Friday, October 29, 2010

NaNoWriMo Part 2

The month of November will work a little differently on my blog, since I'll be trying my hand at writing a novel this month.  Wednesday Reads will continue (I have written them all in advance--go me!).  Once or twice a week I will report what I have found and (when I procrastinate) tips from the real writers.

So, to put it in writing, my GOAL for November: to finish my WIP.  I started it a few months ago, a project for a good friend of mine who is ill, but I hit a dead end about chapter 4.  So, starting there, I'll continue.  I have a semi-projected idea of where the novel is going, so I'll write and write and write until I can't write anymore.  Hopefully I have 50,000 words in me.  If the novel ends after only 30,000, I'll feel accomplished.  But it's been sitting on the back burner for long enough, it's time to take it out and finish it.

My secondary goal is to get more into the mindset of the writer.  I feel like most agents and editors out there are also writers.  I don't have an ultimate goal of being published one day (I like the behind the scenes work), but I would like to know, first hand, how the writing process works.  In actuality, this will be my second novel, the first I cranked out during a boring month of classes in college (never, ever, ever to see the light of day).  That was me dabbing.  This will be me writing.  With the serious writer's face.  And fancy hat.

In preparation, I read Plot and Structure: Techniques and exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers from start to finish by James Scott Bell.  It certainly isn't the last writing book I'll read in my career.  How else can I know how to tell you (my hypothetical client) how to improve your ms?  Haha. 

The nerves set in...

So, here I go my dear readers (and real life writers).  I'll torture myself for a month as you do every day.  Now I just have to figure out how to juggle my agent training and being a writer for a full month.  The writer hat must sit on the shelf while I agent, and the editor/agent/super critical critic hat will sit on the shelf while I'm writing.  Good thing I didn't go to clown school.  The juggling thing is hard!

So, writers, start your engines.  On Monday we disappear from the world!

Happy writing!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday Reads: Soulless

Soulless by Gail Carriger, can only be catagorized as the following: Steampunk meets the Sookie Stackhouse novels in a Cozy Mystery with a host of quirky characters Jane Austin could love.

Funny, engaging, unique.  This book is definitely an original.  Add a character with a supernatural (preternatural, as it is called within the pages) talent that is neither seeing ghosts or reading people's thoughts, I was hooked.


"Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?"

First sentence: "Miss Alexia Tarabotti was not enjoying her evening."  Not the best of first sentences.  It does make you wonder who she is and what is happening that she doesn't like.  The first paragraph however, gives you a world of information, as well as giving you a great voice that carries throughout the novel.  But, before the first sentence, is the chapter title, which hooks you as well: "In Which Parasols Prove Useful."

Beefs: I've been reading first person for so long, getting thrust into third person omniscient is discombobulating.  It was done well, but at times I felt like I had whiplash going from one paragraph in one character's brain, to the next paragraph in another character's brain.  It didn't happen too often, so it could be overlooked, but every time it happened, I noticed it.

Brownie Points: Creativity, unique characters, and voice.

Recommendation: Read it if you like romance, steampunk, Jane Austin, London, vampires, werewolves, mysteries, or original characters.  It fullfills all your possible wants.

Would I represent it?  I hope that if something this spectacular landed on my desk, I would recognize the value immediately and snatch it up.  However, if it had landed on my desk, I'm not sure I would have.  So this one I'll leave to "chance" (depending on mood, shape of manuscript and errors, amount of work to get it ready, author's previous history).

Happy reading!

Monday, October 25, 2010


I first heard this term a few years ago in college.  It sounded like some made up word, I had no idea what it meant, and assumed it was an anime thing, since friends who liked anime were talking about it.  Then last year, I heard some "serious" people talking about it.  Finally, a few months ago, I gave up the pretense that I knew what they were talking about and asked.

National Novel Writing Month.  It's a month where writers set a goal and write as much as they can.  Ah, that's why lots of my friends disappeared during November during college.  Smart, by the way, having a writing month end only two weeks (in some cases one) before final exams.  Glad I hadn't known more about it earlier.

So today, we are a week away from November.  In honor, I decided to learn more about it.

