Friday, February 26, 2016

Don’t let anyone stop you from writing

As writers it’s very easy to fall into the pit of depression. It just takes one rejection from an agent, one bad review, a harsh editorial feedback or unfavourable comments from critique partners and we start swimming in the pool of negativity, doubting everything: from our story to writing, from our characters to the ending.

We all have those moments, wondering why we write, when we only encounter roadblocks and dead ends in some stages of our career.

I’m sure we writers have a touch of sadism to put ourselves through this entire grind. The entire world gets a close peek into our thought process, our sensibilities, our feelings, through the characters we create. Though we may be extremely private individuals, we do live extremely public lives because of our work.

I read this beautiful saying “If I have lost the self confidence in myself, I have the Universe against me”– Ralph W Emerson. It applies to us writers perfectly. If we lose confidence in ourselves and our stories, then we are doing a grave injustice to ourselves and also cheating ourselves. Writing is a God given talent, we all have unique stories that we must and should share with the world. Rejections and criticisms are just obstacles, they shouldn’t deter us.

Each and every story residing in our hearts, is awaiting its tryst with readers. Someone somewhere, maybe in a remote corner of the world is waiting to be inspired by our words, someone is waiting to be entertained by it, someone is waiting to bond with the characters. Do we have a right to deprive those people of inspiration, entertainment or bonding? Even if our words motivate and inspire only a handful of people, or entertain the same number, isn’t that much more than what we hoped for when we typed that first word. So, don’t let anyone stop you from writing as you never know who you will inspire with your story.

Have you ever felt despaired, wondered why you were writing when all you encountered was closed doors? How do you cope with those days? What keeps your faith intact? Please share. I am sure we all will be inspired by it.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Getting back into my reading and writing groove and the query critique winner

After ages I have slid back into my writing and reading groove. You can say that I have buried myself into it. When I am immersed in writing my story or absorbed in reading a book, I tend to think less of other things. During those times, it’s just me and the stories and the characters, both in the books I am writing and the books I am reading.

To get my mind away from my loss, I read two books back to back: The House that BJ Built by Anuja Chauhan was simply hilarious. As I had read her earlier book: Those Pricey Thakur Girls, it was nice to meet the same characters and see what has happened to them 20 years later. Anuja is getting better and better. My Indian Blog buddies will completely adore the story (the liberal sprinkling of Hindi words will not be a dampener for them). The second book I read was Johnny Gone Down by Karan Bajaj. I loved the book with the strong spiritual message and the varied characters. I was completely intrigued by the main character Nikhil. I am eager to read Karan’s earlier book, as well as his latest one.

I also wrote two picture books and their query letters and revised all four.

I am currently reading Cavemice – The Great Mouse Race – a Geronimo Stilton book. I adore the humor of these books. No wonder the kids all over the world freak out over them.

The winner of the Query Critique Giveaway with Agent Liza Fleissig is Tabitha Bird. Congratulations Tabitha. Please email me so that I can forward you Liza’s email id.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A conversation with Literary Agent Liza Fleissig and a Query Critique Giveaway

Today I have an interview with Literary Agent Liza Fleissig. Liza and I became acquainted when I had queried her for my Middle Grade novel. Liza and I kept in touch. I found Liza very warm and approachable. In the short span of time since she started her agency, she is going places and everyone I know has the nicest things to say for her and her agency. As Liza was the first agent I kept in touch with, it was but natural that I when start hosting agent interviews, her interview would be the first one on my blog.  

Q. Tell us something about yourself?
A. After dissecting a chicken in 5th grade, I became a vegetarian and eventually a hard core vegan (before it was a “thing”) but I still cook meat dishes for my family.  Despite my not tasting them, they somehow come out really well; in fact, my husband jokes that my next “new venture” should be to open a restaurant and call it Beethoven’s — a reference to the fact that he created masterful symphonies despite being deaf.

Q. How did you become an agent?
A. I have always had a strong sphere of influence from friends in the publishing industry, and had been searching for something creative to do for a long time after my children were born.  Besides, I guess when you come from an entrepreneurial family, it’s in your blood to take risks and try new things!

Q. What’s a typical day like in your life?
A. Exhausting but good. I am up early to make breakfast and get my kids off to school. After dropping them off, I am at my office by 8:15am. I toggle between emails, reading/editing and contracts most of the day - and also try to get a work out in somewhere in between (usually a conference call on the treadmill is a good way to multi-task). I generally have lunch meetings, whether with a client, an editor, someone in pr, etc., and then am back at my desk until I need to leave to get my kids after school. They get out on the later side given their sports and extra curricula activities. If we don’t have any school event or sports game, then next comes dinner and homework. I am very lucky to have kids who are strong students, but I still like to go over their work. It’s not only a great way to stay connected to them, but it’s really interesting to be learning things again! By the end of the night, there is family reading and yes, some TV, before my kids go to bed. Once they are settled, I am back on my computer, though at this point I usually focus more on reading/editing until I can no longer keep my eyes open.

