On Depression (And Why It’s a Bitch)

So I am going to go off on a spiel here. Gather ’round, because I have something to say. (Obviously.)

We’ve all heard of depression. We’ve seen those commercials for the drugs supposed to make the gloom-and-doom feeling go away. But where that is all experienced objectively, there is a major difference when it comes to dealing with it personally.

All right, you may say, so what are you getting at, Emily? 

Well, let me tell you something. I might be of the rambling type, but I ramble for good reason. Hell, I’m a writer; I get to ramble all I want. But in this, I think rambling and long-ass articles, explanations, and whatever else are needed. Why? Because depression is real.

Read it again. Depression is real.

I’m not talking about the dumps after a bad day, even when someone might have been fired, their wife moved out, took half the belongings and the dog, too, and to top it all off there’s the lack of fulfilling the dreams from younger, idealistic years. Yet where my poor hypothetical chap has reason to sulk and hit the bottle for a day, feel bad for himself as well, that is simply being depressed. 

Hold on, I’m not trying to be a psychologist or be pretentious. Nuh-uh, kiddies. I’m not that bad. Not really.

But if you take a look at depressed and depression, there’s a difference. Find a dictionary, Google it, read it up on the million and one health articles. But that’s all from the objective, distanced view. You ever get down and dirty with it? 

I did. I have. I am now. 

Let me tell you, it is hell.

When I was younger, I was depressed. Figured it was the usual teenage thing, so I kept my mouth shut. Then things got worse: No sleep, loss of focus, hallucinations even. Come one night after a particularly shaky day, I wrote a note to my mother. In it, I explained, and in that explanation, she would find a not-a-suicide note. No, for it was a I’m-suicidal note. 

Yes, I wanted to die. 

I thought of pills–we had a medicine cabinet chock full of them. I could have done it in one gulp of water. I thought of cutting, and I finally settled on jumping off a bridge downtown. The railing, easy to climb. At night, no one around. Perfect, my teenage self thought. The depression was that bad. I didn’t want to live. I wasn’t just sad from time to time, stuck in a bad mood I’d get out of eventually. I didn’t want to live anymore. 

That, in my experience is depression. People don’t think of it as a real disease. You say you’re depressed? People will say you’ll get better. To me, that’s like someone saying they got terminal cancer and have three months to live and the person telling them it’ll get better, like it’s a damn cold.

Depression is a disease. It’s mental, therefore not physically ‘visible’ and not obvious. People hide it, lie about it, and deny it.

And that’s why it is a bitch. It’s a silent killer.

I say killer because of statistics. I say killer because it almost got me. I say killer because a relative of mine wanted to die.

Dealing with it is one thing, but watching someone go through it, someone loved, is a whole other story. Hearing those words, seeing it in their expression, their eyes, and knowing that they have gone through so much silent, mental torment they want it all to end.

No one should feel like that.

No. One.

I am not a professional, I am someone who simply knows what this is like. So I say to you: If you are suffering from this bitch, talk to someone. If you know someone hurting, talk to them. Just talk. It helps. Don’t be abrupt, upfront, and obvious. I’m not vouching for everyone, but I certainly didn’t want to spill my feelings out when I was asked. It doesn’t work that way. It’s going to take patience and compassion, an understanding of the person and the desire, the will to listen and be there.

Because in my opinion, that’s a decent way to keep depression from being hidden in the silence.


Until next time, stay writerly, my friends.

Before You Hit Send

Status: Watching Investigation Discovery


Last week I went on a little rant about query letters and pitches. I believe I said I’d focus on synopses for this time, but I feel this is the topic for now, because it’s so universal. So today, I’m going to rant about why it is so important, imperative, more crucial than the air you need to breathe on why you must wait at all costs before you send off your query letter.

Let’s look at it this way. You have finished your manuscript. You locked it away for a month, resisting the temptation of going back to it, treating yourself to wine and ice cream and self-praise. Then you returned to it, hunkered down, and edited and revised like a mother lover. You sent it to beta readers and critique partners, followed their advice, advice from the Internet, advice from the cat–and you think it’s ready. You know it is. It’s a gut feeling. 

