Hello! I'm Kathleen Foucart (rhymes with Go-Kart), YA Writer, & this is my website. Below is my blog, click the linkities on the left for info about me, my books, and the critique services I offer, as well as links to my writer friends. Linkities on the right are for finding me on Facebook & Twitter.
I realize I've been diving in & out of LJ-land for the last year or so to drop big news: "Hey, I have depression that really sucks!" "I got an agent!" "I lost my agent!" "I'm changing my critique services!" "I'm pregnant!" etc.
I also realize I haven't been posting quite as much in terms of what I'm writing/ how things are going in general. I didn't really mean to fall off the face of the earth between those bigger things, but it happened, and I'm sorry it did. I haven't stopped writing. I still write every day. But things have been different and difficult with all that Big Stuff going on.
One thing that's happened, obviously, is that ACCURSED didn't sell when I was on submission. I'm not going to play a blame game here-- the editors either didn't fall in love or they couldn't get it past editorial board. Maybe it didn't get sent to all the right houses or to the right people at the houses it did go to. It had some flaws that might've kept it from being a must-have for those editors who did see it, and then I didn't have an agent to push the list of editors who never got back to us.
After I went off sub, I knew I couldn't do much with ACCURSED professionally if I didn't want to self-pub it (a viable option, but not one I'm ready to commit to). So I kept plugging away at DARLINGTON. I beat my head against the wall when working on THE TIES OF BLOOD. I started CONVICTION. But nothing grabbed me. Nothing made me want to really keep going. So I decided to jump around in my works, play with ACCURSED when I had time, but obviously I had to focus my attentions on things that could still gain me representation, right?
A couple months ago I realized what my problem was: I couldn't get Gen's story out of my head. I knew, somewhere in my gut, that I had to finish my revision of that book before I could move on to really focus on something else. I knew how to fix it, I had a bunch of ideas, I could slip back into her voice as easily as I can write in my diary. So what was stopping me? Oh right, me.
I'm not a big rule-breaker. I followed the submission guidelines of every agent I submitted to to the best of my abilities-- I even lamented over the ones who didn't give more specific instructions, because I wanted to make my query stand out to them as Professional and Capable and I wanted to come across as a Good Person To Work With. None of that is a bad thing-- except when all the professional advice I was seeing said that no one would want to pick up a manuscript that had already been on sub to so many major houses/editors. So I believed it.
And it's still true. But...
It's not what's best for me. I wasn't writing much. My word counts had been atrocious for months. Nothing was clicking. Nothing felt right. And I'm still in my pre-published time. This is the time for me to experiment, to write what I love, to not worry so much about the Big Professional Things and focus instead on what will make me a better writer, which in turn (I hope), will help me become a writer who's sold a novel.
Last year I made a playlist for myself to represent the year. It was a lot of "keep going, don't give up, you'll be OK" kind of things for a bunch of reasons. This year, though, something about moving many of those songs over felt hollow. Instead, the first song I added to my 2013 playlist was Kelly Clarkson's "Catch My Breath," I think because these lines rang so true for me:
I don't know what finally made all this click for me, whether it wasn't getting my book picked up, losing my agent, or realizing I'm going to be a mom. But I don't have time to play by someone else's rules when they don't make sense for me, for my life, for my process. And after sharing all those ups and downs last year, well-- now you know. I thought I was done hiding my problems when I shared about my depression last year, but then obviously I wasn't. I think I am now. I'm not going to pretend I'm totally perky & fine when I'm not, I'm not going to avoid blogging when I'm having trouble, but OTOH I'm not feeling pessimistic at all, and I think that comes from acknowledging the truth.
So this is my life: I'm finishing up a sixth revision on a book that I probably won't be able to use to get another agent, at least not anytime soon. I'm having trouble finding my footing again in this writing world, but I'm not giving up on it. This is my year of catching my breath and realizing what's important, and for me right now, it's finishing up ACCURSED*.
*And yes, obviously you, tiny person who is kicking my ribs as I write this!
