Yep! If you don't know who that amazing guy is, you'd better click his link and follow. RIGHT NOW! You hear? Or I'll give you all hand (or arse) slaps! Yes, that's how I spell it. Not ass, the Australian buttocks ain't no donkey folks. *background mutters*
Right. What? You don't know who he is? Ok. That's it. Bend over. Nope. Don't you walk away from me. I'm going to count to three, and if you haven't clicked his link and followed, you ain't gonna know what's hit ya. Oh? What's that? You're now following? That's what I like to hear. Now read the interview ...
What inspired you to post your failed queries on a blog for the entire blogosphere to see? And were you apprehensive about it?
I actually watched that movie, Julie & Julia, about the girl who started blogging every day as she made one of Julia Child’s recipes. It was a fun, silly movie but it inspired me to try my hand at blogging. It wasn’t until a few days later that I decided to post my failed queries. I was really fed up with querying and writing and all of it at the time and I figured well, maybe I can help some other writers out, and if it works maybe I’ll meet some people that will inspire me again or help me hone my craft.
I had originally planned on posting a failed query every day until they were gone, kind of like Julie did in the movie with the recipes, but I gave up on that pretty quickly.
2. How much time every day do you spend blogging? Do you find it eats into your writing time? If so, how do you deal with that?
Well, some posts take much longer than others. Guest posts and ones that are based on failed queries are pretty easy because the majority is already written. Posts like Monday’s Sushi post take a long time. I really have no idea how long I spend reading and commenting but that also differs a great deal. I read between 50 and 100 blogs a day and I try to comment on as many as I can but lately doing my job while at work has taken over that a bit.
On the one hand blogging takes away a lot of my writing time. On the other hand I had pretty much given up on writing before I started blogging so I wasn’t writing at all. In that sense I guess it has sort of increased my writing time in a roundabout way.
3. How did it make you feel after being received with so much enthusiasm?
Umm … ecstatic? Okay maybe not that excited but I am quite proud and a bit flattered by how much positive response I have received. I mean since I’ve started my blog I now correspond almost daily with actual published authors. I’ve also met some writers with whom I’m starting a critique group – which is probably going to make a huge difference for my writing.
It’s really amazing. I mean I was very nervous and embarrassed about doing this at first but the reactions have all been wonderful. Even the Queen of Writing Blogs, Elana Johnson has asked me if she can link to my blog in her e-book From the Query to the Call. How awesome is that?
I think the things that people love the most are the Friday guest posts with the real life examples of successful queries. That’s what I love the most too. The failed queries are cool. They can be funny, or even cathartic at times but even though they are helpful I don’t think they assist people as much as the positive examples. I especially love reading the correspondence between an agent and writer. I imagine the initiation of that kind of relationship must be a wonderful thing.
4. What inspired you to write a novel?
Well I have always wanted to write a novel. I used to write everything all the time when I was in school, and I actually did get sent to a reform school a little like the one in my story, minus the magic and martial arts. So I guess what happened was one day a few years ago I was wondering what would have happened if that school I went to had been really awesome? Like magical and bad ass and everything.
Then I heard an interview on NPR with an author whose name I cannot remember for the life of me. I think it was on “Between the Line” with Valerie Jackson, but I could be wrong. Anyway the interviewer asked the author “what would your advice be for someone who wants to become an author?”
The author answered “just write”. So I did.
6. How long have you been querying your novel?
Well I finished the first draft in April of 2009. Then I revised it incredibly insufficiently a few times and started querying very prematurely. This lasted for about six months, finally getting a few requests after clumsily blundering my way through the query gauntlet for ages.
When 3 of the requests came back with replies along the lines of “you’re writing is good, I like the voice, there is much to admire here, but I simply cannot consider a manuscript of this size” I realized I needed to make some changes. I stepped away from the whole thing for a few months, slowly editing for length. After trimming the manuscript to 300,000 words (no that is not a typo) I decided to re-write it into a first person perspective. It’s slow going so far but it already looks like it will be a big help in reducing that word count.
That was a long answer but basically I spent six months querying before I should have and now I am not currently querying because I am deep in revision.
7. How do you handle rejection? Are you really as calm about it as you portray on your blog?
Hah! Honestly yes and no. If you look back at some of the really old failed query posts you will see I really let it get to me once or twice. There is one called “First the Worst” where I made the worst mistake you can make while querying and let my hurt and anger get to me. Even in that instance though I still learned a lot.