What’s next? Your query. And you do the same thing that you did with your manuscript ad nauseum. Wash, rinse, repeat, until finally, that is as damn good as it’s going to get.

You have your dream list of agents, maybe in a notebook, a Word document, sticky notes plastered on whatever available surface remains.

You. Are. Ready.

But let me tell you: No.

I have been there; I know the excitement, the anxiety and eagerness. The feeling that if you don’t start querying right now, right now, right now, that someone will swoop in and sign with the agent. Or the agent will stop accepting queries. Or, you know, the world blows up and subsequently destroys all technology. Maybe zombies decide to target agents. Something will happen, and oh dear lord above, you must send it-send it-send it.

Don’t. Back away from the computer. Shut down the e-mail program. Breathe. Don’t forget to breathe.

The thing is, by hitting send, you’re thrusting your precious baby into the slush pile, and it might not survive. You will be amongst many other eager individuals, and they may not have done everything you did. (le shock, they didn’t do all that painstaking work? Sacrilege!) Here is the truth: Chances are, by being so very eager that you’re bouncing up and down like a freaking bunny rabbit, the opportunity is blown. Destroyed. Sayonara. Agents are receiving hundreds of queries, and while some of them may have big issues–passive voice, passive characters, no plot, the list goes on and on–there might be some in yours.

But, you may say, trembling in rage, I’ve read, and re-read, and had everyone I know plus the crazy cat lady next door read my query. They say it’s fine!

Well, I will say to you now, that may be the case, but here is Emily’s belief: Do not, I repeat do not, submit until you are absolutely, positively sure that the query letter and manuscript are in the best shape they can be. 

So how do you do that?

Here’s some suggestions.

1.) Hold your beta readers and critique partners hostage

All right, not really, unless you’re truly desperate and a shade of crazy. Make them read your manuscript, pick at it, nitpick at it, shred it to ribbons. Then, collecting the remains, you piece it together. Yes, it sucks. Yes, there may be crying involved. And yes, it is worth it. Having other readers–willing or not, all depends on the hostage thing–review what you have written is the best thing you can do. Your brain and eyes are so, so familiar with the words on the screen. You might be dreaming about your characters; you might be mouthing lines of dialogue to yourself like they’re a damn Broadway song stuck in your head. Those are signs that you live and breathe your story. That’s fine. We’re writers–it would be weird if we weren’t so obsessed with our story. If we clutch our laptops to our chest and stroke it saying, “My precious” that is perfectly cool. That passion is what will drive you through the long haul. Think an agent wants a writer who’s a one-trick pony? No. Unless you’re a one-trick pony who makes as much as Bill Gates. Then be the pony.

In conclusion: Get readers. Get critique partners. Listen to them. You do not have to apply what they said to your story right away, because if you don’t, then it will suck, and then–and then– No. Don’t think like that. Most of the time, your writer/reader buddies are only offering advice. Good advice, but you just have to take it into consideration. 

2.) Read Your Story Aloud

Gather ’round, kids, it’s story time. All right, again, not really. But the common advice floating around is to read your story to yourself. Not just in your head, not mouthing the lines. You must speak it.

But Emily, you may say, hefting the baseball bat for crushing my skull, what’s the point to this? I know the story; I wrote it!

Ah, yes, but you have not heard it. Tone, inflection, pacing–think your brain monitors that? Well, maybe it does, but if you read the story to yourself, you may pick up on things you wouldn’t if simply reading silently. Trust me. I have my laptop programmed to read me a chapter once I’m done editing, and while mechanical Suzy has the personality of a watermelon, she does help me pick out things my brain skips over. Because being so sleep-deprived that I’m half-dead kind of kills my focus.

In conclusion: Warm up your vocal chords, get yourself an audience of people or stuffed bears, and start reading. It’s worth it.

3.) Write like a writer, read like an agent

I once took part in a competition with some fellow writers to read each other’s queries like we were agents. We had to scan the queries, as though we had a thousand more to go through. On Twitter, many agents post how many queries they have received, or how backed up they are that their e-mail may die of constipation. Agents don’t have all day to dissect a query to pieces to judge whether or not they like it; they scan those suckers in five seconds. You need to find something in your story, what is commonly referred to as your hook, and make that baby shine. It’s not worth making an impression, you want it to make the impression, make the agent want to read more. Because that is what the query exists for, besides to drive us writers mad.

