Gary Hurtubise

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Tag: agent queries

UPDATE: Darksea Has been Shortlisted!

When it rains it pours!

Not 48 hours after I discovered that my fantasy novel Darksea was named a finalist for the 2016 OZMA Awards, I received word that it has now made it to the shortlist!

I’m still sort of reeling from the first bit of news.  I think it’ll take a few days for this latest bit to settle in.

Regardless of what comes next, I feel like I have some real writing ‘cred’ now… guess it’s time to get back to some agent queries!

In the meantime, gotta decide if we’ll be making a trip to the Chanticleer Authors Conference and Awards Gala in Bellingham, Washington at the end of March!

 

 

My Fantasy Novel is a Finalist for the OZMA Awards!

You know when you’re out shopping and you come across the perfect gift for a loved one… but it’s no where close to their birthday, and Christmas is still many months away?  So what do you do?  Well, you buy it, and store it away for that special day.  And then promptly forget about it.

 

Or how about when you take time to book a winter vacation to some balmy, tropical paradise months in advance, briefly imagining the fun and the sun and the <hic>… well, whatever else you imagine might happen as your finger hovers over the ‘Purchase’ button (wincing slightly at what your VISA statement will look like next month)?  Then the cruel weight of the real world descends back onto your shoulders and the warm, gentle glow infusing you from having planned your winter getaway evaporates faster than you can say “I-don’t-want-to-work-I-just-want-to-be-a-famous-full-time-writer!!

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…and then finally, seemingly out of nowhere, the departure date for your tropical vacation arrives.  And you’re like: …oh, yeah.  Oh, YEAH!!!

Yesterday, I was perusing what I call my “Tracker” – a spreadsheet I maintain to track where and when I’ve submitted all my (written) work.  The latest entry for my novel Darksea was: “Sept 2016: submitted to Ozma Awards“.

“Oh,” I thought to myself.  “Forgot all about that one.”

I clicked over to the Ozma Awards website, to find that they had already announced the finalists for the contest.

“Ah well,” I thought, preparing to move on.  Obviously, if I’d been a finalist, I would have heard, right?  Something stopped me, though, and just out of morbid and masochistic curiosity, I scrolled down to see the list.

This is what I saw:

 

…what what what?!?!?!

Could it be?  The novel that I’d essentially forgotten about, having nearly given up on sending it out to agents, has been chosen as a finalist for the 2016 Chanticleer Book Review OZMA Awards?!?!

In all honesty, I had been having difficulty maintaining my confidence and my productivity with my fiction writing up until about Christmas; now, however, with two short stories published and this latest news about my novel Darksea, I’m feeling the muse reawakening inside of me.

Time to (really!) start writing again!

Stay tuned to see if Darksea makes it to the next round of judging for the OZMA award!

 

 

NaNoWriMo… here we go again!

nanowrimo_crest

Get involved!                    Get writing!

I’ve been on a two-month hiatus from writing my fiction – life and work getting in the way as they always seem to do…

However, as November approaches, there’s a very good reason to get back into fiction writing – one that many writers find is just what they need to jump start their creative endeavours, as the cold weather settles in: NaNoWriMo!

Writing is a uniquely lonely type of thing.  For an introvert (like myself!) it is a welcome escape from the invasive outside world.  It’s therapeutic, too – a balm to soothe the raw stress from all those… people (said with the utmost disgust) intruding themselves upon me day in, day out.

However, I have found that the private nature of writing is a double-edged sword.  There are times when even this introvert (I cringe to admit) craves contact with other like-minded humans.  Specifically the writing kind of humans.

Now, writing being an activity whereby you are lost in your mind and you stare intently at a screen for hours on end, contact with other such beings can be hard to come by… unless you all share a similar goal.  Say, the writing of a complete novel in the space of one month.

Well, look no further: National Novel Writing Month has you covered!  In fact, they couldn’t make it easier for you to get involved – to whatever degree you feel comfortable with.  You fill out some information on yourself and your prospective novel, you pick the local community you’ll be writing with, and once November rolls around, you start writing!  There’s a nifty little graph that shows you how much you’ve written, and if you are on (or off) your word count goal.  There are weekly activities, both locally and across the world that you (again) can participate in, or not.

This will be my third year participating, though I’ll immediately admit I’ll be cheating just a bit – I’m aiming to complete the same novel that I started last year (an urban sci-fi mystery… thingy) – however many words that ends up being.

