Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stuff & a Big Thing

I have a few random things to tell you about, and lucky for me it's Tuesday! Since Janna isn't posting today, I'm stealing her Stuff & Things again.


I dove into my query letter yesterday (talk about papercuts!) and so far it's going okay. If you consider lots of single sentences and phrases double-spaced down the page okay. I do have my description paragraph started but so far it's pretty boring, imo.

I did spend a fair amount of time digging through the various agent blogs I frequent, perusing their old posts on queries. Nathan Bransford (of course) has 87 posts labeled "query" so I started there, plus I checkout with Bookends (they've actually been reviewing current clients' actual query letters - worth a look), Rachelle Gardner, and Kristin Nelson. Today I plan to hit up Janet Reid finish Nathan's archives.

Aside from AW, is there another source you think I should check out?


I'm currently reading Grammar Girl's Quick & Dirty Tips by Mignon Fogarty, and while it's making me feel like a complete nerd, I'm reveling in my nerdiness. I know I love grammar, and grammar humor makes me laugh like little else.

Here are a few excerpts I read last night:

When discussing pronoun usage - If it helps, you can remember that Jessica Simpson's song "Between You and I" is wrong. I don't have anything against her. If remembering that her song is wrong helps you remember the rule, she's done a service to the world.

It is I vs. It is me - Now the problem is that 90 percent of you are almost certainly thinking, "That all sounds really weird. Is she serious?" Well, yes, I'm serious, and that is the traditional rule, but fortunately most grammarians forgive you for not following the rule because it sounds stilted and fussy, even to us. So if you're the kind of person who prefers to be proper, it's fine to say, "That is I," and if you prefer to be more casual, it's fine to say, "That is me."

On splitting infinitives - I consider it my calling to dispel the myth that it's against the rules to split infinitives. It's fine to split infinitives, and sometimes, I split them when I don't have to just to maliciously make a point. Yeah, that's my idea of fun! I know it may come as a surprise, but Grammar Girl isn't that adventurous.

I just love her voice and strongly recommend this book if you need a grammar refresher. She's covered every possible issue I could think of, including a few I forgot about until I came across them on the page, and her voice makes what's sometimes a dull subject extremely accessible.


Finally, Barack will be president in just a couple more hours! We've had CNN on since I woke up an hour ago (Ibis had it on long before that) and I'm watching for my friends who are there. A few days ago I read an article discussing how Barack is more than just our new president, he's like a rock star. He's got that cool factor. I believed it when Ibis exclaimed, "there he is!" and I whipped my head from the computer to see him and Michelle walking from "The Beast" to the church. I normally only do that for celebrities.

Words can't express the joy I feel for our country, the hope I have that things will start to get better, and the relief that it's HIM that will be the one leading us on.

Our President. :)


Janna Qualman said...

It might not be time yet (though you may have already been there), but you'll def have to pull up agentquery.com.

I'm ready for change in our country. But while Obama talks the talk, he has a lot to prove. Here's to change!

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, right! I think I went there briefly but since I wasn't querying, didn't stay long. I'll be sure to add that to my list.

Ibis and I were talking this morning and I'm glad Barack is the one who will have to deal with the economic crisis because he doesn't come from a wealthy family. I can just see someone like Cheney telling us to "tighten our belts and it'll pass" but not fixing the problem.

I wish him luck. :)

Jenna said...

Noah Lukeman has a free e-book on writing queries you can get on Amazon.

Check out the Miss Snark archives.

And, don't forget Janet Reid's Query Shark.

I'm with Janna. Of course we need a change in this country but only time will tell if he can keep all his promises. If you ask me, such a show of excess today is a step in the wrong direction in this time of economic crisis. We need a leader who can lead by example not a rock star who can put on a good show.

Janna Qualman said...

I'm SO on board with what Jenna said re: Obama. *high five*

Robin said...

Wow! I'm shocked you wrote about anything other than the inauguration. I thought you'd be squee'ing like crazy over here!

I'll look in my shelf, but I'm pretty sure I used a book called "writing the perfect query". I think the idea of reading current clients' queries sounds really helpful.

Turkey Lurkey said...

My father called this morning and we watched it together. He's been to DC and said that he was amazed by the turnout. It was a wonderful experience that I enjoyed sharing with my munchkins.

Melanie Avila said...

Jenna, Ill check out Lukeman's book. I've already read his "The First Five Pages" and liked that. Good call on Ms. Snark & QueryShark is next on my list.

I hear you on the "rock star" label, but it makes me happy to see so many people excited about our country. For most of my life, people have seemed very apathetic and it's encouraging to see their enthusiasm.

Melanie Avila said...

Robin, I'm squeeing! I actually had to curb my desire to include that word in the post. ;)

The agents' posts on their clients have been helpful, but a lot of them were referred so their openings are a little different from what I'll need to do.

Melanie Avila said...

Turkey, I was in the mall for the 4th of July on year and THAT was insane. They're saying this was the largest gathering ever (I think) - unbelievable! My dad is here now so we've been watching it together.

Janna Qualman said...

I wanted to come back and apologize, Mel. Not for my views, but that it seemed for a half-second I was trying to overrun your comments. ;)

Robin said...

(He Robin) Can't help you on the query thing since I'm not a writer and have no idea what you're talking about.

But on the Obama thing. Even though I didn't vote for him and am sceptical of whether or not he can keep his promises, he must already be working on global warming because it's 20 degrees colder here today than yesterday.

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, you're not! The only reason I didn't respond to your second comment is I was worried about coming off as argumentative, which I'm not trying to be. Express away!

Melanie Avila said...

Robin, the funniest comment I saw on Facebook after the speeches was: does anyone feel a change yet?


Jen said...

You've already gotten some good advice re: query research, but I'll add another:

Kate Schafer Testerman. She was live-blogging her queries last week, and it was interesting to see what kinds of mistakes people were making. She doesn't (I don't think, but I could be wrong) rep the genre you're in, but I still think it's instructive, not to mention interesting.

Good luck with the query!

Melanie Avila said...

So Jen, does that mean you know what genre I'm in? Do tell!

All kidding aside, I'll check her out - thanks! I thought I had this stuff all figured out and when I went to start last night, my mind went blank.

spyscribbler said...

Did someone mention Miss Snark yet? She's the queen of query! :-)

I've been in tears all day. What a day! I LOVED his speech. I pray he lives it and leads it.

Melanie Avila said...

Spy, would you believe I somehow missed the era of Miss Snark and have only been to her site once? I'll be sure to check out her archives.

I teared up when he first came onstage, but I've been ok since then. :)

Jen said...

Hey, Mel! Like I dork, I checked her blog after I posted my response to you, (D'oh, shoulda done that first!)and guess what?

She does rep your genre, Miss Smarty pants! Go take a looksee if you get a chance, and I absolutely insist you check out the Snark-ives!

Melanie Avila said...

Oh cool! But you still didn't tell me what genre I am! :)

WendyCinNYC said...

I posted my query in SYW on AW. If you are thick-skinned enough, they can help tremendously.

Melanie Avila said...

Wendy, I do plan to post it there, but not until I think it rocks! I know they can be rough. :)

Janet said...

If you've been reading a bunch of agent blogs, you'll catch on pretty quick that Lukeman is not in the mainstream on a few things. So take his advice with a grain of salt, unless of course you're querying him.

Looks like you're going to get to querying faster than me.

Melanie Avila said...

Janet, I'll keep that in mind, thanks. I'm not ready to query, I just figured I'd take this time between drafts to get it started. I figure I have at least one more draft to go, hopefully no more than that. I'm still hoping to send queries in February!