Writer Musings has a great post about what it take to meet the 50,000 word goal (which I didn't know was the goal until reading this post).  To write 50,000 words in 30 days:

"That's 1600 words per day, including weekends and (American) Thanksgiving. If you can't do weekends, then you have 22 days, and need to write 2275 words per day. If you can't write on those two days for Thanksgiving, then you have 20 days, and need to write 2500 words per day."
A few months ago I was inspired to start writing.  I managed 3,000 words in I think 3 or 4 hours.  I thought, ok, I'll do it again the next day.  Didn't happen.  Sitting down and writing nearly 2,000 words a day seems impossible to me.  Crazy!!!

The experts have some good advice.  Nathan Bransford tells you what you need to have in place before the month even begins.  You need to know what you are going to write.  Why waste two or three days staring at your computer screen with no idea where to start?

Fuel Your Writing gives a brief background and insight into this hectic month.  "NaNoWriMo has grown, from a 21-person book party in 1999, to hosting over 165,000 participants just a decade later."  That's how it started?  Awesome.  Oh, the powers of the internet.

So, tell me dear readers, about your experiences with NaNoWriMo, and any advice.  For, this year, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo (more on that later this week).

Happy writing!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Queries: The Hook

The other week, I blogged about the Bad Bad Bad Query, which was a follow up from a previous post about my Rejection Rate.  So this week is another blog following up on things I left unclear (you, my ever so careful readers, are making me work ever so hard to clarify myself): the hook.

Before I proceed, I'd like to point you in the direction of an expert query-judger, QueryShark.  I'll be sharing links to this site during this post.

First, the Hook.  The hook can go in many directions.  Some agents like to see a tag line that puts your story in context: The heart of The Notebook meets the dangerous world of Jurassic Park (hopefully something that makes a little more sense, but you get the idea).  Here's the key on this one: keep your comparative titles recent and something the agent/editor will have heard of.  Don't compare it directly to a famous book or author (while a classic, Catcher in the Rye is outdated; and you are not JK Rowling, don't try to be).  ((note: I actually don't like seeing this tag at the beginning of a query.  If at all, I'll look at it at the end, after you have captured my attention, or in a one-on-one pitch.))

You can also open the query with a BAM BOOM! that takes what we think we know, and skews it.  Sounds easy right?  It's not.  Look at this one.  She tries to set up the scene and mess with our perceptions with with first line: "Allison Giordano is no ambulance chaser."  However, it means absolutely nothing to me.  This is an example of an excellent hook: "Some kids walk out of juvie with freehand tattoos or new gang affiliations. Delia Clark left with a plan to become an FBI agent."

More great advice that is also side splitting entertaining on writing queries.

Here's another thing I ABSOLUTELY NEVER WANT TO SEE: do not use all caps to get my attention, do not build up hype saying that your book will be the next best thing since sliced bread, do not put down your competition, do not insult me or other agents, do not humble yourself, do not grovel.

What do I want?  A straight forward query.  Genre.  Character.  Plot.  A little about you (but I don't want to know that you have been writing since you were two days old and wrote for your high school newspaper).  And always make sure your query has forward momentum.  I want to be compelled to read the rest of the query.

Genre: If you can't define it, we can't either.  Which means the publishers won't know where to put your book on the shelf, which means they won't want to put the energy in.  Do your homework.  Know your genre.  Know your novel.  And keep it to two or three.  We are merely simple folks, don't overwhelm us.  Besides, you haven't proven your talent yet, we may not trust that you can combine five genres into one smooth reading manuscript.

Character: How do you explain your character in a query?  To the very essence of their being, who are they?  But also, who are they on the surface?  Do those differ?  Great.  We have conflict.  And we love knowing what sort of conflict your character has.  The point of characters, after all, is to shove them in an unlikely situation to see how they will react.  Do not describe every character that makes an appearance.  Main character.  Love interest.  Bad guy.  A is a blank and B helps them to do blank, but they are thwarted by Cs mission to blank.

Plot: Straight forward right?  This happens, that happens, they live happily ever after.  Snooooorre.  What is the conflict?  What are the main characters battling against?  What is at stake?  What propels the character into action (her mother was killed, she is the only one who can see the future and stop it, she was bored... ok so I might not go for the last one)?

