The Hopefuls: Day 1

Hi, friends!

Today, is Day 1 of The Hopefuls blog series. I’m kicking us off today and tomorrow and will be posting periodically in between guest posts.

But before we get into it, I first want to backtrack to my last post. I mentioned I had a new man. Yes, it’s true. Sorry, Nate. I have a new man…uscript. Oh, okay, fine. Not as juicy. But I’m excited about it. So I wanted to share. I have delved into the world of middle grade fiction and am slugging my way through. Any MG writers or authors out there, who think they can help me out, shoot me an email. I’m happy to critique back!

Onward!

The Hopefuls is an agented support group, for those of us whose journey from signing with agent to publication hasn’t exactly zipped right along. The message is: Look, this happens to a lot of people, it’s just not *talked* about by a lot of people.

We’ll have posts on all sorts of topics: how hard it is to work on something else while obsessing over submissions, concern over disappointing your agent, knowing when to start something new, tips on not going insane, perseverance and more.

If you are a writer and author with a post you’d like to share or even just a quick word of encouragement or advice, email me and I’ll include you. Feel free to remain anonymous.

As always, I can be reached at chandler1986 (at) gmail (dot) com.

You can follow posts in The Hopefuls series by clicking on the relevant category on the righthand sidebar.

Prizes:

Oh yes, I’ll be giving away prizes, of course.

1.)   I’ll give away one book or ARC that I think has a hopeful message for every 50 comments I get. The first book I’ll be giving away is Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. Each comment gives you an entry to win. I’ll use a random number generator to pick.

2.)   Because I don’t want to leave out the un-agented among us, I have something for y’all, too. I’ll be doing 2 query critiques for the commenters w/ the most points. You get 1 point per comment (of substance, please), 2 points for tweeting about The Hopefuls, and 3 for linking via your blog or website.

3.)   Other prizes will be announced as we go. But expect more critiques from other great writers as well. Points from #2 will count toward the new prizes as well.

Last logistical bit: If you would like to be included in The Hopefuls Support Group, email me or comment and I’ll email you. I’ll be setting up a group for agented writers to vent about the process and to help each other to ensure that the first offer does come sooner, rather than later.  This will probably be in the form of a listserv because I think that’s the easiest to keep up with, but suggestions are welcome.

The Hopefuls Day 1: My Story

I always, always loved the idea of being an author. That was about it, though. The idea of being an author. Beginning when I was 12 or so, I started a random array of books. I’d be surprised if I ever wrote more than 10 pages. Around 18-years-old, I realized that there may be a difference between loving books and wanting to write them. I decided I would stick to loving them, reading them, the end.

Then, my junior year of college, I started dating someone. We had known each other for a bit, were on the same sports team, and so had pretty much all the same friends. He was the captain of our team and I was just on it. I had this weird need to have something that was only mine. There was that and I had just heard about this thing called Nanowrimo. So, I’m not sure which came first—the wanting something of my own or hearing about Nano—maybe Nano was first and that’s how I justified. Anyway, with Nano you are expected to write 50k in a month. I thought it’d be one of those great stories, do it once in a lifetime, you’re only young once sort of thing. I did it and finished the 50k. Go me!

The writing bug went away for a bit, but I started feeling like I wanted to dabble. So, I wrote some short stuff the next semester. I started subbing at the end of the summer. Got a few little acceptances here and there.

I started reading Miss Snark. That’s when I decided I wanted to go all in. The writing community was just so cool. Publishing is one of those opaque, mysterious industries from the outside, I think. And I felt cool knowing a lot of insider info, through research, etc.

So, I decided to graduate college a semester early and write something. I wrote a book. I queried it too early. I got rejections. I started this blog. I got more rejections. Lots of requests, though. I was happy about that! I realized I actually really liked writing queries. Totally bizarre.

I got an idea for another book. I started writing it. Oops! This book should be a comic book, I realized. How cool was that? I researched comic books. I talked to comic book writers and artists. I did some random work with graphic novel organizations, etc. Wrote for a few people when I could for free. I then wrote my story idea as a graphic novel and found an artist.

In my head, I already knew that this idea was a winner. It had a great twist. I felt so much better about this idea. I queried about 16 agents. Meanwhile, I got an offer of representation on the first book. That agent wanted to rep the new book, too. Yay! But then I got 2 more offers of representation from two great agents.

I ended up going with an agent who wanted to represent the graphic novel. It was Dan Lazar at Writers House. Having him call me up when I wasn’t expecting was one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me. Ever! I signed with him, finished the script, and we started subbing in November.

We made it to acquisitions at a couple places, but lots of editors said: I love this story, but can we see it as a regular book maybe?

I wrote 80 pages of the story for Dan in a traditional novel format. He’d never seen my “prose” (for lack of a better word), but thankfully, he loved it! This was incredibly validating for me and I was thrilled.

We officially retired the graphic novel project in March. It was hard to realize that my first project didn’t make the cut, but ultimately, I feel like it is going to work out better in the long run.