I think it’s because of experiences like that and the nature of putting all my failed attempts out there for everyone to see that I am able to not take it as personally anymore. Then again once I spend a lot more time on my novel and start querying again it’s still going to hurt. But now I hope I’ll be able to think about rejections as just another part of the process. You have to fall down once or twice before you really learn to ride your bike.
8. Can you tell us a little more about your novel than what is revealed in your queries? For example, a little about your characters, and how they evolved, what sparked your initial idea, and how you finally decided what genre it was? Did you have to make a lot of changes for it to fit into that particular genre?
I knew from the get go that I wanted to write young adult. I mean it fit the idea perfectly because I was that age when I had this experience in my own life so it made sense. The main character is only very loosely based on me. He goes through some of the same stuff I went through, but he is much cooler and more skilled than I am (was).
There is a pretty fun, ensemble cast of other students who go to school with Lee. There is a minor romantic subplot and some rivalry of the type that we all experienced in high School, but there are too many other kids to go into here.
9. Are you working on another project at the moment? If so, could you tell us a little about that? If not, have you got any ideas looming?
I am not writing any other novels currently but I do envision WARRIOR-MONKS as part of a trilogy or series and I have a very thin outline in mind for the second novel. I don’t intend to start writing it until I am truly done with this one.
I do occasionally write other things just to exercise my mind. I have a piece of flash fiction that I wrote for Ink over at Alchemy of Writing. It should be going up on his blog within the next few weeks.
10. What are your writing career hopes? What do you consider to be a successful writer?
If you can write and earn enough from writing to support yourself I think that is wonderful. I also know it is very rare so as far as I’m concerned I would consider being published at all a success. I would love to be able to quit my day job but dreaming didn’t help me very much when I was querying so I try not to do that when it comes to writing (anymore).
11. Would you be willing to share a little about what you do when you are not writing? For example, what’s your day job; hobbies?
God, my day job is so dreary. I am a lead Technical Support Coordinator of a help desk. I am essentially the assistant manager of a team of ten who do commercial computer support over the phone. Before you ask me if I can fix your computer it’s not like that. We support servers and commercial installations and we have techs in the field who do the hard part. As much as I abhor my position I love having a job and being able to pay my bills.
Something fun about me is that I used to own a small independent record label when I was in my twenties. Actually I only owned half of it. My partner was the musical talent and I ran the business side of things. We produced hip-hop records and released them on 12” vinyl. It was loads of fun and we did make some money but it was not enough to be a career.
12. Is there anything else that you would like to share with us that I haven’t covered in my questions?
Boy I don’t know … I like beer. I enjoy cooking. I read for fun *gasp*.
Bonus questions for comic relief:
Have you ever inspected the contents of your used toilet paper before flushing it down the loo?
First of all can I just say that I love British/Aussie/Kiwi accents? They can make anything sound polite.
Now, no I have not done this but when I was in boarding school there was a guy in the dorm who would always make us come and review his … business. One time the log he had left in the porcelain was as big as a baby’s arm!
(Hi! This is me, AA, or Jessica, or that chick that is supposed to alliterate all the time but has for some reason stopped, or whatever you want to call me. I just have to add here, that I was umming and ahhing for ages about whether I should ask Matt this question. I was thinking: 'Will he take offence? Will he think I'm nuts and never speak to me again? Will he think I'm disgusting / repulsive / demented?' Well, he didn't, and I say good on him! You all know we Aussies have an odd sense of humour right? Matt's so cool coz he had about 10 bonus questions to choose from and he chose the most disgusting one to answer. Gotta love him!)
Have you ever had a girlfriend who made off with your clothes and left you standing naked in a public place?
No, but I did get caught getting personal in the hot tub with my High School girlfriend, by her dad, at his house!
Have you ever eaten a stranger's leftovers during your struggling student days?
Yep. I actually ran away from home once when I was a teen, and I got a job as a dishwasher for cash, under the table. I sometimes took people’s leftovers home with me.
There you have it folks. Now go over to his blog and comment on it. Tell him how much you love him. If you don't ... yeah .. you get the picture, right?
Don't forget about my contest. Only THREE more followers to go! Check out yesterday's post to enter.
Don't forget about my contest. Only THREE more followers to go! Check out yesterday's post to enter.