And that's that.  All the advice I have for today.  Like everything else, do a lot of research, do a lot of editing, and put a lot of time into your query.  You get one chance to impress, don't waste it.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday Reads: Rampant

This book has been dubbed as "The Killer Unicorn Book."  Rampant, by Diana Peterfreund, her website here.

If that doesn't make you want to read it, I'm not sure what will.  Here's the blurb:

"Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns…
The sparkly, innocent creatures of lore are a myth. Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. And they can only be killed by virgin descendants of Alexander the Great.
Fortunately, unicorns have been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.
Or not.
Astrid Llewelyn has always scoffed at her eccentric mother’s stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend in the woods – thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to prom – Astrid learns that unicorns are real and dangerous, and she has a family legacy to uphold. Her mother packs her off to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.
However, at the cloisters, all is not what is seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to – perhaps most dangerously of all – her growing attraction to a handsome art student… an attraction that could jeopardize everything."

A fast paced read in which you're never quite sure what's coming next (and really, what can be better than that?).  The cast of characters are all very familiar--from the popular blond athlete to the terribly nerdy and bossy misfit to the under loved and greatly pressured Asian kid--but when plugged into a 21st Century version of Unicorn hunting nuns, they become girls you can relate to, admire, while at the same time hoping you will never cross one in the street.  Deadly?  Oh, yeah.

First sentence: You have to take the first passage for this one.  The first sentence doesn't stand alone.

"'I will never really leave,' said the unicorn.  Diamond sparkles floated from the tip of is glittering silver horn. 'I will always live in your heart.'"

I swallowed the bile rising in my throat and forced myself to continue reading.

"Then the unicorn turned and galloped away, its fluffy pink tail swinging merrily as it spread its iridescent wings to the morning sunshine."

Oh, no.  Not wings, too.

"Every time the unicorn's lavender hooves touched the earth, a tinkling like the chime of a thousand fairy bells floated back toward the children."

Shuddering, I raised my head from the picture book to look at the rapt upturned faces of my charges.

Readers, writers, and agents frequently talk about voice.  You want a great example of voice?  Read this book.  In the first chapter you learn of Astrid great aversion to clowns.  Yes, we have a main character who is afraid--not of clowns or sharks or the dark--of unicorns because of her mother's singular obsession with the bloodthirsty animals.

This is the sort of things that drew me into the book and didn't let me go.

Beefs: I got four hours of sleep one night because I couldn't put it down.  Noooooo!  Haha, I'm completely serious.  Don't you hate when a book is so good you have to forsake your health for it?

Brownie Points: Since the unicorn hunters must be virgins to retain whatever magical powers being a virgin grants them, the group of hunters, all attractive, smart, teenage girls, talk about what it means to be a virgin in this day and age.  Throughout the whole book you are invited to think about this concept.  I like books that question modern day social customs, without, of course, trying to shove it down your throat.  It's a question, after all, that teenage girls are faced with everyday, so of course they will like reading about it.

Ending: Left me wanting more.  And more.  And more.  And I'm in luck because the sequel, Ascendant, is out now.

Recommendation: Read it.  Tell other people to read it.  Then read the sequel.

Want more of killer unicorns?  Diana Peterfreund has also contributed to Zombies vs. Unicorns, in which other favorite authors (Scott Westerfeld, Meg Cabot, Libba Bray) have thrown their two cents into the debate.  While not normally a fan of short stories, this book is at the top of my precariously tall stack of books to read.

Would I represent it? Yes.  I've never before heard of anyone making unicorns bloodthirsty and making a bunch of girls into unicorn slaying nuns, so, needless to say, the concept is unique.  Paired with Peterfreund's voice and story telling, this is the sort of book I would love to be able to represent.  Maybe one day I can help an author publish a book about evil squirrels or the secret life of platypus (you're the geniuses, I'm sure you can come up with something better).

Happy reading!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wednesday Reads: Twenty Boy Summer

As I was building my agent looking for list, I decided I was not going to do teen angsty contemporary stuff where the girls all whine and complain and the boys are stupid and shallow.  Nope.  Not gonna do it.

My boss thought differently.  YA contemporary has quite a market now, so it's on my list whether I want it or not.  To convince myself one way or the other, I went to the bookstore and roamed the shelves.  I went beyond the bestsellers.  I walked past the fantasies.  I bypassed anything of usual interest to me.  Slowly, like approaching a wild rapid dog, I entered the land of YA.  And spent a good ten minutes in the fantasy.  That out of the way, I finally went to the contemporary shelf.

