Category Archives: The Inbetween

News!

Finally news from the query-front after a long time of nothing: ANOTHER FULL MANUSCRIPT REQUEST!! I am stoked, especially because the agent didn’t just say “Please Send”, but added something like “I potentially love this” along with the request. Who knows what the timeframe will be, but I’ll keep you updated.

So far the query-battle looks like this:

  • Sent: 25
  • Rejections: 14
  • Partials: 1 (rejected)
  • Fulls: 2 (still waiting on response)
  • MIA: 11

Now… I have to go to class. But come back tomorrow for a taste of something super random that I started this weekend, currently entitled UNDERTAKING.

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Teaser Thursday

Tuesdays are teaser days usually, but this week Thursday will get the honor. In this scene, Sophie sees Mr. Green Eyes again… Enjoy!

[Teaser snipped]

PS: As of this weekend (hurray for vacations!) the sequel is about 1200 words long…

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Fleshing out? Flushing out?

I don’t remember which it is. But whatever it is, it’s something you do to your characters before (or maybe while) you draft your book. Briefly, let’s look at a couple ways to make your characters flesh and blood — breathing and thinking and living human beings.

1. Know his story: So during your novel, your character solves a bank robbery and falls for the bank robber. But what happens before the story? Don’t just go for the general, like the name of their hometown and highschool sweetheart. Know detailed scenes. Know their thoughts. Know their lives. Sophie, the main character of THE INBETWEEN, doesn’t just show up in Morrow, Oregon and plunge right into a new life. She carries a story: a life defined by playing the violin and performing with her brother. I don’t use all the details I know about her life in the book, but they still add depth to her character.

2. See the world through her eyes: Spend some time walking around town, going through the grocery store, or just doing daily things while thinking of your character. How would he or she describe your day to his/her friend? What details would they highlight? Leave out? Laugh about? What kinds of similes and metaphors would they use? In one of my earlier novels, Patricia (the main character) was a cook. She saw everything through a cooking lens, so she used food imagery. Sophie plays the violin, so she sees and hears music everywhere.

3. (This one might be weird to some of you. So prepare yourself. I promise I’m not crazy; a thousand other writers will vouch for me) … Talk to them: Yep. For the longest time I thought people who had ‘conversations’ with their characters were kind of bonkers, at least until I got to that level myself. It took about two years of writing, but I finally reached the spot where I knew my characters so well that they really, really felt real to me, as real as if they might walk into my room and say hi. Then they started saying things. Arguing. Short example: Patricia the cook was supposed to like her friend Ben and get together with him by the end of the book. But her other friend Reed would not settle for sidekick-status. He was so insistent that I did major surgery on the book and let him have his way. It’s actually a better draft. So listen to your characters. They often know what they’re talking about.

Mostly, although you do want to know your characters inside and out, don’t be afraid of being surprised. Characters might not do what you want them to and might not become the people you want them to become, but that’s okay. It’s kind of exciting, actually, because someone like Reed (whom I had characterized as slightly-nerdy-sidekick) will completely blow your mind by turning out to be the slightly-nerdy-boyfriend instead. Cool.

I also use this character chart sometimes when I’m first fleshing/flushing out (I think it’s fleshing, actually) a character. It’s a good tool, but don’t let it become a prison. Let your characters stretch its boundaries as you write.

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Teaser Tuesday

Agent update: agent #1 (who requested the exclusive partial) said no. So I’m sending to agent #2 (who requested the full). Somehow I wasn’t disappointed when I saw the email today. I’m getting better and better at not taking rejection personally, which is essential to this query process. If agent #1 wasn’t excited enough, agent #1 wouldn’t have been a good fit for me. Maybe agent #2 will be? We’ll see.

Also: that article about me comes out today… If anyone clicked through the link and is here for the first time, welcome! Cruise around and get acquainted with this place and my book, which is called THE INBETWEEN. You can read more about it here or read more about me here.

[Teaser snipped]

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Teaser Tuesday

It’s scorching down here, and let me tell you I am NOT a fan of slogging around in 90 degree humidity all day long. I’m seriously covered in sweat 24/7. Gross. I have also had no time to write or think or sit down (I wrote the following post last week), which is okay for now. College is fun (minus the boys below us whose music makes the floor vibrate).

Speaking of boys, you met Mr. Green Eyes last week. I like him a lot, but he isn’t in today’s excerpt. Setting: Sophie has just arrived at her aunt and uncle’s house in Morrow, Oregon.

Imagine a place that looks something like this...

Imagine a place that looks something like this...

I unlock the window latch, heave up the frame. Salty air races into the room, blows through my open duffel like a tornado. Something outside jingles and footsteps slap on pavement. I squint through fat raindrops.

