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randomness for the 29th day of june

I finished the pages for the tarot deck today. They’re over here on LJ and in the tarot minors gallery on phantomwise.com. I have the sketches for the knights finished but I likely won’t start painting them until next week.

I am working on the aforementioned unexpected YA novel idea and it’s going pretty well. I think I want to do a relatively fast first draft over the next couple of months and see where it wants to go.

Query-wise I am playing the waiting game, and I seem to be getting better at it. Or better at distracting myself by baking cookies and drinking lots of wine.

I can’t believe it’s almost July.

That’s about it. Apropos of nothing, here is a photo I took on Saturday as we were driving off into the sunset.

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attempting to be zen

The past week or so has been all up & down in various ways. More rejections, more requests. And lots and lots of rain. Strangely, the up & down makes it easier to be zen about the whole querying process, and I’m trying to just go with the flow and be patient about the whole thing.

I have plenty to distract myself with. Paintings to paint, carrot ginger soup to make, kittens that need tummy rubs. I forget sometimes that I feel better when I keep myself busy, and that it’s a very good way to keep my brain from being neurotic.

Oddly, though, the writing part of my brain does not seem content with my work-in-progress of choice, piecing together my subterranean library. I’ve accomplished a lot as far as reworking the structure and the plot and I know what the shape of it is and what needs to be cut, what needs to be rewritten and what needs to be added.

And yet, my brain doesn’t want to write it.

My brain, tricksy thing that it is, wants to write something entirely different. I ignored it for awhile, but over the last couple of days I’ve been allowing myself to play in this new novel and I’m rather enjoying myself. It’s different than anything I’ve done before. It’s linear! It’s YA! It’s not fantasy! It’s speculative, in a way that feels fantastical, but it’s not a straight-up fantasy.

It’s coming together fairly quickly, too, so I think I’ll play here for awhile before returning to the other, more complicated, non-linear place. Maybe it’s just all about karmic lessons in going with the flow and not trying to over-plan things.

So yeah, that’s the current state of the nation. Spending the end of this rainy, rainy June playing things by ear and attempting to be zen. And I’m working on a super secret project that will be announced in July for my birthday, too.

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the secret history

I have been trying to distract myself this week. I managed to do a rather impressive job of it by perusing my to-read shelf and choosing The Secret History by Donna Tartt for no particular reason beyond the fact that it was on the top of the pile.

I fell into this book hard and did not want to come out of it. Spent the better part of the last two days curled up reading, letting cups of tea go cold nearby.

I’m not sure why I hadn’t read it before. I’ve been aware of it for years, I think I even flipped through it in a bookstore more than five years ago. I bought a copy a couple of months back and added it to the to-read shelf. Maybe it was waiting around for me to be able to give it my full and rapt attention.

I loved it, really. For two main reasons.

One: I’m a sucker for a good, interesting mystery that isn’t self-conscious about being mysterious. That likely makes no sense but just the idea of a murder mystery where you know the victim and the murderer from page one makes me happy, where the mystery is in the details and not the broad strokes of the crime.

And two: I went to a small, New England college. Certain sequences and details reminded me very much of Smith. Even the weather was beautifully familiar. Memories of classes studying Greek theatre I’d all but forgotten brimmed to the surface of my oft-senile brain. In a way, it’s evocative of my own collegiate experience, but pushed to extremes and placed in a blender with a Greek tragedy. Whipped up on high volume to a frothy Bacchanalian frenzy.

I can see how this can be a mixed-reaction book. I’m still not entirely sure I found the epilogue satisfying, but then I’m not entirely sure it was meant to be satisfying at all, really.

It earned a spot on my tier of most favoritest books quicker than anything I’ve read in quite awhile, that’s for sure.

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on rejections & muffins & crosswalks

Within a matter of ten hours both of the full manuscripts I had out with agents were rejected. That was not a fun ten hours. Granted, I was asleep for most of the hours in between, but still.

The first rejection was extremely nice, personalized, and gave me no reason to think there’s anything concretely wrong with the novel, just that it wasn’t this particular agent’s cup of tea. Which is fine, it’s a weird sort of novel.

The second rejection was a form letter. That one kind of stung a bit.

So I made banana chocolate chip muffins. I’ve never actually made them before, but I make banana muffins fairly frequently and saw the banana + chocolate chip thing mentioned somewhere recently and gave it a try. They came out wonderfully, and I am very pleased.

Then I sent out five more query letters. And put a fair amount of Malibu coconut rum in my Pepsi Throwback.

