Category Archives: Heroic fantasy
Tomorrow is the first day of spring and that damn groundhog has some serious explaining to do. After a week of wonderfully warm weather we get hit again with freezing temperatures. I have a mountain of gardening catalogs sitting in my office and my desk at work and I can’t do a thing with them. Well that’s not entirely so, I can order what I need although the seeds will sit around the house for awhile.
Was a bit bummed today. I’m officially on spring break from school so I am finding myself without activities for the first time. I just bought one of those stand-up freezers a few weeks ago and have filled it with all kinds of goodies so grocery shopping is no longer a worry, although I wonder what we would do if the power went out. But after Big Brother and I watched about twenty episodes of Fairy Tail, I felt a bit better.
So if you happened to stop by my Facebook page and looked at my Twitter, I mentioned something that’s kind of been discouraging me lately. Now don’t get me wrong. I give all the authors who obtained representation this way a big Boo-Yah! For those of you who happen to be visiting here and may not have seen it, I spoke of what seems to be a new and rising trend, Twitter pitch contests. I’ve spoken of this in a previous musings from 2/15/15 – wow, a little over a year later Writing the way I see it: Changes in the Industry.
I recently was looking on Query Tracker, and checking to see if there were any new comments when I came upon one where the author had happily announced she’d taken part in a Twitter pitch contest last week and got a full request the next day! Again, I say Boo-yah. But on the other hand I sent a query letter to that same agent back in January and haven’t heard a thing yet. I’ve also seen pitch contest requests get offered representation a few days after the initial request. How do agents go through a full manuscript so fast?
But as to what I printed exactly on Facebook it was:
Maybe I shouldn’t say this but sometimes it’s very discouraging when you take months or even years to perfect your query letter as many an agent and editor has instructed, only to read that someone got a full request at one of those Twitter Pitch Contests on the same day. Meanwhile I and others like me have to wait months or years before we hear any word, if ever. Should we even bother with query letters anymore? I tried a Twitter Pitch contest once and all I got was my work dissed (no, not a critique) by an “author” who didn’t even have anything published or even a web presence as far as I could see. And when I complained to the people that ran it, no response. To add injury to insult, my comments on that person’s novel idea never appeared.
So is the query letter soon to go the way of cassette tapes and floppy disks? Sorry I can’t think of any appropriate examples. Oh wait – the way of publishers who actually accepted unsolicited manuscripts? So are we now all going to have to learn to tout our books in 140 characters or less? Maybe I’m over-thinking it as usual but still – sometimes I feel like the query is being kicked to the curb. And I still have no desire to pare down a 95,000 word book into two sentences.
So if you’ve checked my Facebook page, I didn’t get the promotion at the 9 to 5. However, the department head is going to basically take me under his wing and get me the additional experience I need with the help of my supervisor. They want me to be ready for the next round which will come sometime this summer. I’m trying not to explode before then.
So about the industry.
I did go to the bookstore this weekend. I’ve been feeling really stressed and uptight lately and I thought it would calm me down. It did a bit but I didn’t really pay attention to what was on the shelves this time.
Thanks to the miracle of modern technology — otherwise known as my Motorola Droid Maxx smartphone, I was able to access Twitter and participate in their #askagent forum.
Me: Are agents interested in futuristic sci-fi that is NOT dystopian?
JB: For kids or adults?
Me: Adults but I believe teens would enjoy it as well. Thanks!
JB: Not sure of the market for adult, I’m sorry to say. A genre I don’t rep.
MKH: Depends on the book, really. YA sf can be a tough sell with editors…often, but not always.
Me: I guess the inevitable question would be in this case, what isn’t a hard sell?
JB: In adult, thrillers, suspense, mystery, romance, but of course there are nuances.
So my general tweet was, “Participated in #askagent #asktba today. Asked what was selling? No one said fantasy or sci-fi. That’s discouraging…”
Of course this is just one agency’s opinion but it was enough to, as I said, be a bit discouraging. So as always, when faced with a conundrum, I did some research. I started. By the way, I also asked about Young Adult Heroic Fantasy but I’m still waiting for an answer.
So I hopped on over to the Manuscript Wish List site and looked up fantasy. There are several lists like this but this one is at the top of the list. Oh, yes and this is agents only, not editors, since most don’t accept unsolicited anymore. I hope they don’t mind me providing this information here but since it’s the agents saying what they’d like it may be useful.
Laura Crockett of TriadaUS is looking for, “Great storytelling + parallel narratives (like Kate Morton) or lush, light fantasy writing (like Paula Brackston)” I looked up both and Ms. Brackston’s book is going on my TBR list. Both books seem to take place in what appears to be an alternate reality London in different time frames– as many seem to be doing lately, Ms. Morton’s is closer to modern day . Authors feel free to correct me here if I’m wrong.
