciding I'm just not in the mood for the books I picked out yesterday.

Here is an actual scene from my house this week:

Me: (walking into the den with a hardback in one hand and a paperback in the other) I can't decide what I want to read. Do I feel like a quirky- 
Corey: (Interrupting) Left hand. Read the one in your left hand, the paperback. That's the one. There, I made your decision for you.

So I set the Terry Pratchett novel aside and started reading The School of Essential Ingredients. It's wonderful of course. Either book would have been a good read, but I AM SO RELIEVED TO HAVE THE CHOICE MADE FOR ME.

This method won't work all the time. I will continue to be flighty and indecisive.

How do YOU pick what to read next?

Thursday, February 5, 2015


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Last summer, I made the decision to part ways with my previous literary agent. It was a hard decision but one I felt was best for both of us. Of course, that dropped me back into the query pool, and - in case you were wondering - no, it is not easier the second time around.

I was, however, excited and optimistic about my new manuscript. I dove into the query pool without any floaties and immediately got full and partial requests and celebrated. Of course, I also got rejections, and then I felt sad and questioned myself, but also sort of thought...

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Then, along came Pitch Wars. I'd gotten some conflicting feedback from agents and decided Pitch Wars might be the answer. I could get some insight on the conflicting input and stop feeling like slamming the door on it.

I got in! Yay!

And I got to work with Dannie Morin. She's awesome and able to analyze plot and structure in a way I am not so good at. And she had a LOT of input, and some of it matched the input I had gotten from agents and some of it didn't, but 99% of it rang true to me. And THAT is what I was looking for... feedback I clicked with in such a way I could use it to make my book better.

So I did.

I made it better.

And after Pitch Wars, I sent the manuscript off to the agents who requested it as part of the contest. Then I sent it off to the handful of agents who were waiting on my revision.

And then I waited.

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Luckily for my poor impatient soul, I didn't have to wait very long.

On a really icky day, I got my first offer of representation from an agent. I was on the phone with my best friend, being depressed over my really icky day, when the call came in. I'd like to tell you I am a very grown up professional and maturely ended my call with Leila and checked my voice mail and returned the agent's call.

But what I really did was squeal like it was Christmas morning as soon as I recognized the New York area code. I shouted at Leila, "I HAVE A CALL FROM NEW YORK!" Then I hung up on her, and because we have a drama-free friendship, she laughs about this and does not call me mean names.

At least, she only calls me mean names when we are using them as terms of affection.

From there, I had a two week whirlwind. Because I expected to get an offer (see, I do have some confidence) I had queried quite a bit, making sure any agent I really wanted a shot at working with had at least my query in hand when I got that first offer. So my next step was to let them all know, and then...

more waiting.

But, this time, my waiting involved me walking around checking my email every 1.3 seconds. I looked something like this...

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I won't go into the details. It was a crazy stressful time. I am obsessive when making decisions. I will stare at the windshield debating what I want to eat until Corey gives up and picks a place. If he waited on me, we might eat after I spent three months listing the pros and cons of every restaurant in Tupelo. And this decision was a much bigger deal than Firehouse Subs or Sweet Peppers.

On the final day, I had page after page of notes on each of the offering agents. All of them were good agents. All of them had good editorial comments on my book. All of them were capable of selling it.

But one of them stood out. Our phone call lasted three times as long as any of the others. And there was more than one phone call. I talked it over with my husband and my friends and it was clear to them and to me...

my decision was made.

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I am happy to announce, I have accepted an offer of representation from Peter Knapp at Park Literary.

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