Sunday, September 27, 2009

Birthday Burnout!

So this weekend was my mother’s 60th birthday. We gave her a Caribbean themed party at Bahama Breeze restaurant. My sister flew in from Reno and I thank God for her—for more reasons than this—because she helped me get this party together.

We had lots of running around, lots of supplies to buy and then it was wrapping thank you gifts, which were dessert tartlets, and baking the birthday cake.

Then it was left to me to deal with the birthday cake, mainly because I volunteered like an idiot. A few years ago, I took a class in cake decorating and while I learned some neat tricks, I am far from becoming any competition for Duff at Charm City Cakes. I was SO stressed out by this cake.

People have said to me that I should get business cards to advertise my cakes, and then they take my refusal as a lack of motivation or some kind of inability to do better for myself—yes, people have actually said stuff like that to me.

Well, I used to go into the explanation that baking cakes is stressful, time consuming, expensive and can easily become a disaster in a pan. I also used to explain how my passion is writing, how I can sit and write for hours and hours and not be bothered by that one bit. If baking/decorating a cake took that long, I would be PISSED!

Don’t get me wrong, I like baking cakes, it can be fun and creative, but I like it better when it’s few and far in between. So now, when people ask why I don’t have business cards, or why I don’t bake cakes for a living, or that I’m stupid for not cashing in on a talent I have, I simply say…I’m a writer.

Most times that answer still makes them scratch their heads. Writing isn’t something they can see in front of them like a nice fluffy cake so it’s still sounds like a pipe dream. Most will still try to convince me that with their help and all the people they know, I could live nice and comfortable selling my cakes.

It used to annoy me, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. If there is one thing I am, it’s confident in who I am and that’s a writer, not a baker. Can I be both? Yup, but I’d rather be a writer who bakes sometimes.

So now that I’ve ranted, lol, here’s a pic of the cake I made for my mother.

EDIT: It was brought to my attention that the cake looks flat. So I found a better pic below! They almost don't even look like the same cake-lol

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Query Advice


My query is featured on Daphne Unfeasible's Ask Daphne post today! Go check it out and tell me what you, please...I wasn't bossing you around or nuthin'.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Things I Never Plan to Write About

I was listening to an audio book the other day at work (I won’t say which) but as the story moved on, I could see a scene coming that I was dreading. Now, mind you, this was a fluffy kind of story so serves me right for being annoyed by the fluffy scene, but I could see that the story was about to come to a childbirth scene and I wanted to fast forward with the quickness.

I closed my eyes and prayed the author would not go into detail, but my prayers went unanswered. Then I thought to myself, Karen, why are you SO annoyed with childbirth scenes? Is it because you’ve never given birth?

Um…that’s a big fat no. I don’t want to read or see child-birthing scenes, not because I’m put off by it, or I’m squeamish—I work in a Perinatal Center for crying out loud—but it’s because it’s all clichéd to me. Unless someone dies during the birth, or the baby comes out as a green alien, I’m not interested in reading a childbirth scene.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve worked with pregnant women for quite a while, have witnessed my share of childbirths that I know that anyway to make childbirth entertaining enough for it to be part of a book, tv show or movie, then the writer is going to have to fall back on some clichés. The panicked father, the rushing to the hospital, the mother cursing the father for putting her through all of the pain, the mother cursing the staff and begging for drugs…ENOUGH!

Really, my main problem with the childbirth scene is that it rarely ever moves the plot along. It’s always used as a device to either inspire comedy with the screaming mother and the bumbling father, or it’s used to stir emotion as the parents stare down at the precious bundle of joy.

Don’t get me wrong, I love babies, will probably have one…one day, but if it’s not moving the plot, leave it out. And for as many childbirth scenes as I’ve read, I have yet to read one that really needed to be there. I’m starting to feel the same way about wedding scenes in books.

As much as I hate to say never, I don’t think I’ll ever incorporate either one of those types of scenes in any book I write. Will I have pregnant characters? Probably. Will I have characters who get married? Yup, I do believe I will at some point. But will I actually write the childbirth scene or the wedding? No.

So tell me, what things will you never write about?

Monday, September 14, 2009

To Re-query or not to Re-query That is the Question

I was speaking to a writer friend the other day who is in Query Hell with me, and she was wondering if she should re-query a particular agent.

Now, giving the situation, I am firmly in favor of re-querying certain agents. Here are my criteria:

1) Have you made SIGNIFICANT changes to your manuscript since you first queried this agent?
2) Has it been more than a few months, (better if it was like a year or close to it) since you last queried this agent?

3) Or is it a NEW/ANOTHER agent at an agency you’ve already queried?

When I’m able to answer yes to one or all three of these, I re-query.

Example: I submitted Light Bringers (at 100k words) to KT Literary back in September 2008. I was rejected at query level. I got an AWESOME beta, cut it down to 78k and re-queried in March 2009. From that I got a request for a partial, then a request for a full. It was ultimately a pass, but I had obviously done something between tightening up my query letter and shaving off nearly 30k words that got her attention.

And just the other day, I re-queried an agent who rejected me 8 months ago with a—no reply means no—rejection, but I just got a request for a full from that. So I say RE-QUERY!!!

As for the third point, I only query a new/another agent at an agency I’ve queried before when:
A) The new/another agent reps what you write (that really goes without saying, but I’m saying it).
B) And most importantly, if the agency DOES NOT have a policy against querying more than one agent at the agency. I don’t mean querying more than one agent simultaneously—like my little snafu a while back—I mean if they do not say, “A no from one of us is a no from us all,” then I would re-query.

Here is another example of where this worked for me-lol. I’ve queried just about every agent at Writers House. It’s a big house like Curtis Brown (queried a few there too) so it’s not likely that my submission would be passed around and then declined as a group effort.

