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Cooling my heels

I’m now in the “author frets nervously” stage of waiting to hear back from the publisher on my submission of Knife of Narcissus. I submitted it during an open call a little over six months ago. Replies were due to go out the first week of this month.

I assume the publisher was loaded with manuscripts and is still sorting through them, so I’ve made myself a promise: no querying for at least another week. Then I’ll see if I can resist it for another week.

In the meantime I’ve been hard at work on other writing projects, in the same setting and elsewhere, none of which are ready for public sight yet.

In May, though, I guess I’ll have to push onward in another direction with KoN. If it doesn’t make the publisher’s cut, I’d like to have bound copies of the individual installments at one of the May conventions, made by a friend who does lovely, economical book binding. It’d only be a few copies, but it’d make me happy. Then I’ll gear up for self-publishing it as an eBook…

…because another half-year wait from submitting to a different publisher would shred my brain. And I need my brain for writing…

The occasional update

Oops: I thought I’d be hearing back on that October submission this month. Turns out I misread: it’ll probably be April before I get a response. Six months isn’t an insane wait. It all just depends on one’s patience.

I’m trying to decide whether I should wait or set out on my own with self publishing, which was the alternative plan if I got a rejection this month. I really like this publisher and would be thrilled to be on their list. I’m also impatient to share the story, full of design/marketing ideas, and interested in wading into the self-pub waters, and have friends encouraging me to try.

Hmmm.

Dear Author has links to a couple of articles about the current wave of interest in the “below-stairs” part of upstairs-downstairs stories here and here, with a little bit of discussion in the comments on the American intersection with British portrayals of a servant class, and the high interest in historical fiction (in books or on TV).

It sent me into a nostalgia about various moments and missteps of the past. About umpteen years ago, I was intrigued/surprised/amazed when I found out that a very young guy (whom I had an enormous crush on) had trained to become a butler with one of those extremely butlery, old-school butlers (the consultant on one of those butlery movies–I’m going to say Gosford Park). It hadn’t occurred to me that there would be young men aspiring to the profession and with the same sort of air about them as you’d see in someone from a previous generation, and even if so, I didn’t expect I’d ever meet and get all starry-eyed over a butler. I mistakenly thought he was starry-eyed over me too. Said young guy had been hired by a family in the US and took his butlering very seriously, with an almost OCD level of attention to detail. He took what I considered enormously nitpicky tasks from his employers in stride.

Crass young idiot that I was, I often found myself thinking (though not saying, thank goodness), “Why do you have to do that–don’t you just hire someone for that?” Of course, when I thought of hiring someone, it meant looking up someone in the phonebook or online, not having staff. My family’s aristocratic days are a long, long time past. Although I still only vaguely ever know where the vacuum cleaner is.

The crush fell apart when he expressed surprise that there were actually women in the US (not me) who were refined (apparently not me) by going to finishing schools and who had a high level of class and sophistication (unlike, if I’m honest I should admit, me). Ironically, my high school was originally one of those finishing schools for ladylike refinement, but by the time I got to it they must have been leaving us ladies rough edged and half baked.

If I had been a proper Romance reader back then, I think I’d have handled the whole thing better, or at least would have had a good quip in reply. And it would be something better than “I’m classy! I don’t know where the vacuum cleaner is, or how to use that nozzle attachment thing!”

I may also have wondered if this was the part of the novel where the couple has the Misunderstanding.

But instead, the experience enters the “maybe it will inspire a novel someday” idea book. The heroine will  have a good quip–and if she’s coarse and unrefined and says unintentionally insulting things about a respectable and hard-working profession and reacts to having a crush by drinking herself silly at a party and obsessing over vacuum cleaners…that’ll all be part of her appeal.

I had a burst of inspiration today, but it’s now past midnight in my time zone so NaNo month is over. I’m wide awake and there’s a muse kicking my brain around, so I’ll be writing for a while longer tonight. Not another 31,000 words worth, but it’s been an interesting day!

I won’t reach the NaNo goal this month, not even counting every word tweaked on my 2012 project, plus every word added to my various WIPs and idea notebooks, plus all the brand-new sparkly-fresh words written on the 2013 NaNo project. Day job this month was so heavy and time consuming, I would have had to stop sleeping entirely to put in any more writing time. I thought maybe I’d try for a whirlwind push yesterday and today and see how many words I could get out of my fingers.

Instead, I went to a vegan Thanksgiving meal on Friday and played a fiendish game called Cards Against Humanity with some old friends and a bunch of new friends and drank cognac until late into the evening. Today I pay the piper: no hangover, but my word count for the month is abysmal. And I have no new fiction to post here on the site.

I’m feeling completely defeated today, underscored and highlighted by failing to reach that 50K goal.

Tomorrow I’ll write again.

I’ve re-posted the excerpt from the first chapter. This is a slightly tweaked version that I’m still looking at with a critical eye. Sometimes I’m content with it. Sometimes I tweak some more. I don’t think the urge to edit ever ends.

Girl cooties

I haven’t been very posty the past couple of weeks, which I’d like to blame on being consumed by NaNoWriMo, but which is mostly due to a heavy workload at the day job. But I’ve been babbling in the comments sections of other blogs, and there’s an interesting conversation going on at Jessewave’s about female characters in m/m. It broadened in the comments into a discussion about f/m scenes in m/m (and vice versa). Angela Benedetti wrote an insightful reply bouncing off one of my comments—reposted on her own blog—about staying true to a story versus compromising on content in order to reach more readers, and it’s well worth a read. It certainly left me feeling more inspired to finish the NaNo project and less fretful about the potential audience/market for The Knife of Narcissus.

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