My Query Letter

I haven’t sent it yet, (I still have that synopsis to write), but this went through 25 drafts with reviews from fellow friends and writers (at least the Hook/story overview section).

If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment. I just don’t think there are enough example queries out there. I’ll post an updated one if an agent/editor gives me any tips on improving it.

 

Dear [Insert name],

[Insert reason I’m sending to this particular agent/editor.]

Tirian lives for the thrill of conning gods. Not out of money, but out of endowments of magic. Using his training as a con-man, he convinces gods to endow him with the magic of a priest, then runs off with it. It doesn’t hurt anyone if he robs gods, right? He just wants to play with magic. Tirian’s fun is halted, however, when he’s caught by the god of corpus and forced to spy on the goddess of the mind (suspected of religious sabotage).

While spying, Tirian starts to see how priests help a god’s followers much more than the gods themselves. Not only that, but he also learns that his capture, his servitude, and the conflicting rumors between the gods are all part of an elaborate plot to distract them. Natusana, the new leader of Tirian’s homeland, does not want the gods interfering. She’s angry over centuries of prior oppression by other races, and has begun driving out and killing all those not of her race. When the gods learn he’s been robbing them and want him dead, he has to choose whether to go into hiding, or to risk his freedom by revealing Natusana’s genocidal plot to the very gods he robbed.

ROBBING GODS is my 111,313 word completed fantasy novel. It features a fun-loving thief similar to Eli Monpress in Rachel Aaron’s THE SPIRIT THIEF, and a hard-magic system inspired by pyramid schemes and modern physics (with powers such as thermal, kinetic, and electromagnetic energy; spacetime; entropy; etc.) similar to Brandon Sanderson or David Farland.

I’m Thomas Larsen (writing as Thomas Fawkes). My cell number is: 801-915-3751 and my email is: fawkesfantasy@gmail.com. I have a bachelor’s degree in English. Thank you for taking the time to review my query. I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Thomas Larsen

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Microsoft OneDrive users: get out or upgrade before they delete your files!

ALERT! If you have Microsoft OneDrive, they just announced some rude changes. And if you don’t prepare, Microsoft may DELETE YOUR FILES.

“If after 1 year you fail to take action, your content may be deleted.”

First off, free accounts are being reduced from 15GB to 5GB. They say on their FAQ:

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So, I do get my bonus storage?

But they also say “The 15 GB camera roll storage bonus will also be discontinued. These changes will start rolling out in early 2016.”

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My bonus storage: DENIED

Whats the difference between a bonus and a promotion? (Somebody with a marketing degree could tell me, but it is not immediately clear).

Second off, if you have the 100GB plan or the 200GB plan, those are both being removed and replaced with a whopping 50GB plan! Boo. (My wife currently has the 100GB plan for $1.99 a month…)

Third off, if you have the unlimited plan! …which is being cut down to 1 terabyte. Apparently people were storing 75 terabytes of movies and TV shows and…  Microsoft couldn’t handle the abusers. If you’re not prepared for abusers, don’t offer unlimited!

To simplify, you will now have 3 choices:

  • 5GB (Free)
  • 50GB ($1.99)
  • 1 Terabyte ($9.99)

If you have beyond those amounts saved (check your storage in the bottom left corner of the OneDrive home screen), you will need to save those files elsewhere. Microsoft says:

“If after 1 year you fail to take action, your content may be deleted.”

People are going to miss this, grandmas whose kids set them up are going to lose pictures of their grandbabies. They need a giant button that says: “Warning: Your storage is going to be reduced, click here to save excess files to your computer to save them from deletion.” Or, better, just grandfather the current users in the plan (like mobile companies do when they come out with a new plan). Don’t give the old plans to anyone new, but don’t punish previous consumer loyalty with file deletion.

I’ve really loved OneDrive. I love being able to open things in Word and click save and they automatically upload to the cloud. Now? Now I’m going to consider going somewhere else.

As Hook would say, “Bad Form!”