Marlene Stringer of Stinger Literary only lists contemporary fantasy. As far as I’m aware, it’s where the fantastic is intermixed with the modern day world. Here’s Amazon’s list of Best Contemporary Fantasy.
Although some of these seem to be paranormal fantasy to me or maybe urban fantasy? So what’s the difference? They all seem to include the standard vampires (seriously, are they really still that popular?), werewolves (ditto) and sometimes zombies (eww, sorry I don’t think zombies are sexy, they are decomposing people, people!) and shapeshifters, which could actually still be filed under were’s.
Amazon’s Paranormal and Urban list are tied together and still seems to contain the same tropes.
You know, I actually remember (yes, I’m old!) when none of these offshoots were around. You had contemporary, literary, romance, mystery, science-fiction, fantasy and horror and that was it! I know, I know this gives readers and authors more variety, but still, sometimes…
But back to the subject at hand.
One agent, Lane Heymont of The Seymour Agency (who has my query for Tinderbox BTW) wants these according to his blog:
In Fantasy he asks for, “… Dark and gritty Contemporary in the vein of Chuck Wendig, but says no Urban Fantasy.”
I looked at Chuck Wendig’s site and his work seems along the lines of futuristic science-fiction and urban fantasy. Again, please feel free to correct me.
In Science Fiction: “Military science based in our world but no space opera.” I’m assuming futuristic. He also wants “horror elements” apparently along the lines of Halo, Aliens or Frankenstein. He continues with adult and hard or soft like Coherence and Carl Sagan’s Contact.
By the way he also states fantasy/paranormal romance with no vampires or werewolves. Bravo!
Maria Vincente of the PS Literary Agency actually does want both Fantasy and Magic Realism (so wouldn’t magic realism be the same as contemporary fantasy?) in both YA and Middle Grade.
Bridget Smith of Dunham Literary would like to see: “SFF (YA or adult) about sisters (born or fostered) who end up on opposite sides of a war.”
Hmm…come to think of it, so would I.
I only went back to the beginning of the month and only included certain listings.
I glanced at science-fiction. Laura Zats of Red Sofa wants, “Lighthearted Sci-fi for adults.”
Hmm…I’ll ask for examples and let everyone know what she says in my next musing.
So that’s all I’m going to do for now. Another case of doing a lot of writing and not even noticing.
I’ll do a bit more research and see what I come up with.
I’ve mentioned previously that I haven’t written as of late. I just haven’t felt like it, waiting for word from Tinderbox. I know that’s the absolute worst thing to do — not continuing to write that is. Have you ever had so much faith in a work that you don’t want to stick it into that awful box and start something new? That’s how I’m feeling right now.
As some of you may know, I graduated from college! The first person in my family. My Big Brother is so proud! Well then so am I! I was so antsy about not passing the last class that the stress levels were very high. And now I received the email today that my degree is on the way! Boo-Yah!! So that’s one less thing stressing me out.
I still haven’t heard about the promotion yet, although I did get the your application is still under consideration email. I was calm about it, now I’m climbing the walls again. Time for some deliciously fortified wine.
OK, so one stress inducer is gone, as for the second, there isn’t much I can do about it. And the third…
Well, I’ve mentioned the writing defeat I had which was about a decade and a half ago. I’d written a young adult book, the wrong publisher got their hands on it and everything went to hell in a hand basket. I got both good and bad reviews and a write-up in a major magazine, receiving a five star review when another more famous writer received a two-star for their first YA. But I simply haven’t been able to write like I used to since. Well I’m thinking it’s way past time that I stopped letting that incident control my muse but on the other hand…it’s hard to kick those feelings to the curb.
While I await word on Tinderbox I’ve wondered, should I have a go at that YA again? I’ve been doing research into what YA’s read. It all seems to be dystopian and futuristic, which quite frankly I think is being played out (no offense intended) and that’s not what I want to write. I noticed quite a few that followed the path of The Hunger Games and Divergent — places where the world is divided into four or more sections and someone is trying to change the balance of power — usually a young girl.
Mine is a good old fashioned YA heroic fantasy along the lines of the works of Tamora Pierce (whom I incidentally must start reading again, it’s been too long!) and authors with a similar style. I’ve seen a few books like it but not many.
I would have to do extensive rewrites and major changes even right down to the character names. And I’m still a bit antsy about doing that. Also that science-fiction idea keeps trying to force its way out of my brain and onto my keyboard.
I’m not going to go back to school for my Bachelors until this fall so I have a good six months to myself.
But as the title suggests — can I really go back? Can I really make the tale into something exciting? I’ve got eleven years of additional practice and experience since then. I’d like to think I’ve improved. Hell, I KNOW I’ve improved by leaps and bounds if you’ll pardon the cliche. Whenever I think of it there’s that annoying nagging doubt.
So I’m not sure what I want to do right now, Any thoughts?