Rejection #1

I must say that the Barbara Bova Literary Agency is really on top of things. Less than a day after I sent them a query for War’s End, I heard back.

Unfortunately, your query does not meet our particular need at this time, but thank you for giving us the chance to review your work. Good luck in future.

Most agencies tell you it will be up to eight weeks – and that you may never hear back from them, depending upon their mood!

In the writing world, life is full of rejection. I get that. I understand it.

I know that I’ve written a good query letter, one that I, and others, feel is my best foot forward. And I would honestly be shocked beyond measure if I actually got a “yes, send me more, we are interested” response from the first batch of ten. Or even the second batch.

These things take time. And lots of perseverance.

My eldest once said, “Paper your wall with rejection slips!”

I looked at the rejection, so politely worded, and cut and pasted it to the notes section of my Submission Tracking file for War’s End. It is the first, and I doubt it will be the last, and that is just fine. An hour later, I found another possible “go-to” agent in my 2011 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, visited the website, read over the details of how to submit a query, and sent another one out.

My mother once told me, “I don’t know how you do it. Life has given you such terrible twists and turns, knocked you to the ground, and yet, you get up, dust yourself off, and get back to it.”

And so it must be with my writing. And yours, if you are so inclined. Sure, you got knocked to the ground and it hurt like hell. Now get up, dust yourself off, and get back to it. There’s no time like the present.

In other news – I woke up this morning, words and phrases describing my second non-fiction book The War On Drugs: An Old Wives Tale bouncing about in my head. It took a couple of hours, mainly because I allowed myself to be distracted wading through emails and surfing the internet, but I pulled up an old query letter I had written and got down to editing it. Then I sent it off to my new best writer friend Kerrie for a good thorough proofreading.

I need to pull together an author bio, an outline, and identify the sample chapters I would send with the query, and then I’ll be set to begin my first round of ten inquiries to agents.

Wish me luck!

Forward Movement – It’s a Good Thing

I received the synopsis back from Kerrie yesterday with a few simple changes and, after a nice long visit, came home and got to work.

“What’s for dinner?” my husband asked.

“I dunno, what are you cooking?” I replied.

You see, I am on a mission. I’m putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. Here is my goals list as it stands:

  • Finish sending out queries for War’s End to ten agents. (I’ve sent six off yesterday)
  • Prep The War on Drugs: An Old Wives Tale for submission and send out queries to ten agents.
  • Prep Get Organized, Stay Organized and send out queries to ten agents.
  • Prep Quit Your Job for submission and send out queries to ten agents.
  • Return to writing on one of my writing projects – probably War’s End Book Two.
  • As I receive rejections (or in 6-8 weeks after the first round) send out other batches of ten.

The more I thought about it, the better it sounded to keep sending out queries on what I already have done. It was rather surprising to realize that I have not just the three books I’ve self-published, but also the Quit Your Job (halfway written), Book 2 of War’s End 2/3 complete, and two other big projects in the works.

Not to mention at least 2-3 other non-fiction projects that have been lurking about in my head for some time now…

  • The Spaces In Between – a autobiographical/memoir piece on the last fifteen years of my life
  • [Currently Unnamed] – book on eclectic homeschooling, a mix of unschool and curriculum, as well as tracking homeschool goals, progress, and maintaining a daily diary
  • Art for the Non Artist – which would introduce elements of Zentangle, doodling and more – with an emphasis on taking your art from the world around you (architecture, plants, animals and more)
  • [Currently Unnamed] – down-to-earth advice on starting your own housecleaning business with an emphasis on figuring out rates, what to say (and not say) to prospective clients, which clients are the best to work for, recipes for homemade cleaning products, product reviews, billing, and more.

PLUS…Random book ideas currently housed in my files with names like…

  • Kansas City Gardener (obviously a gardening book)
  • Killers Like Us (fiction)
  • Pixies (fiction)
  • Portals of Fire (fiction)
  • Rational Parenting (yes, it does exist)
  • Schicksal Turnpike (fiction…think Twilight Zone)
  • Suburban Homesteading
  • The River (fiction)

In other words? I’ve got a full plate. Time to get to it!

p.s. Here’s another goal. In one more year, well, let’s say by December 31st, 2014, I want to be making enough income at writing and teaching my classes that I can stop running a cleaning business and focus on writing and all the rest of my multitudes of projects.