Just realized that, while I posted this information on Facebook & Twitter a couple weeks ago, I hadn't yet made an LJ-land announcement. So this is to let everyone know that my husband & I are expecting our first kiddo in early September :)
(And yes, I picked that image because we're currently calling baby "Stormageddon" a la Doctor Who)
Thank you to all the entrants & all my friends who helped promote the contest. I really appreciate it!
And now, the winners!
The winner of the Submission Package Critique is Dani!
The winner of the First Chapter Critique is Chrystal!
Thanks again for entering!!
Just a reminder that my critique contest ends tomorrow! If you want to enter, please do so on my last post.
Right now there are only a few entries, so you have a good chance of winning either a submission package critique or a first chapter critique-- and no matter what you get a free first page critique just for entering!
And if you're worried about entering because you're worried about receiving feedback, please don't be scared! I don't bite, I promise. All I want to do is help :)
As I said in my last post, I've been doing a lot of thinking about writing-- and not just my own, but what I really love about it. As much as I adore getting lost in my own worlds, getting lost in other people's is a lot of fun, too. Even more fun is helping other people find their way through the worlds they're writing.
I hope that doesn't sound pretentious, since I know I frequently need help to find the heart of what I was getting at. I don't know how many times I've thrown chapters or even whole manuscripts at Jess, with an email reading "HELP! I have no idea what I'm doing anymore!" That's the great thing about critique partners and groups-- they can often figure out what you were thinking better than you can. Or, if not, at least put you back on the right track!
Unfortunately, not everyone has critique partners. Or sometimes your critique partners are busy with their own work and can't get to yours for a while. Or they've read so many drafts that they, like you, are having trouble seeing why those "Sorry, this just isn't for me..." emails keep coming back. That's why I started my critique services.
That's also why I'm lowering my pricing. I want to be able to reach more writers who are looking for help, but can't afford the super-high prices of some other professional editorial services. I know a lot of writers struggle with the question "is this working?" and a lot of writers don't have a group of critique partners to fall back on, so I'm hoping the many options listed will provide the flexibility for people to be able to afford help, whether they need it piecemeal or for a whole manuscript.
I've also added a couple items to the offering. The first is a submission package critique, which includes notes on your first chapter, query, and synopsis. The second new item is going to be a lot of fun for me, and hopefully for those who purchase the service-- a First 500 Words critique. It's only $5 (and yes, if your last sentence ends at 511 words, that's fine), and you can order it as many times as you like for as many projects as you like. It's a quick-check to make sure that you're hooking the reader the way you want from page one, and it's as affordable as your morning mocha.
To kick off the new products and the newly re-priced site, I'm having a contest!
First Prize: A free submission package critique. (If you win & aren't at the querying stage yet, we can discuss a partial manuscript critique instead.)
Second Prize: A free first chapter critique.
Everyone who enters will receive a free first page critique and a discount code for a future service. Yes, this is shorter than the 500 words service, but I don't know how many people will enter and I need to keep the pool manageable!
To enter, Step One:
1) Blog about the newly re-priced site, including a link to the site and a link back to this contest post. If you're a previous client, you get an extra entry via this method for promoting it as a service you've used!
2) Post about the services on Facebook (again, be sure to provide links!).
3) Tweet the following: Affordable #writing critique service! RT to win a crit from @kathleenfoucart http://bit.ly/Z2BPkm
4) If you use another social media platform (Tumblr, Google+, Instagram somehow...), feel free to mention the contest there-- for each additional site you post on, you'll get another entry.
After doing any or all of the above, come back to this post (please use the one on livejournal.com, it just makes my life easier), and comment with links to everywhere you've posted it. Somewhere in the comment be sure to put your name and your email address (in the form of "yourname at wherever dot com" is just fine) so that I can contact you after the contest. Remember, everyone who enters does get a free first page critique, so even if you don't win the top two prizes, you still get something! So don't forget that email address!
Wait. But just until Saturday! On Saturday morning (March 9) I'll randomize the list of entries & let random.org pick the winners. Then I'll post the names and email everyone who entered with directions on what to send where.
That's it! With the usual caveats of not spamming someone else's website (every entry you post MUST be under your own account at whatever site you're using) and that while the contest is open internationally, I can only read submissions in English.