So yeah, I’m disappointed but I know that this whole process is slow and complicated and I’m trying to be zen about it. I think getting an immediate positive reaction made this hurt a bit more than it might have otherwise, but at least it was comparatively quick.

Then the boy and I went for a walk, because the sun had finally come out after it had rained for days. I had my camera in my bag so I took some photos.

I lost my light before we got home but I got a few lovely shots, some of which are now up on my Flickr photostream (this one of the top of a damp tomb in the cemetery is particularly nice, as well as this door knocker that I covet) including this one of the push to cross button while we were waiting for the light to change at a crosswalk. Yes I did push it before I took the photo.

It strikes me now, with photos and rejections and muffins and tea all jumbled together in my brain, that this is precisely where I am with the novel. I’m at the crosswalk. I’ve pushed the button. I’ve sent out my queries and polished my manuscript and now it’s just a matter of waiting for the light to change.

I just have to trust that it will change, indeed, and I can preoccupy myself with photos and muffins and tea and creative things in the meantime.

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out of one story, into another

I am attempting to be patient while I wait to hear back on manuscripts out with agents. Emphasis on attempt. I polished my nails! They’re now a lovely grey violet and harder to bite.

So, while I try to be zen like my iGoogle TeaHouse Fox, I am attempting to ease my brain out of the story that is now out in the world and back to the one that is sitting in bits and pieces in Scrivener.

It’s easier than I had expected, shifting gears from one story into another. I re-read everything I had written so far for this one, took some notes, scribbled down snatches of dialogue and ideas for scenes. It has more shape than I’d thought it did, which I think is helpful. But I’d say the draft is only half done. It’s about 55k at the moment, most of that done for NaNoWriMo ’08 and a large percentage of that needs massive overhaul.

I like being back at this stage of the game. Figuring things out, putting pieces together. It’s more exploratory. More of an adventure.

Things that are helping take my head out of the circus and into my cat-infested subterranean library include:

Sia’s album Colour the Small One, which I listened to a lot while I was originally writing. Especially the “Breathe Me” remixes. The circus doesn’t have a particular album that it feels like, but the library feels like this.

This painting that I stumbled upon by accident, looking for something else. A Place of Her Own, by James C. Christensen:

And I keep finding quotes that resonate for this one, which is unusual for me:

Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace.

– Eugene O’Neill

But when the self speaks to the self, who is speaking?—the entombed soul, the spirit driven in, in, in to the central catacomb; the self that took the veil and left the world—a coward perhaps, yet somehow beautiful, as it flits with its lantern restlessly up and down the dark corridors.

– Virginia Woolf

It’s like going back to a familiar country after a long absence. Should be an interesting place to spend the next few months. Hoping to have a full draft by the end of the summer. We’ll see where things go from here…

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in lieu of content, bucket.

I should probably polish my nails so I don’t chew them too much while waiting to hear back on queries and such. Am trying to distract myself with working on other things. I have court cards to sketch and books to read and a sprawling novel-in-progress about a subterranean library to work on.

But I really don’t have much to say or post or whatnot at the moment. So here, in lieu of actual interesting blog content, picture of Bucket sitting on the rug in the studio:

Because Tessa gets too much of the kitty picture glory. Since she’s a camera whore kitten and all. Bucket is shy.

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queries

One of the cards in my tarot reading from last week was about approaching literary agents. That card was the Eight of Wands, and in the spread it was reversed so the wands looked like the wands were comets headed skywards. Anya and I both thought it was a “get on with it already!” kind of card, and so I decided to start sending out query letters a bit earlier than I’d planned.

I’ve had my query letter ready for awhile now, I finally came up with a decent synopsis (it’s hard to synopsize something that’s non-linear) and the manuscript has been polished to a high shine. I’ve done my research, I’m ready to move on to the querying stage of the game.

I was going to start sending queries out at the end of the week or so, and instead I tried to start sending them yesterday.

That didn’t work.

I kept encountering formatting snafus and little problem after little problem, so I abandoned the idea of the Monday querying and instead got myself super-organized. Went over my manuscript again, proofread all my letters, basically got everything ready to go today, because Tuesdays are Zeus’s day. Or something.

Anyway, I sent my first batch of queries out at 10am this morning.

I had a request for a partial manuscript & synopsis and another for a full in about half an hour.

Two hours later I got another request for a full.

I thought this process was supposed to be slow? I really didn’t expect such quick responses. I am surprised and giddy and nervous and excited and I keep making high-pitched noises that frighten the cats.

So, yeah, we’ll see what happens from here. Eep.

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