Regardless of my insidious plans, NaNoWriMo is just what I need to get my fiction writing kick-started again.

21 days and counting…

…in the meantime?  I’ll be getting another batch of agent queries out, and outlining the next bits of that novel that is going to write itself! 😉

Picking the Right Market for Your Fiction

There’s this new feeling to writing that I get nowadays.  I haven’t done anything different, but different things are happening.

No.  Agents aren’t breaking down my door to represent me (yet).  Nor are all of my short story ideas suddenly Nebula or Hugo Award-worthy (…yet?).  But I do feel more confident with my writing – I know it’s of a higher calibre than it was a year, or even six months ago.  Plus, more people are taking notice of my work.  I’m getting more personalized feedback (to go along with my rejections!), and in some cases, I’m being given specific suggestions from editors, followed by requests to re-submit with changes made.

I’m trying to be more selective of where I submit my work too.  Many of my short stories are hybrid-genres.  They aren’t just science fiction, or fantasy.  I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve spent all this time submitting to ‘traditional’ markets, when I should have been looking for some of those magazines or journals who feature alternative writing.  I believe that’s why I was successful with “Flesh” last month (having it accepted for publication in Kzine).  And so, I’m trying that again with my story “Solace for the Soul-less”…

Sci Phi Journal

I came across Sci Phi Journal the other day, an online science fiction and philosophy magazine.  In it, they publish “stories that explore questions of life, the universe and everything and articles that delve into the deep philosophical waters of science fiction universes” (from their About page).  “Solace” is set in the future, but isn’t about robots or space battles.  Rather, it raises questions about identity and immortality.  Hey!  That’s exactly what Sci Phi Journal is looking for!  So I’ve actually withdrawn “Solace” from consideration at another magazine, in order to try my chances with a venue that might generate not only some interest in my writing, but some dialogue about it too.

Next on my list of things to do: another batch of agent queries!  On this note, here’s a good bit of advice written by Kathryn Craft, of ‘Writers in the Storm’, a writing blog that I follow.

My first published short story!

I suppose it was going to happen sooner or later.

After all, it’s a numbers game: send enough of my short stories to enough magazines and/or anthologies, and someone out there is bound to bite, right?

Well, early last week, a UK online magazine accepted my short science fiction story “Flesh” for publication for their January 2017 issue!  My first fiction writing success!

“Flesh” is the story of an elderly man who has given up everything for a chance at a new life.  But everything is not as it seems (dun, dun, DUN!!!).

I’m truly excited – this is a very significant step for me.  Now, I have a ‘publication history’; no longer do I need to leave that part of my submissions or queries blank!  I also get to have my fiction read by a much larger circle of people (beyond my husband, and the members of critters.org, to which I belong).

I had ‘set’ myself a goal of having my fiction published by the end of 2015 (fully aware that it wasn’t entirely in my hands); I’m pleasantly surprised that I was only off by a few months!  😉

Anyways – enough reveling in my success.  I have another set of agent queries to send out, not to mention crafting another couple short stories.  I’m also working on getting my freelance b2b copywriting career off the ground, by the end of the month…

Always lots to do, as a writer!

 

 

No New Year’s resolution… just ‘be’ a writer!

The holidays went well for me this year.  I ate less that I’d feared, and wrote more than I’d hoped, so all in all: a success!

think_like_a_writer       I thought like a writer over the holidays too: not once did I worry about my day job (the one that still pays the bills).  Instead, I planned what short stories I’d write in the coming months, picked which agents I’d send my next queries to, added up my freelance writing earnings for the past year (peanuts, at this stage, but growing!), and saw story ideas everywhere I went over that two week period.

In retrospect, I can’t believe how good I had it for those 14 days (helped by the fact that the in-laws were occupying the kids, which granted me that time to just… think – thanks guys!).

New Year’s eve came and went (we were playing a game of Quelf with friends as the clock struck midnight), and I purposely didn’t make any resolutions.  Instead, I decided (subtly, though – not really admitting it, even to myself) to simply continue the habit of ‘being’ a writer, for the rest of the year.

So far, my (non)-resolution has been easy… After all, I want to be a writer!  …

The secret to New Years' resolutions!

(…wait a sec – did I just crack the secret to New Year’s resolutions!?!)

