In the Trenches

January 4, 2023

Querying and Complex PTSD, great combo

Ok, for a moment I am going to hijack this series about querying and talk ‘mental health’. But, the topics are related.
One of the curious traits of Complex PTSD, which I have in abundance, is the need to please folks. Many of us grew up needing to be small, the quiet child, the easy child. We were the children that never asked for anything and never put a foot wrong.
Actually, let me rephrase that. I have an intense need to ‘follow the rules’. That was the route to survival in my childhood home, adherence to the rules and perfection.
Easy formula, really. (That’s a joke people)
So, imagine how distressing it is for me to not have any rules to follow, or worse, to have two options and not know which one to take. Because, in my brain, there is obviously one right path and one wrong path. Add in that asking for clarification was verboten and you have this perfect little ball of crazy-making anxiety. You, literally in my case, end up pacing between two points.
The internal meshegas looks a bit like this:
If I do ‘A’ and I’m wrong then bad things will happen. So, I’ll do ‘B’. But, I don’t know that ‘B’ is the right choice, so I should probably go with ‘A’. But, what if I’m wrong?
Rinse. Repeat. Ad nauseum.
I ran into one of these this morning and I am exhausted.
The insidious little thing about this type of anxiety is that, more often than not, it results in complete paralysis. What if? What if? on endless loop and no way to resolve the quandary.
So, I did something really scary this morning, I asked for guidance.
Why is that a problem? Well, you see, if I bring attention to myself in any manner other than rule following perfection then I annoy people, and annoyed people leave. *poof *doors slam shut.
As a child you get really good at not asking, for anything. Moving on because there is a whole essay down that rabbit hole.
Here I am, not even noon, exhausted from one quandary, having asked for directions, and now terrified that I have caused a door to slam shut, because I annoyed someone, by asking a question.
Yeah, my brain, fun place.

January 3, 2023

Writers and the Bird

*Le sigh.
I took the time this morning to put some of my thoughts about the mess at Twitter and the impact it is having, and may have, on the writing community. The disarray at what was a unique part of the web, a place that fostered a tremendous sense of community within the writing sphere is causing fallout. Where all the people and pieces may land, at this moment, is unknowable.

January 2, 2023

Distraction Time

Ok, phew. Chapter three, scene two has been through the first edit.
I’ll say, this time around, I am much better at ‘seeing’ things that need to go, or change. And, I have made a habit of putting my questions into the text, as I have them. No more – What did I mean by that symbol?
Why am I talking editing here? Well, most of the queues I am waiting on, I’m still waiting. So, find something useful to do that moves me toward my goal. That means either researching more agents, which will happen, or it means working on the writing in some aspect.
Why not send out more queries? My thinking goes something like this… I haven’t heard back from any of my initial queries. Well, ok, a couple of ‘no’s. But I’m holding out that there might be a ‘yes’ out there. Perhaps I’m just being stubborn, or delusional. Both have been known to occur in the past. Anyway, my current cunning plan, is to get the three I have ‘on hold’ sent out as soon as those queues open up. Hopefully, this week. From there I guess it is back to the heavy duty research to find the next batch.
But – there might also need to be a rethink in there.
Remember the concerns I laid out in Commercial Enough? If I am getting no nibbles, is my query package off? Possible. But I’ve had two professional editors, one with experience in the publishing industry, the other currently employed in the publishing industry, evaluate and help me polish my query. If it isn’t the query, is it my writing? Or is it the concept? I really hope the problem is just that I queried in a really dead time of year. After looking at that last sentence, I’m leaning towards delusional. So, here I am, still waiting. Take it away Fiona.

January 1, 2023

Too Much Thinking

Happy New Year.
Good, now that is out of the way, let’s get to the querying report. I have ready to go three queries to three agents I would like to know. The first two are the agents from the massive experience with thwart from December 1, 2022. The post is below, title is ‘Gutted’. Anyway. The third is an agent that I ran across on Twitter one day and asked if I might resubmit my rewritten work. They gave me the green light. Yay. So, here I sit, waiting for their respective queues to open.
And, of course, with the waiting comes too much thinking. Ya see. I have, currently, nine active queries out there in the ether. Most of those agents haven’t touched their queues since beginning or mid-December. One poor person was so backlogged when I queried in October I didn’t see how they could possibly get to my submission, which was somewhere in the low 400s I think, before December. Ok. I have since learned that December in the publishing industry likely means January. From my very limited view it appears that there is a general slowdown in reading queries, at least by the QueryTracker timeline, starting in December, late November. The shift in momentum correlates with the winter holidays. Makes sense. Agents are people, too. And, I was rather relieved my stocking wasn’t full of proverbial coal. A ‘no’ might burn, but you can’t burn a ‘no’, hence coal would have been preferable. That’s neither here nor there, because there was a very persistent silence.
But, as I have been reading up on agents many have mentioned that they will be opening their queues again come January, 2023. Which is, now.
I feel very much like I am lingering at the stage door. I’m ready to go, and just waiting to hear the door open. Deep breath. Patience.

