My First Query Letter

I’ve been bouncing off the walls since “finishing” my first novel.

First I hired a professional editor, then canceled that.  I reformatted my manuscript into standard format, which was a bigger task than I expected.  (I had to replace all my italics with underlines.  I thought this strange until I saw how poorly italics show up in a courier font.) 

I sent off copies of the manuscript to the writers group and asked for feedback on whether they thought I needed to hire an editor or not.   Still bouncing off the walls, I switched to researching what a query letter to an agent should contain. 

Contrary to its name, a query letter is not about asking any questions.  It is a one page sales pitch designed to first interest an agent in your story, then in yourself.  You jump directly into summarizing in one or two short paragraphs a complex novel filled with characters you’ve spent possibly years crafting.

Last night I finished my first query letter.  And I was still ricocheting like a Racquet ball. 

I needed to focus on writing for NaNoWriMo, where I am already thousands of words behind.  Every time I tried to write I kept being distracted by the thought of the completed novel waiting for the next step.

One of my great strengths and weaknesses is my ability to act impulsively.  To leap, then look.  It is easy to see the disadvantages that such a trait brings with it, but there are advantages as well. 

It allows me to trust my gut.  To move forward into dark and unfamiliar terrain, guided by the confidence of a fool that I will somehow find my way through.  Sometimes this leads to terrible mistakes, but more often it lets me accomplish what dithering and planning would never begin.

So I sat looking at my finished query letter, which I am quite pleased with, and my stomach churned over the fact that I have a finished work ready for submission.  I realized I would have no ability to focus on my next writing task until I acted.  

So I sent my first query letter off to a literary agency, one that gets a “highly recommended” rating from the site Preditors & Editors.

I am calmer now, and I think I can focus again on writing.   The first novel is still in my thoughts, but no longer dominates my mind. I feel like I can now write for NaNoWriMo without the severe distractions that have hampered me so badly this time around.

I’ll post again if I hear something back from the agent, whether the news is good or bad.  Till then, have fun and party down.

A Moment of Reflection

It has been a long time since I added a post here.  This is not because I haven’t been writing, but because I have been incredibly focused on writing.  For over a year, all my energy and efforts  have focused on completing the second complete draft of the first book in Gods Among Men, At The Lady’s Behest Comes…

At the beginning of October I finished the second draft.  This completed a wrenching experience in which I rewrote much of the book from scratch.  Some scenes I rewrote multiple times.  I edited every page, ever paragraph, multiple times. 

Along the way, my editing skill grew immensely.  Enough that since finishing the second draft last month, I performed a complete edit on every chapter, scene, page, paragraph, and sentence.  I managed to cut over third of pages from the second draft, removing over 200 pages (over 70,000 words) from the novel.  Essentially, in one month I completed a third draft.  

I feel proud of the first novel’s current state and consider it complete, for the moment.  (More on that further down the page.)  All chapters are available for download at http://gods-among-men.com/blog/books/book1.  I invite anyone interested to read what is there. 

What’s Next?

It is going to be hard to get At The Lady’s Behest Comes…published.  It is long for a first novel (over 150,000 words, whereas most first novels are around 80,000 words) and it ends on some major cliff-hangers.  But it is a good story with strong characters, and I have faith that eventually I’ll see it in print.

I have contracted a professional editor to review the novel and provide feedback on what I must do to make the work more presentable and palatable to agents and publishers.  I expect that his suggestions will prompt further changes, and possibly more rewrites.  I use to dread rewrites; now I accept them as challenges that improve my skills as a writer. 

And In The Meantime?

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.  Last year during NaNoWriMo I wrote much of the second book, …Demiurge, Unbound,…

I’m late getting started this year, already almost 5000 words behind where I should be.  I plan to focus on writing a hodgepodge of scenes I need for the second and third books.  This will help me flesh out a variety of characters and scenarios better.  I’m hopeful  that by focusing on scenes I’ve thought about for years I’ll rapidly make up the lost time.

By the end of November, I expect to receive some feedback from the editor I hired.  December and January will probably be devoted to incorporating his suggestions and comments.

After which I will look for an agent.  I expect the process of getting an agent and publisher to dominate much on my non-writing/non-work time next year.

And With Regards to Writing Next Year?

My goal for writing next year is to finish my partial first draft of the second book and begin the process of editing it.  As chapters reach the “presentable” stage I’ll post them on my website, http://gods-among-men.com.  

It would be overly optimistic to expect to finish an edited version of the second book by the end of next year.  I think it likely that I will finish a rough first draft and have final edits of many chapters by then.

And I keep toying with posting MP3 readings of the first book on my website.  I think it would be fun to do, but also quite time consuming.  I’ll likely keep bouncing this idea around in my head and never get around to actually doing it.  But I might well try a few chapters and see what happens.

And Your Blogs?