Baby Steps…and An Accountability Group

So after my big decision to jump back into trying to get published mainstream, I wavered a bit, and did a little research, and wavered some more. I dug in my heels, looked around for anything to distract me, and then sent an email to a woman who, along with my friend Felicia, may very well help change my life.

Kerrie writes for parenting magazines, and is full of energy and excitement. I contacted her when we were introduced through a mutual homeschooling friend, and bought her ebook,

Each month Kerrie publishes her income for the month. And I’ve watched it go up steadily month after month.

I realized that I’m not an article person – I’m a book person. It is what I enjoy, it is what I love. But Kerrie was the first person I thought of when faced with the “oh my god, I am going to jump back into this and I really, really need someone to proofread/edit my query letter!”

She proofread my query letter and came by for a visit/play date last Wednesday. In the middle of my showing her some of the projects I have been working on (to some extent or another) I said, “We need to start an accountability group and keep each other motivated!”

And this morning, an email appeared in my inbox, asking for the status of my myriad projects and suggesting that we start that accountability group I mentioned. My mind instantly flashed on the synopsis for War’s End that I really needed to write. The first agent I had targeted to send a query letter to requested a query letter, a one page synopsis, and the first 50 pages of the manuscript be sent via email.

Like the query letter, I viewed the project of writing a synopsis with dread. Sum up in one page what it had taken me nearly 105,000 words to describe? How could I possibly do that?!

My friend Felicia’s face flashed in front of me with THE LOOK. The one that once again said, “Suck it up, buttercup. You can do this.”

And with a half hour free this afternoon, I decided to “start” on the synopsis. Less than 45 minutes later, much to my surprise, I was looking at a decent first draft.

My life is filled with these little surprises. They lurk around every corner. They trip me up, shake my comfortable little tree, and remind me that I can do more than even I believe I am capable of. That the little script I’ve been running off of for four decades is flawed, short-sighted, and just plain inaccurate. I’ve lived on this earth for 43 years, and I feel as if my life has just begun. Each day brings a new revelation, a new skill, and a myriad of delights.

I turned in the synopsis to Kerrie for review/editing and sent her a quick payment via Paypal. I’m sure there will be changes, fixes to be done, but then I hope to have my first agent submission out of the way and working on rest of the first ten.

After that, I’m thinking that I really, REALLY need to get The War on Drugs out into the world for consideration. Marijuana reform is happening, all around us, and I think my book could help change take hold.

And then there’s Book 2 of War’s End to finish writing…

And Quit Your Job, Change Your Life

And Gliese 581

And The Chronicles of Liv Rowan

The clock is ticking…

Once More Into the Breach

A friend came by yesterday and we visited for about four hours. I hadn’t seen her in what felt like forever and it was so nice to just sit and talk. She’s brilliant, hands down the most intelligent woman I know. That level of intelligence that makes me feel like a slow country cousin.

But she challenges me, not just to keep up, but go further. And because of her visit, I have pulled out the deeply dreaded book query letter and begun to work on it…yet again.

So again, I have “changed my mind” on this whole getting published thing. I leave the possibility open-ended – I may change back again at some time in the future, but for now, I’ve taken down the links to my self-published works, and begun the process of laboriously writing, editing, glaring at, re-writing, and truly agonizing over ever word of my query letter.

I’ve also begun going through the 2011 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market (having nothing more recent than that to work from) and gleaning a list of agents to market War’s End to.

And through all of it I find the words from Shakespeare reverberating in my ears…

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger.”

And I too will imitate the action of the tiger. Waiting, persevering, trying again and again…but damn, it feels like such a conflict that I am struggling to overcome.

I tried to explain it all away – explain to my friend Felicia that really all I needed was someone to write this query letter for me. She stared at me. “Why in the world would you need that?”

“Because I’ve tried and nothing comes out right!”

She stared some more and then shook her head, “Christine you wield words like men at war wield swords. I think you can manage.”

And with that down-to-earth response, what could I say?

My life is full of these “oh duh” moments.