Now, I’m writing my story in a whole new format. Many things have changed. The mythology, the setting, the character names. Graphic novels and traditional ones are two very different mediums and you can’t just translate one to the other in a lockstep approach. So, I’m trying to be flexible as I go, realizing it is the same story, but I also need to allow it to evolve. As I said earlier, I’ve also started a new book, a middle grade. Because when you’ve been working on the same story for a year, sometimes it’s good to let your brain cut its teeth on something new. To create again. So that’s where I’m at.

I thought agents were the gatekeepers and that after I tricked (just kidding) one in to signing me, everything would be downhill. Now, don’t get me wrong, the whole journey has been fantastic. I’m thrilled to have my agent as an advocate and I know it really hasn’t been that long. But, that’s why I need a support group and I seriously doubt I’m the only one.

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9 thoughts on “The Hopefuls: Day 1

  1. elae says:

    Where do I sign up for that support group? 😉 My graphic novel’s been on submission for a few months now, and I’d love to join up with others in that sticky, slow in-between stage! My email’s nikiATniki-smith.com

    Definitely looking forward to more Hopefuls posts.

  2. Karen says:

    Count me in for much-needed support! Though I admit to getting plenty in AW’s purgatory. Ha! My agent has had one of my novels on submission for 10 months now. Oy! The newest one has been out for a week and I have higher hopes for it. We’ll see.

    Good luck with your latest, Chan!

  3. CA says:

    Hey Chan! I’m in a hurry but I just wanted to let you know I enjoyed the first installment of your series, and can’t wait for the rest. Plus I love the prizes. I blogged about The Hopefuls before you posted this…does it still count as an entry?

    Smile,
    -Mandy

    • Liridona says:

      Gene, I agree with all of your points. I rllaey consider the mobile app market as a part of Web 2.0, which is moving past current browser functionality to rich internet apps. It is projected that the number of units in the combined iPhone/Android market will surpass the number of PCs this year. Google has already indicated all apps deliver first to mobile and 2nd to PC.First a few comments on the iPhone/Android space. I think Apple has entirely underestimated the barrier of learning it has with Objective-C. It has been fine as the iPhone platform ramped up, because enough developers jumped from OSX experience. But now you have apps that span Web, Windows, OSX, Linux, iPhone, iPad, and Android. Wasn’t a fragmented browser market enough? Google on the other hand has targeted Java/Linux, where there are an abundance of developers and maintaining at least some common code between deployments. The challenge for Google is achieving a high level of quality and integration on Android over multiple hardware vendors. So far it is looking good, and I predict Apple will have to respond with options other than Objective-C.Second is the iPad. Both from gathering comments from early adopters and my own user experience with the iPad, I’d say this thing is a new market. Especially around education. Students will likely carry around one of these with all their books on it, and apps specific to curriculum, and a wireless connection to TAs and instructors. It changes education. With a standalone dock, it also could open up markets like seniors who have been resistant to adoption of technology. It is a general device that specializes itself via apps. Very powerful. Yet Apple treats the iPad in many ways like a bigger iPad. How about a shared file system between apps. Some things like multi-tasking are on the way according to their iPhoneOS 4.0 announcement. But that is still evidence that they view the iPad and iPhone as one platform. Perhaps good technically, but I do hope they enable the iPad to be much more. Users will expect it.Thirdly, HTML5. Long overdue. Seriously needed to keep the browser from becoming a legacy platform. And when I say browser, I do mean browsers. HTML5 needs to consolidate all the browsers into a single environment. It needs to foster RIAs. It needs to enable information push to the browser. And it needs to reduce/eliminate browser plugin dependencies. The problem that could happen is that the market is so hungry for HTML5 features that they are adopted and implemented in pieces and it becomes difficult to solidify as a standard that every browser implements. We already have a fragmented browser market, so much so, that many or most enterprises force the use of one browser, one OS, and everything gets targeted to that. I do hope HTML5 is entirely successful. We need it to move forward with software and information technology.Lastly, I’d like to say that I find it very disconcerting that the current mobile platforms have no means of publishing to the web. If I build an iPhone, iPad, or Android app … I should be able to just publish it to the web as a Web 2.0 application. I don’t care if this is done via a plugin, an applet, a flash app, or whatever. But if mobile apps are going to become the most targeted apps, then the extra step should be taken to enable pervasive informational applications that also include web users in a browser, on a PC. Might be a transitional thing, but access to information is the goal. Not every mobile app will want this, but many will. The mobile vendor that makes some form of their simulators available as a general purpose plugin, or some way of surfacing apps for their platform via Web 2.0 might just take and keep the lead. And it seems that Adobe has done this, if Apple would let it surface. Why shouldn’t apps generated from Adobe’s Flex be judged on an individual basis, just like every other app in the Apple App Store? If it’s good enough it’s in, if not it is out. I’m buying Apple’s arguments less and less.

  4. Dennis says:

    Wish I had more time to read more if I had time to finish some of the writing projects I have been telling people about then I would have to leave my job for sure.

  5. Dara says:

    What a great story! I love reading about a writer’s journey because they’re all so different and interesting.

    Even though I’m currently un-agented, I do agree with you about “cutting your teeth” on something new. After having worked on my one novel off and on for three years, I needed to venture into something new too!

    I think this whole Hopefuls Support Group is such a great idea too!

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