Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Contract

This afternoon, I got the e-mail that all authors dream of. A publisher likes my stuff enough to want to publish it. Here is the e-mail:

Dear Sirena Robinson,
At PDMI we want to congratulate you on your book entitled "DEVIL'S DILEMMA". We love to acknowledge talent when we see it. Therefore, PDMI Publishing would be honored to take on your manuscript. If you are interested in this offer, we will need the following information as listed below to process the agreement between you and PDMI. Please respond to this message within 14 days.
I think I read it a dozen time before it sank in. I had an advantage in that I was referred to this publisher by a friend of mine who is published through them, and she had spoken to them about my work before I queried. However, I still submitted a query letter, sample chapters, and then a full, just like anyone else. 
Today is overwhelming. I feel like a kid at Christmas. I'm happy, and excited, and overwhelmed. People are going to read what I write! -- The emotions that go along with that statement are elation and paralyzing fear, in equal measures. 
On one hand, I know I'm prepared. This book has been fully edited twice by me and by three separate people. It has been test read by eight people, whom have all given me feedback that is both very useful and encouraging. 
I've also had a couple bad reviews, from a person who decided to tell me I needed to rewrite the whole thing after reading two chapters and who had the ego to think I would do so, solely on their say so, and one person who refused to read past the prologue because they said my writing was "painful".
I survived them, and while I have my personal thoughts about each, I didn't stop writing or dissolve into tears. I can take criticism. 
Ultimately, it boils down to this. Someone likes my writing well enough to want to spend money publishing it. That is humbling and thrilling. I am honored to have people read what I write, and I can only hope that they get 1/10th the joy out of reading it that I got out of writing it.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Keeping it Even

I am very nearly done with the second novel in the series I am writing. All signs point to it being quite a bit shorter than the first, to the tune of 10-15,000 words. My betas assure me that a novel should be as long as it needs to be and that it's going to be fine. My OCD disagrees.

I want it even.

I don't think that means the exact same number of words, because that would be almost impossible to do, and to make a novel fit into some predetermined framework. That said, it's kinda hard to not have "Devil's Dilemma is 113,000 words and 32 chapters" constantly playing in my head as I work on Devil's Despair.

I think it's going to finish at around 100,000 words, which is long for a novel, and I think it may have 34ish chapters, but I'm not sure yet. We'll see. I'm on Chapter 30 now, and at the moment, they're averaging around 3,700 words per chapter, which is kinda long for me. If I keep up this rate, the book I was concerned would be too short, might be longer than the first!

It is concerning to me that every time I do something in Despair, I compare it to Dilemma. Is this as good? Are the characters as strong? Does this fit with what this character was like in the last? There are more of x scenes in this book than the last--is that okay or should I cut them?

Ultimately, all of this is because I want this book to be as good as, if not better than, the last. I want people to read the first and the continue reading this one. I don't want people who loved the first to feel cheated by the second, because it is a totally different feel to it. Where the first was dark and tragic, this one is about hope and fighting through. There are more characters that I'm focusing on, does that make it seem choppy? Or is it nice to have multiple POVs. I personally think that it keeps the story moving quickly and keeps it from dragging, but my readers might disagree.

With the second so close to being done, I can't help but think toward the third. The characters on which I will focus more than others in the third are two characters that I love, and whose stories I have been trying to tell for years. I hadn't ever found the right vehicle to tell it until now. I've had two books to develop one of those characters, and one book to develop the other. But still, I worry about it. How will they compare to the others? Will readers like them more or less?

I know I need to stop worrying and stop thinking about what other people will like. I write because if I didn't, my head would explode from an excess of ideas. That isn't good for anyone, least of all me. I've been writing for sixteen years and only recently started worrying about the people reading it. I think that's because until now, publication was just a dream, and now, it's very likely going to be reality, and that's both scary and exciting.

There's only one way to find out if what I've written in this second book is good or bad. Finish it, and send it to the betas. They won't hesitate to tell me if it's crap.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My Favorite Scene

I've been debating for a while on whether or not to post anything that I've written. The fact is, a lot of my family is on my Facebook, which is where I promote my blog, and I've struggled with how much they should read, if anything. One of my biggest fears is being judged for the words that pour from my imagination. I've spoken here about my worries about being though a bad Christian or a bad feminist because of my writing when I strive to be good at both of those things in my real life. I have family that is extremely judgmental and who I am sincerely afraid will never look at me the same after reading my novel, so I've made a huge effort to hide it all away and never let anyone see. That stops today.

Ultimately, I'm proud of what I've written, and I think it can stand against a lot of what is in bookstores. It was actually my mom who got me into reading, and reading is what made me want to write, so Mom, I'm your fault!

I was made fun of for scribbling in my notebooks in school. My friends loved it, and there were a few time I wrote a story as a birthday present for them. I've posted fanfic online that has gotten thousands of reviews, and yet I've never let anyone in my life, save my sister, read my stuff. How is it that I'm more comfortable being judged by thousands of strangers than I am by the people who love and support me?

No more. The thought still terrifies me, but I'm making a distinct effort to not be ashamed of my imagination or the words I put down on paper. They do not define me. They are not who I am, or what I would do. They're a story, and one I'm proud of having written. I'm not taking this journey to publication on my own, and it's not fair to continue to hide from my writing. So, without further ado, one of my favorite scenes from Devil's Dilemma.

