Staying Uplifted While Querying


The querying process is one of the hardest steps for a writer to face — even more so than the daunting editing process. A finished manuscript, after all, is our baby, and it’s hard to kick your baby out into the cold cruel world. And trust me, it can be a cruel world.

I’ve been in the midst of querying since February, with a few breaks in between when I’ve been overly busy. And I have been met with rejection after rejection, in some cases where my name couldn’t even be copied and pasted — I have a new appreciation of “Dear John” letters, ha!

However, I keep plodding along in hopes that my book will eventually find the right agent who will click with it and be as passionate about the project as I am (which is extremely important in your agent). Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to keep going, especially when you continue to receive form letters without any feedback — no idea if your pitch is failing; if it’s something to do with your book or your writing; or if the market is just over-saturated in the genre.

Still, no matter how disheartening, a writer must press on if they are to have any hope of finding an agent or publisher. Here are some of the things that have kept me going during the process. Continue reading


A writer’s reflections . . .


My silly boy loves the binder

I’ve buckled down the hatches and have really been polishing up my SciFi manuscript. My printout revisions are complete, my rewrite of chapter one is done, and now all that remains to be done is implementing the printout edits into the electronic master copy. At this rate, I’ll be on schedule to finish and submit by the end of May/early June.

So far, the working title is “Heritage Lost,” and at this moment, it looks like that title will stick through to the submission process. I have to say I am relieved. To date, this project has been perhaps my most challenging. It was my first foray into SciFi; I started it after coming off my longtime fantasy series, meaning the characters were strangers to me; and did I say it was my first time writing science fiction! SciFi is hard. I don’t think enough people appreciate all the hard work writers of the genre put in to their pieces in order to create good science fiction.

Now don’t get me wrong, my novel is no where close to being hard SF (I admire writers who can pull off that category), but I still had to put in several hours to create believable planets, species, politics, cultures, technology, etc. that would not go beyond my readers’  suspension of disbelief.  And believability is something I hope I’ve achieved, though I will always second guess myself on that.

No, “Heritage Lost” finds itself squarely in the the soft SF category, focusing on societal issues and characters. Of the subgenres, it probably best fits social science fiction and feminist science fiction. It addresses some challenging topics, particularly loss of cultural identity, expansionism, war, terrorism, radicalization, and gender issues — particularly as the series progresses. They are topics I hope I handle well and with the gravity they deserve. One of my main aims when tackling them is to do so in terms that nothing is black and white. People make varying decisions for varying reasons: One person’s wrong is another person’s right.

“Heritage Lost,” as its title hints, deals more with the loss of cultural, even personal, identity than the other themes, which grow as the series progresses. The main character’s personal and cultural identity is a mystery to her, lost in a war she’s too young to remember. Her lack of a past, which she’s ignored for a long time, is dredged up after she rescues a toddler who now finds himself in a similar situation. Along the way, she finds herself losing another identity, her home, her career, and her future.

I’m very hopeful this novel will be able to break into the publishing world, but I realize luck and timing will have to be on my side. I plan to try the traditional route, but I am also intrigued by the indie approach. Stories of success, like “Wool,” make self-publishing seem very tantalizing. “Wool,” for those unfamiliar with it, started as a standalone short story written by Hugh Howey, who later expanded the premise into a series. It became widely popular and was eventually picked up by Simon & Schuster while its movie rights were purchased by 20th Century Fox. And topping it off, Howey still retains full rights to his work, meaning he can still distribute it online. Who wouldn’t want to maintain rights and creative direction of their book?!

Creative freedom and maintaining full rights is very appealing, and I think that would be my main reason for choosing self-publishing, if I go that route. However, I have eight potential leads for the traditional method. First I’m going to submit the book to one of the biggest publishers of the genre. I probably have a snowflakes chance in hell of being accepted there, but I figure shoot high. My list also contains some smaller presses, too.

 I don’t know how many I will query, especially since the draw of self-publishing is growing. But I figure, take one step at a time: It will all work out in the end.

And it begins all over again

Back to the grind, though I usually don't go back to it as happy as this kitty.

Back to the grind, though I usually don’t go back to it as happy as this kitty. (

Whew, made it through a full week of work post-vacation! Though I got to say, it was painful getting up at 6 a.m. again. But, I need money to feed myself and the kitties, so back to the grind it is. As is the norm, I come back to assignments that didn’t belong to me, but surprise! They are mine now. At least, it’s job security, even though it’s going to be challenging to get them done on top of my regular assignments and copy editing schedule… and we haven’t even received our special tab assignments yet.

I do have to say getting up getting up at 6 a.m. and reintegrating into the office was very inspiring, because it really made me want to get my creative writing out to hopefully earn enough money that I could at least go part time, which a couple of my coworkers have done recently for varying reasons. They have just made the whole part-time route look like so much fun!

During my vacation, I did start considering strategies to achieve such a feat, by looking at what I have. I have one completed novel, “Passage,” which I haven’t queried since my move, other books in its series in varying states of completion, several short stories lying around and a SciFi Novel halfway done, not to mention odd bits and pieces of writing projects. This is too much writing sitting around and not doing anything!


Can completely appreciate Snoopy’s struggles.

Now that I am largely stationary in my home (still got stuff at my dad’s house though), I cannot justify having so much writing not moving as it were. I started to pick up the momentum during vacation and submitted another short story to a literary magazine for speculative fiction … it got rejected, which seems to be a reoccurring theme no matter what I’m peddling. But I’m not allowing it to get me down; I intend to submit it to another similar magazine that takes shorts of the same genre and who knows maybe they will be the right fit.

If anything, the experience is making me angry, only angry in a good way. It’s building a fire that is intent to break through the doors of the publishing world. The experience is also further highlighting knowledge that I have stuffed in the back corners of my mind: It is hard for a first-time writer to get anything published, even their short stories.

But that is alright, because I’m intent to make it happen; however, I’m doing a bit of a game change, especially the more I learn about the approaches other writers have taken and observe the changes that are happening in the publishing industry.

When I began the querying process for “Passage,” I started by querying agents. However, when I resume querying, it won’t be to agents. I’ve decided to take another route: I will do my own homework and, hopefully yet this month, start querying a few of the larger publishing companies that still take unsolicited manuscripts. I will also begin looking at smaller presses that might make a good fit for my book.

Self-publishing is also emerging as a strong possibility. It’s no longer the dirty word of the publishing industry and has a real strong movement of indie writers publishing their own works. I do admit there is something very appealing about having complete control of my works. So while I’m putting together packets for publishers and presses, I’m also beginning to put my manuscript together in preparation of self-publishing it. I’m quite fortunate to have skill sets that will save me money when it comes to self-publishing, such as having the graphic design skills and programs necessary to make a professional cover. In fact, I’ve already begun piecing it together, and so far, I think it looks swell.

On top of getting “Passage” moving again, I’m going to work on building up my resume, which means getting short stories out and, hopefully, picked up by various literary magazines. It’s a tall order, but it’s something I have to do to get where I want to go. I will also be tackling the remaining books in The Mortal Wars series in case I do go the self-publishing route with “Passage,” because I will want sequels out every year or every year and a half. The SciFi Novel is also going to get a lot of effort put into it because I can see it being particularly marketable at this time to agents and publishers, but then again, I could be wrong on that front, lol.

I’m certain I will receive several more rejection notifications, but hopefully they will only serve to kindle the fire. In meantime, I’m going to take inspiration from Larry Correia’s experiences selling his book, which was rejected numerous times but, through cunning marketing practices, was picked up by a major publisher after he self-published it.

Cheers everyone and hoping your own writing projects are also going swimmingly.