December 31, 2022

Questing for the Holy Grail

I have wanted, dreamed of a tool to help speed up my writing for years. Every year, at the end of the holiday season, when the sales are popping up, I go a’huntin’ again. And, every year it looks like technology is creeping closer to my goal.
What I need, what I dream of is a tool that would allow me to stop transcribing my handwritten originals into a computer. I type, but not well. Side note: My Aunt JoAnne could type 90+ words per minute, error free, on a manual typewriter. (Mad skillz, people. She had absoutely mad skillz.) I am in no way in her class. I’m not even in the same zip code. I’m a little better than a chicken at a keyboard, but not by much. I lose so much time just trying to type. It slows me down. It is a point of frustration. Gah!
Enter the age of e-Ink. Slowly the industry to create a tablet-like device that will translate my writing directly into an electronic file is coming of age. I’ve held off on buying one of these tablets, mainly because I have tried other types of tools which claimed to solve the transcription problem.
Ah, yeah. No. They really didn’t.
So, with money tight, and no sugar-daddy on the horizon, I am holding myself back until I have had the opportunity to research, and more importantly, to try out one of these new e-ink devices.
Oh, I would love to be able to give up the hours of sitting at my computer and trying to consistently push the correct keys in the correct order. And, to not have to go back and correct a mistake nearly every sentence. Also, Gah!
So, this morning I fired off an email to a new company that offers an interesting product. Is it the Holy Grail of saving me time and frustration? Don’t know, but I might have the chance to check it out. Until then… I gotta go type. Grump.

December 30, 2022

Details

Watching the clock tick down to the end of the year. One more agent is identified for a good match, so that will be tomorrow’s task — get a query ready to go. I’m hoping that on Jan1, 2023 several agents will open their queues. From what I am reading that seems likely. I’m still trying to get a handle on the ebbs and tides of the querying ocean. I guess the good news to hearing nothing is that I didn’t get a load of ‘no’ during the holidays. As I’m looking at queues and timelines, I ‘think’ my manuscript is lingering in several ‘maybe’ piles. So, I keep going. Left. Right.
I did manage to get another 2 scenes of Book 2 refined today. So, progress on, at least, one front.

December 29, 2022

+1

Well, that might just be the last query sent out in 2022. I found one of my “Ooo, they would be cool to work” with agents was open. So polish up all the brass, check the spelling of their name, like six times, and get in one more query. I’ve been checking QueryTracker timelines once per day. I had to put a limit on myself, or, you know, the monkeys would get loose.
And… I transcribed the notes for another book. I’m really excited about that coming together. It’s another character from the same family so running events through a different PoV should be interesting.
And, I eradicated one stray apostrophe.

December 28, 2022

Year End Closeout

Phew. I’m engaging in my annual clearout and closeout of the calendar year. New journal in place. Check. Backups in progress. Check. Two queries ready to go on Jan 1, 2023. Check. Another three agents selected for querying. Check. Those queries being assembled. Check.
It’s not exactly exciting stuff but it keeps me moving in generally the right direction.
Book two is staring at me. Making me feel all guilty for not working on the editing. OK. Fine!
Geez, I’ll go edit.

December 26, 2022

Boxing Day

I woke up to a rejection this morning. Ah well.
I was suspecting the rejections might start trickling in, maybe pouring in, after Christmas. However, one does not a torrent make.
This chilly morning, as I am staring out onto the frost covered field across from the house, I am thinking this is the time when most people start waxing poetic and nostalgic about the closing year.
Uh, no.
I’m thinking — We need more insulation in these windows.
I’m not really one to get all dewey-eyed over ‘the past’. Helps that I can’t remember most of mine. Anyway – before I segue into mental health topics – I have a lovely clear and unambiguous ‘no’. I do love those. So, what do we say?
Yeup.
‘Next!’

December 24, 2022

Scorecard

If you can’t guess what I want for my mid-winter holiday present, then, really?

Cat on a post
Not my photo. If you are the person who captured this, please let me give you the credit that is yours.

It’s time to change things up a little bit. I’m eager to streamline things going into the new year. This page is no exception. The running totals will appear at the top of the page. If there is something to report for that particular entry it’ll be displayed in the blue box, like the one below. I’m slogging my way through my end of the year clean up.
Among the most important tasks will be finding a way to ensure some time every day to write and to massage the querying process along.
I have found one way to remove a huge time sink in my days.
Yeah. I left Twitter.
I’m over on Post.news as MStewart_Writer. Many feels about leaving the bird, but I suppose most of you can guess, at least, some of them. So while I have freed up copious amounts of previous scrolling time, I have also found more demands on my time.
It doesn’t help that while I was laid up sick at mom’s house I outlined another two books. Oi. I do this to myself. Part of today’s effort will be to start inputting those notes.
The essay I started on December 22, is about ‘the waiting.’ Of which, there is a heap lotta.
A Happy Holiday to each and every one of y’all.

December 22, 2022

Maybe?

