The Last Post

Hello, all!
Almost two years ago, we opened a blog on Blogpost and started with “The First Post.” Since then, our posts have been few and far between. So at this time, we’ve decided to stop blogging. We don’t do it enough, and we really aren’t that good at it. We just can’t seem to find enough topics to talk about, and between our jobs and trying to write on the side, we simply don’t have a lot of time.
So, all our blog posts will be moved to “Blog,” and from here on out we will only post things are newsletter worthy (like release dates) under “Latest News.” (We did move some posts from our blog to news because we felt it more a news post than a blog post.)
Thanks to anyone who read our posts, and we appreciate the following (however small it was).
Happy reading from R.L.!

Are vampire romance novels dead?

Recently, I have come across a few articles, Facebook/Twitter posts, and blog posts about the death of vampires in fiction. This makes me incredibly sad, not just as a writer who’s main character is a vampire, but as a reader as well.

First of all, I love vampires. I love when vampires are on the side of good instead of evil. And I especially love when they are alive, which is harder to find then you think. I don’t mean “undead”. I mean “alive”, as in they are born, not created — they die a natural death after so long and they aren’t living a tired, endless existence after thousands of years. Also where they can fall in love and make babies — not create other vampires. (By the way, the same goes for my feelings on werewolves/shifters.)

One of these reasons is, in my opinion, it is more believable that humans (or Homo sapiens) are not the only existing species in the genus Homo. (After all there were the Homo habilis, Homo neanderthalensis, and Homo erectus which are now extinct.) To me it is more believable there are other species related to humans, than one species can transform another species. After all, a lion cannot turn a tiger, jaguar, or leopard into a lion.

Plus, there is something comforting about vampires. People understand their basic traits: they drink blood, they have fangs, they can’t go out in the sunlight, they are stronger then humans, and they live longer (or are immortal). Authors play around with these traits and put their own spin on them, along with adding or even taking away some of them, to make them their own, but the essentials are there that a readers comes into a book knowing.

I have read many paranormal series where the author makes up their own creatures, or use creatures which have been used or used much, in literature. Some of these books are awesome. In fact, some of them are my favorites. But at the same time, it can be exhausting to try an learn a new world with new creatures and new rules, before you even get to the story. I pick up a book to read and escape (someone one told me it was their “five minute vacation.”), but I don’t pick up a novel to study. I did that plenty in college. Therefore, there is something comforting and reliable in vampire novels that I want as a reader.

It’s been encouraging to read the comments people have put in response to these posts, because it seems to be an abundance of readers who agree they love vampire novels and can never get enough. But, because readers do not control the market, publishers and agents do, we’ve decided to take a break from querying. We’ve received so many positive comments on our novel, yet we continue to receive rejections from agents, and at this point we strongly suspect it is due to the fact that our novel is about vampires.

We don’t know how long we are going to wait to query, but until then we are working on the second book in our series, plus we have sent our query and first three chapters of book one out to editorial services to see what they think. Hopefully their comments will confirm our suspicions that it is not our manuscript, but the subject in which it contains.

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Do you think vampires are over? Do you think they’ve been done too many times? Or are you always on the lookout for the next great vampire story?

“Success is measured by effort”

I’ve been taking my daughter to gymnastics since September, and this week was the first time I have noticed this sign. While it might be new, I would bet that it isn’t, and I find it to be quite the coincidence that it caught my eye this week. Because, after taking some time off from querying to reevaluate and make changes, we decided it’s time to start again.

I think this is the first time part of me doesn’t want to query. The times before I felt excited and overly optimistic. Like every writer who queries for the first time, we didn’t realize how hard the publishing business was. Yes, you read about it when doing all the research, but like most people with most things in life you just don’t think it’ll happen to you. My manuscript is great–I won’t have any problems finding an agent…

Also, like most first-timers we weren’t really ready to query. To clarify, it’s not that we knew our query, and manuscript, wasn’t ready and we sent it out anyway. We genuinely thought we were ready. We edited and revised. And edited and revised. We didn’t send out our first draft. Or second,  or third, or tenth… We sincerely thought we had done all we could, and it wasn’t until later we found out we hadn’t. It’s like when you’re a teenager and everyone tells you how young you are, and how you don’t really know everything like you think you do. You brush those people off, thinking they don’t really know what they are talking about. It isn’t until 10, 15 years later you discover you really were clueless and you still had plenty to learn about the world. Hindsight is always 20/20.

As of now we’ve revised our query multiple times. We’re quite proud of it. And the manuscript? We’ve edited and revised, removed and added, tweaked the thing to death. It is a 100 times better than the first time we queried. We are also proud of this. We want to share our story with the world. We want readers to meet our characters and love them as much as we do. We want to get our story out there. Yet, I find that I am very reluctant about querying. What if it still doesn’t catch an agent’s eye? What if no one is interested?  We could play the “what if” game all day, but we will never know if we don’t try. And if it turns out that we can’t find an agent who likes it then we will move on. However, we can’t take the next step until we’ve made a complete effort. And, deep down I hope that because this time I am hesitant, rather than eager, it means we are ready.

At the end of the day we have to remember we’ve put in a 110%, and if “success is measured by effort” we already are a success.

