In the Trenches

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.

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.

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.

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.

Today’s count… <drumroll, please>

  • Total Queries Sent out –> 13
  • Total Rejections received –> 3 (+1 Silent Rejection)
  • 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.

Today’s count… <drumroll, please>

  • Total Queries –> 12
  • 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.

Today’s count… <drumroll, please>

  • Total Queries –> 12
  • Total Rejections received –> 3 (+1 quiet)
  • 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.

Today’s count… <drumroll, please>

  • Total Queries –> 11
  • Total Rejections received –> 3
  • Agents researched –> 3 (whilst putting the finishing touches on the new DB)
  • New Posts –> 1 Too Good to be True?

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.

  • Total Queries –> 11
  • Total Rejections received –> 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.

Today’s count… <drumroll, please>

  • Total Queries –> 11
  • Total Rejections –> 3
  • 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>

  • Total Queries –> 11
  • Total Rejections –> 3
  • Agents researched –> 0
  • 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.

Today’s count… <drumroll, please>

  • Total Queries –> 11
  • Total Rejections –> 3
  • 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.

Today’s count… <drumroll, please>

  • Total Queries –> 11
  • Total Rejections –> 3
  • 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.
Today’s count… <drumroll, please>

  • Total Queries –> 10
  • Total Rejections –> 2
  • 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.
Today’s count… <drumroll, please>

  • Total Queries –> 9
  • Total Rejections received –> 2
  • 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.
Today’s count… <drumroll, please>

  • Total Queries –> 9
  • Total Rejections received –> 2
  • 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>

  • Total Queries –> 9
  • Total Rejections received –> 2
  • Agents Researched –> 0
  • 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.”
Today’s count… <drumroll, please>

  • Total queries sent out –> 9
  • Total Rejections received –> 2
  • 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>
The total count…

  • Total Queries sent out –> 6
  • Total Rejections received –> 2
  • Blog posts written –> 1 Wabbit Hunting
  • Number of cholis received –> 3

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.
The count…

  • Total Queries sent out –> 4
  • Total Rejections received –> 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.

  • Total Queries sent out –> 4
  • Total Rejections received –> 0


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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