And since that was a lot of explanation for a wee little contest, you all deserve a picture of a happy little corgi to get you through the rest of today!
If purchasing the first chapter, query letter and synopsis critique for the discounted price, please select this option.
This option is best for authors about to embark on their querying journey. Having the three pieces most often requested by agents critiqued as a unit provides me with the most complete picture, therefore giving me the opportunity to give you the best feedback possible.
If there is a particular agent who you want to be sure to impress and their submission guidelines request more than the first chapter (or first 15 pages), please contact me for special pricing information. Depending on the amount of extra pages being sent, it will likely only add a few dollars to the package price. However, if they request a partial greater than 2 chapters or a full manuscript, edit letter pricing will apply (depending on word count).
First of all, thank you for everyone who commented on my last post. All your lovely thoughts & support mean a lot to me :)
In terms of getting back to the work, I've had a number of different thoughts in the past few months.
For a while I was trying to revise TTOB. I'd gotten some good responses, but as it's the project I've been working on the longest, it's also the project I feel the most perfectionisty about. It shouldn't matter that I'm adding a whole new POV that wasn't there before and that I'm changing the other narrator from third person to first-- it should be close to perfect so many drafts in, damn it! Current me says: Errr... yeah. Right... About that... You're basically writing a different book. Chill.
After the un-agenting, I thought I needed to push through a revision of DARLINGTON, cause, well, that's the newest project I was working on pre-agenting. Obviously best choice for next draft out to query. Around November it came to a screeching halt. I hated it. I hated everything about it. It sucked. My CPs/crit group will tell you this was not the case. I will now tell you this was not the case, but at the time-- it sucked. I hated it. That was all that mattered-- cause if I was already failing at everything, why not just add another thing?
Another thought I had after the un-agenting was that I needed to take another look at a certain part of ACCURSED. This came mostly from one agent's (not the one I wound up with) and one editor's feedback. Usually that's not a big enough sample for me to decide to make a major change, but these were professionals whose opinion I really respect. And the more I thought about it-- and the way the editor phrased it really brought it home to me-- the more I realized they were right. So I toyed with the idea some, wrote a few new scenes. But it's hard to work on a story that has already been on sub, since you know it might not be able to go back out again. So while I played with it, and wanted to make it the best it could be, at the time I couldn't give my whole heart to it.
Throughout this I had the feeling that what I really needed was to lose myself in a first draft. But I felt totally adrift-- what would this New!Project! be? I had a few ideas started and while I thought them good, they weren't hooking me. And then CONVICTION popped into my head. It's the same basic premise as a story I began waaaaay back in 2002, but I re-thought the casting and made the MCs much more YA and put them instantly in a life-threatening situation and boom! New story! New first draft! For a while, I was moving along at a good clip. But, like with all new stories, there came a point where I realized I had no idea where I was going or what I wanted to be saying. Thankfully, this has been a recent bump, so I'm feeling more hopeful about continuing than I would have been a month or so ago.
What does this very long tale of writing disappointments have to do with what I'm doing right now? Well... everything. Because somewhere in the last couple years, with so much focus on getting ACCURSED ready to query & then querying it, I forgot how I write. And I am inherently a project-hopper. So what am I working on now?
Everything. All of the above.
Not every piece every day. That would be crazy. And not a lot every day, because I'm still re-finding my groove. I wish I could go back to my easy 1k+ days, but writing is a muscle, and I have to build mine back up. But trying to focus on just one project has left me feeling like I'm failing when I'm not. Getting stuck is not failing. It's part of the process. It happens to everyone. But where I've been at lately, it felt like failing. So now if I'm feeling stuck on what comes next in CONVICTION, I switch over to what I know has to happen next in my ACCURSED revision. If I'm not sure what happens next in TTOB, I play with a scene in DARLINGTON that I know needs tweaked. Even if it's only a few hundred words, it's forward-motion. It's progress.
And it feels good.
