Are you in the querying trenches — querying agents with a fiction manuscript? That’s probably one of the hardest phases of the writing life. Being on submission is hard too (when your agent is sending out your manuscript to editors) but somehow querying agents feels to me harder. Here are some survival strategies. More
Having a book out in the world isn’t a new experience for me. With three poetry books out in the world, I’ve experienced the elation, stage fright, happy overwhelm, and sheer joy in completing a book and giving it an audience. But to have a novel published is in another sphere. It’s a goal I’ve had since I was a child. And yesterday, I achieve it, with the release of The Renaissance Club from Fiery Seas Publishing.
I’ve partied, celebrated, and emailed and passed out bookmarks to spread the word. Right now, I’m happy to share an excerpt, published at Escape Into Life. Thanks to the editors there, you can read the cute-meet of my two main characters, one who lives in the 21st century, and the other who lives in the 17th, but who find a fold in time that allows them to be in the same moment.
It’s starting to feel like the countdown to the offical launch of my novel, The Renaissance Club, in January! As the daughter of a rocket scientist, I have to use rocket metaphors in connection with the word “launch”. Very soon you’ll be able to pre-order my book on Amazon. And also soon, I’ll host a giveaway. My giveaway will include another good read, signed paperback copies of my book of poems and essays, Gods of Water and Air, as well as other prizes.
To celebrate, I’m sharing this free preview of the first two chapters. This free preview is the newest, updated version of the book that will be printed or sold as an ebook. It includes a brand new prologue! So here, without further ado, is …
The Renaissance Club, A Novel
Prologue. The Folds of Time.
If you could go anywhere in time, where would you go? George remembered being asked that question in fourth grade by his best friend Timmy, who was reading it aloud from the famous science-fiction novel, Time’s Wily Thief. Sitting in his favorite neighborhood trattoria in Rome, he wasn’t sure why he remembered that. Maybe because Ancient Rome was one of his favorite places to visit.
George St. James stirred his cappuccino and contemplated a file describing the people he would lead in his next tour group. He would guide a group of college teachers, who called themselves The Renaissance Club, through Northern Italy to study sites of importance to the dawn of the modern era, known as the Italian Renaissance. For the next several weeks, he would shepherd twelve mostly aging professors through more than one hundred sites. Norman, their leader and club organizer, had sent George a wish list for the ages. George would have to pace them, or they’d drop before they left Rome.
For the decades that I’ve been writing, I’ve often wondered why writers wait so much. We wait for inspiration, we wait for writing time, and excruciatingly, we wait for responses from publishers and agents. Sometimes I’ve waited months for a reply to an agent query or a literary journal. Is it just me and my writing? What makes them hesitate and delay? Or is the publishing industry so clogged with writers pitching their writing that editors and agents must read on their phones while commuting, just to keep up?
Waiting for responses has at times torn me apart. The worst was when an agent I wanted work with was reading my full manuscript. Worst-of-the-worst was when I resubmitted the novel to an agent after a year-long, exclusive revise-and-resubmit. That waiting was capped with a most painful rejection.
Cover Reveal Day
Today I’m doing the happier waiting. This waiting is for an event to publicize my forthcoming novel, The Renaissance Club (January 2018). Tomorrow will be my novel’s “cover reveal day”. Sponsored by the publisher, a number of book review blogs will unveil the new cover, along with a short synopsis, an excerpt, an author bio, and perhaps a giveaway.
Actually, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, except that tomorrow, I’m free to use my book cover in any way I want! So I will post it here, and add a giveaway contest.
What Writers Do While Waiting
/also, writers wait so much because we want our book to be the best book it can be, the perfect book. We want it promoted in the best way. Waiting often involves editing. Yes, even if agents and editors are already reading, I continue to edit a book. Or I edit the publicity materials, my blog posts, and social media plan. If I can see something to fix, I’m going to fix it.
Now I’ve passed the anxious waiting and reached the excited waiting! Still, I’ll follow the Golden Writer’s Rule: While Waiting, Write! My goal this week is to finish expanding a chapter of my work-in-progress novel, The Romantics. While writing, I forget everything — even that I’m waiting.
I finally figured out where my book fits on Amazon, and I can’t say I’m happy. But I’m going to be in:
When I was going after agents, I was all, like “Upmarket commercial or women’s fiction with a magical realism twist.” This was advised by my editor, who has served as a literary agent for one of New York’s top firms. I figured she should know.
The Renaissance Club, (forthcoming in January 2018 from Fiery Seas Publishing) will be categorized under Fiction in different ways on different platforms. I’m with other fantasy authors, mainly, some romance, though all the romance publishers said my love story didn’t fit the formula! Another fox I couldn’t squeeze into.
I went back to the drawing board, only to find the drawing board looks like Einstein’s chalk board on one of his more frustrated days.
So what is the difference between these ever-evolving categories on bookstore shelves and Amazon’s categories. Arthur Krystal in The New Yorker ignited a public debate with his article in 2012
Lev Grossman, author of the best-selling Magician’s Trilogy, jumped into the discussion.What’s wrong with genre? It seems we’re all heading into one or another.
On Amazon you have to drill down from Books –> Literature –> Literary Fiction –> Women’s Fiction or Fantasy. The road seriously branches here, but I’ve been going on the assumption that because there are more books in this category than in Fantasy, it might be a fruitful avenue to pursue. But my novel appears too literary for this category. So back to the fork in the road. Under Fantasy (with less than half the titles as Women’s Fiction), you have no more sub-genres to choose from. Which leads me to conclude that a) my story doesn’t fit well into this category, whose emphasis is on other worlds, and b) magical realism is not a sub-genre on Amazon, nor in most bookstores, so back to just plain Commercial or Mainstream Fiction as a category. Try standing out in that Amazon crowd.
Which boxes can you squeeze into as an author? And do you also find it frustrating, after the freedom of writing an entire novel, to have to perform this exercise? My sympathies!