It is possible that I have found the root problem to my recurring health drama, and a solution to said problem. Wednesday and Thursday the solution to said theory was applied – and now we wait.
Ok. Enough about that. On to Querying.
Oh, it is the excitement of the holidays. Pass me the antacid. If you’ve read the other side of the site you’ll know why I love winter Solstice. The return of the sun and nearing the end of the holidays. Oi.
So what has me all a’flutter like a kid waiting for a fat man to break and enter?
Not knowing.
That’s what does it to me every time, uncertainty. In one very odd way being so taken up with health concerns has been–helpful? I’ve been so busy on the ‘do not break’ concerns of my life that the ‘Where is my query?’ question fell to the back burner. Huzzah?
But, with the return of the ability to think, comes the return of the ability to worry about more than just the next breath. Well, that’s good. I think. Except that the thing I find consuming my little brain is ‘So, where is my query?’
I’ve gone back to the QueryTracker timeline again, and again, and again. Yeah, this is where my OCD really comes to the fore. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Ad nauseum.
I have an essay lurking in the back of my head, and a lovely wintry day to work on it. So, onwards.

December 19, 2022

Recovering, Again.

I’m still recovering. Needless to say not a great deal has occurred today. But, I am trying to get back to the practice of a daily blog post. Even if it is a dull bit of non-news like, I’m still here.

December 18, 2022

9 Hours of DRAMA

You all are going to think I wasn’t serious about blogging this process every day. But I swear to you I did mean it. Life, however, has been a real b*tch this last few months. I’ll spare you all the drama, but be assured there has been drama. No. DRAMA. All caps. Underlined. Throw all the exclamation points at it. DRAMA.
For one tiny slice to let you know I haven’t just been lying around, well I was lying around, specifically on the floor of my guest room, for nine hours on Thursday. Nine hours folks. And by no means in a fun way. It also entailed another very disappointing attempt to get medical help.
So, here I am. Finally able to sit upright. Trying to work through the underlying problems. And just praying that the next time I have to get up to walk, I don’t collapse, again.
Yeah, fun times.

December 12, 2022

Rollin’

Oh computer, why are you being wonky?
Aside from some computer gremlins, today has been productive. In Book 2 I have edited three scenes. That’s not overly impressive, but it is three more scenes than I had finished yesterday at this time. So, win!
Agent research is moving along. I found a new little feature of Query Tracker today. I’m still evaluating how valuable I consider it. Maybe a post coming in the future. But, I’ll admit, I would rather be working on Book 2.
I’ll also admit, I’m noticing a theme around here… What to do while you’re waiting? I think there’s a post in there as well.

December 10-11, 2022

Weekend

Thirty minutes. My life revolves around a thirty minute timer.
Wake up, take 30 minutes to get out of bed. Unfortunately I am not kidding on that one.
Take first medication of the day. Wait 30 minutes.
Heat the back. 30 minutes. Repeat after 90 minutes *3 thirty minute increments.
Make sure I walk for 30 minutes between back heating spells.
You get the picture.
Argh. Ok enough about my back.
On the writing front, I have continued my concerted effort to research the agents I have added to my database. It’s going. Kinda like eating an elephant, one bite at a time.
And great news, I have the first line for Book 2. That one had been proving elusive, but I found it and I caught it. In happy news addition, the editing of Book 2 seems to have finally taken off.

December 8, 2022

Home Again

Is there anything as sweet as being in your own bed?
That’s a rhetorical question.
Home. I am home. After three weeks at my mother’s house, I am home. *Le sigh. But in a good way.
Oh, and I sent out one more agent request. I just squeaked in under the wire as he will be closing his queue on this coming Monday.
This is why you have an absolutely rock solid cover letter that you can easily adapt. Again, he was someone I had planned to query later. Don’t just leap at an agent because they say they are opening or closing their inbox make sure they want what you are offering.
And there has been a flurry of agent research. Filling out the database information and evaluating who the next round of queries might be. Hmmm?

December 7, 2022

Questions and Answers

Listening to the Publishing and Editing Q&A from Reedsy.
I’m learning a lot and still not working on what I need to do. *Le sigh. In addition, I think I am fighting off a cold, which is, of course, making me cranky. Lots of agent research last night. So, even if I’m not pushing through the edits on book 2, I am at least making some investment in my hopes for finding a home for book 1. Keep working on finding ways to move the process forward. Even if it is a tiny step, keep going forward.
And releasing another new essay on the experience down here in the trenches. Take a look at he reasons that We Create Our Rejections.

December 5, 2022

Purple Haze

Actually, not a Prince TAFCAP reference.
It’s the color of the smoke filling the house at the moment. Mom’s been cooking. *cough.
With the closing of many agents queues I’m not quite sure what to expect. I suspect many might be waiting til after the holidays to plow through their inboxes. Or not. They might be trolling through them right now. Yeah, color me in suspense.
So, in this little bit of downtime, I am researching agents madly. I’m spending time with my database and figuring out all the fancy ways I can slice and dice the data. I’ll be setting up some views so when I want to see all the agents from one agency I can. If I need to know what agencies I have queried, what their policy is on reaching out to multiple agents, etc. I’ll have a quick reference to get to the information. Phew.
Back to the research.

December 3-4, 2022

Weekend

For a reason I cannot describe, I am having a hard time getting stuck in to this editing job. *Hmph. Well, that’s a mystery. As an aside, I did manage to get up out of the bed without sproiking my back. Today’s goal is to get the queries for those two agents – ready, done and on the starting line.
With some hope I will be able to send them off the instant they open for queries after the new year.
Ok. This is me, getting ready for 2023.

