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The agent who'd requested a partial of Cavalier Attitude sent me a rejection this week. It's never fun to get those envelopes you've addressed and stamped, hoping never to have them come back, and I regretted seeing this one (not least because I really do think Cavalier is the strongest book I've written thus far). Alas. But it was a very nice, very helpful rejection letter, and I appreciate the kindness that went into its composition.

"While the tone, flow, and voice hit all the right notes for me, Cavalier runs the risk of being sub-categorized to death - a fantasy novel, a high fantasy novel, a gay novel (and more, a novel about gay love and its proscription) - which I fear would limit its audience from the start. I simply can't be confident that you'll find publication at a trade publisher; it's the sort of project that would do quite well at a small press, and it doesn't suit my time or yours to involve me in the hunt for the right place."

Good thing I got today's words in before the mail came. I have a feeling I'll be mulling over that bit about small press publication for quite a while.


Apr. 27th, 2007 09:07 am
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...and what, to my wondering eyes did appear, but an email message from an agent I recently queried, asking for the first 50 pages of Cavalier Attitude.

In a spring that has been non-stop effort on several fronts at the same time, this is a bright spot. I'm trying not to get too excited. *g* Because, of course, she could get those 50 pages and decide the story wasn't moving in a direction that pleases her, and reject it. Rejections will always outnumber acceptances in this business, and it's well to remember that, as well as that it *is* a business. This is not my heart being judged; it's my novel, but it stands on its own. It has to.

So, in addition to all of the other deadlines I'm juggling, I'm focusing tightly on those first 50 pages, making sure they say exactly what I need them to say. Oh, nuance, how I love thee. And how complicated a beast you are to manage!

In other news, and along the lines of that research thing I was doing earlier, I bought some music today that will inevitably influence the writing. Maybe, just maybe, the pirates will come out to play again after listening to Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys. The self-titled Rodrigo y Gabriela cd, an instrumental fusion of heavy metal and acoustic guitars which I heard pieces of on NPR's Saturday Weekend Edition, ought to be useful when it comes to revising the [ profile] novel_in_90-generated draft of Bells of Leon y Cantara. And I am not sure what Lisa Gerrard's latest, Immortal Memory, will influence, but I'm sure it will. I listen to selections of her earlier efforts with Dead Can Dance and in movie soundtracks (most notably the soundtrack for The Insider) all the time when I want that deep, bittersweet, achingly depressed mood that makes the words flow for so many of my characters.

Onward! (For, of course, there is no going back, and no sense looking over your shoulder. You don't want to see what's catching up.)
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Monday, April 23 has been designated International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day by popular acclaim. Make of the foofaraw behind it what you will (see [ profile] sfwa); what it is becoming will be more apparent, I think, tomorrow when more people have posted. At any rate, participating in this bit of sociological experimentation is fun. *g*

I'm posting tonight because my Mondays tend to be hellish. So, herewith find the first three chapters of the novel I'm currently using to troll for agents, the story called Cavalier Attitude. Allow me to introduce Dimo Avrila:

One, in which Dimo's present collides with his past )

Two, in which we see the Beautiful People for what they are )

and Three, in which the pigeons come home to roost )
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I was talking last night with friends about the process of sending a novel out into the world, and mentioned that I was working on my synopsis. One of the things I was doing to amend the synopsis, I said, was to work on the direction of its spin. At that point, the synopsis for Cavalier was primarily focused on the internal plot--Dimo's character arc as he hits bottom, sees a way out, and takes it--and I needed it to focus more on the external plot.

And then it occurred to me, while lying in bed a bit later, that this is what this book has been missing all along, this focus on the external plot. The synopsis was focused on the internal plot because the novel was focused on the internal plot. Yes, I want to know what Dimo's growth arc is. Yes, I want to feel his pain as he struggles with his past and his future. Yes, I will always write character first, and always read for character first. But there has to be a strong external plot to drive those struggles and that pain and growth, and this is what I have been missing.

It's why, when I rewrote the opening for Cavalier this past winter, I opened with a scene showing the point where the external plot collides with Dimo's internal arc. I knew what the book had been missing, but hadn't dragged the conclusion up out of my subconscious yet.

I look back now on the conversations my crit partner, [ profile] corrinalaw, and I have been having about the need for external plot, and I wonder whether I was working through issues in her book, or in mine.

So, now, I need to go through the book and find the scenes that are purely internally driven, and see if I can strengthen their connection to the external plot. Subconsciously, those connections are there; I just have to unearth them.

I feel like I've dragged myself over the edge of a sheer cliff on this mountain I'm climbing, and found a shelf lined with moss and a tremendous view of the heights below. *g* It's not a resting place, and it's not the summit, but it is an accomplishment nevertheless.
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I'm not dead. Really. *g* Just very, very busy. Spring is the busiest time for my landscape design business, and it's been jumping since the end of perfect synchronization with my completing work on the first draft of The Bells of Leon y Cantara via [ profile] novel_in_90. This is ideal because now the draft gets to percolate a bit while my surface brain is busy elsewhere. I always work better when my conscious mind is distracted.

I have new agents on my radar, following last week's research effort, and hope to send Dimo to knock at their door early next week. Wish me luck.

This quiz thing caught my eye today:

Your super-secret codename is:

Your mission is...

Forcing Kim Jong-Il to eat 7 banana cream pies in 2 minutes
'What is your codename and mission?'

That is so something I'd love to do. *g*

Oh - and you know what I woke up to this morning? On April 7? Snow. In Central Virginia. We were supposed to get flurries, maybe, and ended up with 1.25 inches before the day warmed and it started to melt. It's mostly gone now. (Yeah, yeah, I know it's nothing like those of you in New England got...but this is Virginia, in April. Little kid that I am, I grinned and took the dog out to play.

