Sunday, February 20, 2011

Reactions and Actions

I had an unprecedented number of replies to last week's blog. All of them advised me to get off my keister and start sending out query letters for my novel -- the one I have been working on on and off for the past 10 years.

Now, I haven't been working on just that story all that time. I did manage to write a couple others, one of which was published in 2010. Another is being read by another publisher. I put it in the back corner of my mind because I was told it would take a year before I got a reply. That year is almost up, so I have been keeping my fingers and toes crossed. Still a third is at my original publisher awaiting a response. So I haven't been idle.

This past week I did a final manuscript check. The biggest hurdle was making sure all the chapter headings were in order after all the cutting and pasting I did while trying to make events flow with some kind of logic. Then I finished my outline. Using this as a guide, I wrote a two-page synopsis. It took a while, but I managed to cut it down to one page.

I sent out five query letters: three were single-page letters only; one query with the two-page synoposis and first chapter; and another query with the one-page synopsis and first 50 pages. (It seems every agent wants something different.) My goal is to send out a new query for each rejection.

Oh, speaking of rejections, I received my first one yesterday. It was short and sweet: "Not for me, but thanks." So now I have to go back to my list of possibles and sent out another query.

Meanwhile, as soon as I get some deadline-sensitive projects completed (both due March 1) I am starting another novel. This one will be a departure for me. I love what-ifs, and this one is "What if, after George Washington rejected the crown offered to him it was offered to Thomas Jefferson -- and he accepted."

Our lives would be a lot different -- or would they?

I'l keep you all posted.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Crawling to the finish line

Right now I am doing what I do best: procrastinating.

The closer I get to finishing the final (I hope) edit of my WIP, the slower my progress. One would suppose I would be hurling to the end, eager to finish and begin sending off queries.

Instead, I go over a few pages, take out a sentence, read the pages again, put the sentence back and change a word. Then I minimize the page and play a few hands of Spider Solitaire and check my e-mail before wandering off to make a cup of tea and engage my husband in a conversation about whether or not we need to make a run to Wal-Mart.

I have been working on this manuscript for almost 10 years now. I thought I had finished it once and sent out queries. One agent kindly told me "It isn't religious enough for the Christian market and not steamy enough for the historical market."

I put it aside. I could no more take out the religious slant than I could ignore the costumes of the period. Back then, the church was the focus of the community and people believed God was looking down on them with an angry and judgmental glare.

And, I couldn't make it "steamier." Some people can write erotic passages; I cannot.

But the story still called to me. I decided to rewrite it in 2009 and took out some of the "preachier" passages. I allowed the heroine to feel all warm and tingly whenever she was around the hero. I even had a secondary character destroy her reputation by running off with her son's tutor.

My critique group encouraged me to keep on and so I managed to complete the revised story. Because I had added passages, I needed to go back over it and make certain that everything flowed smoothly.

Now I am going over it again to see if I had missed any glaring errors. I have less than 100 pages to go. And each day, I go over fewer pages than the day before.

I don't want to get to the end because the next step is submission. I dread the process of sending out a query letter, synopsis and bio. I dread opening an e-mail or letter and seeing that rejection slip.

I guess I am afraid I did all that work and the novel is still unpublishable.

But I won't know until I try. I made one projection that I would finish by Feb. 1. I missed it, for all the reasons listed above. My next goal is to have at least one query sent out by March 1. There is no reason I can't accomplish this.

No reason at all.