You did what?!

Whoa. It’s been a while since I posted. My only excuse is that I’ve been down a writer’s rabbit hole, and am only now popping up to see the light!
Here’s a brief rundown of the crazy events of the past few weeks. My last post talked about the pitch contest I entered, and why I’m a fan of such events. Well, that contest led to an agent request, which was exciting! Then I decided to play along with a twitter pitch contest running a few days later, put on by the same creative minds behind the Pitch Madness contest. THAT led to a small press publisher partial request!

And here’s where things went crazy.

 

That small press pub partial request (query and the first 25 pages of the manuscript) turned into a full request (!) … and a few days later, an offer of publication.

This. Was. Exciting. Like, really (REALLY) exciting. I was in Florida on vacay with the family, trying to sort out what I wanted to do. If I took the offer it meant my book could be in the hands of readers (or rather, on the screen of their e-readers, as it was a digital only press) by the end of 2013. Now small press publishing hadn’t been something I’d considered before. I have been set on the idea of getting an agent first. I really believe in the partnership of agent-author, and that felt like the right path for me.

But to be published by year end? Tempting …

However, there were some challenges with the offer, including editorial changes I wasn’t sure about. Contracts can be tricky and sticky, and I didn’t love the idea of slugging through that process on my own.

So I did what some lovely writer friends advised and sent notification of the offer to the agents I had queried. There weren’t that many of them, because I had only sent out a handful of queries before this all happened, but I ended up with eight agents reading my full manuscript by the end of the week.

To make a long story short (although I suspect it’s too late now, because this story is already long…), by the deadline I had one agent who offered representation and the publication offer on the table. I very carefully considered both offers, and then turned them down.

Many may think this was a crazy decision. Isn’t that exactly what I wanted, after all? Well, yes, but it wasn’t that simple. Through the passing agents’ feedback I got a good handle on what’s really working in my story — plenty of compliments on my writing and the ‘freshness’ of my premise and concept. However, I also sorted out what wasn’t working … and I wanted a chance to fix that on my own first. In truth, while both were GOOD offers, neither was the right fit for me … or my book — for reasons that aren’t important to mention here. But in my gut I knew I had to take a step back and start anew. So that’s what I did.

I have no regrets about my decision, even when I’m struggling through my revisions and feeling like I may never get it all done. Writing is like anything else — if your heart, head, and gut are not aligned, you need to reevaluate what you’re doing. That has never let me down before, and I’m confident it won’t this time either.

Off I go back down my rabbit hole again … see you when I see you …

 

 

Revisions (aka WTF)

When I finished my first draft of book #2 I immediately had a glass of wine and patted myself on the back. I’m DONE! I exclaimed to my ever-patient/ever-supportive husband, who filled up my glass and let me bask in the glow of my accomplishment for a few blissful moments.

It was around the last sip of glass #2 that I remembered I wasn’t done, really. Not even close. (which sobered me up enough to have a third glass of wine) Because while I knew the book had legs, I also knew it had a long way to go to get wings. I want this book to positively sparkle before I send out a single query letter. And that takes work. Killing my darlings kind of stuff.

And then I felt like this:

Because the truth is I haven’t ever revised a full novel all in one sitting. Book #1 was revised as I wrote. Some weeks all I did was polish a chapter, rather than writing the next one.

So I vowed to do book #2 differently. I caressed and massaged the idea for a while, then I wrote an outline detailing all the plot points, character traits, and other goodies I could come up with. I engaged forced my husband to listen to my ideas and read the outline. He liked it, which immediately told me I had something (the genre is women’s fiction, so he is not the target market obviously). And then while he and my daughter spent the long weekend up at the cottage, I sat at our kitchen table and wrote nearly 20,000 words in two days. It looked a little like this:

NanoWrimo got me another 50,000 words, and by January 2nd I had finished the book.

I am not one of those writers who wants to hide her work. I am not fearful of someone telling me it sucks. So out book #2 went, in all its rawness, to beta readers and my critique partners, who together are God’s gifts to a writer. Truly. I’m also using revision workbooks and tips from other authors, and letting my own instincts for storytelling (and my experiences with book #1) guide me the rest of the way.

And with all that, hopefully by early spring this is how I’ll be feeling about the state of book #2:

Wish me luck!