Month: September 2015

The Cone of Silence

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It has been 10 days since I heard anything from the agents I am hunting. I have 7 partial requests out so I am not expecting to hear on those just yet. I have 2 full requests that will go out once I get over my fear of sending a sub-standard manuscript.

However, I have 12 queries, some that include my synopsis, that are enveloped in the cone of silence. And that could be my impatience, or it could be I have been rejected 12-19 times, but nobody is going to tell me about it. I have it on authority, it has become all too standard for agents to simply ignore writers whom they are not interested in.

I can’t decide if it would be better to get that rejection that says “Please go away, your writing sucks”, or to sit here and wonder if my work has been lost in the shuffle of 12-19 different agents. Perhaps, I have already been delegated to the kale fields of Carkoon. Or maybe I am on that super-secret agent blacklist because of some run on sentence or misplaced comma? I think I might just go out and find that white horse of the Apocalypse and get him unlost. At least, that will give me something else to worry about for a time.

On The 1st Day of the Apocalypse

So far, the apocalypse is going well. It’s pitch perfect weather on this 1st day after the latest apocalypse.  Well, except for it being Monday, but most Mondays can make me feel like the world is coming to an end. But today is not so bad. The locusts are at a minimum. If the river runs with blood, I have Zombie Killer Meade to get me through (no, seriously I do – it’s really good stuff). A rain of toads would be disconcerting, but there’s not a cloud in the sky. Allergies are a bit harsh (autumn in the South). And I believe we have the White Horse (1st horse of the Apocalypse) pretty much stymied for the next half century. I had one of my flying monkeys (yeah, I have them. You can’t prove I don’t) tell the rider to take a left on Peachtree. He’ll be lost for at least another fifty years. Every other street in my neck of the woods is called Peachtree.

However, that doesn’t mean I have all the time in the world. In fact, I am not sure how much time I do have. I have a full request from an agent, my 2nd in fact. At the last writer’s conference I attended, someone said you have forever to get your full request to an agent. Another said, send it straight away which is why you should not query before your book is done. Well, I sure thought my book was done, but I keep catching little snafus shall we say. Hear instead of here, overuse of certain words in later chapters, and one run on sentence that starts on page 426 and goes right on until 429. I should probably fix that first. And don’t even get me started on commas. I was sure I had until about October 4 to get my full manuscript proofed and cleaned for these full requests. I wonder, do I?

If I end up mixing green drinks in Carkoon next to the kale plants, you’ll know that I ran out of time or sent a woefully inadequate manuscript. Do any of you, my ten loyal readers, have any experience with full requests? How long before I run out of time and become exiled to Carkoon?  This is what happens when you mess up as a writer. Check out Janet Reid’s Blog if you don’t believe me.

A Zombie’s Hunt for an Awesome Agent

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By day, I am a zombie. At least that is what my colleagues at work would have you believe. I don’t actually devour brains or anything, just very large amounts of coffee. My dread day job is as a software engineer for my local school district. It’s a living, and I suppose even the undead must make a living. Due to my nocturnal writing activities, I do tend to have that sickly yellow glow of the recently departed when I arrive at my day job each morning.

I would love nothing more than to be able to write for the rest of my life minus the dreaded day job. However, the day job is the reality for most writers. Those few writers able to live off nothing but their craft are rare and the exception, and even among them, lots are doing editorial work, copywriting, and other less glamorous things on the side to keep food on the table.

For me and probably for you, it’s writing when you should be sleeping or eating or taking a bath. It’s time away from friends and telling yourself that one day there will be time for all that. But now it’s the book. You just have to finish. Then you must get an agent. Then there’s the next book and doing whatever comes after you get an agent. I will have to get back to you on that one. I am still hunting.

On the artistic side, writing is the greatest thing ever. On the business end, it’s kind of dangerous. I have learned recently that you can be punished with kale (you do read Janet Reid’s Blog right?). If you are a writer, you must follow this blog. It will save you so much pain and possibly keep you from being exiled to Carkoon where you will be cursed to dwell among kale plants forever.

Like I said writing is dangerous because it  also powerful, even for unknown entities like myself. I learned a long time ago that writing could get me in trouble.

In fifth grade, I wrote an essay comparing my teacher, a nun, to Queen Mary (aka Bloody Mary). The sister punished the entire class for something one kid, not me, did. I found this quite as offensive as whacking someone’s head off in a pique. As Bloody Mary learned too late, going around beheading people will eventually cause someone else to behead you. I pointed this out in what I thought to be a most clever essay.    I was called to the principal’s office.  Sister Mary Margaret would scare the devil himself. Almost forty years later, I still shudder at the memory. I learned two things.  One, writing is powerful. Shakespeare got it right when he said the pen is mightier than the sword.   Two, do not compare a nun to a tyrant.

I do not think an agent or publisher will rap my knuckles the way Sister Mary Margaret did, but my knuckles recovered by the next day. Now the stakes are much higher. For one thing, publishing is a slow process and I am no longer young. I don’t want to be one of those posthumous authors. Even Papa Tolkien did not live to see how influential his work became. And according to a book I read recently, The Harbinger, the world is going to hell in a handbag next Sunday, September 13th. So that is bound to slow down this process.  What do agents do during an apocalypse?

I do not want to self-publish. That will not get me on that bookshelf where I want to be. I want an agent, and not just any old agent. I want a good agent. I need someone to guide me though the landmines of the business.

Writing is an art, but publishing is a business.  I need someone to keep me out of the grown up principal’s office (the super secret agent blacklist that Janet swears does not exist because she’s an agent and she has to say that). Just this week, Janet Reid’s blog addressed two very real pitfalls, the bankrupt publisher and the impatient writer. The right agent can help you avoid the unstable publisher to some extent, and the patient writer can reap the benefits of the right agent thus getting them in with that exact right publisher.  The impatient writer, however, will likely be a long time resident among the kale plants in Carkoon.

This week I got one form letter (Dear Author, eh gadz) rejection to a cold query. This is far preferable to the cone of silence.  After doing some further research on this agent, I dodged a bullet. We would not have been a good fit, and that agent-author relationship is vital to a writer’s career.  It’s a dangerous business and finding myself on a bookshelf with old Papa Tolkien will take an agent who walks on the wild side. Dear Lord, I pray such an agent exists.