December 2, 2022

Editing Begins

Friday and I’m ready for the weekend. Since getting out of the hospital I’ve been staying at my mother’s home for the simple reason that she has no stairs. At the moment, stairs are a no-can-do for me. So to pass my time I have started the serious editing of Book 2. W00T! I have 30 something chapters to go, and I hope to have a first line by the time I finish. At the moment, the first line gets the story started, but it does nothing to hook the reader. So, that’s a definite thing to improve.
I took a little querying break after yesterday’s moment of GAH! But, this evening I have another handful of agents and agencies to research. So back on the querying beastie.

December 1, 2022

GUTTED!

So if yesterday’s rejection didn’t phase me what has me ready to quit this whole shebang?
Well, on Monday I had a lovely talk with an editor from St. Martin’s Press. Lovely person. If you want to know how that came about see the post from November 12.
And afterwards they were very generous and shared with me the names of two agents who might have an interest in my novel.
Huzzah! A lead! An actual lead! YES!
So I did my research. Both were open! YES! and double YES! And one of them I had already put on my ‘This is a good match list’. YES! The other agent is either a great fit, or I might be too dark, depends.
So. I’m up this morning. Putting my final touches on things. Ready to hit send

AND OMG YOU ARE F*CKING KIDDING ME?

They are both CLOSED!!!

Kill me. Kill me now.
One day. One bloody day. ONE BLOODY DAY!

November 30, 2022

NEXT!

I got a rejection today. Yay!
No, seriously. I’m happy. Why am I happy? Because I know where I stand with this query. Great, it’s a ‘no’. No ambiguity. No wondering. No maybe?
A clear, unequivocal ‘no.’
Great.
NEXT!

November 28, 2022

You can’t copyright an idea

There are things in life you can never know. I admire the people who can let these things go. In my own experience, I hold on to these things as questions to worry at. See my post on Silent Rejection to get a sense of why. I ran across something tonight on the interwebz that is similiar to something I wrote for the CPTSD foundation, and that is where the story ends, full stop.
So why mention it here? Because this type of thing is going to happen in your writing career. Sometimes the idea is just floating around in the ether and several people pick up on it. It happens.
So where are the lines between coincidence, compliment, and plagiarism? That is a topic deserving of a much longer post. As anyone who watched the writing community over on Twitter this spring saw, the consequences for plagiarism can be hefty. I’ll have to give you all a rundown of the events. Later.
Oh, it looks like the silent rejection number is up to 2. Of course, that is appended by a ‘maybe’.
And a post for you all, one of the tools I’m finding useful in QueryTracker, the timeline.
But is it a Sanity Saver?

November 26-27, 2022

Weekend

Literally, the first walk outside of physical therapy in a week, or more. Being outside was just wonderful. I spent the day drinking in the sunshine, and wondering why I couldn’t seem to get my selection statement to work in the database.
The good news is that I did get the programming in the database to work. <rubs hands in glee> Now there is an automatic generation of the time a query has been out in the ether. Well, that’s one thing out of my head.
On the querying front, as I cleared out my email, as I always do at year end, I found a little cache of agents that I queried the first time round. So they are now corralled in Query Tracker and also imported into my databse.
Bet a few of you didn’t know that you could export from Query Tracker. Yeup, today was a learning day, and I hope to have some things to share.

November 25, 2022

Indigestion

Let me get this straight

Shot to Hell. Yes, that is how I would describe my post-Thanksgiving plans. It’s one of those days where it just seems like a ‘no win’.
My consolation is work. It isn’t grumbling at me under its breath. It is straight up defying my attempts at progress. I like direct.
So today was finding comps for my novel. Done. But, yikes, that was tough. More on that later.
And researching agents. I found another eight to add to my ‘to be researched’ list.
And getting ready for an upcoming talk with an editor. Ongoing.
Now, if I could just get a decent burger, and a metric tonne of patience.

November 24, 2022

Hasenpfeffer

Buggs Bunny and Hasenpfeffer.

Happy Thanksgiving.
Good, now we have that over with, lets take a look at how things are going in the querying trenches. As I am sure you have noticed, things aren’t moving along. I could insert a very apropos joke about constipation, but lets just avoid that. I took the time today to do a bit of inquiring into my querying.
The results are over at “Did the Rabbit Die?”
*No bunnies were hurt in the making of this post.

November 23, 2022

All the Things!

GAH!
Ok. I’m stress puppy. I have a thing on Monday and the Most Stress Inducing Holiday of the Year between me and it. Joy, not.
Ok. Breathe. Just remember to breathe. And do your revisions. And read the notes they sent you. And make sure the connection is going to work. And, and, and… I repeat. GAH!

November 22, 2022

Today was brought to you by the letter “B”

Four things defined my day today
1. Back – Yeah, taking care of the back and PT and heat and…. You get the idea.
2. Backlog – Geez, a week out of action and how the work just piles up.
3. B4C – the outline and fundamental thinking for my Southern Manners tale progressed.
4. Build a Bridge – Yeah, you read that right. More on that project as I think it through, but the gist is to provide a single resource for members of the #WritingCommunity who are moving from Twitter to have a directory, that they can use to find other members of the tribe as we are going through this diaspora from Twitter to over 10+ (if I counted correctly) other social media platforms.

