Painting Sunsets and Other Changes

 

Painting done by me following the tutorial by Cinnamon Cooney on Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gP7im-6HfJw

Let’s pretend for a minute that I was a painter instead of an author, and that this painting of swirls and leaves was my first book.

This is the painting I went into the world with. This is the painting I found an art dealer with. This is the painting I debuted with. This is the painting everyone knew me for.

I love this painting. The picture is bad (sorry, there’s no natural light in Washington right now). But… I love this painting. I love the colors. I love the way it pops on my wall. I love the blues, and the purples, and the vibrant sunset in the background.

And I want to paint more sunsets.

My literary agent loves this painting too. She loves the touches of bright colors, the intricacy of the leaves, the mix and melange of colors in the swirls.

She wants more swirls.

The TIME AND SHADOWS series is like this painting. It’s a mix of thriller and science fiction. It’s considered quirky because there’s a Hispanic female protagonist who tries not to use a gun, time travel, dogs, and mentions of religion and cloning. It isn’t hard SF and it isn’t Crime Thriller either. It’s a blend of two of my favorite things.

When it came time to write the next book, I struggled to pin down what I wanted. I finally settled on science fiction, and in particular spaceships. I love spaceships. I love cheesy action movies. I love heist movies. I love books like THE STAINLESS STEEL RAT and OFF ROCK, and I wanted to write a fun adventure with spaceships, heists, and wild characters doing zany things. I wanted something fun. I wanted the sunsets.

My agent really loves thrillers. She loved Sam’s intellect, her willingness to stick to things, her curiosity. She wanted more thrillers.

And so, at the end of 2016, my agent and I decided we weren’t moving in the same direction any more.

This is normal. Literary agents have their own career arcs, their own goals, and their own likes and dislikes that change over the years. Authors change over the years. We move between genres, change tones, change focus, quit writing and start again. It is never wrong to grow, change, and set new goals. In fact, it’s really healthy.

So my agent and I parted ways, still friends, and still wishing the best for each other. I still cheer on my former agency siblings. They still cheer me on.

I spent 2017 writing something new, exploring deep space with my band of quixotic rogues, and at the end of 2017 I sent off a query for the first time in four years.

Where does this story end?

I don’t know yet.

The book is out with agents. Some have queries waiting for them. Some have pages to read.

THE DAY BEFORE spent 18 months on query. The first query went out in 2013, a request for pages from a pitch contest. I sent the last query (an R&R to my future agent) in 2014. Signed with my agent in 2014. Sold three books in 2014. Sometimes publishing can move really, really fast. Sometimes it moves very, very slow.

While this book is out I’m working on another one, because that’s how you have a publishing career. You don’t pin all your hopes and dreams on one book. You write a book. You write another book. You keep writing books. Some of them sell, some of them get abandoned. Some of them sell and fade to obscurity. Some of them come out of nowhere to hit the lists. Some of them earn out their advance – and the time you put into them – some don’t. The point is, you don’t know until you write the book and throw it out into the world.

So make like Nora Roberts and keep writing. 🙂

Twitter Pitch Etiquette #SonOfAPitch

March 6th there will be a #SonOfAPitch Twitter Pitch Party! What is a Twitter Pitch Party? How do you pitch? Why do you pitch? Here’s the quick and dirty details for all the Twitter Pitch debutantes out there!

What is it? A Twitter Pitch Party is an online event organized by writers, editors, and agents around a date and hashtag. During the event authors post a pitch (or logline) for their book with the appropriate hashtag. If an agent or editor likes the pitch, they’ll let the author know. The author will then send in a query along with requested pages. These queries will get top priority from agents and editors.

How do you pitch? It’s as simple as putting your pitch on twitter with the right hashtag! Going to be away from the keyboard all day? Use Tweetdeck to schedule tweets!

Why do you pitch? Did I mention that editors and agents give pitching authors priority when reading queries? It’s nice to get feedback fast. Over 60% of my full manuscript requests came from pitch parties. Even though I wound up with an agent I found through a traditional query process, the feedback from other agents helped me refine my early query.

Do’s and Don’ts:
Do use the hashtag.
Do be polite to other authors and anyone on the hashtag (but feel free to report spam).
Do keep a positive attitude.
Don’t spam the hashtag. As a general rule, tweet once every two to three hours (4 total tweets for the event).
Don’t tweet more than one book.
Don’t tag agents with your pitch.
Don’t pitch on twitter unless you are participating in an event.

Etiquette for authors on Twitter:
There’s a lot that can be said here, but let’s keep it simple: your twitter feed is part of your brand. Everyone – from potential agents to potential readers – will see your feed. So put your best foot forward. Make sure that someone reading your feed finds the same tone there that they will in your books. You want to keep a nice balance of book-related tweets (NASA tweets for the SF crowd, Teen Vogue tweets for the YA crowd, archaeology or Victoria tweets if you write historical fiction, ect), personal-tweets (pets… people love pets), and promotion (actual ads for your book should take up less than 10% of your feed).

Even before you publish, you want to make your Twitter feed (or whatever social media feed you use as your Home Base) a place that reflects you, your style, and welcomes new readers to stop by and say hi.

What you do put on Twitter: a real avatar (no eggs!), a good bio, a link to your website/author page, retweets of things that interest you, conversations with other authors, pictures of pets, pictures of your bookcase, pictures you, information about cool stuff in your hometown (I’ll be tweeting about the Iditarod this week), information about the research you’re doing for a new book, #WIPfire with a sentence from your latest story, fun stories about two people sharing a found wine bottle on the sub ride home.

What you don’t put on Twitter are things like: your address, your phone number, nude pics, complaints about how slow an agency is responding to your query, rants about how you could do so much better in self-publishing while querying, brag posts about how you’ve never read a genre but are totally going to rewrite it because you are a genius, or hate-filled screes against anyone (with exceptions for football season and March Madness… sports rants can be forgiven).

What if an agent or editor starts chatting with me on Twitter? Be friendly and keep talking. I’ve met some fabulous people who offered me stellar advice for free just because we happened to be Twitter-friends. Done right, social media can be an amazing networking tool, especially for people who live in remote locations (like me!), are anxious in crowds, can’t get to cons, or otherwise wouldn’t be rubbing elbows with people in the publishing industry on a regular basis.

Got questions? Hit the comment box and let me know what you’re worried about.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out the How-To Write A Pitch workshop, and post yours for feedback.