Fighting back sarcasm and snorts at the pretty girls on the covers, and titles that made me want to vomit all my teenage years up, I began looking in earnest.  Some of them didn't look too bad, I realized.  Some of them actually looked readable.  I stayed away from the ones with girls in short skirts or anything that looked like a teenage romance (It was meant to be! I'm 15 and in looooove!--did I mention I am bitter and cynical?)

One of the last I texted to myself (sorry booksellers, I'm broke; I go to the public library), was "Twenty Boy Summer" by Sarah Ockler.  The cover was innocent enough: blue glass in the shape of a heart.  And I loved the title.  This is one book I picked up solely for its title.  It was a fun concept.  A fun social experiment--one I'm much too chicken to actually attempt myself.  Then I read the jacket blurb, as follows:

"According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every beautiful moment life has to offer."

So we've got a social experiment, death, love, grief, best friends, vacation.

I was sold.  And the book didn't disappoint.

First line: "Frankie Perino and I were lucky that day."  Good enough first line, but it's the first page that really catches you, makes you think, "Oh, what's this now?"

Beefs: Actually, the first two chapters I was still skeptical about the teenage romance thing (it is well written, and they were good chapters, just my bitter and cynical side saying "Ugh, love doesn't exist").  But then chapter three really starts into the heart of the story and I was hooked from then on.  I got only four hours of sleep one night because I could not stop reading it.

Brownie Points: One of the biggest reasons we discard a manuscript, or one of the biggest things we tell first time authors to change, is back story dump.  If you want an example of how back story can actually work, read this book.  And guess what?  It doesn't feel like a back story dump.  It's woven into the novel, it sets everything up so perfectly, you aren't thinking "back story!"

Ending: Satisfying.  And I wasn't puking my guts out because of the teenage romance bubble of happiness and mini skirts and cute boys (because the bubble didn't exist).

Recommendation: Read it.  And recommend it to others.  And check out Ockler's new book coming out this winter.  Did I mention "Twenty Boy Summer" was her debut novel?  Pretty impressive eh?  We will see good things from her, I'm sure of it. 

And here is a new section to my weekly book review: "Would I represent it?"  Pretty self explanatory.  And it's different than the overall "Do I like it" category.  Just because I like something, doesn't mean I'll represent it.  So...

Would I represent it?: Yes.  Big fat yes!  This is the sort of contemporary novel I love.  Real girls.  Real situations.  Real grief.  Real love.  The voice is by turns funny and sad, but always real. 

So there's your recommendation for the week.  As always, my very attentive readers, happy reading!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Trump Cards

Every person has their quirks.  Agents, me especially, are no exceptions.  So if you think you have something that gives your ms an extra little kick, make sure to include it in your query.  If your character rides around on ostriches and her sole purpose is to rid the world of evil squirrels, you might want to add that in there. 

Here are a few trump cards from published novels and reasons I couldn't not read the books:
  • The term "killer unicorn."  Enough said.
  • Pairing Abraham Lincoln with Vampires or Jane Austin with Zombies... priceless (don't try this though, Seth Graham Smith is a genius, and I personally won't look at your query if you do it)
  • Really depressing endings--usually killing off the main character's love interest--will actually make me really happy.  It does, however, have to be done well.  Really, really well.  But don't kill off your mc, I can't sell it, and that will make me sad.  (Of course, you can't say that in the query, please don't give the ending away.)
  • I picked up this book based on the title alone: "Twenty Boy Summer."  And it was a great read.  Analyzing the confusing aspects of today's society's dating methods and boy/girl relationships (especially when someone has died--because that's just morbidly depressing and a great story line) and dealing with grief, gets me all atwitter--I am a single 22 yr old after all, and that is the stuff of life

However, even the littlest thing can turn an agent off.  Here are a few don'ts from me:
  • If you compare your ms to Gravity's Rainbow I will not continue reading your query
  • If you aspire to write the next Twlight , I will laugh and toss you out a window
  • If you read Moby Dick in your spare time because it is "riveting, exciting, and the best novel of all time," I will personally feed you to a killer whale
  • The term "love at first sight" might kill me--please don't chance it, my death will forever haunt your writing career
Each agent has her trump cards and turn offs.  You might get lucky by accidentally appealing to them, or might have met them in person and know what they like.  Look for clues on their website or in their agent picture.  Analyze their favorite books.  What do they have in common with your manuscript that will appeal to them?