November 21, 2022

Well, back on the horse

Hallelujah. Actual writing stuff happened today.
I can’t believe I am so happy to talk to you all about a rejection but, at least, it’s writing related. I received a lovely form rejection from The Mushens Entertainment Team. Ok.
So, what do we do in a situation like this? You got it. “NEXT!”
On the upside, I did outline a new novel for my Refugees series. And, I have started outlining for a Southern manners tale. That should be ripping good fun to write.

All the goings on in a tiny Southern town where the delicate flowers of femininity are going to the mat in the name of biscuits, family, honor and above all, the title of best baker in Botetourt County.

  • Outlines for a new novel in the Refugee series –> 1

November 20, 2022

…and we’re back.

Hey – Great news! I Didn’t Die!
Although, there were some moments in there where I certainly wouldn’t have minded.
All my lovely intentions went right out the window on Wednesday, November 16th. Actually, the wheels started coming off earlier, like the week before. Pretty much the last coherent thoughts I had about anything was the post below.
Hmmm. What to reveal vs. what to avoid boring you with?
Sticking with the bare bones seems the best course of action.
In the post below you will see I mention that cats are assholes. I do love the furry critters in my life, but honestly they are assholes, and completely unapologetic for the fact.
I had been recovering from my latest bout of exceeding back pain when I got out of bed without thinking through the entire process from beginning to end.
Mistake. I ended up with my back so seized up that poor hubs flew up the stairs to see what appendage I had lopped off. I was still in essentially one piece – but I was completely broken.
So. Broken. That was Tuesday evening, the 15th.

(And this is getting hefty so it gets its own post) A one-Star Rating

November 12, 2022

Unexpected returns (november 10, 2022)

This post was delayed because – cats are assholes and my back went ‘snap’. Anyway…

Proof that the most unlikely of things can happen while querying. So the lesson is, follow EVERY LEAD, no matter how far-fetched or unexpected it is. What am I talking about? This –>

St. Martin's Press Marginalized Voices Conference 2022
St. Martin’s Press Marginalized Voices Conference 2022

This is what I am talking about. It came across my feed by I believe Twitter (prior to Musk’s gutting of the platform.) And I was like ‘That’s interesting.’ I was pretty sure they wouldn’t have any interest in my flavor of neurodiversity, but a little bird said ‘Go ahead. Try it.’
Well, thank you little bird!
I dashed off an entry to their Session with an Editor thinking “Oh, I am so unprepared for this. This is not going to work. Why am I wasting this poor person’s time.”
I expected absolutely nothing to come of it.
So imagine my surprise when I was one of the folks to have their work chosen to participate. Wow. I was truly gobsmacked.

Ok nap time. The drugs have hit. Maybe more later.

  • Agents researched –> 5
  • Completely unexpected selection in an editor review –> 1

November 12, 2022

Sitting up!

Phew! Well, that’s progress. I am actually sitting up. Huzzah! I owe you all an entry or two. The back has played bloody havoc with all my intentions. So that is coming. After a nap. Man the pain killers are something undeniable.

November 9, 2022

A Room Without a View

Well, that was certainly an unexpected detour.
What you see above is my current view. Ayup. That’s the ceiling fan in the bedroom. And before everyone gets all giddy, I’m flat on my back because of muscle spasms. Joy, not.
Yes, the cat broke me.
Yesterday, early morning, le chat used me as a springboard to chase the other cat, complete with fully extended murder mittens. The punctures are nothing. It was the instantaneous “Gah” reaction made me move too fast in the wrong direction. And, I’m down again. Back pretty much in full spasm. Many tears. And the cat exceedingly lucky that I couldn’t lay hands on her.
So, not only am I back to square one, I’m set back even further.
As a consequence I have studied the ceiling fan for two days. I am not best pleased. Today, late this afternoon I have finally been able to sit up, briefly so that I may keep my promise to blog all the querying process. Needless to say, today was not loaded with progress.

November 5-6, 2022

Weekend

November is not my favorite month. The sun goes away and all the family obligations come knocking. I am not doing NaNo this year, as I stated somewhat earlier. Although, I do have a new work bubbling away in the back of my head. I’m a ‘plantser’ so even though I have one or two scenes roughed out, I am no where near sitting down to make a concerted effort.
Instead, I have been editing. I finished, what I hope is the last round of edits, yesterday. Other than staring at the massive and somewhat overwhelming- who am I kidding, I’m totally overwhelmed- task of querying I could call things relatively quiet. That persistent rattling in the background? No worries, just my nerves.
I have a growing suspicion that they will show up like a mass of sardines. Each one not that big a deal, but together? It’s enough to look like a wall.

  • Agents researched –> 10
  • Number of brilliant scenes in newest work –> Let’s be hopeful and say 1

November 4, 2022

A Sharp Left

Never accuse me of going in a straight line. I swear I think it is impossible for me to have one thread going in my life on any front.

(Facepalm)

For example, I’m querying a novel. I’m finishing the last, last, last, oh please let them be the last edits, I’ve written a spiffy new database, I’m researching agents, I’m posting about the process faithfully, and I’m writing blog posts in addition to all that. It’s ENOUGH! Right?
No, apparently not. <head desk>
And a very long rant about the ferrets getting loose is now up under the title of “A Sharp Left.” I hate it when that happens.
In novel querying news, the research on agents continues. The database seems to be working well, even when unexpected poetic curveballs are pitched its way.

