A Good Excuse & Other Vital Accessories

Handle With Care: Dreams Enclosed

So a week ago I was supposed to post the next installment of the Renegade Project.

Instead, my computer went on the fritz and I posted a cool picture of a guy with wings and a sword.

Today, despite my good intentions, I am again unprepared. So bring on more fluff, right? Well, if I had some ready in the wings, it would be tempting, but I thought I’d try something different – for me at least.

My Husband says that the times when you have long stretches of being too busy to write stuff in your journal–those are the times when you are probably doing the most things actually journal worthy.

The reason why I didn’t write a blog post is because my family has had two birthdays this week and last night I overdosed on cake and icing and just passed out…

Kidding. Although we have had two birthdays and do have more cake than we can handle, but my binge resulted in nothing more than a cold.

The truth is, last night I didn’t crawl into bed until after 1 am. I was cramming for a last minute deadline and the crisp, white package sitting by my purse is to blame…

… right after I take the bulk of it for myself.

Months ago I decided what publisher I would try Hall at next. Even though Marcher Lord Press asked for the full ms last September, Jeff very clearly stated that he had limited slots and most would be rejected. Not only that but it could be a whole year before he got around to reading it. As a business owner and writer, he knows the value of time and encouraged us to pursue publication elsewhere.

However, I had plenty to keep me busy. I still had some revisions I wanted to do on Hall and I had the sequel I wanted to write, as well as a couple other WIPs. I wasn’t in a hurry and I was willing to hold out even on that fool’s hope of a chance.

I looked at other options and still keep them all in my mind, but I just didn’t feel ready. Any time I considered it, I ran into mixed feelings and talked myself out of it. A submission call here and there came and went. Almost entered ACFW’s Genesis Contest, but didn’t. I listened to other Spec Writers bemoaned the lack of places to submit and focused my efforts on the blog, outlining, editing and running the Renegade Project.

It’s no wonder I felt behind as others around me started new books and won contracts. Of course I wasn’t getting closer to publication. I was too busy doing all the important side stuff that never ends. Even editing can go on endlessly as you get feedback, polish, tweak, second guess, fret, get another brutal/nitpicky review, doubt, worry and edit some more. Psychologically it’s just draining after a while. We aren’t perfect so there is always something that could be a little stronger, a little clearer.

Now I’m not saying to abandon revisions. On the contrary, I consider a very vital part of the process. But in and of itself, editing won’t win that contract. People have to see the book, especially those people who have influence in the right locations.

For all my great aspirations and hopes, MLP was the only place I had submitted Hall. When I was pushing Forger of Dreams, I submitted it to several big publishers in mainstream fantasy and a bunch of agents, and still didn’t garner the right interest.

So as I said, a couple months ago I finally found a publisher that I could get my heart and head to agree. I could actually get excited about the prospect–even if farfetched. Shadow Mountain is a major, traditional publisher with moral grounding but a love for fantasy. They published the bestselling fantasy series Fablehaven and others of significance in the market.

Honestly, I don’t know if I’m truly up to par, but I want to hope I might be. Intimidation is definitely there. I just kept reassuring myself that I have nothing to lose. The worst that could happen is they say no and I am free to move on. Well, that and the “about eight weeks” of waiting, but after MLP had the preliminary sample for more than a year, what’s two months, right?

So I decided I would do it, and promptly slammed into an even bigger mental snag… the blurb.

Sure, you’d think that after two (plus) years of “seeking publication” on the same book, I’d at least have a working submission package. But, I have a confession. Ever since I didn’t make the cut in the first round of the MLP Select Premise Contest, (where hooklines and blurbs were it) I knew my pitch needed major help, but any attempts I made fell flat and abandoned. Even before that contest they intimidated me, but my what delusional, naive confidence I did have just didn’t survive the beating.

If I could manage a passable blurb in my own eyes, then I was sure the rest would just fall into place and I would be mailing that submission off … any day…

The plan gave me hope and made me feel good – just like the perfect self-help book you find on sale and snatch up to solve all your problems. You enthusiastically read the first chapter, thrilled by the miracles about to happen. Then they ask you to do something – that action step. Well, since you’re not ready to do that step quite yet, but tomorrow is a new day. So you put the book on the shelf vowing to get back to it as soon as you have conquered the step…and/or finished the dishes or laundry or the millions of other things that we have to do.

Months pass and the idea is still all talk. Eyes once intrigued, now glaze over at the mere mention of it, especially mine. With my “inbox” piling higher each day, I admitted I needed drastic measures (or a bullwhip, either one probably would have worked but I worried about the impression it might leave on my kids). So a week and a half ago I set the deadline to mail the submission on or before 7/7.

I have to thank a team of friends (they know who they are) who helped me so much in my frantic rush to prepare the blurb, query letter, synopsis and polish up (again) the first three chapters.

The cold didn’t help, or the little family crises, regular guilt-trip reminders of that 10k writing goal I made for the month, vacation planning or my Husband’s urge to rearrange the house again…

So, did I make my deadline?

No – but almost. About 12:30 am this morning I had everything printed out, stuffed into the large envelope and put it where it’s still sitting now. I realized late last night that I didn’t have a stamp for the SASE so it’s not actually sealed yet. However, it goes to the post office today, where I will buy a stamp, remedy that, seal it and mail it off.

So you see – for a writer, I really do have a good excuse, because as fun as all the accessories are, our goal here is publication of our books. And after all, no matter how good my writing is, my chances are next to nil if I don’t submit. Here’s to hope, and whatever comes of this submission!

And tomorrow…back to the other vital accessories, right?

About Ren Black

Part-time novelist. Weekend artist. Full-time Mother. Ex-poet. Perfectionist by training. Compulsive researcher sporadically. Prone to fits of linguistic commentary Unorthodox Renegade occasionally. Sarcastic by habit... Dreamer Always... Consider Yourself Warned

4 comments on “A Good Excuse & Other Vital Accessories

  1. Yes, we can get so busy with the “extras” that we forget our main purpose–to write. I’m glad that you’re getting this query out, and am so excited for you! I just got your email about the chapters this morning. Sorry! 🙂 I can still look at them if you want me to.

    • Sure – gotta wait for my Husband anyways. He’s got our only car. And, I made some changes that I’d love someone to look over anyways. As exciting as it is (and I do cling to hope), but business sense says it’s wise to be prepared to do the next submission.


  2. Oh, Ren, I feel your pain. I’m in that “seeking publication for the same book for the past two years” boat right with you! But me…I’ve been revising, reworking, editing, and changing stuff all over the place, because I’m too stubborn to say, “This was my first novel. It’s supposed to go in a drawer to be chalked up as a learning experience.”

    But I do wish you the best of all possible outcomes as you start pounding the submissions pavement again. I’m right behind you, with a goal of having the umpteenth round of tweaks done and the front matter ready (hate that part!) for mid August. Ready the shield, position your lance, and charge, writing soldier!

  3. […] submitted Hall of Masters again back in July and at least from what I saw as their estimated time of response, I could be finding my […]

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