Plus, I no longer feel guilty when I see this:
Oh! And before I forget, early next week I'll have an announcement RE: new pricing for my critique services. One thing I've also figured out in these past months, despite my own floundering, is just how much I love helping other writers, so in an effort to reach more of them, I'm lowering my crit prices. Please check back Monday or Tuesday for an announcement and contest!
I've been contemplating this post for quite a while. Some of you might have noticed it's been a bit quiet around here (er, for 2 months… sorry about that…). There are quite a few reasons for the silence, and as now the sting has worn off one of the biggest reasons, I think I'm ready to talk a bit more about it.
I no longer have an agent.
This happened back in September. Actually, it happened twice: my original agent got a fabulous job opportunity outside of agenting last June, and I was passed along to someone else in the agency. Unfortunately, she and I were not a fantastic fit and parted ways. (PLEASE do not bash my previous agency here! I'm not bitter towards them-- things happen.)
It was probably the right thing to have happened, but despite the fact that there was no fault involved, I still felt rather… adrift. I knew what I had to do: finish off another manuscript and query again. Get back on the horse. After all, I'd had a manuscript accepted for representation and had gotten fairly close to a couple of offers from editors I really respect. I knew I could do it again, it was just a matter of putting in the work.
But-- and isn't there always a but?-- I haven't entirely felt right in my writing since I finished off ACCURSED, which was in the fall of 2011. True, I finished a full draft of DARLINGTON since then. I began a total rewrite revision of it. I began re-working another older piece that I've never lost faith in. After I started getting feedback from editors on ACCURSED (granted, most of it was the same as what I'd gotten from agents, which, while nice, wasn't to-the-point enough for a revision tactic) I began wondering about how to fix a certain section in that. In November I began a total re-imagining of another older story (where I kept the basic premise & the main character's names). I've been working. I've not missed a day of writing (though I will admit to writing only one word one day!) and thinking about my stories. I still love them all and desperately want to make them the best they can be.
Yet something has been missing. I don't feel that fire, that drive that propelled me through ACCURSED. I am too damn stubborn to give up, and I don't want to, but I also am feeling very much like I've lost something I once had. I don't know if it's my "publishing innocence" or if I'm still trying to figure out who I am without the constant cloud of depression fogging my mind and making every day a fight (writing was certainly my medication then, even if I didn't realize it). Whatever it is that's missing though, I'd like to either find a way to get some of it back (er, just not the depression!) or find my way around this massive wall that's gone down in my brain so I can get back to making stories. Because that's what I'm truly missing-- the feeling of being so involved in a story that it's all there is.
I haven't given up on ACCURSED. I haven't given up on DARLINGTON. I haven't given up on me. I'm going to find a way through this, I know it. I just… don't know how yet, or when, which, if you know me, you know is probably what's really driving me craziest of all!
I found this quote on Pinterest the other day… It's from Ayn Rand, who I completely disagree with on so many levels it's not even funny, but these particular words have really been helping me so I thought I'd share:
I don't have any answers right now. I have no neat summation and no real idea what I'm even doing sitting up at 10 PM on a Saturday night writing this post. All I know is that I felt like I was hiding from you all, and I don't want to hide anymore. I have nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing to fear from telling you that I'm having a hard time. Everyone does. And maybe now that I've let my lovely LJ friends in on the problem I'll start feeling like I can really conquer it.
The opening of my page on end of the year critique specials says, "Are you this kitten, with the yarn being your plot?"
And, well, I am. Or at least, I have been. Darlington was giving me fits for a while, and other stories, both new and old, are pushing around in my mind, begging for attention. So what do I think is a good way to stop being so tied up in my work?
Work on other people's, of course!
This makes sense in my head, I swear....
Anyway, I'm planning an actual "Where I am now" post for the next few days, but until then I wanted to get the word out that I'm offering a few end of 2012 deals for critiques/edits through my critique service. So if you know anyone who's in the market for a freelance editor, please send them my way!
More info and the offers can be found here.
So what has everyone else been up to? Doing well, I hope! I've been trying to pop in & read posts, even if haven't been able to comment much the last few weeks. Things have been kinda crazy here, but I'm trying to at least keep up with y'all!