Gather ’round, kidlets. Story time.

In 2003, I tried doing NaNoWriMo for the first time, because I’d always wanted to write but had never been good about sitting down and actually doing it. I had ideas in notebooks but nothing concrete.

I tried. I failed. Burnt out around 15k.

In 2004, I tried again. I made it to 50k that year. That novel is not a novel, it is a sprawling mess of post-apocalyptic… something.

In 2005, for NaNo #3, I had no plot but lots of atmosphere, and when I reached the 30k mark and had no idea where to go with it, I sent my characters to the circus.

In 2006, I spent NaNo working on that circus. I ended up with something interesting, but not novel-shaped.

In 2007, I did another 50k worth of work on the circus. In NaNo terms this is cheating. I’m sorry.

Throughout 2008 I took the 100k+ of circus… stuff and attempted to shape it into a novel.

I don’t know how many drafts it went through. Four, maybe? It started to have something resembling a proper shape in the beginning of 2009.

From 2008 to, well, now, I started learning about the publishing industry.

On June 2nd, 2009, I sent out my first batch of query letters.

I sent six queries out in that first batch. Within 20 minutes I had a partial request and a full request. I got another full request two hours later, two rejections the next day, and a third full request a few weeks later.

Ten days later those first two full request turned into rejections. The partial joined them in rejectionland soon after.

I sent out more queries. I got more requests. I got more rejections.

In August, I got a full request that turned into a phone call. A very nice phone call that I’m pretty sure I did nothing but stammer during, and was a request to rework the book almost entirely, but it was still an offer of representation.

I got in touch with the other agents who were still considering. Some of them passed. I had more phone calls. I think I stammered less in those.

I ended up not taking any offers at that point. I decided to revise independently, because everyone seemed to be saying different versions of the same thing.

I spent September and October of 2009 revising. I pushed around what I had. I tried to have more *stuff* happen. I polished it. I wrapped it up in pretty bows.

I sent it back to the three agents who wanted to see it.

More phone calls. More e-mails. All three of them said different versions of “well… not there yet.”

So I sighed. I ate a lot of chocolate. I wrote a completely different story for NaNo ’09. I took December off.

In January of 2010, I checked into the Revisionland Hotel.

I tore everything apart. I changed the format. I changed the plot. Well, I changed what little plot there was into an actual plot. I took over 25k out and put other stuff in. I sent it to old beta readers and new beta readers. I changed it some more.

I sent it back to agents two weeks ago.

Last week I had one offer of representation.

On Monday I had three.

I thought about it. A lot. I was extremely lucky to have three wonderful agents spending their time on me and my work, offering wonderful advice throughout this process.

In the end I signed with the same agent I had that very first stammering phone call with back in August.

I am now represented by Richard Pine of InkWell Management.

Almost exactly a year after I started querying.

november is for writing

Clearly, I fail at blogging during NaNo. This is probably not that surprising.

But now there are pretty little wordcount widgets, look!

Currently at 36k. Now have five different fairy tales (Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, The Six Swans, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, & Bluebeard) incorporated and twisted around into knots. I’m guessing that this draft will round out around 75k, and I’m hoping I can get that done this month. I already have notes for things I want to change, of course.

And now, because I know y’all (& by y’all, I mean the approximately three people who read this regularly. Hi Paul!) are interested, a Great Agent Search update:

At the end of October I sent my revised manuscript back to the three agents who wanted to see it, and within two weeks I had responses & feedback from all three of them.

And… I get to go back to revisionland. Everyone say yay!

It’s really not that bad. I think this time I have a much clearer idea of what needs to happen and a slightly vaguer but still pretty decent idea of how to do that.

The unfortunate part is that it’s going to involve completely dismantling and reworking what I have. And I have no idea how long that will take. I’m hoping to do some structural outlining/planning during December and then start in on the new draft in January.

And when that revision is completed and beta’d and revised again, all three agents want to see it again. So it seems like there’s a good novel in there somewhere. I just need to figure out how to write it.

