Thursday, March 10, 2011

Giddiness and Other Drugs

Woke up this morning to find my first response to a query letter - one I just sent out yesterday, to one of my Big Three Dream Agents, and its a request for the first fifty pages and a synopsis.

This makes me happy.

Also scared, nervous, insecure, anxious, hopeful, cynical, and a whole host of other emotions.  It's a plethora of emotions.  We're a cornucopia of emotions over here in Kalen land.

So pardon dear writer friends and readers, for any incomprehensibility as I switch hats briefly to think about acting things to distract from nerves and fears and OMG I SUCK AND SHE'S GOING TO HATE ME AND I'LL NEVER GET PUBLISHED NEVER EVER EVER.

So we shall distract ourselves by bitching about the acting unions.  Well, more specifically, union dues.  It's that bi-annual time again, time to pay union dues for AFTRA and SAG, and just further proof that the two unions just need to hurry up and merge already.  It's been inevitable for the past couple years, given AFTRA's rapid growth and rise in power, and the fact that all new shows seem to be going with AFTRA contracts instead of SAG, and its not exactly a surprise to anyone.  And I firmly believe its for the best as an actor, because last year was a bitch and a half trying to find work because SAG kept threatening to go on strike as part of the new contract negotiations and a whole crapload of productions either shut down or never even started up in the first place because they were afraid of that possibility.  When in actuality, it was never really a possibility, as the second SAG did go on strike, everyone with an AFTRA card (which is most of SAG anyways) would have been more than happy to swoop in and take all those jobs.  You can't threaten strikes as a negotiating tactic when you have a competing union willing and capable of doing the same work as you.  Does not compute.

Plus, trying to make enough hours to earn our benefits is practically impossible when the work is so evenly split between SAG and AFTRA contracts that nobody can get enough work in either union to make the minimums.

So yeah, more than ready for the unions to merge at this point.  Their contracts are practically the same these days anyways, so its not like it was even three years ago when an AFTRA contract was going to lock you into a much lower rate than a SAG contract.  Now the only lower rate contracts are Disney and Nickelodeon ones, and I don't see that ever changing much really.

So basically - just hurry up and merge already so I can just pay dues for ONE union instead of two, please?  I get where all the other SAG actors are bitching about having had to earn their union eligibility the hard way when all you have to do to join AFTRA is pay up, and now all those AFTRA members who've never worked under a single SAG voucher or been Taft-Hartleyed or gotten so much as an Under Five contract will now be considered on the same level as them, but blah blah blah get over it.  The voucher system has been broken for awhile now, there's no rhyme or reason to getting your SAG eligibility and they need to just start from scratch and figure out new eligibility requirements that actually have something to do with acting experience, talent and skillset, rather than just being in the right place at the right time when a union extra doesn't show up for work.  The merge is going to happen, deal with it, and worry more about making it happen quickly already so we can stop shelling out twice the money for half the work, alright?

(Actually what I'm most interested in seeing is how they handle initial joining dues.  I had to pay sixteen hundred to join AFTRA and twenty six hundred to join SAG.  Is the merged union's initial dues going to be the joint sum of those dues?  Are AFTRA members who aren't currently SAG going to have to pay another twenty six hundred to keep their union status current and active and fully paid up?  I mean, honestly, I would be pissed if it ends up I had to pay an extra twenty six hundred that actors in the 'new' union don't have to worry about and yet still be considered on even footing with them.  At the same time though, if I were an actor who had been completely comfortable being simply AFTRA for years now and had no aspirations to join SAG despite their eligibility, then I would be pissed as hell if I were told I had to pay another twenty six hundred to keep my AFTRA status active.  Don't get me wrong, I completely get that this is a colossal headache and a lot of people are going to get a lot more pissed before things get any better, but the problem isn't going anywhere until its dealt with.)

There.  Now I feel better.  It helps sometimes to remember that as messy and nerve wracking and confusing as the literary publishing field can be - it could be worse, haha.


  1. Woohoo! Congrats! I've got my fingers and toes crossed for you.

    Would it be too much to ask to see your query? I'm kind of perched at the edge of querying myself, and I'm terrified to take the plunge lol.

  2. Yeah sure, no problem! I can shoot you an email if you have an address you'd like me to send it to.

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  4. First off, BIG congrats on the request. And I'm sending all kinds of good vibes out for you. Have faith in yourself, and TRY not to worry too much. (I'm saying that as much for myself as for you--ha!) We should both be basking in our accomplishments, right? Someone failed to show me the fine print in the writer's manual: neurosis is a byproduct of success.