So look at your query. Does it have active voice, an active character, a plot that is original, moving, will make the agent salivate for more? If not, I hate to break the news, but it’s back to the drawing board, my friends. If so, well, by golly, you might be on to something.

In conclusion: You don’t need acting skills, but act as though you are an agent: pressed for time, immersed in the slush pile, looking for that undiscovered gem. You want it to be yours.

4.) Take a Break

What? Really? A break? Like, like vacation?

Believe it or not, it does a writer good to return to that thing they call real life. With people, the world, and yes, you can play outside! Truth is, the process of getting ready to query is as taxing as writing, except not as fun. Or maybe it is, but it involves much more stress because you are that much closer to the big moment. 

But take a break. Put your manuscript and query aside, and if you can’t stop stalking agent Twitter feeds, then look up those agents. Compile your dream list, do your research on why these agents must receive your query letter. State those reasons, analyze them. Believe me, it helps. You’re doing something, right? And something others may not have done, or neglected to do. It makes you look professional, like you’ve done your homework, because stating the reasons in the query letter will let the agent know you chose them personally.

Examples: I’ve followed your blog and found it immensely helpful/I attended a workshop of yours/My novel is in the same vein as X client of yours/ Since you represent X, perhaps . . . See where I’m going with this? Those are the reasons you want to investigate. They are good reasons, not something weird like, My dog is the same breed as yours, or That dress you wore last Sunday? So much like mine! Agents want writers. Not stalkers.

A break will also clear your head. I know if I’m overwhelmed, I rediscover what I used to do before writing. Hell, I do the most exciting thing in the world: nap. Your story isn’t going to run away. Agents that are open to queries aren’t going anywhere. The world isn’t going to end if you don’t hit send. It won’t. Say it with me. 

In conclusion: You work tremendously hard, and for that, I applaud you, but your brain, your fingers–they require rest. Go eat ice cream. Love your children. Hug your dog. And when you feel you’ve recharged, then, yes, you can go back to obsessing writing.


The point is, it is imperative to not hit send as soon as everything is said and done, because chances are, everything is not said and done. There is always room for improvement. Always. Only when your eyes bleed, you can’t stand the sight of another word of that manuscript, you think you’re going to rip your hair out and scream–then you know you’re ready. Trust your gut to tell you when, but don’t over-edit (which I’ll get into another time.) Trust yourself, too.

Until next time, stay writerly, my friends.

Query vs. Pitch: Know the Difference?

Status: Craving caffeine like a fiend.

So lately there have been some neat contests circulating the Internet, all involving query letters and pitches (read: The Writer’s Voice, Query Kombat, and the latest PitMad–use hashtags on Twitter to follow.) I have learned that there is a difference between them, not that I haven’t studied the anatomy of them for the past year so much my eyes have bled a little, but it still doesn’t hurt to know. Knowledge is power. (And the cliche use begins.)

For queries, I find it a little . . . amazing that writers forget what it’s supposed to do. Great agents on Twitter post what it is; they do it on their websites, too. Why is it so hard, then? Well, besides writing a query letter being the most damn impossible thing a trying, testing effort, it is my belief that writers want to do two things. 

1.) Be vague to entice more reading.

2.) Include almost everything because nothing can be omitted. Nothing.

I’ve received feedbacks on duds of mine: most of the time, they were vague. See, I was shooting for the whole book jacket thing, where you pick up a book, skim the back, and make a beeline for the nearest register while fishing for that week’s hard-earned pay. I’d gotten some ears to perk, but most of the time it was NO, with helpful reasons why. Being vague caused confusion; being vague kind of ties in with pitches, in a way. Being vague is not the way to go in the query letter.

But, you may think, frowning at this blog post, then why is it bad if there is too much information?

Well, I will answer, it is “bad” because too much information gives the plot away. That’s all. You don’t go to the local Barnes and Nobel to read book jackets, and if you did, those poor bookstore employees would be out of a job. If the summary contained everything, then there would be no need for the book.

