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The Blog of Anya Harker » 2012 » March

So this is definitely not a post on writing. I have one of those coming up soon, mind — plus a thought for a feature every other month for you guys (if anyone IS reading this thing) if you’re interested. BUT. More on that later.

I want to talk about etiquette in the theatre, be it the cinema or a b’way one.

1. Cell Phones: Sorry? But NO one is so important that they can’t go two and a half hours without actually looking at their phone and texting. Yes, I know there are the exceptions like when you’re a doctor on call or the like. However? I think it’s very unlikely that as a 14 year old you need to constantly be on your phone. Also? The size of your screen means whenever it lights up it’s like a little mini beacon in the dark. And as a little caveat? When they say please silence your phone — they really mean it. I don’t want to hear your ringtone going off in the middle of the show. Not only that, but please do NOT answer your phone and proceed to explain to someone that you’re seeing a show and can you call them back later?

2. Flash Photography: Um. This should be self-explanatory? But theatres are dark places, so when you’re taking pictures in the audience? It’s not only distracting to other audience members — but it can be dangerous to the performers. Furthermore? Taking a picture of yourself because you’re crying over someone’s death in a film and then giggling, then trying to take a few more photos to get one EXACTLY right? Not cool. Especially for the half of the theatre setting behind you.

3. Insert-Name-of-Hot-Character-Here: Y’know. I get it. He’s hot. Even as I’m approaching my 30s (*shudder*) I can still agree that certain characters are hot. Really, I can. And you know, I don’t mind teenage squealing the first time an actor comes on stage. But after squealing the SIXTH time (or the twentieth time. Or even if we only see a FLASH of the actor’s face?) it gets really old. Particularly when the squealing and shouting “He’s so hot!” continues into dialogue.

This public service announcement has been brought to you by one very annoyed girl who saw HUNGER GAMES at a 7pm showing and had to complain to a manager because she missed 80% of the movie Friday night.

This PSA (namely the talking on the phone in the middle of a show bit) is also brought to you by the stupid women behind me at Priscilla Queen of the Desert today who not once, but TWICE did this.

All I ask? No matter what your age, be considerate to people at the theatre. That is all.

So right now, it’s been fairly slow going. My opening is polished and I’ve been steadily editing while trying to balance my fun work, my internship, and that pesky thing known as law school. I’d send out a couple of queries once a month, just to see how I was faring.

And I’ve been rejected.

Yes, rejection is the name of the game, but it still sucks when you wake up to an email that says “your query was engaging, but I didn’t like it as much as I hoped I would”. Hell, you get to the point that a personalized rejection is better than the hated form rejection! Still, rejections suck. You soon realize that no matter how thick you think your skin is, everyone has that one area of vulnerability and they manage to slip beneath that skin and gnaw away.

Over the course of the past few months, I’ve entered several contests as well — and got no love from the agents. At that point, I started re-thinking things. Contests, I will say, are fantastic ways to get some good insta-feedback. At that point, I took a step back and changed things. The title changed. The prologue changed. I started going back over the opening chapters and fixing things, especially when I began to realize just how much my voice has changed over the course of a 76k novel.

Then… came March Pitch Madness, hosted by the amazing @brendadrake, @CA_Marshall, and @Shelley_Watters on their blogs. Still stinging from the last contest rejections, I made a last minute decision to sign up — and I am so glad I did. I waited on pins and needles to see if I got accepted into the final round. Out of 198 entrants, I was one of 60 chosen. OH MY GOD!

I tried not to get my hopes up after the last contest. So when I hit refresh on my entry at noon yesterday, I was shocked to see not one, but TWO requests on my entry for the query and the first 25 pages. I wanted to do a happy dance, but since I was at work, I had to settle for the dance in my head. It looked something like this:

Hugh Grant Does a Happy Dance in LOVE ACTUALLY

Okay, so the .gifs are a little large. So sue me. I want to use things from LOVE ACTUALLY.

At this point I entered the awesome CHALLENGE ROUND. I sat at work, obsessively hitting refresh to see which agent would come out on top. In the end, it was the amazing and awesome Sarah LaPolla who won the day with a 150 page request. It’s safe to say the happy dance I was doing in my head looked something like this:

Laura Linney Flail from LOVE ACTUALLY

So yes. I waited until today to write this post, because I’m afraid that if I wrote it yesterday, it was going to be nothing but a VERY long line of SQUEEEEEEE. So right now is the last set of eyes going over the first 150 pages to make sure they sparkle as much as I know they can. I’ll release it from my hands this weekend. But for right now, I leave you with one final .gif — because this is how I still feel, even as I sit in my law classes and try to do work.

KERMIT FLAIL

I’ve been working at the literary agency for about 8 weeks now, and I have to say I absolutely love every minute of the day. It’s a reminder that I’m happy as all get-out to be in the publishing industry and just hope I can get a good job when this internship is over!

While I’ve been at the agency, I’ve been doing a lot of read reports for some of the agents. What these are, are short summaries and critiques of manuscripts. I have to say? Doing these have been, quite possibly, the best exercise ever. I have one to two pages to both summarize the novel and also give my critique/recommendation which… isn’t a heck of a lot of space. However, the exercise of summarizing something I’m not familiar with has been such a great learning experience when drafting my own query letters and synopsises. (Synopsi??)

I challenge you this. If you’re having trouble figuring out your query/synopsis, pull a book down off the shelf — either one you know well or one you don’t. Read it again. (because if you’re not reading, you can’t write!) Then sit down and try to do the following: write a 35 word pitch, a query, and a synopsis. Then do it again for another book. And if you could use more practice? Do it again. Focus on the main character and the plot. What drives them forward?

We do this all the time when we sit down to tell a friend why they OMG have to read this book. But when we go to write a query letter and impress an agent, it’s hard — mostly because we start second guessing ourselves. We want to make it shine and be that diamond in the slush pile.

I say? Take a step back and work on the fundamentals and if you can easily summarize a story that belongs to someone else? It’s not so hard to do it to your own. Sure we want to include every miniscule plot detail, but that doesn’t work. I look at my new query and synopsis and I’m very, very happy with them both — but they also have been written after I started at the agency.

Good luck and query on!

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