The next step

Time flies by fast. I can’t believe it’s been two and a half weeks since I last posted on here, but it has. To be honest, not much has happened. We are preparing to query again soon which has been somewhat stressful. We’ve received rejections or closed out our last batch which is sad and a relief at the same time. It’s sad that we didn’t get any hits off our query letter, but it in a way it is a relief because it means we can move on to the next step.

As of right now we’ve completely updated and improved our query letter in hopes that it will attract an agent’s attention and interest. There were a few things past agents brought up, and I think we addressed them in the new query. Such as one agent said there is no internal conflict between the characters, it’s all external.  Our characters do in fact have internal conflict, but we didn’t realize we didn’t show this enough in our query letter. Or that an agent would reject our story because of this. Live and learn as they say. We’ve been feeling pretty good about the new query, but we took a hard blow this week.

We entered the Miss Snark’s Baker Dozen contest two weeks ago, and Monday she announced on her blog that she picked the 25 winners by email. We did not receive an email. Which means that agents don’t even get a chance to read our first 250 words. I figured that we might not have any agents pick our entry, but I’m surprised that our’s wasn’t good enough to even make it as one of the 25 picked. We realize it was out of 130 entries, so there was a lot of competition, but it still hurts. Even though we were told we have a strong first ten pages from the course we took (see Strong!?!), it has become apparent we do not have a strong first 250 words.

Because of this major disappointment and some feedback we received from others on the Query Tracker Forum, we decided that we should really reevaluate our first five pages and more importantly the first 250 words. We’re currently working on this, but as you can guess, it’s not easy. We’ve been told our manuscript should start sooner (about page 4), yet there is a scene in our book that we feel can’t be in the story too soon. Maybe we just need to say screw it, or cut/change that scene. In the end we I’m sure we will figure it out.

We’re planning to query at the beginning of next month so our revised first five pages will be posted under Current Projects by then. Always remember we welcome feedback, and if you don’t feel comfortable posting under comments check out at Where To Find Us. Our email address is on there and you can send us a message that way. Thanks for reading and until next time…

The story of our logline – Part II

Last week we made it into the third round of logline critiques on Miss Snark’s First Victim, before the Annual Baker’s Dozen Contest starts next week. We were very excited to make the final round, and we received comments on what people thought. As a refresher, our logline was:

A repressed vampire princess has a one-night stand with a mysterious stranger from the wrong side of the river, sparking an unexpected chain of events and opening her to a whole new world. 

The main comments we received on our logline were that it was vague; they wanted to know what kind of events were sparked and give more specifics. The problem we struggle with is we can’t say much about the chain of events , because then there is no reason to read the book. Someone suggested that we just put the first unexpected event. That is still a tough one, because it’s a major plot point and it’s also a surprise. We don’t want to give it away. So, how do we make it more specific without giving it away at the same time?

The next issue was to add more conflict and tension to build the hook; they wanted to know what she will lose and what she will gain, and give the story’s stakes and the choices. We had to agree with these comments. We were lacking our main character’s conflict(s). This is a somewhat easier fix, but still…what conflict do we choose to put in the logline?

Lastly, there was one person who said we needed to get rid of “mysterious stranger”. It was too cliche and they wanted to know more about hero. We picked mysterious stranger because, although our book is multiple points of view, the reader doesn’t find out about the hero until the heroine does. We can’t say anything specific about the hero or it will ruin the story. How do we dump this cliche yet keep our stranger/hero “mysterious”?

On the plus side, one person said they liked the contrast between “repressed” and “opening her”. Everyone’s comments were very nice and helpful. Now we had to figure out where to start….

You’ve all read a book, seen a movie, watched a TV show…. How do you sum up everything in one or two sentences? This was our dilemma. Especially when we already did it, more than once, and it wasn’t “good enough”. *sigh* I decided the first thing I can do is research…again…and see what I can find. The best thing I found was someone had put a comment on the Query Tracker Forum with a comprised list of logline information they’d found. One of the most helpful points on this post was a logline should be what happens in the first act, otherwise the reader is going to be frustrated that it doesn’t happen until later in the book. It cannot ignore the first part of the book. That takes care of what conflict to put in the logline. The first one. Armed with this knowledge and all the formulas, we put in our own information while keeping in mind what everyone said in their comments.

A week and a half later, lots of emails, and even a day spent together to work on this, we came up with:

A vampire princess awaiting an arranged betrothal has a one-night stand with an enigmatic stranger, forcing her to choose between duty and love. When she discovers this encounter unexpectedly bonds them together, it alters her future forever.

Breaking it down our heroine’s outer conflict is that she is awaiting her arranged betrothal and her inner conflict is she has to choose between duty and love. The inciting incident for this is her one-night stand with an enigmatic stranger—not a mysterious one—and the first incident in the chain of events is that she is now bonded to the stranger/hero. The end is still vague, but this part happens later in the book. We have already presented her conflict and what she will gain: the respect of her parents and people versus love, and what she will lose: her parents’ respect and possibly her status versus the man she loves and a chance to be happy.

Unfortunately we had to cut “repressed” and “opening her to a whole new world”. We put why she was repressed instead of the word to make sure readers knew the heroine’s conflict. And with adding more about her inner conflict, we had to cut the end and change it around since a logline can only be so long. 

Tomorrow K.T. Crowley has given the contestants who entered the Third Round of Logline Critiques a chance to post their revised loglines for feedback on her blog. Hopefully, this time we came up with a good one and the readers will agree. We certainty hope you like it.