Get it? Think you got it? 

In short, query letters have to be long enough to cover the entire plot without giving everything away, but short enough to pique interest.

Believe me, it’s hard.

The best way to do this is to outline the main characters, inciting incident, antagonist, the end goal, and what’s at stake.

Take for example: Beth, Jonny, their world goes to hell when aliens invade Earth, alien overlord appears and wants world domination, Beth and Jonny want aliens to say hasta la vista, Earth may be destroyed if they do not succeed. 

There. Now, take that and write it up into a two-to-three paragraph summary, without passive voice, without being confusion, vague, or wordy. 

And yes, if I were near you, telling you this, I’d allow you to slap me.

So that would be the query letter: not long, not short, and not too vague or informative.

But, Emily, you may say, hunting up a baseball bat for use on my skull, what about the pitch?

Ah, the pitch! Well, worry not, for the pitch is a bit simpler. Why? Because it has to be a one-sentence line, usually, that encompasses the plot and hooks readers.

Think: movie tag lines.

You know how you see movie posters popping up whenever you swing by the theaters. Those posters of whatever hellish scheme the directors are conducting, with those catchy phrases emblazoned somewhere on the page? Yes. That, my dears, is your tag line. And that is what you need for the pitch. 

Short, sweet, and to the point, while containing enough information of your story.

I mention pitches because of the PitMad that occurred last week. Oh, it was great, for those of the writer community that got to participate, and I hope to someday see these pitches as books on the shelves. (I’m rooting for you all!) Scrolling through Twitter, I was amazed by the talent. With the 140 character limit, that was a crucial thing to keep in mind, because a wordy pitch might become a line for the query letter.

Pitches are not queries.

Queries are not pitches.

And don’t get me started on synopses. (That’s next time.)

Think of your pitch as the one sentence you would use if someone asked what your novel was about. Can you summarize it one go? Can you say, Aliens invade planet Earth, and it’s up to two young lovers to defeat the overlord, but the heroine must come to terms with him possibly being her family. (Yay, random plot twists!) 

Think of your query letter as a proposal to the agent you are submitting to. You don’t want them to pass you on, you want them to want to read more. Exercise with both the query and the pitch, to nail down exactly what you need for both of these imperative tasks–not only for getting an agent, but to help improve your writing skills. They do say practice makes perfect. (Darn cliches keep popping up.)

Until next time, stay writerly.

The Writer’s Voice Competition

Hey, all. I was one of the lucky ones to make it past the lottery phase of this amazing contest hosted by amazing people. As per the requirements, I am posting my query and the first 250 words of my manuscript. Thanks for stopping by.



 Living for the challenge meant that Serka never needed an instruction manual on how to be a 17-year-old shape-shifting dragon. But she might have appreciated having one that included some tips and warnings such as:

  • Quick wits are required to deal with best friend and rival Callan, but claws and fangs occasionally come in handy, too.
  •  First love guarantees a fair amount of difficulties and make-out sessions more awkward than not when aforementioned best friend becomes your boyfriend after saving your life.

 As it is, Serka learns that it’s not all fun and games when her connection to the gods earns her a spot on the endangered species list, which sucks since they aren’t even around anymore. Fellow Greek mythical races revolted against the Olympians to terminate their slavery, and securing their freedom spells elimination for any and all links that protect the balance. No more links, no more gods, no problem—except for Serka’s inadvertent discovery that she is the last one that stands in the races’ way. Bad enough for her, but worse yet for them as it ignites the gods’ return, and they sure as hell aren’t keen on offering second chances.

With war brewing between the mortals and immortals, Serka must master the power of her destined role to prevent the titanic clash from erupting, which reveals the final warning:

  • Accepting some challenges may cost you everyone you cannot afford to lose.

Including Callan. 

GIRL OF LIGHT AND SHADOW is a contemporary fantasy for older YA readers that is complete and runs 85,000 words. It is a standalone novel that possesses series potential, and I have begun work on another book set in the same world. Thank you very much for your time and consideration. 


First 250:

Chapter One

This could go two ways: live or die.

Right now, I’d take death.