Happy writing!

Friday, October 8, 2010


I really don't know a lot about E-Readers or tablets.  I'm not even sure those are the right terms.  Until last week, when a momentous moment occurred in my life, I was perfectly content keeping this topic at arm's length.  Now however, face to face with the issue, I decided to educate myself, however minimally.
The momentous occasion was this: my mother won a Kindle. 

As prepared as I was to disown her for owning this hated device, I forgave her and allowed the evil into our home.  (Then the next day she won a 47' TV.  I was really ready to disown her, simply from shock)  Grudgingly, I took the Kindle into my own hands, and looked at the simple white casing.  And accidentally pressed the on button.

"That's the screen?!" I exclaimed.

"How'd you do that?" my technology stunted mother asked over my shoulder.

I had heard that the new readers had easy to read screens, but I was still expecting an old gameboy type screen (the last hand held device I had in my possession... twelve years ago, before the fancy color gameboys and PSPs came out).

OK, I had to admit it, the quality is pretty cool.  Still, I put the Kindle down, vowing to continue hating it. (I'm stubborn... just a little.)

The next day I find my mother downloading free classic books onto her Kindle.  So it gets another point: it's easy enough my mother can use it.  Cue the balloons and trumpets.  Among all of Jane Austin, Mary Shelley, Grim, Hans Christian Anderson (she has a thing for Fairy Tales apparently), were two of Jane Austin's works I have yet to read: Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park.  I haven't read them because I just never got around to buying the books.  And the one time I got them from the library, I was very tired of reading classics, so they were returned unread.  Now, however, I can give Jane Austin one more chance.  Next time I go on a trip that I can't take a lot of books, I plan to kidnap Mom's Kindle.

GASP!  Me?  A Kindle?  I'm not about to go buy one, I still prefer having the paper in my hands, and not having to buy books--I borrow from the library (it's a more expensive habit than smoking, I swear, not that I would know).  And yes, I know that I can get free books on the Kindle.  But I assume those are mostly self published authors trying to get a larger audience.  I applaud those people I do, and I don't want to offend anyone.  But I read bad manuscripts every day.  I really don't want to download one and actually commit to reading one.  My solid, traditionally published books that I hold in my hands and covet and read, those I know are going to be at least decent.  I'll trust the experts here.

With all these thoughts in my mind, I Googled "Kindle".  Simple as that.  Google Box--> Kindle--> enter.  Under "news for Kindle" came a blog post: "Why you shouldn't buy an e-reader".  Well, what do you know?  Something that appeals to me!  So I click on it.  And you should too, right here.  He gave the same reasons I did, interviewed some people, and reported that roughly (his guess, not an official poll) one-third of e-reader owners use their readers a lot.  Another third use it sparingly, and the remaining third keep in their drawer of unused things.  It's a pretty convincing blog post, all in all.  It made me feel hopeful that the fad will be just that--a fad.

On the other hand, here's another cool post I found about the Kindle 3, right here.  Looks like the Kindle isn't going to be one-purpose for long.  Games would be nice.  I would love to be able to download my own documents to an e-reader, but I suppose that's the purpose of an I-Pad isn't it?  I'm not about to rush out and buy one, but it would be nice to be able to read my partials on an e-reader instead of carting around my laptop or a pound of paper and kill a forest in the process.  I'll be patient, I'm in no hurry.  I am curious though, as to where this market will go.  More e-readers in the future?  More features?  Can we have it on our phone maybe?  Or a key ring?  Maybe they will go the way I-Pods did a few years ago and get smaller and smaller.  So small the screen gives us one word at a time!

So I'm getting carried away with my sarcasm.  Still, it is pretty cool (putting the optimistic part of my personality to use here) that books are now on light weight readers.  Bet Gutenburg didn't see that coming.

