Showing posts from June, 2013

Finding the silver lining.

Bad stuff happens to you in this life. It's inevitable. The secret to life is snatching something good away from the bad, finding the silver lining in the dark cloud. Almost thirty years ago I was sitting in the office of my pre-medical dean when he delivered the bad news: he wasn't going to write my letter of recommendation for admission to medical school. At first, I didn't think I'd heard him properly. (Of course I must have misheard him--my grades were good, my MCAT scores were even better, and the dean and I had always gotten along nicely, even when he trounced me in raquetball, which he did routinely.) But I had heard him correctly, there would be no letter forthcoming. And, at Holy Cross College, that meant you couldn't apply, because every application had to have a letter from the person in his position, and he wasn't going to write one--just then.

I naturally asked him why, and to this day I remember the gist of his response. I had potential, Dr. Mc G…

Do I need to write a synopsis? (Please tell me I don't have to write a synopsis!)

You've just finished your book, and your first batch of query letters has created some interest among the group of literary agents you've queried. Things are good! There is, however, one problem: a couple of the agents have a requested a synopsis, and you don't have one. Oooopppps. As you consider your options, three choices rise to the top. 1) Send in the manuscript right away, striking while the iron is hot, and let the agents ask a second time for the synopsis after they have fallen in love with the ms. 2) Send the ms along with a cover letter explaining that you are now writing the synopsis, which you will forward to them when done. 3) Hunker down, write the synopsis, and send it in with the ms as requested. 4) Never write the synopsis, burn the ms, and spend your free time playing frisbee golf.

Let's consider each choice. One looks good, doesn't it: what's the sense of writing the synopsis if the agent doesn't love your ms? Conversely, it she does lov…

Always the waiting..... What to do as the wheels of the Publishing Industry grind.

The wheels of the publishing industry grind slowly—sometimes I don't think they grind at all. So, if you are going to stay sane as you try to work your way into this business, {me: Lisa, I'm still sane, right? Lisa: Sure, whatever you say, peter (as she finishes hiding the steak knives)}, you need to find constructive ways to spend your time as you wait for the responses to hit the inbox. Therefore I am dedicating this post to what to do as you wait for the Beta-readers or agents or editors or publishers to reply.
1) Read.  Number one for a reason. So often, writers forget about the thing that got them where they are to start with. You were a reader long before you started writing, and you should remain a reader. I could go on and on about the benefits of reading, but I don't want to bore you. (I haven't bored you already, have I?) As a corollary, try reading something in a different genre. If you, like me, write thrillers, read some literary fiction—it just might help …

The Query Letter that started me on my way to getting a truly wonderful literary agent.

I was looking at my stats last night (warning: stats reviewing can be hazardous to your health) and I realized that my most popular posts were the ones talking about how to snag a literary agent. As much as I loved My Father's Day tribute to my late father, it only netted 1/3 of the views that my top-viewed post about my thoughts on snagging an agent. So, in total capitulation to the masses, I am going back to my roots. (Sorry dad!)

Liz Kracht
Below I am posting the query letter that ultimately led to the offer of representation I received (and accepted) from Liz Kracht of Kimberley Cameron & Associates. I have stripped it down a little, removing the part about why I chose to query Liz in particular--but you should always have such a part about every agent you choose to query. Usually this is something like... I query you because you represent Absolution, a thriller in a similar vein to {insert title of your book.} Ok, without further blatant word count inflation, here it is:

Author Peter Hogenkamp

PeterHogenkampWrites: Trying to get published? Enjoying the process keep...

PeterHogenkampWrites: Trying to get published? Enjoying the process keep...: I have been writing and trying to get published for nearly a decade. And the entire time I have had a mantra, which I mutter to myself over ...

Trying to get published? Enjoying the process keeps you on the track to go the distance.

I have been writing and trying to get published for nearly a decade. And the entire time I have had a mantra, which I mutter to myself over and over. (It's my wife's mantra, actually, but I am taking credit for it.) Enjoy the process. Ohhmmmm. Enjoy the process. Ohhmmmmm.

I know what you are asking yourself. How could I not enjoy the process? I love to write, therefore it is a no-brainer that I will enjoy writing a novel or a work of non-fiction. I like this answer, and it is a good thing to remind oneself of on occasion, because you do love to write, otherwise you would never find yourself in this predicament. But it is nowhere near as easy as this, something you will find out for the first time about 75-100 pages in. Right about then your writing adrenaline runs out and you get a hankering to play golf, or take a hike or plant geraniums. And writing the next chapter becomes about as much fun as cleaning a year's worth of accumulation from the grease trap on your grill (y…

PeterHogenkampWrites: A pre-Father's Day tribute to my dad. (because I m...

PeterHogenkampWrites: A pre-Father's Day tribute to my dad. (because I m...: Father's Day is coming up in a few weeks and, as usual, that means two things: one, I keep dropping subtle hints about a getting a new d...

A Father's Day tribute to my dad.

Father's Day is coming up in a few weeks and, as usual, that means I think about my late father, and wish he was still with me. So, this year, I have decided to put my thoughts to words and publish them in my blog. I plan to dedicate my upcoming book to him (assuming it gets published) but the the dedication will be short ( to Dad, who meant the world to me). And although that fragment probably says it best, I wanted to flesh it out a little, if for nothing else than writing about him is the best way for me to spend some time with him.

My father was a deliberate and methodical person; when he used a particular word in a certain circumstance, it was because he had thought about the context, mulled over the way the word sounded, and considered the possible interpretations of the word by his audience before uttering it. (No, he was not given over to quick responses.) And if he couldn't think of the exact word he wanted, he would ruminate about it until the perfect word became clea…