Dying Computers, Chainsaw Editing, and Snail Races

As I’m going through my revision, I’m noticing that certain letters are missing. Not all the time, and not always the same letters, but… I’m writing in letters. After a few pages of this, I’m starting to think about new computers (or at lest, new keyboards.) My slightly neurotic alternate theory is that it’s me, somehow, just not hitting the keys as hard as I should be. I can’t decide whether that last one’s a sign that I’m cheap as hell and don’t want to spend money on a new computer, If I could just get degenerative muscular diseases instead, or if I’m paranoid that I’m getting something I’ve encountered in other people.

Note to self: It IS you, and in the future, don’t pop the keys off your keyboard to clean, you moron.

I’m editing with a chainsaw, today. Twenty one pages come in… and four come out. Four! And there’s nothing wrong with the extra 17 pages, really. Just chunks that are duplicated in other places, or that I don’t need anymore, because I’ve revised them out of my timeline.

On the bright side, think of all the word count that frees up.

I have front row seats for #pitmad this morning, which basically means 1.) I’m not working and 2.) I have all kinds of tabs open on my computer, watching various agents from by TBQ (to be queried) list punch in those likes. Likes on Twitter do not automatically refresh, or even notify you of their existence, so I’m wearing out the reload button. Exactly why am I doing this?

Well, maybe I’m bored, and maybe I’m diligent. It does give you an idea of their specific tastes, though.

The process reminds me of the snail-races we used to have back when I was a teacher’s aide. Place the agents inside a circle, and wait. So far, none of them have actually done anything, but the kids are entertained, and teacher gets a few spare minutes to catch her breath and organize the next lesson.

Snail A has liked two pitches. Snail B has poured himself a cup of coffee. Pretty sure Snail C is in one of Billy Ostermeyer’s pockets.

In most cases, the reward for getting #pitmad likes is… Well, you get to query in exactly the same way you would, if you’d just read the guidelines, but you get to add #pitmad to the subject line.

I can’t decide whether that’s worth the effort of the snail race, or not.

Looking to the Future, and Preparing to Duck

There’s a point in querying when you look at the agent’s guidelines, and you look at your manuscript, and you start doing math in your head. If literary agent is on a train leaving Boston at 3:17 and rejects three and a half manuscripts every ten minutes, in what city will she rip open a hernia laughing at your audacity? If literary assistant is from Nebraska, and you mention the Huskers three times in your query, will he read quickly enough to award perceived affinity points before he realizes you meant the Concrete Canoe team, and don’t know anything about football?

And–my personal favorite–if Guidelines request X number of pages, where exactly are you abandoning your characters?

So far as I can tell, there are three possible answers to this question.

Don’t worry.

You’ll loose plenty of sleep regardless.

1.) Holy shit, I thought this thing was finished. I am going back to revise.

2.) One good stopping point is too short. The next one is too long.

or…

3.) Gee, I wonder if there’s a specific protocol for sending humorous penis descriptions to a respected publishing professional.

Maybe that last one is just me.

It’s not an erotic scene by any stretch. My character arrives on scene naked and incredibly intoxicated.

And I love the scene. I don’t think it’s going anywhere.

But those moral restraints society has worked so hard to imbue me with tend to suggest there might be some form of etiquette involved… Somewhere.

Here is the scene I couldn’t read out loud in the company break room.

And a quiche, because a non-sexy breakfast food is an excellent way to take the awkward out of… awkward!

Is quiche platonic enough? I mean… well, it doesn’t have any holes.

At any rate, the most popular numbers of pages to request seem to be 5 pages… 10 pages… and CUE THE NUDITY!!!

A (Very) Brief Biography

Somehow, the idea of writing an author bio is getting to me, right now.

Could be the fact that I’m a little up in the air on it myself. I mean… I’m not where I want to be with life, and I’m not really getting the short-story credits to stack up. And just thinking about it bores the shit out of me.

Karen lives in a completely forgettable place, works a meaningless job, and plays beautician to a depraved cat. She doesn’t have the faintest idea who she is, either.

**Ahem**

In addition to having a well-developed cover, including both a day job and house plants, Karen is an astronaut in the CIA’s ambitious program to place covert operatives on Jupiter.

Well, no. Actually, the CIA will not confirm that. But they probably won’t deny it, either. And that makes it true.

There’s the lifetime activity bio: Karen used to do interesting things, and has recently won her penguin march badge on fitbit.

And the immediate bio: Karen is making a turkey sandwich and trying not to drip mayo on this very important query letter.

I’m a little afraid I’ll have agents asking me to send the sandwich.

I’m not sharing my sandwich.

Okay. All things book-related. I could do that. Unfortunately, Karen was crushed to death in a tragic TBR collapse. Now, she haunts libraries, reading over peoples’ shoulders, and laying cold, icy fingers on the necks of studying freshmen.

Reading, Writing, and Television Documentaries

I’m finally sitting down to finish reading the Doomsday Book, and it appears that I’ve saved all the most depressing bits for last. **sigh** Well, I guess I shoulda figured it out back at the beginning, when I found a quote from the author that suggested that all time-travel stories are inherently sad, because you’re dealing with characters who have long since died.

Let’s see if I can keep up here. I took a break from my Hugo/Nebula list to read Sandman, an now I’m taking a break from Sandman to read the Hugo/Nebula list. Oh. And some quick peeks at the book I was given at the writers’ conference. Because, hey, free books.

Ideally, I would like to have my own book finished before the people I met at the writers’ conference forget who I am.  So, I’ll just hop in a time machine, and go back to last week to mail the manuscript. I’m feeling incredibly forgettable, right now. And maybe, the truth of the matter is that the whole point is to be able to “jog” people’s memories later: “We met briefly at the Pike’s Peak Writers’ Conference. I did not throw up on you.”

Clearly, I need a more concrete timeline.

Right now, I’m working on organizing everything I have into one coherent document with a timetable attached. I think most of the scenes are written–or, at least, I can say they exist in real life–and just need to be polished.

And I watched a delightful–if somewhat mass-audience–documentary on syphilis today. It’s amazing the things that are just sitting there, waiting for you to find them on YouTube. I learned that there is a non-lethal, airborne version of the disease, and also that John Deere tractors are sold in England.

To the best of my knowledge, there are neither John Deere tractors nor venereal disease mentioned in my novel. Perhaps I should add a postscript.

 

Ha! I’m not the only one who collects rejections.

I’m working on the most perfect-est query letter in the world right now, and obviously, I’m hoping for success. I’m spelling things correctly, and even punctuating them. I’m also measuring out the exact right amount of glitter to go on the hand-drawn hopeful-unicorn’s wings. (Most guidelines suggest  3.27 grams. I don’t know why.)

In all seriousness, though, I fully expect to add to my rejection collection. It’s all just par for the course.

So, today I bring you this guy… who collects rejections recreationally. (Good looking, funny, and a tireless crusader for that ideal “burger refill.”)