I don’t even know where to begin.
Part of the problem is that I’m half watching Hang ‘Em High, which is completely uncalled for because I’m not interested in Hang ‘Em High. I actually caught myself thinking, “Clint Eastwood is really attractive.” It was similar to that awkward moment when I caught myself thinking that Sharky and Bones from Jake and the Neverland Pirates were attractive. The difference is that Clint Eastwood actually is attractive.
So, I gained three pounds. Yeah. It was probably the obscene amount of cheese and cake I ate this weekend. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that my recent purchase of a new bathroom scale was the most colossal waste of twenty bucks seen since The Hubs lost twenty bucks after thirty-seven seconds of playing Mississippi Stud at the Islandview Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. Because, look, I don’t know who came up with the term “lean muscle.” It should be called “inappropriately heavy muscle.” I’ve been working out. I’ve toned up and, according to the scale, porked out. The Hubs said, “Muscle weighs more than fat. Don’t you want to be strong and toned?”
No. This kid liked being weak and waif-y.
I’m digressing again. And really, who are all these people in Hang ‘Em High? It’s like, a cast of thousands. And a surprising amount of dead cows.
So, I got the score sheets back from the writing contest I entered my first chapter in way back in January. They. Were. Brutal. Brutal. I was mortified. But the most horrific?
Out of four judges, not one realized it was about the Civil War. Two out of the four assumed it was Regency. Even after clothing descriptions (including key words like “hoopskirt” and “corset”) and uniform descriptions–including but not limited to the fact that the general wearing the gray wool uniform was named Jeb Stuart. And was referred to as Jeb Stuart. The cavalry general. Jeb Stuart.
Granted, not everyone gets quite as excited about the Civil War as I do. Obviously. But, it was enough of a virtual kick in the mouth for me to do some editing/adjusting/brainstorming to the very beginning of Chapter One. As in page one, paragraph two. It was actually only a minor tweak, but I love it. It improved the chapter tenfold. Plus, it blatantly confirms something that was only hinted at in a later chapter and, I think, adds conflict.
Which is good, because according to one score sheet, what I had written was ten pages of zero conflict.
I had a hard time deciphering the actual “lack of conflict” because none of the other judges felt that way or, if they did, they weren’t bothered enough to comment on it. So, I honestly have no idea. I thought it had conflict. My beta readers thought it had conflict. But here’s the gist of it: it proves that reading is subjective. One judge loved it. Two thought it was good but not their genre of choice. The last one said they would shut the book after the first chapter because it was boring. I took their comments and applied it to my chapter.
And then I sent out my first official round of queries!
I’ll be honest. I screwed one up and addressed it to the wrong person. I got everything else right: submission requirements, specific subject line, carefully written query letter…and then wrote the salutation to an agent from another agency. Fail. But, the other seven I sent out were good. So…we’ll see what happens with that. You know, in several weeks.
And since response time is several weeks, I officially started work on my next novel. At first, I felt like I was cheating on my characters from my last novel. No Elizabeth? No Jeb Stuart? As I’m getting to know this new main character, though, I’m pretty excited. She’s a pip.
So yeah. It’s been a random few days. But if nothing else, I was stoked to find out my contest entry made it to the finals before being shot down in a blaze of glory and suggested non-conflict. It’s all good. It’s progress and, in theory, the comments helped improve it before I sent it out. Right?
Oh, and I’m apparently an abuser of exclamation points. I talk with gusto. I watch Jeopardy! Not Jeopardy. This is frowned upon in publishing I guess. Who knew? Not me! I mean. Not me.