And they lived happily ever after - The Synopsis

Or maybe "... and they didn't speak to each other for the rest of their lives."  How about, "... then his nemesis died a long and fiery death."  

I'm working on ILYU's synopsis.  You actually get to explain what happens in the entire novel with a synopsis, including the ending (yay!), which I've found is much easier than writing a query.  Especially compared to the email/shortest version of query.  Can you imagine if agents required us to text, or worse yet, tweet our queries?  Oh the stress us writers would be put through!  (If for some odd reason this small blog is ever seen by an agent, please, I repeat, please do not even ponder for a second the possibility of that idea!)  

I think each writer has a different opinion about a query vs. a synopsis.  The main reason I love it the latter is because you're allowed words. WORDS!  More than a mere few hundred of them to explain this thing, this chunk of your life that has consumed more thoughts than you ever imagined were possible to come up with.  I'm a big fan of words, and tend to go far beyond what I plan to write, even when blogging.  Summarizing 70,ooo-some pages is hard.  I love to throw in the "good" details.  So being able to explain the entire plot, for me, is a wonderful thing.

Some agents request a synopsis.  Others don't.  My next batch of agents to query require that I send both.  Now this could be my naiveness talking, but being able to send the synopsis along with a query actually gives me a little comfort.  It's my opportunity to share more about ILYU, to highlight the conflict and make it shine.  (We'll see if I still feel that way in a few days, when I'm closer to finishing.)

Here's a description of a synopsis, according to an article I found on this website- A successful synopsis is not a short story version of your book nor or a piece of creative writing. It is a business document.

The article goes on to summarize the key points to writing a synopsis.  I liked how it was broken down, and thought I'd share it with you.

1) Characters: Some People Count, Some Don't.

This list must be kept to the bare essentials.  So and so's brother's wife's old neighbor's ex-husband isn't necessary to mention, unless he plays a major part in the story.

2)  Plot: Just the Facts, Ma'am.

Think of this as the key ingredients to your story.  Descriptions of feelings and how people look don't go here.  The only thing necessary is just what this title says, the plot.  Keep the story moving, keep the agents reading.

3)  Conflict: Show how the Characters Suffer

Ah.  The most exciting part to write.  Actions, reactions.  What did that particular event make the character/s do?  Did anyone learn anything from that event?  Did it make them better, or worse, in the long run?

4)  Description: The Devil is in the Details

The best line in this advice in this paragraph is "... search the synopsis for adjectives and adverbs and then cut almost all of them."  Yeah.  This will be my weakness.  

5)  Show and Tell

I'm reminded of what I blogged about a while back, when I was having a hard time writing the beginning of ILYU.   My MC was supposed to be telling what happened, and I had to stop and look at it from the point of view of being the listener, sitting somewhere as Hallie told her story.  That's exactly what you're supposed to do.  Tell what went down, simply.  Hold back on a bunch of descriptions.  

For more information on synopsis do's and don'ts, check out these links:

Rebecca Knight: Writer in Progress (I had no clue she posted about this yesterday until I had already written this post.  Great minds think alike!)

There are many more sites with great info.  Do a quick search.  Google can be your best friend.


TMBT: Remember When?

Remember when the worst thing happening in your life was being grounded?  Remember when a bad day meant the person you really liked didn't call when you got home from school?  Remember when an earthquake was just an earthquake, the news was just the news, and homework was the hardest thing you'd ever done?

I remember.  I remember thinking that since the boy I liked didn't like me, life was terrible.  I remember thinking, a few years later, that being grounded from seeing my boyfriend until my grades got better meant I had it worse than anyone else on the planet.  I remember worrying about friends talking behind my back and wanting everyone to like me.  

Then I became an adult, and suddenly, loss of family members, September 11th, tsunamis and earthquakes were worse than all of that stuff put together.  The disasters and sadness put everything in perspective without a moment's notice.  Oh, to be a kid again.  To have someone take care of you, buy what you need when you need it, tell you to appreciate what you have.

The past week or so we've had to deal with more loss on a personal level than we've had to for nine years.  Losing people dear to us, whether family, friends, or family of friends can make you want to go back to the days when grounding and boys were the highest on the terrible scale.  I personally believe there is a higher power, that the people we have lost are in a better place, and though it does cushion the blow a little bit, it still sucks.  

I've been up and down on the emotional roller coaster since all of this has happened, hurting for those hurting, sad for those sad.  Wishing everyone had known what was coming, wishing they had time to prepare, wishing they could have known to say what they needed or wanted to say.  Without wanting it to, attending funerals and seeing people grieving has taken me back to nine years ago when all of that sadness struck our family, and let me tell you, it's hard to get out of that funk once you're in it.

Today is Kid's Day.  For those of you who don't know what Kid's Day is, one day every year our local newspaper donates all sales of a particular issue to the children's hospital.  People and kids volunteer to stand on street corners throughout town all morning, freezing their fingers off with smiles on their faces, in order to sell papers to benefit the hospital.  There's a special cover, a few stories about families going through tough times, sick kids, what the hospital has done for them, ect.  Last year they raised $425,000.  This year their goal  is $400,000, and even though times are touch economically, I have a feeling they'll exceed it again just like last year.  

