The Ugliest Mona Lisa I’ve Ever Seen


mona lisa - ral

You know this lady.

Her name’s Mona. You can call her Mo for short. She’s kind of iconic.

She’s here today to help me illustrate this *thing* I’m going through which relates to the world of writing. No, it’s not about visualizing characters, painting a story landscape, or any such helpful advice from a novice. Sorry about that. There are plenty of other blogs with unpublished writers giving profound & sage wisdom…

The topic this blogger is tackling today is: [Well, shit, I can’t really sum it up in a single word. This isn’t Twitter; it’s a post. So eff it, I can ramble if I like.]

Let’s go with this freeform string of thoughts: I have multiple fulls out with agents, which have been out for a while. I recently nudged on one & the agent confessed that she hadn’t gotten to it yet. Cool. No big deal. Another one is past the 10 week mark, at which point I would normally nudge, but I have not because of [keep reading]. The third is in this nerve-wracking, string-a-long sort of web which doesn’t seem to have an end. I am hopeful that it will turn into an offer, but the more pages of the calendar I rip off, the less that feels like reality. So, I have just kind of turned off my wishfulness on this matter until such time as it needs to be either revived, or incinerated.

After all that, I guess what I’m trying to say is: I don’t like to feel like I’m begging.

To be candid, I totally get that agents are busy, clients come first, I’m swamped, it’s conference season–all that. And writers are always labeled “impatient”. “This is a slow process,” we tell each other. Agents say it, too. Yet, still, are we really impatient? 2 months? 4 months? 6 months? 12 months? How long is too long to wait to hear back on a full request? An R&R? At what point has the timing passed beyond simple impatience on the part of the writer?

What it boils down to is that I want an agent to *LOVE* my work. Like, SHAZAAAAM! BAM! YES I WANT IT GIVE IT TO ME RIGHT EFFIN NOW I CAN’T WAIT TO START WORKING WITH YOU AND GET THIS THING SUB-READY BECAUSE AWESOME IN MY FACE AND OMG HAVE YOU SIGNED THE AGENCY CONTRACT YET OR WHAT BECAUSE AHHHHHHH????!!!!!

Instead, thus far, I have felt less like Phreak Show is the real Mona Lisa, and that perhaps it is more like this:

mona lisa - bad

 

And, yes, my loverly invisible ink finders. I KNOW that Phreak Show looks/reads nothing like that horrid ol’ fake. I’m just sayin’ I want that acceptance, that go-get-it agent who believes in me & my story so much that s/he can’t get hold of it fast enough. A dream? Perhaps. But my life has been built on dreams such as this. And damn it, I’m not done believing in magick.

I Like My Sleeves


PhreakShowSubmissionsChart

Because I love charts and data and spreadsheets.

Also because, why the hell not? Transparency is a trait of mine.

Sometimes that characteristic gets me in trouble, but it is an undeniable part of me. Often, I’m told, it is refreshing. Either way, it’s who I am. And I am a proud phreak who has learned to be comfortable in his own skin.

I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’ve thought of maybe changing to metaphorical tank tops—-or even going shirtless. Alas, I like my sleeves, and I like to leave my vulnerability dangling out there for everyone to see and prod. So, yeah. I feel better now. Huzzah for catharsis via confessional graphics.

If you’re feeling like, perhaps, there is more to the story, you are correct. Sometimes, even transparency has is limits, and a little opacity is required. If you’re reading this Invisible Ink, I ❤ your face. Wear your hearts on your sleeves, you bunch of phreaks. 

Bad News Is Better Than No News


I declare today my personal  ‘Submissions Follow-Up Day’.

Part 1: Send follow-up emails to agents who requested partials & fulls 2+ months ago. I certainly don’t mind doing this at all. While the pragmatic side of me tells me it’s useless–they would have jumped on it if they were interested–the hopeful side of me keeps the fire alive. Maybe lovely agent just hasn’t gotten to it yet…

Part 2: Decide whether to follow-up with agents who have not responded at all.

I record details for each query I send:
– Submission date
– Anticipated response date (based on agency websites, interviews & Query Tracker reports)
– Outcome
– Agent & Agency name
– Type of materials sent: query, synopsis, number of pages
– Notes: Any contact with agent, likes/dislikes, chances of a good fit, screw-ups/typos I caught in the submission after-the-fact, etc

The Query Tracker reports and User Comments have been great in discerning whether or not I should follow-up.