Q. When you are reading all these query letters, what makes you sit up and pay attention?
A. Any short and sweet query - one that’s well written and has a compelling storyline - is something I will always consider if our current list can support it. If you add a strong social media/marketing platform, that might make me more optimistic, but in the end, it’s always about the book.

Q. What kind of manuscripts are you looking for right now?
A. I love a good thriller/suspense/mystery that keeps me guessing until the end. I also love commercial women’s fiction with sarcastic comic voices. Most of all, I love being surprised. Nothing is more exciting that being over the moon for a book that I never expected to like. So at the end of the day, just grab my attention!

Q. What’s something you have sold that comes out now, that you’re excited about?
A. Celeste Fletcher McHale’s SECRET TO HUMMINGBIRD CAKE (Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins Christian) is a commercial women’s fiction novel that comes out this month and Robert Bailey’s BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE (Thomas & Mercer) is a legal thriller that comes out in March. Both of these books are off the charts amazing and I cannot wait to see readers’ reactions!

Q.  What’s on your nightstand to read right now?
A.  Honestly right now the only thing on my nightstand now is a pile of mss!

Q. Three all time favourite books?
A. Really tough question. I know other agents have solid answers for this, but really, how can you pick just 3? For which part of life? I read Little House on the Prairie, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys as a kid. Later, I loved books like Pride and Prejudice and Great Expectations, though I also read a lot of plays from Shakespeare, O. Henry and Ibsen.  Eventually I became a suspense junky, devouring Cornwell, Ludlum, King, Koontz, Demille and Patterson. And my guilty pleasure? Nora Roberts writing as JD Robb for her “In Death” series. To this day I would love to see Dallas and Roarke take the silver screen.

Q. Will you be attending any writer’s conferences where writers can pitch to you?
A.  I will be at NJSCBWI annual summer conference and also Thrillerfest in NYC. I have other events coming up but I have not finalized those yet.

Q. Which book you wish you could have represented? Why?
A. There are too many books to list that I would have been proud to work on, but the fact that they were given flight by someone else doesn’t make them any less to special to me. I’m just happy they are out there for the world to read and enjoy.

BIO: Liza Fleissig, with her partner Ginger Harris-Dontzin, opened the Liza Royce Agency (LRA) in early 2011. Their goal was, and remains, to represent authors in all stages of their careers, from the most established to those developing their craft, as well as debuts. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business with a degree in Finance, and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law with a JD, Liza is a former partner in a NYC based litigation law firm and brings more than 20 years of negotiating experience to the field. This background, along with connections rooted in publishing, movies and television, allowed them to focus and build on a referral based clientele.
From picture books through adult projects, fiction and non-fiction, LRA welcomes strong voices and plot driven works. Their inaugural books became available in stores January 2013.  Their first was an Edgar nominee, another was an Indie Next Pick, and two others were optioned for film. LRA’s success began right out of the gate.
(I also have @LizaFleissig  but the agency account is the best one if they don’t want to follow both)
Liza Fleissig Facebook Liza Fleissig Facebook
Liza Royce Agency Facebook Page Liza Royce Agency Facebook Page

Liza has graciously offered a Query Critique Giveaway to one of my lucky (blog) followers. Let me know in the comments if you want to be a part of the draw.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

IWSG Post – My Outlining Woes

This is my first IWSG post of 2016. Click here to read the reason I gave the first one a miss. IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) an online group of writers, posts on the first Wednesday of every month. IWSG gives us writers a platform to share, express and discuss all our writing worries, fears, doubts and anxieties, with other writers who are fighting similar issues. 

Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars), got the amazing idea to start this awesome group. Super A (as I have secretly nicknamed him) trots around the globe on the world wide web, like a blogging Santa Claus, helping other writers by giving them shoutouts on his blog, hosting them during their book releases and sharing their book covers.(If I praise Super A anymore, he will start blushing.)

This year I hope to write something different, by that I mean I want to move away from my comfort zone of Middle Grade and work on an adult novel. I have two ideas. I started writing a few pages of the first one, but then life interrupted me big time.

As the adult novel is a thriller, I am plagued by anxieties about doing a good job plotting the story. Thrillers need to be fast and furious, with action happening on every page, and twists and turns that make readers gasp. To be honest, I am a bundle of anxiety.

I do have a basic storyline in mind. I need to sit and plot it well, with twists and turns and revelations the story will make. Maybe take a few weeks to write a detailed outline. But, I am the kind of a writer who loves to start writing the moment an idea pops into my mind. I usually write a basic outline, and then start writing because If I’m not writing, then I drive myself nuts. I realized that as it’s the first time I am working on an adult novel I may lose my nerve if I spend several weeks in writing a detailed outline.

Do any of my blog buddies know a way I can circumvent this problem? I do want to try my hand writing something different. But unless and until I give it a try I won’t know. And I also need to outline in detail. Any tips?