Monday, February 28, 2011

I Made My Mother Cry!

I realize the title of this blog sounds like a bad thing. But in this case, it isn’t. In fact, it’s exactly what I set out to do.

When I sent my book out to Beta readers, I included my mother and sister. Both have been reading Romance for years, but neither knows the first thing about plotting, motivation, or character development. Let’s just say, whatever writing talent I have does not run in the family.

To my relief, they both loved it. In fact, my mom cried at the ending. Mission accomplished!

You see, that’s what I set out to do. I want the reader to laugh, cry, and finish with a sigh. I realize the reader being my mother means she’d probably love it no matter what, but I’ll take any positive reinforcement I can get.

Especially considering the next phase of this writing journey could result in me crying. I spent the weekend researching agents and writing my query letter. I have a deadline of sending my first query no later than today, March 1. I’m only hoping I’ll be able to pull the trigger, so to speak, when the time comes to hit “send”.

But all this research can be daunting. First of all, most of these agents are better educated and, no shocker, much more well-read than I am. When they detail what kind of books they want, it’s not “a book that will make me smile and sigh.” Essentially, they want books that are going to change the world.

The problem is, I’m not writing to change the world. I’m writing to entertain. I guess it would be nice if my books make a reader think - about her relationships, her choices, or even how she sees herself. But in the grand scheme of things, I just want her to enjoy a few hours with my characters, feel better about her day, and believe the H/H really do live happily ever after.

Does that mean I’m wasting my time? Does that mean my books aren’t high-falutin’ enough? Am I aiming too low or expecting too much? You tell me. Why do you write the stories you do? And what do you want the reader to come away with once she reaches THE END?


2nd Chance said...

Books that will change the world...but those books are often the books that are just like what you wrote! Who defines the world? You do change a world when you make someone smile, or laugh, or cry. ;-)

You don't think you rocked your Mom's world? And you sister's? Suddenly they saw you as a writer and wow, what does that do to them?

It's the little things that make a difference. You just need to shift your perspective and trust that the right agent will see that shift also.

What do I want my reader to come away with? A sense that romance novels aren't just about the young and perky...


I wrote a statement for my podcast class that sorta says it all...I write erotic romance that reveals to the growing babyboomer population all that experience provides the best adventures!

And that is what I want my reader to see at the end of the book!

Quantum said...

You can try hard, don't mean a thing
Take it easy, easy, in the jive'n swing

Ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it
That's what gets results

Rubbish song, but with Ella Fitzgerald at the mike its stunning!

Terri you got style Lady.
Your book will get em rocking in the aisles!

I want to pre-order my copy now. :D

PJ said...

"But in the grand scheme of things, I just want her to enjoy a few hours with my characters, feel better about her day, and believe the H/H really do live happily ever after."

That sums it up for me, Terri. I want to get lost in the world of your imagination where I care about the characters and their journey, where I laugh with them, cry with them and sigh with joy at the end. Give me that in a well-written, smoothly flowing story and I'm a happy camper.

Looking forward to the day when I can join *your* characters on their journey to love!

Bosun said...

Chance - First I was worried because my characters weren't saving the world, not I'm not changing it. Clearly, I'll find anything to worry about. LOL!

I think they do see me as a writer now. Though it was a little creepy when I asked my mom about the sex scenes and she said, "They were great, it's like I was there." It helps that my family talks about sex like most people discuss the weather.

Bosun said...

Q - I love that song! And you're so right. Thanks for all your support. You'll have a special signed copy in the mail the moment it's available!

PJ - I look forward to that day too! I'm still working on the "well-written, smoothly flowing" part, but I think I'm close. Thanks for all your support too. And the chocolates. :)

Donna said...

Terri, congrats on making your mom cry. :) I don't think books have to be world-changing. If it can change somebody's day, that's enough. In fact, that's what I have as a goal with my books, and it's on my About Me page:

They are stories designed to make a reader laugh and fall in love and forget what a horrible day they had. I like to think of them as fairy tales that could come true.

I used to read a lot of mysteries and then when my mom was dying I couldn't read about death (obviously!) So I switched to romances, and there were plenty of authors who made me forget how hard life was then, and I'd love to return the favor. :)

So don't downplay what it is you can accomplish with your stories. It does matter.

As for the agent research, I highly recommend You can see what agents are looking for, if they're open to submissions, AND comments from other queriers. It's free, and it keeps all the info in one spot. I didn't use it for the first two books I queried, but I did the last time, and I met with success. :)

Fingers crossed for you!

Bosun said...

Donna - That's exactly it. When a reader has a bad day, I want her to pick up my book and smile and forget the stress and frustration. Even if for just an hour. Romance novels literally got me through high school alive. You're right, it would be wonderful to do that for someone else.

I think I am signed up on QueryTracker, but I haven't taken the time to figure out how it works. I'll see if I can steal some time to bounce around over there today.

Hellion said...

I want my readers to laugh. To imagine the What If with me and go "Yeah, it could have happened that way." To go, "Damn, that girl's got balls." Or best of all, I want readers to feel like I do when I read an Eloisa James or Elizabeth Hoyt book: "It's over? When can I get another one?"

I get more antsy if people didn't laugh at my favorite jokes I wrote than anything. *LOL*

Though I'm sure if I do have a sad part in my stories, I do get a sort of sadistic glee at getting responses from my readers that they cried. "You did? Oh that's WONDERFUL!"

Bosun said...

I do appreciate that people have found humor in the book, though that's the part that takes the least effort. LOL! Turns out, being a sarcastic smart-ass your entire life DOES pay off eventually. :)

I like "Damn, that girl's got balls." That would be a great compliment. LOL!

