I opened the windows this morning and turned off the heat, hoping that the beautiful breeze coming through the windows would clear my house of any nasty winter bugs in the air. The house is clean and the air smells fresher. I needed this day to regroup and fill my wells, emotional and mental.
Earlier this month, I sent out three query letters and received two positive replies from two agents. I was thrilled and gladly sent them the first three chapters. It's been a scary month, waiting for replies from the agents; to say that I checked my emails a dozen times a day wouldn't be a lie.
In the meantime, I kept editing and rewriting my manuscript and managed to finish three fantastic books on writing that have permanent places on my writing shelves, The Scene Book - A Primer for the Fiction Writer by Sandra Scofield, The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner and The Writer's Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D. If you haven't read these books, find them! I learned so much and with Scofield's advice and tips, I've rewritten many paragraphs that now read more polished and professional.
The books helped me remain calm, well, calmer during the waiting period. Over the weekend, I received a very nice email from one of the agents telling me that she enjoyed reading my chapters, likes my writing style, but unfortunately the market isn't kind to historical novels. They're hard to sell. Well, I think my novel fits perfectly in women's fiction, as well. Yes, the story begins in the 1900's, but the issues, challenges and themes of the women at that time aren't that much different from what women face today.
I wrote the agent back, thanking her for her time and for considering my novel. Although I was a bit bummed out, I also realized that I'd only sent three queries with two replies. Not bad, Ellie, I told myself. In 2006 I finished writing the novel and sent out 100 query letters and received eight positive replies from agents. My story hits a nerve and it's interesting, exotic and different. The consensus from the agents was that I had two stories in one. They recommended that I split the story and I was about to when my life turned upside down with a separation after a 25 year marriage. The story remained in a box until earlier this year.
So, I'm okay. I'm proud of my story and the story it has become with a long year of rewrites and a wonderful editor's help. I've dusted myself off and vow to send as many query letters as I can this week. Did I hope that God and the stars would have taken pity on me and said, "She's paid her dues. It's her time now"? Yes, I did :) Hey, I'm human!
But, instead of sweating it, I decided to continue to enjoy, caress, love and make my story the best story I can write. I decided (because it makes me feel better) that the market may be into chick lit and present day stories at the moment, possibly because this economy has many of us stressing out about money, jobs and we need light reading. Maybe historical novels or novels set in the 1900's require a certain type of reader, audience and agent. Could be. But, I'm not giving up, not by a long shot.
I'm not going to flail around and tread water during this time and I'm not going to sink like a rock, either! Time has shown me that I'm a fighter and a survivor. A marital separation, a trans-Atlantic move, losing my house, and divorce didn't do me in and this won't either. I'll find the right agent who loves and believes in my story as much as I do. Could someone please help the economy!
I prefer to look at this time as a gift because every time I turn around, I'm learning more and more about writing and the writing life. I don't remember who said it, but several authors have written that I need to enjoy the time before publication and new challenges come up with selling books and keeping readers reading my book. I'll never be a virgin again :)
Peace and love,