Happy reading, no matter what format you decide to read on.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday Reads: Shiver

Before you even crack the spine of Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater, the blue, gray, and white cold tones of the cover make little goose bumps break over your skin.  Your breath quickens.  It's that little red splash of blood over the 'i' that draws the eye.  And, after you memorize the pattern of leaves and branches, darker in the upper left hand corner, you see the wolf in the bottom right.

You can probably tell that I love this cover.  It's so simple, but at the same time sets the entire tone for the novel before you even get to the first line.  What's the first line you ask?  Excellent question my super smart readers.

"I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves."

Dark, creepy, mysterious, a touch morbid... all beautiful things.  Here are the things that should be going through your mind: Why is she in the snow, bleeding, surrounded by wolves? (see how much you can get from one line, and yet not know anything?)  Who is she?  Why are the wolves there?  But here are the other things you know: it's cold, snowing, there are wolves, she is bleeding.  You also know that this is a memory, and, at the very least, she probably doesn't remember much, but she is going to tell you what she can remember, which turns out to be the important stuff.

This is a great first line.  The action starts page one, line one.

Ok, I'm a little out of order today.  Here is the synopsis:
"For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human... until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.
I know what you are thinking: "Another werewolf book?  Really?  Vickie, you are off your rocker."  I thought the same thing when I picked it up.  However, that cover, and the idea that heat controls werewolves and the romance has an expiration date, decided it for me.

Beefs:  My biggest issue with this book is that it started to border on obsessive, teenage angsty, emo, love at first sight, love (I'm a skeptic).  But other characters and sub plots manage to bring this book to the next level.  All of the characters are smart, have fantastic quirks, and are utterly real.

Ending:  Satisfying.  Unexpected.

The sequel, Linger, came out in July, so you don't have to wait to read the next one!

Happy reading!

Monday, October 4, 2010

From Intern to Agent in Training

What do I do as an agent in training?  What does the training consist of?  How is it different than being an intern?

I get these questions frequently from people in my life (among the most obvious "What is a literary agent?").  I realized recently that perhaps my readers would like to know as well.  Well, let's start at the beginning.

Intern: As an intern I read queries, rejected queries, requested material, read manuscripts, rejected manuscripts, brought manuscripts to acquisition meetings, and learned why manuscripts I thought I loved would not be represented by the agency.  Read an agent blog and you will learn the reasons go from "not right for our agency" to "not ready" to "just doesn't interest me."  And no two reasons are ever the same.  I learned a lot about writing at this stage, which is amazing considering I don't consider myself a writer.  My favorite thing about being an intern, was that I got to make mistakes.  At first, you request a lot of manuscripts.  Eventually, I learned the hard way to tell from the query if the ms was going to be any good (hence why agents put so much emphasis on the query).  Agents do love having interns with different viewpoints than themselves.  For example, I requested one ms that the agent would not have given a second look at.  I couldn't put it down (that's the goal after all), and the agent couldn't put it down.  Every reader who read it couldn't put it down, and to this day I chalk it up to "I didn't have a clue what I was doing."  If I had received that query today, I would have rejected it.  But that's all part of the learning process.  And, as sad as it is, a lot of it has to do with luck (which is why I'm terrified of the next step...)

This will be my Agent Hat one day
Agent in Training: Having shed my intern hat, I got to don a more serious, important, worldly, ginormous hat with a big plume stuck in the top (think Abe Lincoln meets Captain Barbossa).  As an agent in training, under the supervision of an agent, I get to edit manuscripts for pitching, put together a pitch list of publishers (much like a writer puts together an agent list to query--former fellow intern Katie has a great blog post on this here), pitch publishers, and continue reading queries, partials, and full ms while looking for things I'll want to represent.  Needless to say, it's a lot to juggle.  Soon, I'm sure, I'll get to learn how to soothe the fears of my terrified authors.  I look forward to the day I get to send my first offer of representation (I think I'll send a bouquet of roses with a balloon that says "Baby #1").  We are aiming for three to six months to complete my training, at such a time I will be let loose as a full agent on the world of unsuspecting writers (apologies in advance), with, of course, more supervision until I have proven myself capable (so, what, another ten years I can put on the big boy pants?).

I'll keep you updated on my life as a know-nothing wanna-be agent.  Until then, I hope you writers out there keep plugging away and take all the advice you learn on the blogs (of much more experienced agents of course) to heart, so one day I can represent you!

So, as always, happy writing!