November 3, 2022

Silent Rejection

Remember when I said, “This page, all writing, all the time.”
I swear it is writing related, and especially well tied in to the querying that is in progress. So, although it is a little late to the party for today I give you some musing about the effect a “Silent Rejection” has on this alternatively wired writer. Do I expect the world to stop, change, or slow down for me? No. I don’t. This is information, not a complaint.

November 3, 2022

In a Mood

MoodPitch is today. I broke, I put up one pitch. And that’s where I’m going to stop. Yes, people do have success on these pitch events. People do win the lottery, too. I’m not banking my retirement on the Lotto. And when I was a bit newer at this querying thang, I really wanted that ‘Cindrella’ moment. The moment when the shoe fits and you get your true love and a ride in a pumpkin carriage. Let me tell ya. If you stand out on the side of the road waiting for that magical carriage to come by, chances are you’re going to be standing there for a long time.
I have never had success with holding my thumb out and waiting for people to give me a lift. I’m definitely a ‘head down’ keep going until you hit something type of person.
(And this is where I could go into a long digression about Complex PTSD and personality formation, but I will spare you.)
This page, all writing, all the time.

  • Agents researched –> 5 (with a ‘hold the phone interruption)
  • NaNoWriEdMo Chapters Remaining –> 2

November 2, 2022

Forked

Stick a fork in me I am done.
I am trying to patiently wait for my test queries to come back. That’s going … ok-ish. In the meantime I am putting the new DB through its paces. Also, I’m editing Book 1, but I’m on the last chapters there so hopefully that will be wrapped up tomorrow or Friday at the latest. Provided, of course, I don’t get paranoid and go through it again. But, lo over yonder do I see other books demanding my attention. And some ideas that need fleshing out.
One idea I have is of a dual timeline story featuring Mary Magdelen. That should be interesting.

  • Total Rejections received –> 3 (+1 quiet)
  • Agents researched –> Over 15
  • NaNoWriEdMo Chapters Edited –> 2.5

November 1, 2022

#NaNoWriEdMo

When QueryTracker is down by Audrey Ruoff.

Oh, Lordy. My eyes are about to pop outta my head. Got some serious eye strain going on here. Well, that stands to reason, I’ve been poking at my nifty new database all day and figuring out the workflow.
Well, it’s November, and you know what that means. I get to whine about family until January. Not really, I’ll spare you all that. If you’re curious about my relationship with the holidays just pop on over to the mental health side of the site. Ah yes, November and napalm is in the air.
Where was I going with this?
Oh. yeah. November is not only the rollup to angst season, but it is also the ever loved and equally dreaded National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo, in case you’ve been hiding under a rock.) I usualy partake of the koolaid and participate. Over the years I have had varying level of success. This year I’m going to dedicate the time to editing one of the three novels which can follow the novel I am currently trying to find a home for.
In addition, I have taken down my Kindle Vella experiment. That has the potential to grow into something respectable if I can convince ayone to publish it after its stint on Vella. I know that is unlikely, but I can honestly swear that of the thirty-one views (combined) on my twenty-eight instalment series, I know all the readers: myself, my husband and a big ‘Thanks Mom’ to my most dedicated reader. Yeah, twenty-eight episodes and thirty-one total reads. It appears that people were more interested in stories about people boffing werewolves and fairies than a historical piece drawn from the tale of Deborah Sampson. Oh, well.
Anyway, time to take my aching eyes back to the databaase.

  • Agents researched –> 14 (with database testing)
  • Halloween Trick or Treaters last night –> 500-700 children (I lost count in there)

October 31, 2022

Too Good to be True?

This morning started over at the Writer Beware Blog where I saw this post: America’s Next Great Author: The Author Reality Show Idea Rides Again. If you saw the advertising for the show, or even if you didn’t, give the blog post a read. I found the break-down of the contract helpful.
The deadline for entering for the pilot was September 15, 2022. So, sorry, but this bird has flown. But, in a way – I’m not sorry.
Yesterday was all about figuring out the SIMPLE way to follow my queries, ALL of them, in one place. Thank goodness for Databases and just a few years of programming experience. As we said at work, programmers are lazy people. We would rather build something to do the laundry for us, than to do the laundry. But that big front-end time investment is so worth it. Especially when the tool can be used for more than one thing.
More on this later, but I hope to have a new tool to share with the writing community this week.

October 29-30, 2022

Weekend

Now is just about the time I come down with a bad case of “OMGTHISISHUGE.” I look at the mountain I have blithely started climbing and pause in abject terror at the size of this hurdle. More specifically I have learned the limits of one of my tools.
And that is stressing me out. Reason for the stress is that I thought I had found ONE neat little package to keep all my querying data organized. Ah, yeah, that’s a no.
Bother.
So, that leaves me only partially organized and I am seeing waaaay too many stray pieces of information roaming around. I need to corral those beasties quickly. That means I need to do work, which is not directly applicable to querying, and that has me a bit piqued.
Althought, I sense there may be another post coming out of this at the end. So, off I go to my favorite Database – (free database) Airtable.

