Pitching and fall baking

I have a new novel I’ve been querying, with the working title Destination Wedding. So far, no bites, but no dreaded ‘R’s either. Query purgatory and I’m getting ready to do another batch soon. This is what I’ve been sending out so far:

After an undisclosed tragedy, Marissa McLaughty finds herself back in the Western New York town she’d hoped to leave behind more than a decade ago. Single, thirty-five, and stuck in a floundering career, she tries to make the most of her pathetic love life by turning her date-from-hell stories into a blog.

One night, Marissa meets a gorgeous advertising executive named Alex. They hit it off straight away. Even better, traffic to her site starts taking off. Using fake names, vague descriptions and altered timelines in every post, she brags about how amazing he is. She dreams of marrying Alex while turning her blog into a profession.

Succeeding in both may be impossible, however, thanks to Alex’s ex-girlfriend Christine. She comes across Marissa’s blog and quickly identifies the “gorgeous hedge fund manager” as her ex. Obsessed with winning him back, she begins stalking both of them. She also digs up a past Marissa would rather stay buried, one that could cause both her budding writing career and her relationship to blow up on her.

Marissa figures eloping to the tropics will fix everything. By luring Christine to a nice, remote spot she’ ll get the ex out of Alex’s life for good.

I’ll probably run it through a critique forum before sending more as well.

In the meantime, I’ve been tweaking my mother’s banana bread recipe. Neither my husband nor I like bananas once they get a little speckled, so once they’re past a certain point, I let them get fully brown, then cram them into the freezer until I have enough for a fresh batch. With the last one, I finally got it just the way I like it – moist, not too sweet, with lots of flavor.

In a large bowl, blend the following:

4 very ripe bananas
1 egg
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 T molasses
4 T butter or oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
2 c flour
1 c walnuts
1/4 t allspice
1/4 t nutmeg
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t cloves

Bake at 325 for one hour. Let cool on rack.




Querying update

Needless to say I’m a sloooow queryer. I read about people who put something out there with all guns blazing, pumping out dozens in the space of a week. I’d rather just put out a few at a time and wait for responses to come in before pushing out more. I’ve read of people who send out fifty query letters only to then find that their query letter or opening pages had some flaw that would cause nearly everyone to reject, that possibly could have been fixed a lot earlier.

For now, I’ve had two partials out (so there’s some interest – yay!), have received one form ‘R’ as well, and am waiting to hear back from the rest. The form R I didn’t feel too badly about – while the agent does rep the genre, it seems her tastes are more towards domestic cosies, which isn’t really my style. So it’s just as well. I don’t see landing an agent as taking whoever I can get – I want to work with someone who can sell books, but also likes my stuff.

Of the two partials, one has come back with an ‘r&r’ – revise and resubmit. She didn’t feel it was quite ready, but from all the threads I was lurking on about r&r’s on Absolute Write, it should still be seen as a plus! And something most of the posters had gone through at some point. I do plan to workshop it a little more and am trying out Scribophile. Finding a good critique site can be tricky – some posters go too easy on you, while others are more concerned with their own snark than anything else, or the site itself can be hard to navigate (I have major issues with a lot of sites on one browser, and am not techie enough to fix it).

Doing substantial revisions based on what comes down to one opinion can be risky (especially when the advice is on the vague side and given the subjectivity of writing in general) but I don’t see the harm in giving something one more run-through with readers, etc. if it results in something better.

Querying again

I sent out maybe five query letters last fall for one novel I’ve finished, and heard back from about three. So I’m forcing myself to start following agents on my new twitter account and next will be looking up my password for Agent Query Connect and so on.

Sometimes I don’t know what I’m waiting for – a stock market crash? Mercury to come out of Retrograde? Someone next week on YA Writers in Reddit is going to be critiquing queries, so I’m going to submit it and see what they have to say. I tried #Pitmad on Twitter and got no bites, but each time I clicked ‘refresh’ there where 300-400 new tweets. If I were an agent, I might do a search for something super-specific like “Magic Ponies” or “Werewolf Bartenders” and otherwise …I’d probably only check out whatever my colleagues and friends were favouriting. I can only imagine what their inboxes must look like.

It’s impossible to know what will hook someone even after researching their blog, twitter feed, client list or Goodreads profile, especially when every aspect can’t be included in a 200-word pitch. Especially when you’re one of hundreds. According to some query advice sites, a *really* good query letter should get a 75% request rate, though. While I have no clue whether that’s true or not, some authors do get multiple requests right away, even if no one ends up liking the manuscript. So they’re doing something right that’s eluded me so far. Hopefully I’ll figure it out.