    And wow, I can't believe you have so much going on. I don't think I could EVER put myself out there in two competitive fields like you have. I mean they're both based on other people "liking" you on a purely subjective basis. Just baring one side of my soul is enough for me.

    You are one brave dude. Kuddos to you, and good luck w/all of your many ventures. Viva La Kalen Land! ^.^

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  6. Thanks Anita! And yeah, to balance out that first request (which I fired off this morning), I've gotten my first three rejections. Two were from agents who requested sample pages with the query letter so its hard to say if they rejected based on the premise or the writing, and the third was from one of my other Big Three Dream Agents and she rejected based on query alone. And I really thought my premise was right up her alley too, but oh well.

    Oddly enough, I'm not broken up about any of that. I'm still riding high on the request from Agent One, and its not even because I'm confident that she's going to request the full based on the partial. I said from Day One I really don't think this MS is her style. But I did break form and mention that if she saw promise in my writing at all, I had several fantasy and scifi manuscripts that could be made available to her on request.

    Its actually very weird. All of a sudden, I'm VERY sure that I'm not going to land any of the agents I'm really passionate about off of this manuscript but that doesn't seem to be bothering me Instead it just has me that much more eager to finish up Dust to Dust and query with something more in their vein, and its clarified for me that I KNOW I can land one of my dream agents, that there's really a much smaller list of about five agents that I've researched so extensively that I'm positive they'd be a perfect fit for me and I'm confident enough in my own writing and creativity to be sure I can get one of them if I just approach them with the right project.

    Your blog post today from blackcat was seriously inspirational. I really don't want it to take me ten more years, haha, and I don't think it will (crosses fingers) but it'll happen when the right fit is found.

  7. I think that your confidence in your writing is the best thing to come out of this, no matter what. Sure, you were confident in your writing before, but it was an untested confidence. In this last year with the short stories and the go-for-broke writing, the research and the everything culminating in this burst of queries, you've really start to show how strong your confidence is. You know your writing. You know what you're good at. And in this last year you've come to the point where you can sell that to others - not in a monetary sense, but in a "I believe what I'm saying" sense. This self-confidence is amazing and I hope to continue to watch it strengthen and grow.

  8. Congrats on the requests. And sorry to hear about the rejections.

    From just seeing your two excepts from Shades of Dorian Gray over at the Miss Snark's First Victim blog, I imagine that soon you'll be getting some sweet offers of representation.

    I'd love a chance to read Shades of Adrian Gray. So if you need another beta reader or a critique partner let me know. Even if it's just another set of eyes on your current query letter.

    Again, really enjoyed your writing at MSFV, I'm sure we'll see your name on a book in the not so future.

  9. That last sentence should be:

    Again, really enjoyed your writing at MSFV, I'm sure we'll see your name on a book in the not so distance future.


    Sorry for two profiles - trying to decide to stay with LJ or come to Blogger

  10. Thanks so much for following me over here! And I recommend Blogger - I did LJ for years too, but the fresh start for my 'trying to go the professional' route appealed to me, and I just like it better, personally.

    Did you have an excerpt posted at MSFV too? I checked out your profile and the title of your WIP 'Between Heaven and Hell' sounded REALLY familiar to me, but I couldnt find an exerpt by that name on MSFV.

    As for another beta reader or CP, I might take you up on that. I'm hunting for a few new ones for my new WIPs and just in general, and I was actually thinking of rnning a Critique Partner 'dating site' with a questionnaire people fill out to have their 'profile' posted for others to view and potentially swap manuscripts with. More on that in the next couple of days probably. As for Shades specifically, I know I'm not sending it out any further except for responses on the queries I already have out there, because now I'm thinking it does need some changes to the format/pacing to really make it the best it could possibly be, so I'm waiting to hear if I get any feedback on it from agents with partials and then I'll be looking for people willing to take a look at it for another revamp.

  11. I like the idea of a fresh start. For now, I plan to keep my LJ, but to get to know Blogger too.

    I haven't been brave enough to submit to MSFV, although I've been browsing it for a few years. It's amazing to see how people go from submitting an excerpt to publishing their first book. Once I have a solid draft of my WIP, I'll probably get over my fears and submit. Hey, I survived Fiction Workshop at grad school, I could handle MSFV, I think.

    I'll keep an eye out for the CP dating site. I think people will really like that.

    I look forward to seeing Shades if it comes to that. But I'll be thrilled for you if an agent calls and offers you representation.

  12. Sounds like a good compromise!

    And yeah, if nothing else, MSVF is awesomely inspirational. So much to learn just by reading people's entries. And yeah, you definitely have to submit once you're ready!