Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Inbox: A Tale of Horror

I’ve enjoyed attending WriteOnCon this week (it ends tonight). I’ve learned and grown and have been inspired. Tomorrow I will be busy catching up on housework that I’ve neglected for the last three days (the Con started on Tuesday). Because of this, I’ve decided to do a blog post today instead of my Friday five (or four) tomorrow.


My desktop icons blink to life. Amid the shortcuts for games and programs, one stands out. It’s the Firefox link. Its blue globe wrapped with the orange fox is more intimidating than one would think. Why is this icon so sinister? Because Firefox connects me to the internet and the internet connects me to my gmail.

I place a trembling finger on my laptop version of a mouse. The arrow inches across the screen, making its way to the Firefox shortcut. Once in position, I pause. Do I want to click? I only use my gmail account for submissions and the occasional entry in a contest. If I have mail, it’s most likely a reply from an agent.

The brave part of me wants to click. It’s so easy to do. One little movement with my thumb or a simple lift and tap of my finger will do it. But I’m afraid. What’s out there in the darkness of the internet? Will I find rejection? A request? What?

I have to know, and so I click.

And there it is.



I’m not sure which is worse, an empty email inbox or an inbox with a rejection or two (or more).


I’m once again in the submission stage in my search for an agent (after not submitting for over a year while I did a complete revision and started a few more projects). I’d forgotten how time consuming and gut wrenching the process is.

First, there’s the time consuming research. Making sure the agent is one who accepts the genre. Reading interviews, tweets, and anything else I can find (sometimes I’ve taken notes so I look through my notebook and update as needed). If I were to add it all up, I bet I’ve spent more time researching agents than I did researching info for my books! Alright, probably not, but it seems like it.

After the research, comes the query letter. It’s not something as simple as copy and paste (other than the novel info). The personalization comes into play. Putting the research to good use, I craft a beginning (or ending depending on agent’s preference) into the query so the agent knows I didn’t just pull their name out of a hat.

When all is finally ready, I have to let the query sit for at least 1/2 an hour. Then I come back to it and look it over to make sure it’s error free (though sometimes I still manage to miss things). Once I’m satisfied, I steer my arrow cursor to the send button.

Usually at this point, I pause because I’m overcome with doubt. When I work up the nerve, I hit send. It flies across the internet and lands in the agent’s inbox (or that of an intern). This is terrifying!!!

It’s out of my hands. I’ve done everything I can and put my query and/or pages out there for consideration.

Now I wait . . . and wait . . . and wait. There’s always a moment of panic when I click on my email and wait for the page to load.

Earlier, I said I wasn’t sure which was worse, an empty inbox or a rejection. After thinking about it while I wrote this post, I think the empty inbox is worse.

With the empty inbox, I don’t know. The hope is alive, it’s exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. I try so hard not to get my hopes up, but I can’t help thinking that maybe this time I’ll get a request for a partial or full. It could happen. Hope; a dangerous plant to cultivate.

At least with a rejection, I KNOW. The hope is dashed. I can go to (a great way to track submissions)and change the query icon from an envelope with lightning bolt (for equeries) to a red frowny face rejection icon. I can move on to the next agent on my to query list and start the process all over again.

The Inbox is a terrifying tale of horror that retells itself each and every day.

Since it’s doubtful that I’ll have time to log in tomorrow, I’ll be early and say I hope you all have a great weekend!


Write Submit on.

Friday, August 12, 2011

There Are Dandelions on the Other Side of the Fence Too

Jon Gibbs has some amazing links on his Interesting Posts About Writing this week. One of them is Confessions Of A Writer With A Book Deal by Natalie Whipple. Her post is a great reminder not to get into the “grass is always greener” mode of thinking.

Will it be nice when I land an agent and get a book deal? You bet it will. Will I celebrate? Absolutely. However, Natalie’s post reminded me that there is opposition in all things. Along with the wonderful things an agent/book deal will bring, there will be not so wonderful things. New pressures, new deadlines (self-imposed deadlines are nothing to the real beast from what I understand), and new worries.

The grass may be a bit greener on the other side of the fence when I first get there because it’s new and wonderful and beautiful to me. But after a while, I’ll start to notice that the green grass on the agented/published side has just as many dandelions (maybe more) as I had on the un-agented/unpublished side.