Top 5 Writing Goals for 2016

With this new habit of ‘being’ a writer, what would I like to accomplish this year?

1.  Get Published

       Specifically, get a short story published (or recognized somehow – contest or otherwise).  Currently, my bio is conspicuously free of any writing credits, which means any and all queries I send out – either for my novel, or my short stories – show me as an unpublished rube.  It’s not helping my success rate… or my confidence!

2.  Get Representation

       (ie: agent representation)  Yep.  My career as a novelist is basically hinging on this step right now.  But I’m up to my 4th batch of agent queries, bringing my total to just about 30.  My agent is out there.  Hopefully in this time frame, spatial dimension, and planet.

3.  Get More Freelance Writing Work

       So far, my fiction writing has not paid many bills (precise number of bills paid: zero).  But freelancing does!  I’m a regular contributor to Gay Parent Magazine (gayparentmag.com), and I’m looking to expand that significantly, as 2016 progresses.  Key word: self-marketing.

4.  Get More Readership

       To paraphrase Julia Roberts, social media is like yelling into the wind.  Sure.  Sorta.  Just make sure you’re facing the right way when you do so.  And listen to others who are doing the same thing.  I need to spend more time seeking out like-minded individuals, and join their secret leagues.

5.  Get More Writing Done

       As I ‘think’ more like a writer, I think up more little tasks that need doing – many of which do not include writing.  I can’t forget that the whole point of this endeavour is to write more.  And so I really need to focus a part of each and every day just for plain, unadulterated  w r i t i n g.

       Should be easy, right?

used_to_hate_writing

 

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo is Over… back to Agent Queries!

Participate in NaNoWriMo, every November!

Have you heard about NaNoWriMo?  It stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it takes place every November.  The goal: write a novel in a month (or, at least, write 50 000 words of it).

I first heard about it a little over three years ago, and was immediately skeptical of the premise: write 50 000 words in a month?!

Pshaw!  Not likely!

I tried it anyways, and did not succeed.  I tried again the year after, and again, failed.  This year, I was back at it, and came in woefully under-count, as I had two years running.

Am I disappointed in my results?

Well, yes.  Not at all!  Each November for the past three years, I managed to add thousands of words to my various novels.  I didn’t come close to 50 000, but thousands of words are certainly better than none.  This year, I used a good portion of October to world build my latest novel, then I managed to get over 20  000 words into it by the end of November.  Not too bad, considering my motivation recently had been lagging (see last post!).

I can’t think of any reason why I won’t participate again next year too.  Who knows – maybe 2016 will be the year I reach 50K!

Regardless of my result this year, NaNoWriMo served not only to springboard my next novel, but also got e re-energized with my writing.  I’ve got new ideas, new directions, and looming writing competition deadlines to work towards, and I’m looking forward to all of it. 🙂

First step: back on the agent search wagon.

I stopped submitting queries for the month of November, so that I could focus on my writing.

Now that we’re into December, I set myself the goal of getting my third batch of queries to agents out this past weekend, and I succeeded!  (While simultaneously neglecting entertaining the kids.  Gotta love multi-tasking.)  Coincidentally, I also receive a request for a partial manuscript from one of the agents from batch two, which was yet another boost to my motivation and confidence.  Things are starting to get rolling again!

Keep_calm

 

Seven agents down… but how many to go?

I am on the other side of history!

It’s nothing at that significant, of course; what I mean is, I’m looking back at having started my agent search, having dreaded the whole process for literally years!

Up until Friday 11th September 2015, I hadn’t really told many people about my novel: my husband, a close friend, and a handful of people on critters.org, who have absolutely no idea who I was anyways.  But now, I’ve sent my story out into the world, to professionals, who’s job it is to take seriously what I do in my spare time.  Which just feels weird to me, since I’m not quite sure I’ve been taking it seriously yet.

It was a bit surreal, when I hit <send> on that first e-mail query.  I couldn’t quite believe that I’d done it.  This is getting serious, I realized, though.  They’re going to laugh at me.

Oops.

Did I just think that?

They’re going to laugh at me?

Yeah.  I did just think that.  I can’t believe that I might actually make a living as a science fiction / fantasy writer.  I can’t believe that I might, one day, be an author.  That’s crazy talk.  That’s just a dream.  It’s just a joke.

…or is it?

Seven queries sent every two weeks, until further notice.  That’s the goal.  Let’s see if this dream can turn into… something much greater.

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