           “They’ll find us. One way or another, I’m going to have to fight to get through this.” Griffin gasped, her arms braced on her knees and her hair hanging into her face.
            Gage nodded. “I’ve realized that myself. The chapel is the safest place, but also the place that we want to go with as little time left as possible. I think our best bet is to keep moving.” He studied her face. “If I say run, you run, and you don’t stop until you’re in that sanctuary. Then you do everything you know how to do to keep them out, and you put yourself in a salt circle. Do you understand?”
            “I understand.” She managed to straighten. “Should we leave the monastery? I can do this anywhere. It might be safer if we just run for the next half hour.”
            “There are demons all over the perimeter. We’d never get away unnoticed, and the last place I want to be with you in the last minutes is out in the open. Believe it or not, we’re safer in here than out there.” He took her arm and walked down the hall at a slower pace. He pressed her against the wall, peered around a corner, ducking back when he saw several demons walking down the hall. “Damn.”
            “Demons, half a dozen. Garden variety, but still a pain in the ass.” He went quiet and listened for a moment. “There are Familiars coming up behind us. We have to move, and quickly. Do you have a weapon?”
            Griffin removed a gun from the backpack and showed it to him. “Alaria left me this.”
            “It’ll work. Don’t be afraid to use it.”
            Together, they crept down the hall, then ran across it, trying to avoid the demons. They weren’t successful, and one saw Griffin duck through a door. The shouts behind them and the sound of many pairs of feet struck fear through both of them. Gage swore and pushed Griffin ahead of him. One glance over his shoulder told him the situation was dire.
            “Remember what I told you about running?”
            “Yeah, why?”
            “Do it! Run!” Gage shoved her hard and sent her flying down the hallway. He stopped, turned, and charged into the mass of demons and Familiars, fangs fully extended, his roar echoing through the entire floor. Griffin didn’t stop to watch the horror she knew would be unfolding. Instead, she swung down the stairs and ran as fast as she could.

Friday, May 3, 2013

My Query Letter

Here is my query letter. Let me know what you think!

Dear Mr/Ms Agent(Insert specific name),

Griffin Javensen was born to die--to save a world that sought to destroy her and for a God that had forsaken her.

Griffin is the Chosen, a representative of the human race who will make the ultimate sacrifice in order to preserve humanity and keep the world from ending. It all started the night she was ripped from her mother's body. One second earlier or later, and she'd have been fine. But she was born at the right time, in the right circumstances, and she is Chosen. It was all downhill from there.

She is tormented through ten events granted to Alaria, a Devil who has been placed as Lucifer's proxy and who has one foot in Hell and the other in Heaven. Alaria's job is to convince Griffin that God has abandoned her. If she can do that, there's a good chance Griffin will Choose Hell and demons will get to rule the world. There's only one problem: Alaria wants what only God can give her, and what only Griffin can ask for: her humanity.

On her 29th birthday, instead of cake and ice cream, Griffin celebrates with demons and hell hounds. After barely escaping alive, it becomes obvious that she needs protection. Dr. Allen Winslow, the doctor who has saved her life several times, also happens to be from Warrior lines. Who better to protect Griffin than the best Warrior alive?

Enter Braxton--a rough and tumble Warrior with a chip on his shoulder, who has been having visions of Griffin since he was four years old--and Gabriel--an Archangel determined to save the world, desperately in love with the one woman he should never have, and torn between playing by the rules and doing what is right. There is only one goal--survive to January 1st.

Griffin's duty is to offer her life as payment for the dubious privilege of being Chosen. The choice she has to make is simple: Heaven or Hell. Unfortunately, she is not simply choosing for herself. Her decision will determine the fate of humanity. As her time gets continuously shorter and the danger becomes more and more real, Braxton and Griffin make unlikely alliances and struggle with unstoppable emotions.

 As midnight rushes closer and the battle escalates, the question becomes not whether Griffin will Choose, but whether anyone else will survive to see dawn.

DEVIL'S DILEMMA is a fast-paced, 113,000 word Urban Fantasy that is dark and will keep you reading till the early hours of the morning.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sirena N. Robinson

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Three and counting. I've sent 17 query letters(not a lot, I know), and so far I have amassed three rejections. I have mixed feelings on these. My first was in seventeen minutes, the second in about four hours and the third in three minutes. I seriously think this may be going for a record on quickest rejections.

First for the bad. The three minute one tells me she didn't read the chapter they ask for in submission guidelines. Now, the good. I haven't gotten a form letter yet. I'm not sure how that's happened.

The first one addressed me by name, thanked me for my well written and clear query and said that she appreciated not having to wonder what my book was about or if my writing would be good or not, but that she is transitioning away from representing fantasy and therefore didn't feel she was the right agent. It didn't sting too bad.

The second told me that she enjoyed the chapters, thought they were well written and free of grammar errors, which is apparently a rarity. She then went on to say that she didn't love it enough to read it all. Again, not too painful.

My third one was last night. She thanked me for obviously having researched the agency and her and for making her want to read my book, but that she didn't feel she could do it justice, so she was going to pass.

In the grand scheme of things, I think this tells me that I'm on the right track and just haven't hit on the RIGHT person yet. Ultimately, my top two agents have not yet responded, but given that today is just a week from my first query, I think I've got a long way to go. I read somewhere about an author who sent 220 letters and got 4 requests. I don't know if I've got that much determination in me, but I'm pretty damn determined to get this book out there. I think it's worth reading, and I know it might sound cocky, but I'm damn sure it's good. So, I continue to query.

Any advice from anyone with an agent or publisher?