It’s been just over a month since the Atlanta Writer’s Conference where I got to float around for my 15 seconds of fame after winning three separate awards for my manuscript and pitch. That manuscript (a murder mystery called OVERBALANCED) has since been placed in the hands of five different professionals (4 agents and 1 editor). If I told you that I haven’t been watching my email feed, I’d be lying. Sure, I’ve been sending out more queries in spite of the holiday season when I’m guessing things slow way down in the publishing world. I’ve also written a short story that I submitted to a contest and I sent a query about a short essay to the Boston Globe. But I’m dying to hear from the folks who currently hold my fate on their computer screens (it’s all digital submissions these days).
What I really need to do is work on the next manuscript. It’s called OVERCOMPENSATED. (See what I’m doing there?) I can tell you that it is at times monumentally difficult to write a sequel when you haven’t yet secured the first book’s spot in immortality (on Kindle, at least). I’m writing the second book so it can stand alone if that ends up being necessary. It’s not like the HUNGER GAMES trilogy where book three makes no sense absent the first two books. And I confess that when I dive in, I’m super excited about the next novel. It’s got at least two storylines and a bit of history as well so it’s rich and satisfying, at least in my head. I’m still working on the writing part, thus the title of this post. I hope to have the new manuscript done by May.
Write now. It’s my new mantra and it will take me away from eyeballing my email feed. I actually Googled a question about how long you might expect to wait to hear from an agent who has requested your manuscript. It’s certainly months, at the least, and in once case, an agent blogged about having a year’s worth of manuscripts in her pile. Yikes! If I don’t hear anything for a year, I promise you that you will hear the sound of my head exploding, wherever it is that you live.
So the mystery portion of this post is about the waiting involved when trying to get an agent. It takes ages and yet, it might be today that I get an email. Who the heck knows? I can tell you that at the panel discussion at the Atlanta Writer’s Conference, every single agent warned about the lengthy review process so I’m not at all surprised. Just eager. Eager to land an agent and then start the waiting process all over again as she submits my manuscript to various editors. I can do this!
A few days ago I wrote a short short story (under 1,500 words) because a) I am very bad at writing short stories and need the practice and b) Writer’s Digest is having a short short story contest and I am a sucker for contests. I don’t normally write outlandish scenarios but for some reason when I force myself to write a short story, it emerges from some ridiculous premise. I can’t bring myself to tell you about the latest one just yet, but the last time I wrote a short story, it was about plague survivors being bred for the purpose of harvesting their organs. Ok, I’ll pause here for you to wonder, WTF?
I typically write mystery novels and although I love to add weird characters, the world they live in is recognizable. I am working on my next novel while a handful of agents and editors consider the novel I finished a couple of months ago. I am considering, however, forcing myself to write short stories once a month at the very least. Apparently, I am a lot freer in my creative brain when I force myself to contain the story to a set number of words. I imagine that the practice will only help my novel writing. Too bad for me that Ben H. Winters has already written a trilogy with the very best premise imaginable (a very large asteroid is going to hit the Earth and a dedicated policeman struggles to carry out his work). After a few more short stories, I might have come up with that one. (A girl can dream.)
In the meantime, I may troll the internet for other reputable writing contests. Apparently, I am very motivated by visions of grandeur. You can’t win if you don’t enter and you can’t lose until, of course, they tell you that you lost. While you wait, it’s like carrying around an unscratched lottery ticket. (I might win! I might win! I might win!) If you’re a writer, I highly recommend that you give this a try too. It’s a great exercise and it gives you something to dream about as you go to sleep at night. Good luck!
Last weekend, as foretold, I attended the fabulous Atlanta Writer’s Conference. It was the best organized conference of any sort I’ve ever attended. The faculty was terrific and I met some great new writer friends. Hats off to the entire staff of volunteers who worked so hard all weekend. It was a personal victory for me as well. As a result of the conference, I was asked by five agents/editors to send them my manuscript (and I only met with six). I even won three awards. But this post is not about all that — it’s about not resting on your laurels.
Wow, what a huge temptation it is to sit and wait. I really liked all of these agents/editors and would be honored to be represented by any of them. I am dying to hear from them. But at the editor Q&A panel, and again at the agent Q&A panel, one of the consistent messages was that the process takes time: a lot of it. Sometimes more than you can stand. Sitting and waiting makes all that time seem even longer. So as you can see above, I’m giving myself the green light. I’m launching into the next manuscript AND, I’m getting set to send that query letter out to even more agents.
You see, despite my 15 seconds of fame at the conference, I realize that every one of the agents/editors I met might give my manuscript a pass. So hello Writer’s Market. I hope that by subscribing to you it’s just like bringing an umbrella somewhere to ensure that it won’t in fact rain. I’m going to read you but I surely hope that I don’t need you.
I hope that I’m able to put up a red light very soon!