News From the Front

This past weekend was incredibly exciting. I attended the Midwest Writers Workshop in Muncie, IN from July 25-27. Then this afternoon I was in the front row for Jane Friedman‘s workshop through the Indiana Writers Center on How to Get Published My head is buzzing with ideas and renewed enthusiasm.

It’s helpful, sometimes when I’m wondering if I should really be doing this, to be told by people I respect that I’m on the right path. My love language is Words of Approbation, which makes any arts-related career that much more difficult. Not everybody likes any writer. I get it. But I’ve been sending out query letters about Beautiful since January of this year. I’ve received maybe 3 or 4 “no thank you” form letters. Most queries just vanish into the void. Jane Friedman said today that silence on the part of literary agents is the new “no thank you.”

Over the past few days I learned that I am working the process correctly, though I should send out queries more aggressively, in batches of 6 per month rather than waiting too long to hear from any particular literary agent. I also learned that my first ten pages are strong, though yesterday Holly Miller showed me some ways to make them even stronger. My synopsis of Beautiful and my query letter are on the money.

Meanwhile, on the creative side (which is much more fun for a writer), I’m now about 50,000 words into the sequel to Beautiful. I’m excited for y’all to read it! It’s going to be really good! We’ll learn more about Cara, about her “little sister” Wendy, and about the enigmatic and reclusive Lilia Fortune. Adam’s, Cara’s, and Wendy’s world will be thrown into turmoil. TWO villains, independently of each other, want them dead. One of them may get their wish.

The only things I haven’t quite figured out yet are:

  • the exact ending, and
  • the title. I hope to come up with something better than Beautiful 2.

So! Back to work. I’ve said this before, but I’ll try to post more regularly.

2 thoughts on “News From the Front

  1. I followed your link to Jane Friedman’s site and wow – what a resource! She’s got so much info there and she writes so clearly. Do you find it disheartening that after having received suggestions from all the beta readers, editors and friends who have read “Beautiful” someone like Holly Miller can take a quick look at the opening chapter and point out things that would make it better? I think it would make me feel that I would never actually be finished with the book.

    Thanks for keeping us informed about the sequel. I really look forward to it.


    1. Holly did make my first ten pages better, but it’s not as though she said it’s crap and I need to completely rewrite it. Her suggestions were small things. For instance, she felt the first chapter was actually a prologue, so I should label it “Prologue.” No big deal, I’m fine with that. She called foul on my use of “He collapsed like a house of cards.” Well, she’s right; that phrase is tacky and overused. So I changed it to the straightforward “He collapsed on the grass.” because I couldn’t think of a simile that I liked better. She noted a page where I mentioned hair several times and suggested I not repeat the same word or phrase so often, so close together. And there were a few lines of dialogue that she felt didn’t sound realistic.

      In the grand scheme of the novel, these were minor corrections. Every correction she mentioned was reasonable, was something I agreed with (or at worst, didn’t care about one way or another), and was easy to fix. When I find a literary agent to represent my manuscript, she or the editor at the publishing house will almost surely want changes. I’m good with any changes that make the manuscript stronger.

      I don’t know that an author is ever totally 100% thrilled with every word of his or her work. But at some point you as the king of the world you created in your novel have to wield your pen/sword, tap your novel on the shoulder, and say, “I pronounce thee completed.” Then you move on to the next project.


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