First I queried Jodi Reamer back in 2008—got rejected. Then I went through the massive rewrite and queried Maya Rock—got rejected there too. Then I queried Merrilee Heifetz—again with the rejections. So that makes three. I was almost ready to give up on Writers House, when I decided to query Robin Rue. I got a request for a partial then a request for a full. It was ultimately a pass, but like I said, I’m grateful for every agent who has laid eyes on my manuscript and has taken the time to give me feedback. If I had given up I would have never had my manuscript read by either one of those awesome agents. And FYI, I have a query out right now with Rebecca Sherman of Writers House as we speak! :-)

I’m determined if nothing else!

Disclaimer: I am in no way saying make a nuisance of yourself, or disregard the guidelines the agents have on their websites or any other site you get their information. I’m saying if those criteria above apply, then why not re-query. You never know what you may get out of it!

Anyone out there have a re-query story that you’d like to share?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday Silliness

I cannot get this song out of my head! I suppose that says a lot about me-LOL.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Random Musings

Sometimes I feel like I’ve queried every agent there is to query, so when I find a new one, (well, new to me) I’m nearly giddy with excitement!

I’ve recently found 3 new-to-me agents, and have already been rejected by one of them (lol-he’s super fast!), but I prefer knowing sooner than later.

I’ve been trying not to over-think my novel. Sometimes I hear agents say characters who are 18 are too old for YA, (which two of the four main characters in my book are, and the other two are 19 and 20). I’m fully aware that my novel can skirt the line of teen and adult fiction, but when I think of the body of work I plan to write, then I’ll fall on the side of a YA writer.

So when I hear stuff like 18 is too old for YA, I think, well, the very definition of Young Adult is a Young Adult, so why can’t it include characters who are 18-20. Not to mention, I think if you still have the word TEEN after your age, then you are still a TEEN and can therefore be considered part of the Young Adult genre! My book is relatable to people from the ages 14 and over. Does it have to be set in high school? Not every teen wants to read about high school angst. I have plenty of angst in my book, and plenty of UST. And honestly, I’m ranting a little, but I’ve never been rejected for this reason, so maybe it’s just the blurb I read that’s got me going. Sorry. J

On to other topics…I’m very interested to see who the new Secret Agent is on Authoress’s blog this month. I’m hoping that it’s someone I haven’t queried yet, because the genre is what I write and you know how I like to find new agents! I have a fear that even long after I’ve gotten an agent and a deal, I’ll still be Googling agents, looking for their genre and there submission guidlines…I can’t stop myself!

Anywho, I’ve been working on my SNI, wrote 2300 words on Sunday! It’s a Paranormal YA called Platinum Diaries about a girl who has psychic dreams. I’m still working out the opening, but right now I’m just letting it spill out of me.

I just finished reading The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I know I’m late. I usually am, but man, that was an awesome book! It was very hard to get through the beginning. It’s hard for me to see/hear/read about people being harmed for no other reason than the pleasure of someone else. I’ve never been harmed like that personally, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling it deeply. And boy did I feel it. The book haunted me the more I delved into it, the layers were so true and heavy and at the same time beautiful. I’m happy I read it. The moment I read that Peter Jackson was bringing it to the screen, I wanted to read it. Now I’m reading The Hunger Games…see, I’m late with everything. J

I know this post is all over the place, but I’m a bit of a scatter brain lately. I haven’t been sleeping too well and it didn’t help that some IDIOT called and R.S.V.P’d for my mother’s birthday party at 12:16 am!!!! OMG I was heated! I think the man (who was only invited because he’s a friend of my stepdad’s) had been drinking.
The conversation went like this:

Drunk man: Um…is this Karen?

Me: “Yes,” I say with a snap because I realize it’s actually someone calling to rsvp and not a wrong number or--thank God--someone telling me that someone in my family is hurt.

DM: “I got an invite, wanted to RSVP…were you sleep?”

Me: “Of course I was sleep!”

DM: “Oh, sorry, I just got home. Should I call again?”

Me: “No, don’t EVER call again. Are you coming or not?”

DM: “Oh yeah, I’ll be there.”

Me: “Bloody fantastic.” Click.

Okay, WTF? Now some may think my responses to Drunk Man were rude, but I can’t be responsible for what flies out of my mouth when you wake me up! I swear, I have not had a normal RSVP for this party yet. It’s getting a little scary.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What's in a Name?

I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but I’ve changed my username from Rosepddle to Karen Denise. I did this mainly because Karen Denise is the name I plan to write under, and so I want to start using it. I’d love to use my real last name, but there is a pretty well known author out there with my name already. Fiddle sticks!

I’ve had some people ask me about my username. What’s it mean? What’s it stand for? Why’s it spelled that way? Well, way back when I was in my 20’s (seems like freakin’ yesterday) I went to sign up for an email account. I wanted rose petal or some form of it as my last name is Rose. Well, it was taken and so were a lot of other alternatives I tried, (e.g. rose_petal, rosepettal, and roseptal just to name a few).

Well, obviously it wasn’t my most creative day otherwise I’m sure I could have come up with something that actually included the words Rose and Petal, combined with a number. Instead I was like, I’m just going to use rosepddle. One thing I can say, no one else had it-lol. But I’ve been referred to as rose puddle, rose paddle, rose piddle…and the list goes on. LOL. I know why people’s first thought wasn’t rose petal, but really, rose puddle, paddle, piddle? What the heck is a rose piddle anyway? Lol.

Nevertheless, I’m now going to be known as Karen Denise, even though the overwhelming vote was for K. D. Rose. Maybe I'll keep the voting open for a few more days.What do you all think? Weigh in and vote on my Penname!