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Friday, 27 July 2012

The Seasons of Queries

The houses in the Yukon are all sliding off their foundations.  They were built on permafrost and every time the ground thaws and re-freezes, the building walls shift.  It's amazing to realize they're even still standing after all the things they've weathered, people they've sheltered, and winters they've endured.

Yukon weather on those houses is a little like the Agent Query process.  Research an agent, find out he or she loves urban fantasy with paranormal elements, is into history and digs thrillers.  Tailor the query letter to them, paste the dreaded synopsis and whatever pages their submissions guidelines request into the body of the e-mail (never an attachment), make sure it's titled and addressed correctly and hit "send."  Then make a note with the date in the Marking Time notebook covered with images culled from the internet, hand-drawn, photoshop-manipulated, and designed to inspire and collect all things related to the Book.  This is the Spring Thaw.

And then the waiting begins.  There's nothing in the waiting place - no temperature at all.  It's just... void.  Because the waiting place is so full of potential crazy-making mind games that if even the slightest hope is entertained, the rejection would be that much more painful.

Because "no" is so much easier to say than "yes."  Especially when there are 163,000 words to potentially wade through.  Especially when there are "creature" elements to contend with, and a vampire to fall for in an age where vampires have been done to death.  Silly mortals.  As if they could ever die.  I made myself smile with that one, but I'll take it.  The swift "no" is the gift.  It's the one automatically spit out because of page count or "failure to grab," which basically means "not different enough from what's already out there to be an easy sale."  I get it.  I don't begrudge it.  People will click with whomever they want to click with, and I take the same advice I've always given my friends: "Choose someone who chooses you."  But "no" is always the beginning of winter.  Even the swift ones stack up and put a chill on the day in a way that only the laughter of my kids and the love of my husband can warm again.  Minute by minute by minute.

And so I force the Thaw once again, with another query, to another agent, whose blogs I've read, interviews I've absorbed, words I've pondered and turned over in my mind, hoping for the fit that just...fits.  And then every once in awhile an e-mail comes in from an assistant.  One that doesn't say "re: QUERY:  Marking Time," it just says "Marking Time."  And it has an actual return address, and there's a request written in a friendly assistant's voice asking to see three chapters.  And with one line of a cheery e-mail addressed to me personally Summer has thawed the frozen ground and the Yarrow flowers have pushed their way up, ready to heal all the little cracks and fissures in the self-esteem it's taken a lifetime to build.

And even if the walls slant a little, and the paint ages and peels with every winter the shack has weathered, it's still whole and solid and unapologetically proud to be standing.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Yukon Gold

There's gold in those Yukon hills... and in the landscape, the scenery, the air...  Since we've been here I've managed to plot a script, a Children's book, and get excited about writing book two of The Immortal Descendants.

And I just finished reading A Discovery of Witches, the discovery of which (sorry) is that I've written a grittier, more urban YA echo of that book.  Okay, maybe not really, but there are definite comparisons to be made.  A female protagonist who doesn't realize her power.  A love interest who holds all the intellectual cards.  A world where intermarriage/mixing is forbidden, and bad guys from said world hunting the protagonist and her love.  And lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Hmmm, not really sure what to do with that revelation.  Use Deborah Harkness's wonderful success to market my own book (book 2 of her series comes out on Tuesday), or continue along the path I've laid for myself.  Any thoughts or insights would be welcome.  For now, I'll just keep following the rainbow in front of me.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

This is one of my favorite notebook covers I've made, especially the "adult version" of the Harry Potter book cover and the Shepard Fairey art.  I've always been a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes mysteries and am trying to entice my boys into the same love of his sleuthing genius.  The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King, and the BBC 2-season series, "Sherlock" are my favorite re-imaginings of the original stories. 

I have a weakness for elegant solutions and Arthur Conan Doyle was the master.  Maybe it's why most of my scripts are mysteries and I'm so proud of my Private Investigator's license.  As a 12-year-old in Katmandu, I stumbled upon Enid Blyton's Five Find-Outers and Dog Mysteries and The Black Hand Gang at the used bookstore and still remember the girl who waved her "evenly-tanned arms around" claiming her valuable watch had been recently stolen. 

My favorite mystery writers give me several different options for possible solutions, and then surprise me with something that was there all along.  And when they can do it with a little smart humor along the way I know I've found another book to recommend to friends who love to read.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Ed and I had fun creating this version of a cover for Marking Time.  I've used it on my galley proofs and it's very satisfying to hold a thick paperback with this title in my hand! 

I've begun. 
Queries to agents have gone out and I feel like I'm stumbling around in the dark trying not to step on the dog.  Is this what boys feel like when they ask a girl out on their first date?  Trying to sound like you know what you're doing, hoping to entice and impress without looking like a complete idiot? 

So, besides tweaking the odd word or five in my first ten pages (over and over again, sigh), I'm starting to formulate book two.  And I'm getting excited.  Whitechapel 1888 for book one.  Staying in England for book two, but back further.  To a time and setting that makes me happy.  With a historical person who has fascinated me since the first time I visited the Tower of London at age 8.  If only I could track down the current location of the pearls...