  • Rejections in –> 3
  • Agents researched –> (brain explodes. Let’s say 25+)
  • Rugs Swept –> 2

October 28, 2022

Moving forward

Ever have that feeling in the back of your head that you are forgetting something? Something big. I was stuck with that niggling gnat of a thought all yesterday evening. I think I have put my finger on it. There is a new book trying to get started. Hmm. It’s always interesting at this point in the process. In these moments it is all about listening to the voices of the story.
I can even give you the first line, well the current first line, it is bound to change.
The year was 1980 when my mother, with her cockney accent, drove to the back side of Beech Mountain, a place where even the sherrif wouldn’t go, to take the U.S. census in a tiny Appalachian settlement called Potterstown.
And that’s Chapters 11-14 down with a last (Please, Heaven, let it be the last) edit. ALthough now I’m suddenly paranoid about typos. GAH!
Going to go research. At least my brain isn’t freaking out on that part of things.

  • Agents researched –> 10 (including one with a degree in Russian Lit)
  • First lines to new novels –> 1

October 27, 2022

Left. Right.

Some days there is just nothing romantic at all about being a writer. Actualy, most days there is nothing romantic. Being a writer is work. It just looks like staring at the wall for hours from the outside.
Today was dedicated to doing a bit of the unglorious work on the old website here. Much, much more to do. It’s rather like housecleaning. No one notices if you do it, but everyone comments if you don’t. So, aside from the housekeeping, and one new post for this collection, I’ve looked over the timelines on where my queries are sitting in various queues, and I shouldn’t be anticipating to hear anything until maybe mid-next week at the very earliest.
Until then, it is more research. And there is likely a post in how I’m approaching that task in my future.

Today’s count… <drumroll, please>

  • New posts on the perils of publishing –> 1
  • Bonus Bullet: Chapters edited, again. –> 2 (At least, there appears to be less to find. )

October 27, 2022

Commercial Enough?

Special late night OMG edition.
Well, it’s the wee hours. And I’m looking out a window into a very dark landscape. Looks like the internal landscape is pretty shadowed at the moment, too. I’m trying to avoid the word bleak. I’m not doing a good job of it.
So what do I do when I find myself up and roaming the house in the darkest part of night? What any self-respecting chronically depressed writer would do – I grab a pen, and I write.
Capture all those little demons running around in the brain pan in ink and confine them to paper. Usually, these toxic little musings are consigned to a very deep dark vault that will be discovered sometime well after my death. (And then if all things go to plan, HA!, I will be hailed as a tormented and highly poetic soul capable of literary genius. Pity I won’t be around to see it.)
But, on occaission, I find some merit in what the horrid little demons are whispering in my ear and those I share IF they have a point to them. Sometimes the evil whispers are just that and better ignored.
This time though, I think the issue is worth sharing because there may be other writers, neurodiverse or not, who are struggling with a similar issue.
After that windup I hand you off to ‘Commercial Enough?

October 26, 2022

Dear Universe, Is this thing on?

*Le sigh.
I had a very long post written. All about how success can seem to be falling all around you. Kind of like standing in the pouring rain and not getting wet. And how it makes you wonder about your worth. Your craft. Your attempts to be published.
Then I hit delete.
Why? Well, I believe everyone who attempts to write, and write well, runs into this particular pit sooner or later. And sitting at the bottom of it and saying ‘Oh, why me?’ is, at best, unproductive. I believe the people who succeed are the ones who get their keister out of the pit.
But, I’ll admit, some days it isn’t easy.

  • Agents researched –> 7
  • Giant pits of disappointment encountered –> 1

October 25, 2022

Poof

Ah, nothing says the life of a writer quite like waking up to a rejection. Mornin’ all.
<…> (And I’m back. I was derailed mid-post by a Complex PTSD thread over on Twitter.)
Back to writing stuff. I was planning to use the image of a big scary monster-like number three to represent rejection number three. But even though it is October I thought, nah. So three burning matches it is. Considering that I’ve had three queries go up in smoke, it seems appropriate. What I’m going to do when I have 70+ ‘No’s I have no idea.
The rest of the day shall be dedicated to researching more agents, more ‘OMG’ checking of the manuscript, and being good to my post-PT back.

  • Agents researched –> 2
  • Conversations about crochet Viking hats –> 1

October 24, 2022

Too many cats!

Today was, a day. I did manage to sit down and do some research on agents this afternoon. I lost the morning to Dr.’s offices and cancer follow-ups. If you’ve done the road you know it is a long, long afair. One day I hope to be off the crazy carousel. But it wasn’t today. So, once burrowed into my little office, I decided to continue my last, last, last round of looking at my manuscript.
Seriously, who am I kidding. I’m going to be like gandma at graduation saying ‘Stand up straight dear’ for the rest of my life. Only to a book, which is weird. Anyway.
Two agents in I discovered another – “Hold The Phone” level of emergency. Well, not emergency, but a window of opportunity that would be closing in one week. So, abandoning research I did a deep dive to see if the agent might be a good fit.
They wanted – Fantasy, check. Romance, check. Non-european, check. And a few other things that made me go – wow. Needless to say, I have put together they best pitch and package I can and sent it off with a little red cape and a basket of goodies.
Oh, and for the record, there are too many cats in this house. I’m looking at you Cinder. Byte. Bath. Soot. Lucy.

