In the Mean Time -or- While My Novel Gently Waits.

I’m in the throes of the agent search for my novel RADIO, a historical urban fantasy set in 1928 Paris. It’s full of gods, telepathy, jazz, and mind control. A little telepathy would be real nice right about now.

For the uninitiated, the query process is a state of being in which you desperately try to distill your novel into the smallest, most interesting (the query letter), and most boring (the synopsis) forms in which it can exist. You send these documents out into the world and hope they work. Most of the time they don’t and you receive a rejection letter. Mostly these letters are form letters letting you know that they’re not interested but including nothing to tell you why. Every once in a while, you get a rejection like the one I got today that not only detailed what wasn’t working for them, but also included some tips on fixing it and sprinkled in some market info to boot. Don’t expect this, but know that it does happen from time to time.

Speaking of time, the query process is long. Eight weeks seem to be the industry standard. I’ve had response times from 60+ days and counting to three hours. No matter how you shake it. The theme of the query game is waiting. So, what does one do while they wait?

The first instinct usually involves stress, hand-wringing and obsessive email checking. Once you realize it’s futile, your mind starts looking for other projects to occupy your time. Short stories are an obvious choice, not only for the practice but for the potential addition of writing credits. You’ve got more than enough emotional fuel for some wicked sweet emo poetry but it’s not necessarily the healthiest choice. There’s also the option of diving into another novel. I’m in that boat. Aside from short stories, I’m trying to decide which project is the right project to start or restart as the case may be.

RADIO is a historical urban fantasy. I’ve got an idea for another in the same genre but to even call the idea embryonic would be a stretch. I only have a faint hint of what it could become. I’ve got a much more fleshed out concept for a modern urban fantasy. I like the idea but I’m not totally invested just yet. Starting into a new manuscript with a plan but no passion is a recipe for disaster.

I’ve got past projects too. My political sci-fi adventure novel THE STABLE was put on hiatus at 40,000 words. I’ve since decided to shift the narrative to become a trilogy rather than one self-contained story. That’s plenty of material to dive into but it’s in a very different genre than RADIO. It’s still under the SFF umbrella but, I’m not sure it’s the right way to follow-up a historical urban fantasy.

I could also return to the world of my first novel THE COALS. That book will be split in two with both parts expanded. In total, there will be four books about that world. It’s post apocalyptic which is yet another genre under the SFF umbrella but fairly distant from RADIO. So, would this be the right path?

The answer is… I don’t know. At least that’s my current answer. So, while I keep on pondering genre, I’ve got short stories to fill the gaps and query letters to write. RADIO is getting published one way or another. In the mean time, I’ve just got to get my waiting game straight.

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Bullet Point Magic

Okay, just tried something on a whim and WOW!!! I’m kicking myself for not doing this sooner.

“What did you do?” you ask with a small glimmer of interest shining through the fog of boredom.

Well, dear reader, I used bullet points. Don’t you see? Bullet points!

“???”

Sorry, let me back up.

I’ve been working on the synopsis of my novel The Coals, to include along with query letters. By working on the synopsis I really mean bruising my forehead against any object sturdy enough to take a pounding.

Then an experiment.

I decided to go through my story arc and bullet point the important parts. The intent was to use this as a skeleton. A way to simply get all the info out there. Instead, when I finished, I just took out the bullets, polished what I wrote, and Bob’s-your-uncle.

A synopsis was born.

Clear, concise, and fast.

It might not be for everyone and it might be common sense for others but damn did it work for me.