Problem

Trudging through the Sloughs of Despond

Phew! I have been waiting for this moment since Monday morning. Honestly, since Sunday evening. This week has been, quite simply, awful. Not for any horribly traumatic reason. No one has COVID, the kids are fine, my husband and I are still employed. God continues to bless us the same as He always has…and yet, my psyche screams: I DROWN IN MISERY.

See, I don’t actually dislike my job. Regardless of all the daily frustrations, I have no desire to seek a new position and start over someplace else. One of my closest friends is a colleague. I have a nice boss who allows me to work from home so that I can supervise my youngest child’s virtual schooling. I’m compensated fairly based on my labor. So many people are unemployed right now and are looking for work; I should be grateful that I even have a job.

So, what is my problem?

My problem: I would rather be writing…which does not help put food on the table or pay the mortgage.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Everyone’s struggling right now. Suck it up, buttercup, this is your life. Deal with it.

I could rant and rave about how the system is broken – that a household needs at least two incomes to stay afloat nowadays – but that doesn’t solve anything. We are accustomed to a lifestyle that includes certain luxuries that Americans are taught they are entitled to, so I cannot, in good conscience, cut our earnings in half. Enough said. I’m not asking for a handout.

Now that I’m beginning to climb out of the abyss I threw myself into earlier this week, I can reflect on things and try to come up with a better game plan. Any plan, really. Being on COVID time has really flushed my planning skills down the toilet. You’d think I’d have more time to write…but I don’t. By the way, it’s a total myth that all these COVID restrictions would open up time for people to “finally finish writing that novel.” Totally bogus idea. I have as much to do as I ever did, before COVID, and people who DO have time on their hands have lost their jobs and are, most likely, spending all that time trying to find another one.

There are plenty of authors who juggle a full-time job, a family, and their writing time without going completely neurotic, aren’t there? I’m sure they have GREAT advice on how to manage time more effectively. Hello? Anybody out there? Chime in any time now, really.

Sigh.

I know what I need to do, but I still feel discouraged.

Time to open up the Jesus Always devotion book my mother sent me a few years back. Guess what I found? No matter where you are and what you’re going through, God’s Word tells you exactly what you need to hear:

Will my novel ever be accepted for publishing? Only God knows. If so, when will I be successful enough as an author that I can quit my day job? Only God knows.

In the meantime, I should stop worrying about if and when I can finally put in my two-weeks’ notice. I should continue to do my best work, both on the job and in my word processor. I should pray for God to bless my efforts, and leave it all in His hands.

Resolution: to Query

Meanwhile, Graefin snores away on my recliner…

Today, I submitted queries to five different agents. Let the waiting game begin.

For those of you going “huh?” this is the next step in getting my book traditionally published: convincing a literary agent he/she should represent my work. The most important thing for me is finding a literary agent of integrity with whom I work well, who honestly loves my work, and is willing to push for my success as a published author. I would love it if this person also became my friend.

And so … a professional editor has looked at my manuscript and made suggestions; I revised accordingly. I searched for literary agents and paid close attention to the submission requirements of many different literary agencies. Next, I wrote a query letter that could be adapted to address different agents. I already had an elevator pitch that could also work as a brief book synopsis for agents that request them.

Then, I followed the advice of an already successful author. I made a spreadsheet of over one hundred literary agents and placed them into tiers: first, second and third. First tier agents are the ones who successfully pitch novels to the big publishers, have illustrious clients, and/or have been hailed as the best sales-wise in my genre. Second tier agents are not so renowned but still have successful clients in their niche. I would be content to have them represent me and pitch to a smaller publisher. Third tier agents are probably good agents but might not be the best fit for me, for one reason or another. Depending on their response (or lack thereof) I will know if I have a good query letter/pitch. They will help me hone my query letter.

And now, I have begun to cast out my queries, like so much bait. Next step: pray for God to bless me, and see if I get any bites from the selected fishies.

If all else fails, I can always publish independently on Amazon, or something. However, it would not do to give up hope with the boat’s motor still idling. My fishing trip has only begun.

This shall all turn out for the best, as the LORD wills it.

Birth Pains

Why do I write?

You know what? Writing a book is hard work. Getting anything accomplished when your internal editor is screaming at you the entire time is like trying to do a month’s worth of grocery shopping while three mischievous toddlers are stealing things out of the cart and then hiding them in all the wrong places around the store.

Actually, I’ve never had that experience but it sounded really good – before I put it down on virtual paper.

Oh, well…

You know what else? Writing a book is also a lot of fun and rewarding on a personal level. It’s especially nice when your beta readers tell you that they enjoyed reading it and are looking forward to the next installment.

black trunks of leaf-bare trees set against a lurid sunset with red-tinted clouds.
I would like to use a photo like this for the cover of the second novel, Wyldling Quest.

There are so many elements that I want to incorporate into the Wyldling Series. I have had so many ideas over the years that finishing the series was a daunting task, because my conception of what the story was really about kept changing as I matured. Finally, I had to put my foot down and say: “That’s it. Enough’s enough! Just write the blasted thing, already!” Breaking it up into six or seven books instead of writing it as a single novel has also helped.

Once I made a decision to turn it into a young adult fantasy series the path became clearer. I had defined my audience. But how to make it different from every other YA fantasy out there? Well, how many fantasy series do you know about that have a strong and overt Christian theme? By overt I mean that there are direct quotations from the Bible and characters that talk about Jesus Christ and believe in Him as their savior.

Please let me know if you find any fantasy books like that. I mean it. I would like to read them. I figure that there aren’t that many out there because I can’t find them. They certainly aren’t on the bestseller list on Amazon.

No, not anything by J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis. I’m talking about recent young adult Christian fantasy.

I am aware of fantasy series that have good moral themes and point vaguely toward Christianity or have characters that resemble Christ as an archetype. However, there is no mention of the real Jesus or how badly people need to be saved from their own depravity. Many of these stories promote the idea that most people are basically good with some bad tendencies that can be overcome with hard work and the best intentions -with some help from our Heavenly Friend, of course! – because that is what we all truly want to believe, isn’t it?

I realize that these authors – even the ones that are Christians -probably did not intentionally set out to write a book that included Christian themes for the purposes of leading others to Christ. When it comes right down to it, there just doesn’t seem to be much of a market for that type of fantasy novel. In the publishing business, like in any other business, money talks. Very loudly.

I like to think that authors write books because they want to tell an entertaining story that was burning in their hearts and crying out for release into the world. It’s a like having a baby (and I can honestly say that because I have given birth to and raised children).

“There is no greater pain than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Maya Angelou

Quite frequently, I find myself thinking about my story and what I am going to write next. It is an obsession. I should be finding more work to do for my job, but I’m day-dreaming up plot points. I should be trying to fall asleep, but my brain is busy constructing witty dialogue and dramatic scenes. I should be doing housework, but I need to write. I should be weeding the garden (such as it is) but I need to write. Presently, I look at the clock and realize that it is past dinner-time, I should really cook something for my boys …

But I need to write!

I need to write because the people living inside of my head are begging me to tell their stories. And they won’t shut up until I do.

When I hear people talking about current events, or T.V. shows, or debating the strengths and weaknesses of sports teams, I often cannot relate, because my mind isn’t even on the same planet.

I am wandering around somewhere on Tehara.

People have gone into therapy for help in managing smaller obsessions, I’m sure, let alone an entire planet.

Other writers out there: do you know what I’m talking about?