Easter Greetings and Ramblings

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed.

Photo by Evie Shaffer on Pexels.com

Have a happy and blessed Easter, everyone!

As I look back on my blogging journey thus far, the blog entry population along the roadside is pretty sparse. It’s like we’re driving through Wyoming, or the Dakotas, or someplace similar. Few towns, but lots and lots of “empty” wilderness.

On this day that Christians celebrate the resurrection of our LORD, Jesus Christ, I would also like to celebrate writing and publishing another blog entry. Another bright and shiny town alongside the dark and empty highway. Another colorful bead on the string of my aspiring authorhood. Whichever metaphor serves best on this day, in this life. Every day that we rise from the little death that is sleep is a bead on the strand of our lives. Stream of consciousness writing is generally not friendly to the reader’s eyes, so I will quit before yours cross in exasperation.

An update on Wyldling Snare

(Ha. Ha.)

After submitting revision four (R- 4) to ten literary agents, I decided to stop the submission process right there. Thus far, I have been rejected outright by half of them and the others have not responded yet, if they ever do. It was not receiving the rejections that changed my mind; I expected the rejections and the non-responses. Beta reader responses made me realize that I was not done revising. I swapped manuscripts with a friend of mine and she very helpfully pointed out some sticky plot issues (and I did the same for her). Around the same time, I submitted my manuscript to a professional beta reader on Fiverr to get her $100 opinion (most of the others reading in my genre were charging twice as much for a 100K word document). She also, had some very good comments and advice that I took. In fact, both readers agreed on some of the same things.

Hence, revision 5 (R-5) was born, hastily squeezed out in time to submit for another, less expensive critique by a literary agent/author through a writer’s organization that I recently joined. Yes, I am now doing that. Paying a fee to join writer’s groups online. It seems to be the best way to find a variety of beta readers within one’s genre and earn some credibility with publishers – when I get to that point again.

Looking back, R-4 sucked as much as I feared: like my Kirby vacuum in its heyday. Fortunately, it did not suck as much as a black hole. It was still salvageable. You see, Wyldling Snare suffered from convoluted plot syndrome. There were too many things going on in the storyline and my narrative was far too coy, keeping information secret while hinting at things for far too long. Something had to go. Correction: a few somethings had to go and a few things were changed. I ended up chopping out over forty pages (gasp!) but keep in mind the darn behemoth was already over 350 pages and pushing 110K words. R-5 is 290 pages and nearly 88.5K words. And I already know that I left out some information I ought to have included. That’s what happens when you’re in a hurry. So, there will definitely be a revision six (R-6) after the current critique sends her results. R-6 might very well expand to 300 pages, give or take a few.

That is the present state of Wyldling Snare, thus far. Naturally, this means that a few things in the massive tome of Book 2, Wyldling Quest, will have to go or change, as well. But that, as they say, is another story.

Blessings on your week.

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?