 

 

p.s. They say they’ll give you one free year of Office 365 with 1 Terabyte. Great! I can store even more stuff and have it get deleted because I won’t remember the specifics a year later! Oh and I’ll totally just fork up the extra dough, every month, to get past the hassle of saving.

p.p.s. If I have to have that hassle, I might just leave.

p.p.p.s Microsoft hates you

p.p.p.p.s Check out how Microsoft is trying to put out the fire like a dog peeing on a blazing skyscraper.

Wait, after 25 drafts of a query, I have to write a synopsis too?

So, I’m here trying to write a synopsis for my novel to send with my submission packet. Yow my brain hurts! After writing 25 drafts of my query, I’m pretty sick of my story.

Not that it’s a bad story, but after trying to describe it so many times it just feels like it’s about nothing. Or it feels like when I glaze over the complexities, I just have a hard time.

I puked one version out, I think I’ll print it and tweak it.

I’ll just keep plugging along.

False progress activities (Getting nowhere, but working so hard!)

One thing we do when working towards a goal is something I will now coin “False Progress Activities.”  This is when we want to procrastinate the hard part of a goal (e.g. actually writing the darn query letter) and we instead focus on tasks that help, that are far easier, but give little progress.

For example, I researched a bunch of articles on writing query letters, and am now combining them into a super-article! Taking out every tip and sorting them by topic (overall style, intro paragraphs, synopsis paragraphs, closing paragraphs). It’s very educational!

Or… I should be reading 1 article, attempting a draft at that query letter, and then reading some more and editing it and having others read it and rewriting again…

BUT I LOVE ORGANIZING! It makes me feel industrious! I’m getting nowhere but I’m working so hard at it!

Time to toughen up and write a first draft of that query.

 

 

And I just realized… I can’t procrastinate giving my novel a title if I’m going to submit it. 😛

Pizza Magic

In talking about buying Pizza on the Sabbath (a friend at work had to do that today in order to feed a family gathering on Sunday, their kitchen was a mess because it was being remodeled), I said “It’s spirit food!” Pizza’s OK to buy on Sunday cause it’s holy. Right? Right? Bueller?

Then I thought, should I write a story with a Pizza-based magic system? Different types of pizza grant different powers? Cooked in a special stove? Desert pizza gives you ice powers, Hawaiian gives you water powers? 😛

The holy arts of pizza!

Feel free to steal that, I have plenty of ideas. 🙂

(Anti-)Social Media

Why do they call it social media? People share a lot of words, but so much communication is lost. Body language is gone. Tone of voice is gone. Touch is gone.

People spend their lives experiencing other people through the medium of little pixels on a screen, rather than directly experiencing them. It’s like a meta-sociality. I see/comprehend text. Text comes from internet. You physically type in text/think the text. I know that in the physical world we have mediums too (sight, sound), but the fidelity is higher, the people are actually present.

Maybe someday, when video/audio/social media is a matrix-level VR experience, we’ll be having a different discussion about this. But the majority of people right now are have a different kind of sociality. A weaker one.

  • Sharing pictures of babies rather than letting our friends hold our babies.
  • Sharing scores of games rather than playing frisbee or flag football in the park.
  • Sharing a relationship status rather than actually enjoying the company (or the identity) of that person we have a relationship with.
  • Having “friends” we never are physically near to, and wouldn’t contact in case of emergencies.

Let’s put down the phones and have richer physical experiences. Or we’ll reach the end of our lives, and the majority of our time will have been spent looking at tiny squares on a screen.

We can see people in one of two ways. We can see the light reflecting off their face directly as they stand in front of us. Or we can see the light from pixels on a screen taken from the image recorded when once upon a time real light reflecting off of a person’s face into a camera’s sensor.

One is a direct experience. The other is a diluted experience through variety of filters and mediums.

The first sounds better to me.

How do I find the right editor or agent?

So I’ve been searching for agents and editors, and sheesh this process is hard!

First, I bought “2016 Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market” and “2016 Guide to Literary Agents.” Then I went through the publishers and agencies that represented fantasy and I highlighted which ones I thought might be good (because they didn’t explicitly say “No epic fantasy!” That’s about all I had to go off of.)