  • Agents researched –> 2
  • Printers cleaned of cat p* –> 1 (grrr)

October 22-23, 2022

Weekend

Phew. The weekend, and I’m still working. Ah well. Let’s see, yesterday was concentrated on, yet more, polishing of my manuscript. Since that scare with the first pages, I have decided that another go through is prudent. What am I finding? A few typos. Lots of little telling phrases tucked in the corners. The dreaded ‘;’.
They have all been served eviction notices. Will this manuscript be ‘perfect’? I would like it to be, but I am willing to admit my own imperfections and I suspect my manuscript will have a few despite my best efforts. So, it shall be perfect-ish.

  • Agents researched –> 0
  • Semi colons evicted –> far, far too many. Going to make a RegEx to catch them.

October 21, 2022

Eep!

I learned something late yesterday. There’s this nice little feature in Query Tracker, they call it the timeline. The timeline allows you to see where your query is in the queue of the agent, provided they use Query Manager. I’ve been curious and I’ve been looking. Well, I might stop doing that.
Why? Because late yesterday I took a gander and saw that my query was ‘NEXT’ in one queue. And that’s just been hanging over me like the sword of Damocles. So far, I have resisted the urge to go look. And I shall try to hold the course until Monday, afternoon. Hopefully.
Anxiety aside, I have managed to do some research and I’ve started assembling the next group I hope to query.

  • Agents researched –> 3
  • Miles walked –> 2

October 20, 2022

Fortuitous

As you may know I squeeked in a third query yesterday and, oh boy, was that a lucky move.
You see, as I’m running these test batches and researching agents until my eyes are crossed, I’m turning over every possible stone.
Well, along my foraging yesterday I stumbled, almost literally, across a tweet by an agent I have been following since my first go ’round. And when I read the tweet, I was all, drop everything!
Why?
Well, she had been closed for a good long while. And I had tucked her away in my mind as an “Oh Lordy, I really want this one”query. So I was planning to send out my query to her after my ‘test queries’ were in and any necessary polishing done.
BUT I found out yesterday that she was open to queries. YES! Honestly I wouldn’t have jumped before my planned testing phase was done except for the fact that she is going to close her query queue very soon. AH!
So, bite the bullet, shine up my brass, best foot forward, and all that jazz. (Oi, cliché city.) And off I went to the races. (Had to get one more in.)
So everyone, fingers crossed. And now we wait.
As my sister-in-law says, if I fail it won’t be for a lack of trying. (harumph!)

Give the man a harumph!

Today’s count… <drumroll, please>

  • Harumphs given –> 1

October 19, 2022

2+2 (+1)

Well, I did not hit my goal of four queries sent out yesterday. Ah, life. So, today I pick up where I left off. I’m still working with my identified quick responders, but I’ve sent out a query to one I would love to work with today. (Oh, and a bonus query out by the skin of my teeth.)
The universal prayer of all querying writers. “Please.Please.Please.Please.Please.Please.Please.”

  • Anxiety attacks –> 1
  • Pizzas burned –> 1

October 18, 2022

The goal is four

Working my way through a second send out of queries. With much better copy after yesterday’s OMG inspired etiting editing session. And, wow, one of those queries sent out today is back already. <Snap>

October 17, 2022

At the end of the day

Phew… Stick a fork in me I am done. |
I have found the next four agents I will ‘test send’ my query to, if the effort is needed. Here’s hoping that it won’t be.

  • Queries out –> 4
  • Rejections in –> 1
  • Agents researched –> 33
  • New categories created in the vain attempt to be organized –> 3

October 17, 2022

A brief rant about editing

Needless to say, I woke up this morning and thought, hey I’ll look over those first pages I sent out. <head desk> I hate them. Just can’t believe I sent these out. Where was my brain?

October 16, 2022

And so it begins.

Yeup, got my first rejection today.

October 15, 2022

Tools in the Trench:

Alrighty then, here we go.Let’s talk tools. Like any self respecting hunter, you need the right tools for the job. You need to know the preferences of your query quary. And you need to know the hunting ‘etiquette’. (Yes, that really is a thing.) Querying generates a ton of information. 

October 15, 2022

Author NOTE:

It’s on. Once again I am querying my novel Unhomed. Yes, you read that right, this is round two. The first round taught me many things.
Among them I learned:
1. I had no idea what I was doing.
2. There is no such thing as ‘too much research’ on agents.
3. My book-baby was butt ugly.

October 14, 2022

Button, Button…

Today was all about RESEARCH! Find those agents who really might just like what I have to offer.
And I wrote a blog post on Tools in the Trench.


October 13, 2022

On your marks

OK. The first four queries are out. Two queries sent via email. Two queries sent via QueryManager.

  • Queries out –> 4


Previously:

I would love to share with you the first round of querying… but that is done and dusted. Toodles.
What I can say is that I sent out 70+ queries, and got 1 partial request – which I then totally screwed up. *le sigh. That was certainly a case of taking bad advice.
I can say that the last queries of Round 1 went out some time in September 2021. And, crickets.
So, I did what any self-respecting author would do – after a break and a short pout – I went back to square one.

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