The blogs served an important function for a time.  They forced me to write regularly and focus my thoughts.  Maintaining them like I did helped push me to write often enough that I developed good work habits.  I expect I’ll focus my future writing efforts on my story, and blog infrequently at best.

That said, I sometimes look back over old posts and find what I wrote there interesting snapshots of where I was at that time.  There is value in putting random thoughts in permanent form, insight to be gained from reviewing previous ramblings.  Perhaps I’ll make an effort to add post more regularly, but I doubt it.

Until next time, have fun and party down.

A Moment of Reflection

It has been a long time since I added a post here.  This is not because I haven’t been writing, but because I have been incredibly focused on writing.  For over a year, all my energy and efforts  have focused on completing the second complete draft of the first book in Gods Among Men, At The Lady’s Behest Comes…

At the beginning of October I finished the second draft.  This completed a wrenching experience in which I rewrote much of the book from scratch.  Some scenes I rewrote multiple times.  I edited every page, ever paragraph, multiple times. 

Along the way, my editing skill grew immensely.  Enough that since finishing the second draft last month, I performed a complete edit on every chapter, scene, page, paragraph, and sentence.  I managed to cut over third of pages from the second draft, removing over 200 pages (over 70,000 words) from the novel.  Essentially, in one month I completed a third draft.  

I feel proud of the first novel’s current state and consider it complete, for the moment.  (More on that further down the page.)  All chapters are available for download at http://gods-among-men.com/blog/books/book1.  I invite anyone interested to read what is there. 

What’s Next?

It is going to be hard to get At The Lady’s Behest Comes…published.  It is long for a first novel (over 150,000 words, whereas most first novels are around 80,000 words) and it ends on some major cliff-hangers.  But it is a good story with strong characters, and I have faith that eventually I’ll see it in print.

I have contracted a professional editor to review the novel and provide feedback on what I must do to make the work more presentable and palatable to agents and publishers.  I expect that his suggestions will prompt further changes, and possibly more rewrites.  I use to dread rewrites; now I accept them as challenges that improve my skills as a writer. 

And In The Meantime?

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.  Last year during NaNoWriMo I wrote much of the second book, …Demiurge, Unbound,…

I’m late getting started this year, already almost 5000 words behind where I should be.  I plan to focus on writing a hodgepodge of scenes I need for the second and third books.  This will help me flesh out a variety of characters and scenarios better.  I’m hopeful  that by focusing on scenes I’ve thought about for years I’ll rapidly make up the lost time.

By the end of November, I expect to receive some feedback from the editor I hired.  December and January will probably be devoted to incorporating his suggestions and comments.

After which I will look for an agent.  I expect the process of getting an agent and publisher to dominate much on my non-writing/non-work time next year.

And With Regards to Writing Next Year?

My goal for writing next year is to finish my partial first draft of the second book and begin the process of editing it.  As chapters reach the “presentable” stage I’ll post them on my website, http://gods-among-men.com.  

It would be overly optimistic to expect to finish an edited version of the second book by the end of next year.  I think it likely that I will finish a rough first draft and have final edits of many chapters by then.

And I keep toying with posting MP3 readings of the first book on my website.  I think it would be fun to do, but also quite time consuming.  I’ll likely keep bouncing this idea around in my head and never get around to actually doing it.  But I might well try a few chapters and see what happens.

And Your Blogs?

The blogs served an important function for a time.  They forced me to write regularly and focus my thoughts.  Maintaining them like I did helped push me to write often enough that I developed good work habits.  I expect I’ll focus my future writing efforts on my story, and blog infrequently at best.

That said, I sometimes look back over old posts and find what I wrote there interesting snapshots of where I was at that time.  There is value in putting random thoughts in permanent form, insight to be gained from reviewing previous ramblings.  Perhaps I’ll make an effort to add post more regularly, but I doubt it.

Until next time, have fun and party down.

A Moment of Reflection

It has been a long time since I added a post here.  This is not because I haven’t been writing, but because I have been incredibly focused on writing.  For over a year, all my energy and efforts  have focused on completing the second complete draft of the first book in Gods Among Men, At The Lady’s Behest Comes…

At the beginning of October I finished the second draft.  This completed a wrenching experience in which I rewrote much of the book from scratch.  Some scenes I rewrote multiple times.  I edited every page, ever paragraph, multiple times. 

Along the way, my editing skill grew immensely.  Enough that since finishing the second draft last month, I performed a complete edit on every chapter, scene, page, paragraph, and sentence.  I managed to cut over third of pages from the second draft, removing over 200 pages (over 70,000 words) from the novel.  Essentially, in one month I completed a third draft.  

I feel proud of the first novel’s current state and consider it complete, for the moment.  (More on that further down the page.)  All chapters are available for download at http://gods-among-men.com/blog/books/book1.  I invite anyone interested to read what is there. 

What’s Next?