Then I made an excel spreadsheet and listed them all.

Then I went online and checked out their websites and removed some because they didn’t seem my style. And then I wanted to understand their style better. How do I know which agent works with which authors and which genre and which publisher and which agent and… and…

HOW DO I KNOW IF THEY LIKE MY “STYLE” OF FICTION?

I was listening to Writing Excuses to get feedback on how to learn what “style” of fiction agents and editors prefer. And they said:

  1. Check out their twitter for MS wishlists.
  2. Check out their publishing house to see what books they’ve published (p.s. those don’t list the editor).
  3. Check out publishers lunch to see recent deals (since there are many more genres than epic fantasy, there will be a lot of deals that aren’t even remotely my genre).
  4. Listen to individual agents and editors talk at conferences and chat with them (wait, with the likelihood that they DON’T publish my kind of fiction, how many agents and editors are there exactly?)
  5. Go to the bookstore and read the acknowledgements of books you like (which you probably haven’t read cause they’re new and there’s not a lot of old books at the bookstore so you’re not even sure if they are your particular “style”) and list the agents and editors named in books you like.

There are A LOT of problems with this system. Some of which I’ve already mentioned. With how many agents/editors out there, my potential sample size from the above suggestions makes it nigh impossible to find the “right” agent/editor. (Note: They all say, research me first!)

The answer is a database, that lists the agents and editors, what publishing houses they’ve worked with, which agents and editors they’ve worked with, which authors they’ve worked with, which novels they’ve worked on, and a complex/detailed genre classification system so that I can know what genre classifications my book has (Epic, heroic, feminist, religious, magic, hard science, whatever), and so that I can go from that angle. Instead of sampling random hard to find agents, searching by the traits/classifications of my novel, and finding the agents and editors that match that “style” of fiction.

If that were to exist, agents and editors (might) get less junk mail that doesn’t fit their style, authors will be less confused, and less time would be wasted all around.

Maybe instead of whining, I should build this thing. 🙂

 

 

 

Rationality and Religion had a kid (or is it the other way around?)

I’m trying to marry rationality and religion, but look at this quote, my wife posted it on the fridge without having any idea that I was thinking about this lately (It’s from one of my church leaders):

“Human judgment and logical thinking will not be enough to get answers to the questions that matter most in life. We need revelation from God.”

-President Henry B. Eyring

It essentially says not that I can’t marry the two, but I don’t need to. Revelation supersedes rationality. I can get straight to fully-known pre-qualified truth and knowing with a different kind (and more efficient) work than rational inference. (i.e. Revelation, spirit to spirit.)

God will transfer truth and knowing straight to my mind (with a lot of work, of course). Truths whose evidence cannot yet be seen, but can be known.

In that way, can testimony (or revelation) be empirical/experiential evidence? Witnessed/personally experienced through a sixth sense of “spiritual knowing”?

How much time do you spend doing nothing?

One of my church leaders asked that question. If you’re spending a lot, then maybe you should use that time to serve others.

For me, a lot of my time is spent with my family. I don’t want to just abandon them to serve others, but this still applies in the home. Rather than do nothing, serve your family. And if you have time, serve your broader human family.

Nap time on Sunday is probably a good time for me to serve my broader human family. J And perhaps even Saturday. I write for 2 hours in the morning, then go to work for 8, I don’t have a lot of time to serve others other than my family throughout the week, but those two days, I can and probably should.

Mind over dark matter

I can’t mind that people who aspire to rationality laugh at religion. Someday I will rectify the two. But I think the key lies in the fact that the eternal spiritual realm that lies beyond this one is a type of matter that does not interact with the 4 fundamental forces of nature, as we know them. A part of me is made of this beyond-dark matter. Invisible matter. That the spiritual realm speaks to my spiritual self/mind which is intangibly and invisibly tied to my physical self.

That is how I tie in my spirituality with my rationality. One gear in my rationalist machine is the influence of the eternal and divine realm that lies beyond this one. An influence that I can access with my soul.