One of today's Kid's Day cover pictures is about a preemie, a little girl born at just one pound, three ounces - arriving into this world premature at only 23 weeks.  As my oldest gave a fellow student our donation and threw the paper my way before running off to class this morning, I looked at the picture of the card someone was holding, the imprints of the baby girl's hand and foot prints, the dime sitting right next to one of the hand prints (it was almost the exact same size), and my stomach sank.  I even said  "That's so sad." as the girls were getting out of the car. I thought about how terrible it was, how terrible it all is - this life.  How sadness and pain is everywhere, all the time, no matter where we look, or what news we listen to.

The girls had been messing with my husband's ipod, and "What Hurts the Most" by Rascal Flats was playing as I drove home from the school.  I looked over at the paper on the passenger seat, a the other cover picture, a baby boy born premature, with a scar on his little stomach and tubes going into his nose, and right then, I realized I had it all wrong.  How was that sad?  That baby was here!  Alive!  He had made it!  I was seeing everything backwards.  When did that happen?  I didn't used to see things that way.  When did my outlook get so dire, so bogged down, with me concentrating on loss instead of life?  

Tragedies make you sit back and appreciate the little things, those you love and who are dear to you.  They remind you that no one knows when their time to leave this earth is, and that because of that fact, every hour, every moment is special.  Sometimes it takes a while for that reminder to grab hold, to control your thoughts though, because grief has taken over your mind, heart or whole body.  I remember when that was me.  When nothing made sense, and I could think of nothing other than the "Why"s and "What if"s and "I should have"s.   

I also remember how much better I felt when concentrating on the good times.  "Remember when"s are one of the best therapies I know.  

Take Me Back Tuesday - 6

The year is 1982.  It's summertime, and I am four years old.  My mom is single and working her rear off, being the mom she is supposed to be, you know, making sure she brings home the bacon, so to speak.  Summertime means no school (not that I am in school yet, anyway), and it also means mom can't stay home with me.  So, she does what a lot of parents do in my small hometown each summer - she signs me up for day camp at the YMCA.

I love the Y.  Each day we have swim time (sometimes twice a day), crafts, and I'm meeting all kinds of kids who seem to know a lot more about everything (including bad words) than I do.

Fridays are movie days at day camp.  So far I've seen Flight of the Navigator, and this week something happened to one of the counselors or something so the bigger kids are having to sit with the younger ones so we can watch a movie together.

I can't find anyone that I've gotten to know, so I'm just going to sit Indian style on the floor where I don't have look over a bunch of kids' heads and watch the movie.  Cue the counselor turning on the TV, and older boys hooting.  Must be a really good movie.

There's lots of water, and these guys are on a boat.  They're in some kind of gear, swimming, diving or something.  Now there's a leg floating around under water, and people are screaming, running out of the ocean as fast as possible.  The music is scary.  Really scary.  I'm covering my eyes.  

After a while I look again.  Things have gotten quiet.  I think the gross stuff is over.  Then this guy swims over to some shipwreck or something.  He goes underneath the boat and finds a man's body, floating, with one eye ball missing and these root-looking things coming out of his eye socket.  I am now completely freaked out.

I go to an adult, and tell her that I don't think I should be watching this.  She tells me it's fine and sends me back to sit down.  So I do.  And I watch.  Even though it's gross, and freaky.  Because like anyone my age, even when we know we aren't supposed to look, especially when we know we aren't supposed to look, we do.

Fast forward approximately three years.  My mom has met a wonderful guy, and they get married.  He even adopts me.  He is awesome.  And even better?  The house we just moved into has a pool.  

But guess what.  I can't swim.  I mean, I can swim, I swim very well, actually.  I just can't swim alone, in the deep end, at all.  Every time I go down there, down near the drain, I see the man with no eye, the roots wiggling around.  I see Jaws himself, his mouth agape, coming at me with his big shiny teeth.  And guess what else.  I can't swim in a pool, in the deep end, by myself, for the next ten years.  Somehow Jaws knows which pool I am in, no matter where I go, and he's always there, smiling at me, by the drain.

So thanks, YMCA day camp.  Thanks so much.  And while I'm at it, I might as well thank Fort Roosevelt, one lady in particular actually, for reading Rikki-tikki-tavi to me - you have no idea how scared I was of the drain in my bathtub, for years.

Query about a query

Today's post is going to be a short one.  I've sent three email queries thus far, (with a few more to go out later in the week) and one has already resulted in a very polite email from the agent stating that her plate is full at this present time.

I don't have time to look for the *many* links I have saved regarding sending multiple submissions (to more than one agent in the same agency) but I'm going to act as though my mind is functioning properly and assume I did read that if said agent isn't presently able to receive queries, then sending one to a different agent at the same agency is okay.  Right?

Has anyone had this happen to them?  If so, what did you do?