It is going to be hard to get At The Lady’s Behest Comes…published.  It is long for a first novel (over 150,000 words, whereas most first novels are around 80,000 words) and it ends on some major cliff-hangers.  But it is a good story with strong characters, and I have faith that eventually I’ll see it in print.

I have contracted a professional editor to review the novel and provide feedback on what I must do to make the work more presentable and palatable to agents and publishers.  I expect that his suggestions will prompt further changes, and possibly more rewrites.  I use to dread rewrites; now I accept them as challenges that improve my skills as a writer. 

And In The Meantime?

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.  Last year during NaNoWriMo I wrote much of the second book, …Demiurge, Unbound,…

I’m late getting started this year, already almost 5000 words behind where I should be.  I plan to focus on writing a hodgepodge of scenes I need for the second and third books.  This will help me flesh out a variety of characters and scenarios better.  I’m hopeful  that by focusing on scenes I’ve thought about for years I’ll rapidly make up the lost time.

By the end of November, I expect to receive some feedback from the editor I hired.  December and January will probably be devoted to incorporating his suggestions and comments.

After which I will look for an agent.  I expect the process of getting an agent and publisher to dominate much on my non-writing/non-work time next year.

And With Regards to Writing Next Year?

My goal for writing next year is to finish my partial first draft of the second book and begin the process of editing it.  As chapters reach the “presentable” stage I’ll post them on my website, http://gods-among-men.com.  

It would be overly optimistic to expect to finish an edited version of the second book by the end of next year.  I think it likely that I will finish a rough first draft and have final edits of many chapters by then.

And I keep toying with posting MP3 readings of the first book on my website.  I think it would be fun to do, but also quite time consuming.  I’ll likely keep bouncing this idea around in my head and never get around to actually doing it.  But I might well try a few chapters and see what happens.

And Your Blogs?

The blogs served an important function for a time.  They forced me to write regularly and focus my thoughts.  Maintaining them like I did helped push me to write often enough that I developed good work habits.  I expect I’ll focus my future writing efforts on my story, and blog infrequently at best.

That said, I sometimes look back over old posts and find what I wrote there interesting snapshots of where I was at that time.  There is value in putting random thoughts in permanent form, insight to be gained from reviewing previous ramblings.  Perhaps I’ll make an effort to add post more regularly, but I doubt it.

Until next time, have fun and party down.

A Milestone Reached

Late last night, I finished my first draft of the rewrite of chapter six, …Personal Lives Are Upset….  It is not ready for posting on my Gods Among Men website, but it is just about ready for submission to the Magic City Writers

Side Note:

I have been remiss and not posted about the last meeting of the Magic City Writers’ Group.  I apologize, but the desire to work on chapter six has been soaking up my writing urges.

What I Have Been Up to Lately

I had to do major rewrites on the last three chapters, in which I introduce many important characters, bring them together, and reveal major plot threads.  Much of the essential content is the same as before I rewrote them.  Some side items were removed, and important elements were introduced.

Many pages of material have been moved off to long term storage in what I call my story’s  bible.  A separate document where I put meta-knowledge about Gods Among Men (history, descriptions, language notes, outlines for plot threads, and so forth).  I also put deleted scenes there, chunks of  text I don’t currently need, but which could be mined for ideas or phrases I like.

The End Results

While it took a fair amount of work, the rewrites served their purpose.  The overall flow is tighter, more focused, with better characters and escalating tensions.   I can see the improvements, and know that these chapters are now much better. 

Moreover, they are sturdy foundations for much that is to follow.  The overall story has improved and become clearer in my mind.

The Middle of the Road

There are thirteen chapters in each of my books.  Finishing chapter six means, ostensibly, that I am just shy of halfway through this major edit of the whole first book.  

In some ways, however, I’ve already done more than half the required work.

The Shape of Things to Come

Chapter seven, …And Critical Moment Relived…, is a self-contained flashback whose details are not affected by the new elements I introduced during the rewrites.  Right now it is long enough to qualify as a novella.   My goal is to turn it into a modest-size short story. 

This will largely be done by deleting long pages of total crap and tweaking what is not.  Less than a rewrite, more like a normal edit.   I have high hopes this will go quickly.

Most of the later chapters follow this pattern.   They need a brutal edit, but not complete rewrites.  There are fewer structural problems,  more sentences that need eliminating or improvements. 

I can focus more on fixing what is already there rather than creating new material from scratch.  And I am getting faster at the editing process.

My Goals For The Coming Months

If I can maintain my current pace, and the quality level of my recent efforts, I think the first book, At The Lady’s Behest Comes…, will be ready to submit to publishers by early next year.    I may be somewhat delayed in November by NaNoWriMo, at which time I plan on trying to write much of the first draft for book two.

The View From Where I Am Right Now

There is still much to do, but much has also been accomplished.   A milestone has been reached, by which I can see how far I’ve traveled, and how much further I have to go.    Not enough has been done to warrant celebration, but a moment has been reached that is worth noting.