For instance, I currently have 3 outstanding queries which I should have heard back on prior to 7/25. Thanks to QT, I am chalking them up as ‘Closed/No Response’. The reason? Check out the reply % for each of these three agents.

Really? 78% – 83% non-response rate?

Maybe I’m daft. Perhaps I expect too much. But even a form rejection is better than no response at all. I picture the process as a simple one.

1. Agent reads sucky query & knows immediately it is not right for him/her.
2. Agent moves email into “Send Form Rejection” folder.
3. Once a week, Agent [or intern] replies to all the waiting writers who didn’t make the cut.

I get the whole hundreds-of-submissions-per-week argument. But I also know the meaning of the term “professional courtesy”. Honestly, it’s a pain in the ass to research and tailor a query to a specific agent using the posted guidelines. Each submission is different. Each requires its own set of materials. Surely that time and effort is worth [at least] the professional courtesy of some sort of reply–even if that response is a dry, form rejection.

So, on Submissions Follow-Up Day, I will mark these three queries as “No Response” on both my personal spreadsheet and on Query Tracker. I have 8 more responses due in the next week. Hopefully, these agents are professional and courteous. Hopefully, they understand that:

Bad news is better than no news.

Two More Publisher Requests


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So many creative possibilities to draw from for a post today. It’s funny though. When a health concern pops up, everything else turns into scatter noise on the radar. Yes, I’m nervous about something. Yes, I am being intentionally vague. This is a public blog, not a private journal.

Now that I have gotten that out of my system…

I have two new full requests for Freeborn to announce!
– Jo Fletcher books upgraded from 3 chapters to a Full
– Entangled Publishing requested a full via Brenda Drake’s ‘Entangle an Editor’ contest

That’s as much excitement as I can muster at the moment. Stay tuned, though. I’ll be back on track soon enough.

A Full Request? For THAT one?


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Drive-by post today.

I am currently querying Freeborn with a good number of requests rolling in. Capritare: Discovery had been put to bed back in late winter / early spring. But, yesterday, I received a full request for the little guy. I roused him, helped him get dressed, then sent him off on his unexpected journey.

Hopefully, he’ll send a postcard with good news.

Update: Another Request!


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Here are the *new* current stats for contest entries, requests, and queries. [Accurate as of 4:00pm]

Contests –  Entered: 6     Outstanding: 1      Wins: 3               Losses: 2 [I can tie it up!]
Requests – Submitted: 6   Outstanding: 6
Queries –    Submitted: 3   Outstanding: 2   Requests:      Rejections: 0

There Is No [Damn] Spoon


“Do not try to bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth.”

“What truth?”

“There is no spoon.”

“There is no spoon?”

“Then you’ll see it is not the spoon that bends; it is only yourself.”

Most of the time, it sure feels like there is a spoon to bend–a massive titanium spoon with a stubborn streak. And that sucker wants to remain as it is. Unbent. Then there are the times when said spoon seems to actually morph, bow, twist, and submit. But, according to Spoon Boy, it’s not the spoon which is bending; it is me.

Two more Pitch contests have come and gone. The stubborn spoons of 3-2-1 and Super Intern are still marvelously straight. I won’t toss them into the garbage disposal, though. Instead, I’ll tuck them away in my silverware drawer of attempts made.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, here are the current stats for contest entries, requests, and queries:

Contests –  Entered: 6     Outstanding: 1     Wins: 3     Losses: 2 [I can tie it up!]
Requests – Submitted: 5   Outstanding: 5
Queries –    Submitted: 3   Outstanding: 3

So, my calculations bring the total number of Outstanding opportunities to 9. [Please, double-check my math for me.] I do indeed believe these are “Outstanding Opportunities” in the best sense of the phrase.

The truth of the matter is that–in order to be successful in my writing endeavors–it is I who must bend.

Freeborn’s pitch has been tweaked and honed at every stage of feedback. The manuscript has gone through multiple revisions, 2 critique partners, and 6+ beta readers. I am anticipating feedback from the requesting agents with the possibilities of either “I want you!” or “Please revise & resubmit using my amazingly specific comments as a guide.” I refuse to accept the idea of form rejections.

After all, there is no damn spoon.

I am always a little wary of using ‘profanity’ in a post. Anywhere online, really. There are folks from early epochs of my life who [I’m sure] are appalled by my use of ANY profanity. We change over time. This is fact. Funny how folks from your past–people you never interact with anymore, people who have no authority over you–can still cast their heavy shadow over your life. I’m trying to shake it off. But sometimes I still feel like a kid caught smoking behind the barn.