Sunday, June 28, 2009

Agent Search

So I sent out a few queries to agents earlier this week. I started with those who accept email queries, as it is easier frankly. Received one request already for my first three chapters. Yeah!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Oh True Blue Agent, Where Art Thou?

My writer friend Jo Moran directed me to a great looking-for-an-agent site. It´s It has up-to-the-minute information about whether the agent you are interested in is accpeting queries, and what his/her current interests are. It also include addresses and emails.
I plugged in Memoir, and was perusing the agents who say they are interested in memoir, when all of the sudden one stood out. It´s a gal in New York who SPEAKS FLUENT SPANISH!

Sent my query for my Mexican memoir, Fast Break South off to her today. She studied in Spain. We´ll see if she has an interest in Mexico too.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


First, the second NY literary agent I tried said No to my memoir proposal. She thought it was commercial; she wasn´t in love with it.

Of course I want to get it in the mail to someone else asap, but I am being advised by a published author friend who is in Colorado to wait Mexico, it seems, presently has an unfavorable image in the US. And agents and editors, the reasoning goes, will have a hard time convincing the marketers that they can sell my book.


Wait or don´t wait. Comments?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Soul Train Soul

Last night, my husband´s snoring woke me up, and while I readjusted my ear plugs, I thought of my YA novel. I don´t want gore or violence or vampires. So, what happens to a 15-year old girl. This is my big question.

Here´s what came to me: Katie is new in school and wants to be POpULar! It´s 1974. (This much I arlready knew.) She´s a Soul Train-loving chick from Philadelphia, entering a conservative school in Wisconsin where kids still go to cotillions (she has to look the word up). She gets pulled into all the geek groups, like the Cable TV Club, while her younger sister´s popularity star shines. I don´t want to give everything away, but let´s just say that she discovers that the very elements that keep her from rising from obscurity, are suddenly the things that rocket her to not just popularity, but fame.

I mean, who doesn´t want to be on TV?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

OK, my dilemma, now that I´ve started my YA novel, is this: I am thinking of so many plots, I can´t decide. I have Katie, which is her new name - when she was in Catholic school, it was Mary Katherine - starting junior year in high school in her Sly Stone platform shoes. Of course this is totally the wrong outfit in the conservative Midwest. She wants to be popular and will give herself Popularity Ratings throughout the book.

Now, she needs a PLAN! What is her plan for becoming popular?

Of course, she´ll misread all the signs (like in the new school, watching Soul Train is not only not popular, the kids have barely even heard of it), and her sister makes all the teams she tries out for and is elected to Student Council, but what about Wanna Be Cool Katie?

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

NY Agent Is Reading My Proposal!

Yesterday I sent a friendly note to the agent to whom I sent the proposal for my memoir Fast Break South. Can you kindly tell me if you´ve received the proposal I mailed three weeks ago?

She replied within 30 minutes that she had; she was reading it and she would get back to me soon.

Fingers crossed!

My memoir is about growing up in an sports-dominated household (my father, Jack McKinney coached in the National Basketball League in the 70s and 80s). That´s the first element. The second element is my romance with a poor Mexican teenager.

If you wonder how the two are related, it´s in the book, and I hope the publishing gods smile on me you can read it some day soon.

Hey, I love to follow writers on Twitter, and you can follow me: mckinneyortega (!)

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Chat About Publishing

On Friday, I gave a massage to a lovely San Francisco furniture designer named Keith, here in our spa. Most people like quiet during a massage, but some people like to yap. Keith was a chatter, which is fine with me.

Keith and I talked about the publishing industry. He said, he never subscribed to a newspaper or read one, but now that he carried an I-phone (or was it a Blackberry?) he reads 30 - 40 minutes of news a day. Because he has access to the internet, he reads! A new reader!

From what I have read on Publishers Lunch and other sources, the publishing industry seems pretty alarmed at what Kindle and on-demand and on-line publishers mean for the future of traditional publishing, but YOO HOO! maybe the worry can be taken down a notch. Does anybody like me, think that new readers is GOOD NEWS for publishers and the writers of books?

I know. Keith was only one example, but I´m betting he stood for many more like him. I think the future of publishing will be different, but not grim.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I started my YA novel!! THIS is what I want to be writing even though the short story from 1992 and my novel about a shady Mexican lawyer have been tugging on me too.

My writing partners, both published authors - Sandra Gulland and Beverly Donofrio, liked chapters from my novel King of the World when we were reviewing them about two years ago, but the structure needs work and I have to admit, I was disillusioned by the reaction of a famous editor (non-fiction editor, mind you) who read it. He took my $175 US dollar consultation fee, sat back and said, "I hated it." And then offered nothing more.

Putting King of the World aside allowed me to get to the serious work of rewriting my memoir. So that´s done, and the memoir, Fast Break South, is up in NY seeking an agent, and I´ve been in the state of not working on a story, memoir, novel, project ever since I sent it. What anxiety!

Back to the good news. I´ve solved at least a couple of the questions about the protagonist and the young adult story. It´s about a high school junior starting a new school in Wisconsin, having moved from Philadelphia in 1974.

Another sign I´m on the right track: a writer on Twitter asked for book reccommendations for her 11-year old, who didn´t want wizards either (like my girls) but rather stories about real people.

The best news so far: I´ve written two pages!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Short Story as Distraction

Ya, ya, ya on my YA novel. So many things I have yet to decide, like, how confident is my main character? How much does she like herself? Is she a loser in school (not), an unnoticed kid, a popular kid? What do her parents do? How many siblings does she have?

Me puse a clean out some drawers while I tried to channel my main gal and her personality, and what did I find among some old Mother´s Day cards the girls have made, but a short story titled Picarón.

I wrote Picarón in 1992. I was taking a Spanish class at El Instituto Allende, and was interested in (as a character study) and sympathetic to a bulky middle-aged man who seemed to struggle more than the rest of us to learn Spanish.

Picarón means rascal. A salty sort of guy. This is how the character sees himself, as a teasing and romantic fellow, even though the younger people in the class likely see him as inept.

I was surprised to find that I liked the story. Surprised because I think my writing has improved over the years, but here was a 17-year old story that doesn´t need much work. I´m going to polish it up and send it to a contest or literary magazine, and see how Picarón does out in the world.