Thursday, August 20, 2009

A few lines that made me chuckle... from "Blood and Groom"

Page 2:
“So, being accused of murder is shameful, but actually doing it is fine?” (Sasha)
“Exactly. If I’m going to get credit for something, I’d prefer it for something I really did do.” (Christine)

Sasha, page 5:
I could never see the point of yoga as a part of a fitness regime, too passive, and too easy to slip into a coma and call it a workout.

Sasha, page 23:
“Oh. Yeah. Baby.” My voice held about as much sexual excitement as a Jersey cow being milked.

Sasha and Lindsey at an exclusive spa, page 87:
After that we were off to our wellness class: ‘What Colour is your Aura’? Dude, I hope it’s tie-dyed.

Sasha, page 184:
Horniness had little to do with being culturally inclusive, unless you think of it in terms of an equal opportunity penis.

Page 217:
“What the fuck… this place looks like the Tasmanian Devil had an epileptic seizure in it,” Mick said.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Queries and Rejection Letters

I guess I was pretty lucky in that I landed a publishing contract relatively easily and relatively quickly.I’ve heard horror stories of novelists trying to get their first contract, and ugh... One mystery writer I know has a binder with 125 rejection letters... number 126 said yes, so perseverance paid off in his case.
Once I had the book done (February 2008), I left it alone for a while because I was busy as hell with work (teaching) and school (my MA). Things lightened up a wee bit in June and July, so I did some editing and revising of the manuscript ... took the 297 pages to 303 (but I actually didn’t change very much, just mostly caught typos and added a bit, obviously).

When school (teaching) ended in mid-August, I decided to send out a bunch of query letters.
A query letter is something you send to publishers to try to generate enough interest to ask for the whole manuscript. It’s sort of like a sales pitch or even a cover letter and CV for the book... submitting the entire manuscript would be like the interview, getting a publishing contract would be like getting the job.
I wrote a one page sales pitch and a two page synopsis of Blood and Groom. On August 16th, 2008, I mailed them out to twenty publishers and agents (only two were sent to literary agents).

I heard back (in one way or another) from eleven of the twenty (which is actually a good percentage of acknowledgements). Of the eleven who responded, five asked me to send them the whole manuscript, which is a very good response rate.

Ultimately, I received two contract offers!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

How I started and finished writing "Blood and Groom"

I had a couple of other books in the works in the summer of 2007, but I suddenly came up with an idea – from out of nowhere – for another book. I shelved the other two (they’re still in the works...) and got busy with what eventually became “Blood and Groom.”

From the summer of 2007 through Christmas 2007, I worked on it now and then – mostly on weekends. In roughly six months, I wrote about 162 pages – most of which were written during Christmas holidays when I had lots of time off work and was between courses in my MA.

Then I did something rather stupid...

Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) has annual awards for crime writing (fiction and non-fiction) in Canada. The awards are called the Arthur Ellis Awards (named after Canada’s last official hangman). A few years ago, Crime Writers of Canada announced a new award category: The Unhanged Arthur.
The Unhanged Arthur is for unpublished, aspiring novelists.

To enter into this category, one must have a completed manuscript. The process is thus:
  • Send the first 25 to 30 pages of a completed manuscript to CWC, along with an entry form and whatever other paperwork they require.
  • From all the entries (I believe there were about 120 entries the year I participated), a list of ten finalists would be selected.
  • These ten finalists would be contacted by mid-to-late February.
  • Upon being selected as a finalist, the contestant would have one week to submit the completed manuscript to CWC for further judging.
  • The winner and runners-up would be announced at the Arthur Ellis Awards soiree in early June.
Notice that I used bold for the word completed????
Well, the in third week of February, I received notification that I had been selected as one of the ten finalists. This was on a Tuesday morning. I had until 5:00 pm the following Monday to deliver the completed manuscript to CWC.
Ooops!!!! I hadn't worked on it at all since Christmas break, and the 162 page half-finished book was still a 162 page half-finished book.
Luckily, the third week in Februray happened to be Reading Week – a week off from teaching and from my MA courses... THANK GOD!
I chain smoked, guzzled coffee, hardly slept, and the 162 page manuscript became 297 pages by the time I hand delivered it to CWC.
I didn’t make it any further in the contest than that, but at least having the deadline made me finish the book. I was a bit disappointed in June when I heard the Arthur announcements for the Unhanged Arthur category... and my name wasn’t there.
On the bright side, at least I now had a completed manuscript and lots of time during the summer to fine tune it and then try to find a publisher... which you’ll hear about in my next post!