But other than occasional jotting down of notes & ideas I’m trying not to think about it too much at the moment. I have NaNoing to do. And the circus can wait while I’m busy wandering around my war-torn fairy tale mashup of a NaNovel. I am all Once Upon a Not-So-Happily-Ever-After at the moment.

Here, have my favorite illustration of Rapunzel that I’ve stumbled upon in researching:


Rapunzel by Isobel Lilian Gloag


I realized I have been rather bad about actually blogging the current writing/agent search situation. Maybe because I’ve been talking about it nonstop and working so much that it just seemed like that would have shown up on the blog by osmosis or something.

But oddly, things only show up on the blog if I actually type them up and post them. So, this is the state of the novel-querying nation. In as short a form as possible, since it gets confusing:

I had an offer for my novel, but it came contingent on a pretty major revision. I alerted other agents that were reading and got some more input and suggestions and after a lot of thought decided not to accept the original offer outright, and instead I’m working on revising independently based on all the feedback I’ve received. I have three agents waiting to see the revised version when it’s finished.

So what does this mean? Mostly, it means I still don’t have an agent BUT THAT’S OK. Really, I’m happy with how things are going, it’s giving me a chance to look at my manuscript again and push it further and have the ball back in my court for the moment. It’s nice to have some control again, to have something to work on actively instead of sitting around waiting. Not that I didn’t have other things to work on, but the circus is warm and fuzzy and familiar and I like being able to play in it again.

And probably most importantly: I am 100% sure I am making the story better. I have a long list of suggestions/problem points/issues to address and I’m having a wonderful time working on it. Seriously, it’s like I’ve been given permission to have more fun with it. For about a week and a half I’ve been mulling things over and taking notes and saying “What if I did this?” to the boy (who has read every draft) and he’s responded with varying degrees of “That would be AWESOME.” Which is rather happy-making.

I’m still writing down notes and trying to get all the new ideas to fit with what’s there, figuring out what needs to be added and removed and changed. I’m starting to see the new version, or the idea of the new version, and while I still have a lot of work ahead of me I’m pleased with how it’s going so far. This week’s phase is combing through the current version with a purple pen to mark it up for surgery.

Though today I have mostly been writing snippets of new scenes and turning this photo of Tessa into postcards from the gods: bastet, which should be up on Etsy later today.

bastet tessa

So that’s where I am right now. Revision-o-rama. I’m hoping I’ll be done by mid-September, so I can hand it off to a couple of beta readers before sending it back to agents. And then I can figure out what to write for this year’s NaNoWriMo. It may finally be the year for Edwardian Boston Pirate vs. Ninja. Maybe.

on uncertainties and crystal balls

I finally updated WordPress (thanks Paul!) and now the shiny new interface is freaking me out. I am easily distracted by shiny things.

This has been rather a crazy week, and I’m kind of surprised it’s Thursday already. Lots going on in the great literary agent search but nothing I can really talk about yet.

(There should be So You Think You Can Dance for agents. I have nowhere to go with that thought that doesn’t end up someplace weird involving sequins and spandex, so maybe I just want an option for call-in agent voting. And a panel of judges to critique everything for me. Wouldn’t that be great, for every decision you ever had to make to be able to consult a panel of experts that would give you advice and pithy remarks and scream a lot when something exciting happens? I’m going to close this parenthetical before it gets out of hand. )

Anyway, everything at the moment is kind of uncertain and I’m still playing the waiting game, though I do have a sort of vague time line now. I really don’t know which way things will go from here, but it should be somewhere interesting.

I think this is the point where I would ask longingly for a crystal ball, were it not for the fact that I could easily walk down the street and purchase one if I wanted to. I’m not very good at scrying of any sort, though.

I could get one for decorative purposes, though. They are pretty. And I do have that weakness for shiny objects. This one was sitting in the window of a shop on Essex Street.

crystal ball

I think I’ll stick with my tarot cards for now. Queens are being painted at the moment, in deserts and oceans and mountains and night gardens. They should be finished sometime next week.


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.