A dragon not being able to Shift was guaranteed to cause pain. To call this “pain” served as a severe understatement; it was such an inane word, created by ignorant, naïve fools who knew nothing of true agony. Colorful analogies wouldn’t supply the right comparison, but they were not needed. In reality, it was simple.

The Change. An uncompromising force that was currently intent on killing me or making me into something else. I had no qualms with either. Death meant swift relief. The Change having its way meant I’d Shift, and I might feel like a true dragon again. Except one problem arose with those options. Choosing one of them? No can do. This was just another thing out of my control.

A week since returning to the pride, and day seven kicked off to a wonderful start. In the training hall, instead of a quiet, isolated place where I could be incapacitated and scream alone. Another wave of blistering heat seared through me, and I bowed with the fire, digging my fingers into the gritty grains of the sand pit. My focus vanished for a split-second, but that was all it took for my mental barriers to shatter like glass. The Bond flared wide-open. The communal awareness of the others joining my mind jolted me back to my senses. Not good. I couldn’t afford to be vulnerable like this. 

The Cake Factor (Why I don’t get out as much as I should)

I don’t enjoy venturing outside–at all. I’m a writer. All the company I need is provided by my brain, thanks to characters in my manuscripts and insanity. I’m perfectly fine safely trapped in my house. Sunlight? Who needs it? Society? Screw ’em. As it is, this week was one of those times I had to step outside and socialize with people, partly because it was needed, and the other reason bordering along the lines of talking to the cats. If they started talking back, then I may as well check into the asylum now.

So it was bad enough winter won’t leave, but in town there were people with cake. As in, a LOT of cake. Boxes of it, dear readers, and they were strutting around, proud as hell that they had something to show off. They pretty much shoved it in your face, went “nyuk, nyuk” and scampered off before you could smack them.

So of course I, being the sweet addict I am, was intrigued. I mean, cake. FREE cake. How much better can it get? I did not receive a cake because a.) I didn’t know where they were handing them out, and b.) I didn’t want to get jumped on the bus for cake.

But I was a little annoyed that everyone had cake but me, and if any of you are fellow anime fans, who have watched Death Note, then you can compare my cake-love to L. 

Besides that, it is amazing what you see when you rejoin the world, good and bad. Since today was all about cake, tomorrow will probably be some weird shit that will make me regret not digging a cave earlier.

Until next time, stay writerly and nerdy

By therealemily5

On Self-Editing

After the completion of my first manuscript, I figured I was done with the thing. I bragged to the family about it being complete, feeling proud of myself for finally seeing that nine-month project through. (Worse than a pregnancy term) Then I started bumming around blog posts on editing. My naiveté and I recoiled with the realization that editing involved more than hunting down grammatical errors, crappy sentence structures, and omitting everything that didn’t make sense.

In a nutshell: Editing is rewriting.

So I searched more blog posts and got more depressed at the prospect. My manuscript was my baby, and hacking at it with the editing machete broke my heart. Still, if I wanted to make progress, I needed to sacrifice love. (It’s overrated anyway)

Self-editing involves more than just reading over the manuscript; it involves analyzing characters and plot devices, seeing what does and doesn’t work. Think that’s hard, try going through five or six drafts and then do you only begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Editing involves hard work, perseverance, and a bit of wine and chocolate. It also means to not let your big writer ego get in the way. Yes, you have an ego. I do, too. Break out the whip and slap it into submission.

Tips for self-editing:

1.) Two sets of eyes are better than one

Or more sets. The more the merrier. Find critique partners, beta readers. Other eyes. And not family members. They love you, and this love will destroy you. Why? Because of family relationships, all sunshine and freaking rainbows, you’re not going to get the criticism you’re looking for. At least, if you have good family relationships, but then there might be the evil step mother looking to ravage your soul.

With extra eyes come objective viewpoints. Huzzah! They are readers and read like readers. They will find things you would not, stuff you might not even know exists. Still, be sure to keep in mind what these extra eyes say is not something you need to rush and fix right away. Sit. Think. Then consider it.