The house across the street’s close enough to see the silhouette of someone in the upper floor window, a girl with hair just above her shoulders and a laptop. She drops the blinds.

Cause of me, or cause there’s someone wandering the cul-de-sac below us? The jingling sound sends tingles up the back of my neck. Jingling like bells and silver and bracelets.

A shadow crosses the street and the tingles hang around my hairline. This evening isn’t a dog-walking evening, plus the person doesn’t have a dog. One house’s motion light flicks on and lights up the shadow’s pale skin and skirt before she moves back into the rain.

Something slimy like intrigue coats my skin with sweat. That metallic sound clinks. And I think I hear a voice, an old woman’s voice, sort of trembly with age, saying —

“Come have, come have…”

The words are siren calls. All dizzy and clammy, I lean out the window. Rain pelts my forehead and I shove it out of my eyes. “Wait!”

“Come have…”

The call’s faint now, messed up by the sound of raindrops pinging on the roof.

“Come back,” I whisper. But the woman vanishes into the rain.

“That’s weird,” Luke says in my head. I cut him off. Yeah, it’s more than weird. I slam the window shut and the glass seems to shut out my fear, too. When I touch my forehead, it’s dry. Hot and dry, like I have a fever or something.

Weird.

I am weird. I talk to people who don’t even exist —

I turn on the desk lamp and dresser lamp and nightstand lamp, and the brightness banishes the quivery call from my mind. Sort of.

“Come have…”

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Re: Query

Once upon a time, I sent out eleven query letters for THE INBETWEEN. (That was last Thursday). Yesterday my rejection tally reached the sad, sad number four. Even sadder, the rejection I got yesterday was from an agent that I randomly chose to crush on, because she had a cool name, cool recs, and a cool agency. Apparently that’s as far as our relationship went.

Okay, I know that I am being slightly irrational. Maybe very irrational. I need to steel myself for piles and piles of rejections, and this might only be the beginning. But I feel like being sad, so today I’m going to analyze the…

THREE LEVELS OF REJECTION

…using war-torn, battle-stained rejections of my own. Ready, go.

1. OHHH BURN. These rejections are the worst. They start off like this:

Dear Author:

Thank you so much for sending in your query. We’d like to apologize for the impersonal nature of this rejection letter.

Can’t get much worse. The agent (yes, I know, agents are busy, but still) did not even type your name. This is a BIG NO.

2. OHHH WELL.

To Kirsten Rice,

Thank you for submitting to ___.

We greatly appreciate your submission, and have
given THIS BRIEF FREEDOM our careful
consideration. Unfortunately, your project is not
a good fit for us at this time.

We wish you the best of luck in finding an
enthusiastic agent and in your writing career.

Better. There’s a name — and also the name of the book (in this case my previous novel that is trunked for the moment. Hurray! It is also slightly consoling, although not really because the answer is still a BIG NO.

3. OOOOKAY.

Hi Kirsten,

Thanks again for letting me read This Brief Freedom. Your writing is really lovely, and I think you have a good concept here. Sadly, I had a hard time connecting with Rosalie, especially as she shifted so quickly from genteel young lady to crewman. While I’m going to have to pass on this novel, I’m sure you’ll find success with your writing. Please keep me in mind for future projects.

So this was a rejection after an initial FULL REQUEST (!!), so naturally it is more personalized. One time I did get a straight query rejection, though, that was personalized and quite encouraging, but I can’t find it. Anyway, this rejection has lots going for it: author name, name of the book, and some compliments AND suggestions to top it all off! Although this is still a NO, there is hope!

4. (I know I said three, but this is actually not a rejection…) OOOHHHH HURRAY!

Hi Kirsten,

Please send by email, thanks.

This one confused me, and I had to read it like five or ten times before I understood that it was a FULL REQUEST — and I screamed for a few minutes straight. Seriously, there is nothing like getting one of these. I got five or six for TBF and every time I just died of happiness. I mean, savor these words:

Kirsten,

Thanks for telling me about the book. I’d like to see if the writing engages me, so please send…

How awesome. How, how awesome. Too bad THE INBETWEEN has gotten four #1’s …

Update: as Stephanie pointed out in the comments, I should stop being so glum. Check out this brighter view of rejection at David Callinan’s blog, Tall Story.

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Teaser Tuesday

But first, an addendum to yesterday’s post.

When I went home with that friend, I told the lady who waxed my eyebrows that I usually pluck (note the word, pluck), and her response was, “Girl, you pluck chickens.” Apparently the correct word is tweeze. ‘Scuse my slip-up yesterday, I’m still getting used to tweezing.

[Teaser snipped.]

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