Hellion said...

I subscribe to the other theory. Comedy is hard; tragedy is easy. *LOL*

Bosun said...

That's just it, I'm not shooting for comedy, it just happens. So I'm not saying it's easy, but it's not something I struggle to create. Anything I'm not struggling to create is a bonus in my book, no pun intended. ;)

Marnee said...

That's awesome about your Mom, Ter! :) Though I feel bad saying I'm happy your mom cried too.... :)

I agree with everyone else. I just want to escape the rough patches of my day for a few hours. At the end I want to go, Ahhhh and smile and put the book down and go back to wiping noses and scrubbing toilets and having pointless battles of wits with my preschooler.

I think that what you've done is the ticket. The point. The reason we do what we do. :) Now.... Get that work out into the world!! :)

(I'm kinda just kidding. I remember how terrifying it was to send my first query letter. Now, some 30+ rejections later, it's not so scary. But then it was scary.)

Bosun said...

I have a confession, Marn. To be honest, I almost hope they reject me immediately. Because it's going to be MUCH harder if someone actually requests pages. Somehow, having my idea rejected, means they just don't like the idea. But having my pages rejected, that's going to sting. A lot.

So I hope someone shows interest and asks for pages, but then I don't. LOL! This seriously feels like venturing onto a tightrope without a net. SCARY.

Marnee said...

Bo'sun - I don't know which was worse, honestly. With this last MS, I got three full requests and two partials. At least when they rejected the pages, most of the time they gave me feedback. Most of the time.

I kind of thought of it like the dating market. You know when you're rejected outwardly at the bar? Like the guy just looks over ya and doesn't even give you a chance? That was the form rejection. But when they requested, it was like a first date. And on dates there might be different kinds of rejections. There's the, "I really liked you but you remind me of someone else." And there's the, "This had a lot of potential but ultimately no chemistry." (um, ouch.) Then there was the straight, "I'm just not that into you."

Sometimes, depending on the agent, the "breakup" was easier than others. It all depended how they handled it.

Marnee said...

Now that I think about it, maybe you're right. Maybe the requests stung worse. But I was just so happy to have them request, I didn't really think about it that way at the time.

Bosun said...

Ugh. I can't think of this like dating. I'll be bitter by Thursday.

Good analogy though. Painful and depressing, but good.

Hellion said...

The dating analogy is so apt. *LOL*

Janga said...

Oh, I like the dating analogy! For one thing, it makes clear how ridiculous the common advice not to take the rejection personally is. Each time I see the name of one of the agents who rejected my ms., I get this little pin prick of awareness that reminds me of the rejection, and it feels personal.

Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours, did an op-ed piece for The New York Times this past fall in which he talks about what a reader needs in a book: "absorption, emotion, momentum and the sense of being transported from the world in which she live[s] and transplanted into another one." I think that's what most of us want to give our readers, regardless of the genre we write. Moving your mother to tears is something to be proud of, Ter. :)

2nd Chance said...

It does sound odd to celebrate bringing someone to tears. I know when my agent said I'd made her cry...I laughed. I couldn't figure out how it read that sad! But I was also pleased.

I do tend to wonder at that change the world stuff. I mean, change whose world? They sign you, it changes your world... It sells well, it changes their world...

Hellion said...

For one thing, it makes clear how ridiculous the common advice not to take the rejection personally is. Each time I see the name of one of the agents who rejected my ms., I get this little pin prick of awareness that reminds me of the rejection, and it feels personal.

Too true. And what's funny is that so often in dating, you're told not to take it personal if the date doesn't work out. *LOL*

Bosun said...

Sorry, had to take some office guests out to lunch and it took FOREVER!

The dating analogy really is perfect. The "It's not you, it's me" when the agent just doesn't think s/he's right for the book. The "I like you but I dated someone like you last month and it didn't work" for when they're already repping something similar to yours. And let's not forget the "I want fireworks and you're only giving me sparklers" one. Which is just insulting, let's be honest.

I think I'll be okay accepting rejection and moving on...eventually. Maybe. I'm not sure, but I'm going to tell myself I will be or else I'll never hit send on these damn emails.

2nd Chance said...

I don't think one can help but take rejections personally. The same with contest comments. Our writing is something personal! But I think we learn to put it all in perspective and accept the usually, really, what someone says is exactly what they feel.

You want an agent that finds your book fabulous. Not one that says they like it. You want one that says they love it. Same with a husband. "Well, I like you so let's give it a go." Nope.

It's so much easier to have a level of committment toward working together if the agent/editor loves your stuff.

Now, contests? Not so much. Why? Well, too often judges aren't pros. It still stings though!

Quantum said...

I may have related this story before but it seems particularly appropriate now, *grin*

It concerns two Welsh ladies(very emotional race!) overheard chatting as they left the cinema.
"What a wonderful story Blodwen look you. I cried all the way through."

Your mum sobbing augers well for sales Terri .... if she's Welsh that is. :lol:

Bosun said...

Chance - That reminds me the GH results come out this month. Something else for me to stress about. LOL!

Q - I don't believe my mum is Welsh. Have any stories regarding Germans?

Maria Zannini said...

Agents are always looking for the next big thing because they want to make money. But you know, as a reader, I'm not that impressed with whatever the world is going gaga over on any given day.

I just want a good story. One that makes me sigh and laugh and sometimes cry.

Bosun said...

Maria - You are my target! Thanks for chiming in. I get that the agents have to make money. When push comes to shove, I wouldn't mind making money either. ;)