2.) Time is your friend

You’ve typed the last word of the last sentence of the last paragraph. It’s done. Over. The End stares at you from the computer screen. Start dancing, drinking, carousing, whatever. But leave the manuscript alone. Treat it like a rabid dog that’s stalking you: run away from it whenever it stalks up to you. You’ve been immersed in this project for a long time, and beginning revision right away is not as fun as eating pie straight out of the oven. Besides the fact no pie is involved.

Some blogs suggest weeks to months. Do whatever you need to do; maybe the longer is the better for you. When you return to it, you should have a clear head to be able to pick out the inane little details you wouldn’t have detected before.

3.) Kill your darlings

Have a line you just love? A character, a scene? Something that makes you smile because it’s just that awesome? Ask yourself: Why? Why is it there? Why does this have to exist? Chances are, it might not even have to be in the manuscript, and the only things it’s doing is taking up word space. Get rid of it. If hitting delete makes you want to cry, cut and paste it into another document. That is what I do for my revision process, keep an extra word document for all of the word clutter that had the misfortune of being in a chapter. It might be painful, but you want your sentences tight and to the point. You don’t want to give your readers pause or make them skip a section because of something that was too long, too much, and not needed. A good way to analyze if something is or is not needed is to examine the plot and all the crucial scenes and characters needed. Make a list or a chart. I created an outline of characters that mean something to my protagonist and plot, the same with scenes to forward everything along. You don’t want anything that will weight the narrative down; you want everything that will make readers want to keep reading.

4.) Watch that ego

Yes, we all have egos. We’re writers; it’s pretty much a prerequisite. There is a fine line between being excited for your writing and obnoxious for it. If that line is blurred, then you should probably take another vacation from your writing again to distance yourself. Examples:

“I love this line! It’s so great.”

A month later.

“What the hell is this?”

Granted that’s not how it goes for you, but being objective with your writing is a damn well near impossible thing. All we can hope for is to know when, where, and why to eliminate the unneeded. Our ego may rebel, but in the end, it’s satisfying to hack out something and replace it with something better. Being pride isn’t a crime–it’s a sin, I know–but not having any pride would mean we would crumble at any criticism. Our inner-editors wouldn’t survive.

5.) Don’t be a baby

Does anyone like to edit? Unless you are like me, you don’t. I enjoy tackling all of the insane crap I wrote during the first draft stage. I like knowing what is going on in the manuscript, knowing the plot and my characters and what I’m doing.

So maybe you do like that. Great. But whining about it isn’t going to amount to anything. Not to say you whine, but I know at some points I didn’t want to continue because there was either A.) too much to do or B.) I didn’t have an idea as to what to do. Again, we circle back to taking a break. Even ten minute coffee reprieves are better than nothing.

6.) Read it aloud

Do I sound like a broken record? Good. Because advice that is rehashed and said over and over and over again is good advice. If it’s seconded by not only published authors but agents and editors, then follow it. Reading your manuscript aloud lets you notice some errors you wouldn’t pick out while reading silently. It’s a simple thing, but it can save you from small grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. (Especially with the English language, I mean, my God . . . )

7.) Drafts

The first draft. The second, third, fourth, fifth . . . there’s a lot of them. First drafts are like the skeletal structure we start out with, and only through reading and writing through the manuscript do we give it true form. Don’t settle for building a house, build a palace. You want perfection. You might not admit to it, but we want the manuscript to be in tip-top shape. Agents get a plethora of queries, and fine-tuning your project is what will give you an advantage of those who don’t try their hardest. If you aren’t putting your best foot forward, then what’s the point?

Until next time, best wishes~

By therealemily5

Learning to Shut Up When You Need To

So, for all querying authors, it may be tempting to share with your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and blog readers about your submission process. The excitement and dread of sending the query letter, the disappointment with the rejection . . . it’s tempting to share that with everyone. Right? Why suffer alone when there are a lot of other people on Internet to mingle with?

Advice: Shut. Up.

This is not to say don’t revel in any success and enter the pity pit, but if you are going to share with the world what you’re feeling, keep in mind your possible future agent will be checking out your online presence. So don’t curse and rant about the recent rejection, because the agent your querying will see this, and it greatly hurts your chances of becoming their client.