No love

Oct. 4th, 2006 09:10 pm
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Got a nice, personalized rejection letter from Christine Cohen at Virginia Kidd Agency. She got a kick out of the similar names thing; she signed it "Chris Cohen!", which I think is cool. And she's recommended another agent/agency, with the note that they can't get to my query for a while and I should try these other people.

My dilemma: AgentQuery says this other agent is not currently accepting unsolicited queries.

I need to make some edits to Cavalier anyway, so maybe by the time I'm ready to submit, that status will have changed. And then I can write a cover letter that says, "Agent X recommended I query you."

My goal is to have Cavalier edited by the time WFC rolls around. We'll see how close I get to that.
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The first line of Cavalier Attitude is:

"Dimolacan Avrila did not run."

As a recent review of the work revealed, I then spent 100 pages trying not to tell what he wasn't running from.


When, of course, in all reality he is running from that thing - it's called Duty - and continues to run from it until about two-thirds into the book.

I do not want to throw Dimo headfirst into the main plot. I find that inelegant, as well as ruinous of a lot of good worldbuilding. I absolutely despise flashbacks, probably because I don't write them well. I want to keep all these lovely little layers (damn, what is it with the alliteration tonight?) of the varying sorts of duty that I've written in. And yet...the first scene does not grab, not after that first line, and I know it.

The answer is probably the same as it's been all along: show how the main plot influences the events in that first scene, and in all the other scenes leading up to the point where the plot becomes more obvious. The plot is an octopus, I guess, and while its tentacles are wrapped 'round the events and characters that appear in the first scene and those that follow, I'm not even showing any of the slime. *g*

Well, I don't really want slime. I want marks from where the suckers were applied. *g* I want to see the damage, and the reactions of those damaged.
clarentine: (Pirtate!)
Got the alas-o-gram from Merilee Heifetz in yesterday's mail. Maybe, someday, this novel will get a request for partial or--dare I say it?--a full manuscript.

In the meantime, I continue to plug away on the pirates novel and ignore the seductive whispers about plot threads not yet explored in Canum's world. They're unexplored, damn it, because I already have four completed novels in that universe and the first draft of several others.

Maybe I'm trying to raise interest with the wrong crop of novels. I don't think you're supposed to be taunting agents with more than one at a time, though. (Yes? No?) I am operating under the impression that one dangles before agents one's best work--and I may be wrong, but I think Cavalier Attitude is the best I've written to date.

::wrenches focus back to Josh and the pirates::

Parts of this pirate novel gleam even in first draft. I hope it's a good thing when an author likes his or her own work, because I do. Why would you put yourself through this if you didn't enjoy what you wrote?
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Just got an email from Andrea Somberg with Harvey Klinger, one of the agents to whom I'd sent Cavalier Attitude. 'Twas a nice rejection, alas.
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A Mailing has been committed this morning. In addition to five more novel queries (that would be Dimo, ringing those doorbells), I've sent off a story to the F&SF slush bomb project, and another (the Xavier "short" alt history) to Paradox. Now to await the blizzard of rejection SASEs. *g*

No Love

Aug. 5th, 2006 04:14 pm
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37-day rejection of a snail mail query (plus synop and 50 pages) from Ethan Ellenberg.

As I am assured that Chris Lotts, who is my only snail query remaining unanswered, responds to those he's interested in and no others, I will press on with picking the next batch of agents. And I'm working on my query, too. (Thanks, Jodi.)
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One week, Eleanor Wood. She notes, for those who might be interested, that she's "taking on very few new clients."

Two down in this batch, three more to go.

No love

Jul. 10th, 2006 09:57 am
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A no thanks letter from Rachel Vater, after about a week.
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Mailed more queries out yesterday. All of this batch got at least a sample set of the first five pages; one wanted the first chapter, and another wanted the first 50 pages.

Dumb move of the day: sealing up two of the envelopes before I'd signed the cover letter.

I want to talk about alternate history stories, but that's not querying, so....
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Got a 24-day no thanks letter from Nikki Van De Car in today's mail. I'd forgotten I had this one still out, and am somewhat bummed because I think Van De Car was a good fit for me. (The only other one out now is Galen, and no one I'm in touch with has gotten anything from him, yes or no, despite sending SASEs. Someone suggested that he wallpapers his office in envelopes with uncanceled stamps.) that the graduation madness is past, I guess I need to come up with the next round of queries.
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A no love letter from Ginger Clark, after about three weeks.

Dimo, dear heart, tape up your knuckles. You'll be knocking on doors until you find the right one.
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Got a "no thanks" letter from Lucienne Diver today. [ profile] agentturnaround, this one was 13 days. (I'll post the receipt there, too.)
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Got the SASE back from Richard Henshaw - a very nice form letter, alas.
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This morning's mailings include queries to Nikki Van De Car (Harvey Klinger), Richard Henshaw, Russell Galen, Lucienne Diver, and Ginger Clark (Curtis Brown), all paper mailings. No telling how long it will be before any of them get back to me, but each package included an SASE, so I should at some point have an answer.

In the publishing/agent hunt business, no news is never good news. I'm advised to wait 30 days before giving up on the email queries I sent, but am not holding my breath.

Query notes

Apr. 9th, 2006 08:46 pm
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I should note that I got a "no thanks" email from Maya Rock of Writers House on Friday. I still intend to get some paper queries out this week, but haven't and won't be printing that material out tonight. I have to write the cover letters first.


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