And dandelions love to multiply (no matter which side of the fence they grow on)! But they have their good uses too. In real life dandelions can be used for gall bladder, kidney, and urinary disorders; the juice from roots is used for diabetes; the greens are more nutrient rich than spinach . . . among other things. In our writing lives, dandelions are obstacles we have to overcome. These will make us (and our writing) stronger . . . IF WE LET THEM.

That’s the key. If we let the dandelions take over the grass, we’ll lose control. We have to choose how we react to them. Let them win and ruin the grass, or take charge and pull them out, use weed killer, whatever.

My personal choice will always be to fight back and rid my grass of as many as I can. That’s not to say I won’t have bad days when the dandelions multiply by five (or more), but I know those days are my choice (though I can make all the excuses in the world). If the pesky yellow flowers grow and spread, it won’t be the fault of the market, or the publishing houses, or the agents who reject me. No. It will be because I made a choice to let things get to me. I allowed the dandelions to grow instead of digging them out (much more satisfying—though time consuming—than the weed killer IMO).

So even though the grass seems to be greener on the other side, there will always be dandelions. Even if we can’t see them on the surface, they lurk beneath just waiting to come into the light. And it’s good to know we’re not alone. Other authors (such as Natalie) have noticed and are sharing their dandelion experiences with us.

Have a great weekend!

Write on.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Five . . . yay I have Five this week!

1. We’re starting to get into a school routine. It’s hard after the freedom of summer (for all of us). We’re trying to get back into the habit of doing homework, chores, and dinner at the scheduled times. Some days are easier than others (right now, Monday and Thursday are tough because the older two have after school activities). Also, our youngest, JR, just turned eight so he’s starting cub scouts. He’s thrilled, but Thursday he brought home a model boat kit. I guess they have boat races or something (E wasn’t very involved in scouts . . . except for the Pinewood Derby car races) so boats are a new adventure. He says he’s supposed to build and paint it so that’s what he’ll be doing after school today. Anyway, a schedule is much easier to type up and print out than it is to follow. And I don’t go back to school until the 22nd (only taking two classes; American Literature and U.S. History) so I’m sure there’ll be a shakeup in the routine then. Winking smile

2. Writing is going well. I was able to finish the critique and have moved on to taking notes for the next project. I decided to try a different method and am actually plotting and planning before diving into writing. I’m also trying a new thing: Blockbuster Plots Pure and Simple by Martha Alderson, M.A. I only got my scene tracker kit in the mail yesterday and haven’t had much time to play around with it so I’m not sure how it will work (or not work) for me. I’ll be sure to come back and report when I’ve experienced it a bit more.

3. We’ve had some pretty good thunder storms rolling through the last few days. We need the rain, so I’m not complaining at all. I love when it clouds over and the thunder starts rumbling . . . but it’s the humidity I can do without. I haven’t weighed myself lately, but I’m sure I’ve lost at least five pounds from all the sweating I’ve been doing. I’m showering two times a day (at least)! Yeah, I could never live in the South. Smile

4. I ended up rewriting my first chapter of the old WIP yesterday. I know, I know I’m supposed to be working on the NEW WIP . . . and I am . . . except for yesterday. Winking smile I had an idea to enhance the first chapter and was only going to make a note for it, but that note ended up being a revision. Oh well. It’s a better chapter now. I decided I’m going to give in to the occasional urge to tinker with the old WIP . . . BUT only when I’ve been working on the new WIP and need a little break or get stuck, or whatever. Yeah, that’s my plan.

5. Have you ever gotten to the point that you hate your MS? I know we should love our work, and I usually do, but yesterday’s foray into the first chapter of the old WIP made me realize how sick I am of that novel!! Granted, I first wrote the blasted thing in November of 2007 (or maybe it was 2008) and it’s been my constant companion through revisions, revisions, revisions, a complete rewrite, and more revisions for the last almost four (or three) years. Change is good, even when it comes in the form of revisions, but changing to a whole new WIP is definitely called for right now.

So, have you ever hated a MS and dreaded working on it?

I’m off to get the kids from school now (there’s still 25 minutes before the bell rings, but it takes a while to get through the line if I don’t get there early).


Have a wonderful weekend!

Write on.