Online Presence Matters

It does. Really. Trust me.  On the Internet is where everyone plays nowadays. There is so much to do and so much to see. A word of advice is to follow agents on Twitter, but refrain from being stalker-like creepy by putting something personal in the query letter. That is just weird. They don’t care about what you thought of a tweet or picture; query letters are about your book.

That said, avoid going straight to the social networks to hail the world and inform them of your most recent doing. Think of it like the job interviews now, where possible employers investigate Facebook profiles to see if they want to hire you. The same goes for seeking an agent to represent you. Do not mess it up by putting stupid stuff on the Internet; there are a thousand others places and people to do that.

Be Professional

I cannot emphasize this enough. You are dealing with the professionals, and no one wants to deal with someone who throws a temper tantrum fit for a two-year-old. Rejection stings. Success is amazing. Rejection is easy to come by; success is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Deal with both in a refined way. There is no use crying over spilled milk. Got a rejection? Brush it off. Ranting about it on your blog will only come back and bite you, especially if another agent checks out your writer platform and see how well you DON’T deal with rejection and that you are not ready for this business. It is imperative to be like a professional, so it might be time to start.

In conclusion, the Internet is a great place, but it is not the place to go to for comfort. In the case of rejections, pop out the wine and ice cream, and then move on. Do not tweet about it ad nauseum, do not post statuses on Facebook about writerly rage and grief. Develop a second skin, a thick second skin, plow onward, and shut up.

By therealemily5

Kissing Scene for Writing Contest

All right, so this post is irrelevant to what I usually post and still is relevant, too. Whatever. I am so tired. Anyway, here’s a scene from my current manuscript for this neat contest I’ve entered.

Title: Shadow’s Return

Genre: YA Fantasy

Facts: Mainly a story about shape-shifting dragons. The protagonist is Serka, the love interest her best friend Callan.

Set-up: Serka and Callan are on a mission to meet with a rogue who may or may not have information about the secrets kept by the pride. During this time, Serka struggles with her feelings toward and Callan, wondering if their past relationship can be saved. After all the fallouts they’ve had, she’s striving to rectify her mistakes with Callan, who along the way confuses her more and more.


So I kissed him. Callan reacted as though the toxic thoughts of want and need that were multiplying and massing for attack in my brain were infectious. Bent over him, my shirt rode up my back, and his hands traveled to the exposed skin above the waistband of my jeans, mapping new patterns. Every nerve in my body jumped alive, and I felt that—wonderfully, electrifyingly alive. Kissing him was discovering and unearthing remnants of what I’d missed, of things I’d had and lost. Terrifying. Exhilarating.

Then it stopped.

“Wait,” Callan said.

“All right, I’ll bite. Why?”

“It’s just . . . Serka, are you sure?”

Doubt crept in, but faded as quickly as it arrived when he stroked my leg, from calf to thigh to hip. Either he was doing this for dramatic effect or he wasn’t sure.

I gripped his wrist and laid his hand against my chest so he could feel my heart racing. “This is my reality. And right now, I want you to kiss me.”

He did. The kiss started off slow and soft, the first sparks to the flame, both beautiful and destructive. Callan touched me like he wanted to know more of me, my body, even as he held me with the hesitant tenderness like I would break.

When his fingers bunched my shirt, I assisted him further by yanking the fabric off altogether.

Our gazes locked.

I asked, “Too much?”


His lips met mine again, and this time, there was no hesitation or uncertainty that signaled his thoughts. Should I? went to I want this.

I didn’t care about all those times when he was a friend and an enemy, definite and uncertain, because this was the most truthful expression of how we loved each other. I didn’t care how damaged and broken we were. Somehow, what we shared mended us, not enough to make us whole, but so we didn’t fall apart completely and could function properly.

All I cared about was kissing Callan and him kissing me again and again, whispering each other’s name into the darkness as we tried to claim forgotten love and call it ours.

Before You Hit Send

In the midst of querying myself, I believe there are a lot of questions to ask yourself as a writer, pertaining to your query letter and manuscript.

What? you might say. More questions? I’m done with the thing! No, my dear readers, you are never done with those current projects. If they are our babies, then we all know our children require constant maintenance. We might think we are done, we might have the manuscript whipped into tip-top shape, polished and ready to go. Let me say this, though. It is never over.

Question One: Is everything relevant?

More fittingly, What’s this mean? What’s that mean? Why did we write this scene, that response, that line of dialogue? Is it needed? That is the mindset required for revision, in my opinion anyway. If something doesn’t flow, makes you frown or wonder if it could be better, then go over it. What could be done, deleted, changed? Revising is nothing but endless rewriting, and it is important to make the best of it.

The same applies to query letters. You want the hook and key topics in that letter. Enough to get an agent’s attention. The query letter is about THE BOOK and what makes it good. Highlight those moments and exploit them to the best of their–and your–advantage.

Question Two: Am I ready?

Let me grab a megaphone and tell you this: No, we are never ready! We might comb over the letter time and time again, but there always seems to be something we miss. Right? (Or am I the only one?) If we’re not ready, then what do we do? Make the best of those articles out there. There are countless helpful sites on the Net. Research agents. AgentQuery and QueryTracker are great sources. And be sure to check out the SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. Always do this. I cannot emphasize this enough. The agents have it there for a reason.

Print your query. Read it. Read it aloud. Get others to read it. Agents don’t want a query riddled with grammatical errors. Make the query like the blurb on the back of a book: exciting, possessing enough information to get readers want to read more. Do all you can. Querying is a one-shot chance with an agent (until you find someone else) so be the best you can be.

Question Three: Did I pick the right agent?

This pertains to if the agent represents your genre. Right now for me, I’m searching for young adult fantasy representatives. If you have a romance and target an agent who specializes in mystery, chances are you’re getting a swift rejection.

Check out books they have sold to see if they are similar to yours. Not in the sense that the plot of your manuscript mirrors someone else’s, but enough that there is that connection. Agents have to fall in love with your work; they’re going to be working with it and you for a long time.

Question Four: Do I have the credentials? 

Published previously? Note-worthy awards? Put that in the bio paragraph of the query. Only stuff like that. Not that you have twenty dogs and are therefore the only one capable of writing your dog-lovers book. No. Only what is important to the agent. Now, there are exceptions of course, but you’ve got to be the judge. Remember, the query letter is about the book, not you.

Question Five: Do I have a platform?

Blogs, Twitter, Facebook. That is your platform. You must have a healthy online presence now. It’s mandatory. Writer’s can’t stay at home in their bathrobes, armed with coffee, hunched over the keyboard and agonizing over their manuscript anymore. We need to be tweeting and blogging; we need to be real to the readers. In the query, include your blog’s website link so agents can check you out. Sometimes, your online presence can make or break a deal.

Question Six: Do I really want to do this?

This might be stupid, but think about it. Are you willing to keep writing, churning out stories for a living? Do you WANT this? Why are you doing it? For profit? The sake of saying “I wrote a book” and bragging about it? For me, and this is personal, I want this because writing is my life. I have stories to tell. For you, dear readers, you might have a thousand and one reasons, but this is a game you must be willing to play.

And I think that’s it. For part one, anyway. If there’s more I will add a second part. I believe these are questions to always keep in mind, even if you are not going the traditional route and leapt for self-publishing. You need to be serious and in this for the long haul.

Any questions? Comments? Rants about my view on things?

A Letter to Barnes and Noble

Dear, B&N

So imagine my surprise upon learning that you have added a new item to your menu. First you went with coffee, and that was all right. But now you are selling pizza. I ask you this, B&N, why are you going along with this madness?

Are you not a bookstore? Do you not sell, books? Yes, B&N, you do–or did. Now you are desperate for sales and customers because of the e-book rise, the Nook is not doing as well as was hoped for, but pizza is not the way to go. Your books will get greasy, stained, and be ruined by grubby fingers owned by people who have no respect for your books.

I have respect for your books, and still do. Not you, though, B&N. You have disappointed me. You were my serious writing environment, but at this rate, you will descend to the level of a Chuck E. Cheese and leave me with no choice but to go to Starbucks. 

I will continue to buy your books, B&N, but you are no longer the same. Our relationship is ruined by your inane decision to start selling pizza. So I say to you, B&N, we are through.

By therealemily5