So, so very quiet…

Why so quiet? Well, I got a ‘cease and desist’ email at work. Apparently they actually _do_ monitor our network activity. Anyway, I was told to knock it off, so I knocked it off. That meant, though, that I had no way to entertain my brain other than surfing the web (I have nothing to do at work and have complained a number of times about that) and that generally means I am so sick and tired of sitting in front of the computer that I barely check email once I get home. Today I have taken the day off and don’t even have to do construction! We went to Las Vegas for a wedding and since I knew we were going to get in really late Sunday (or really early Monday, depending on your point of view) I decided in advance I wasn’t going to go to work. My boy was quite insulted that I got to stay home while he had to go to school.

I have been working toward a resolution regarding having nothing to do at work, but have not achieved closure.

My novel writing has ground to almost a complete halt as well, in the six weeks or so since I was told to quit writing at work I have probably spent an hour or so and wrote 1K words. I have, though, made a lot of notes and my brain has been very active thinking thoughts. I hope to be able to put in a couple of hours today. For those of you keeping score, I have completed two novels and have about a third of a third written. I have also come up with ideas for a couple more in the event that there seems a point to it.

After my aunt, who has looked at most of the first book, sent me a link to a blog post where the author said that getting an agent and paying their 15% would almost certainly result in more than 15% increased compensation from the publisher. Thus the agent basically pay for herself (according to my informal survey, 90%+ agents are women). In addition publishers today rely on agents to act as gatekeepers and it is very difficult to find a major publisher that will consider unsolicited manuscripts. Thus I have started the journey to find an agent. I wrote a ‘query letter’ (the one page opportunity to attract an agent’s attention, sort of like a resume to HR) and started to dig around in various on-line databases of agents that would accept electronic submissions (I am way too cheap to spend all that money killing trees). I found a couple that seemed promising (it is considered a very bad idea to ‘spam’ agents, it is a small industry and my last name is easy to remember, so I wanted to carefully select the people I wanted to contact) and sent them an email. They generally say they will 4-8 weeks to respond (after all, if the agents are successful they are already representing published authors) and no response is considered normal unless they are interested (exactly like applying for jobs, so many similarities).

Surprisingly, though I got negative feedback regarding their willingness to represent my work (“Diary of a Contract Killer” if you haven’t seen my old posts), I got two personalized responses:

Thanks so much for your query! I’m flattered that you chose to share this with me, and grateful for the chance to consider your work. Unfortunately, I’m not quite connecting with this particular project. I do hope you will try me again with future work if you don’t find representation for this one.

and

Thank you for letting me take a look. I’m afraid this doesn’t seem like the right project for me, but I’m sure other agents will feel differently. Best of luck placing your work.

The implication, to me anyway, is that my writing has potential, I just need to find an agent who thinks my story is interesting enough to devote her time and effort to finding a publisher. That made me two for two in getting a response, where getting 1-2 out of 10 to respond at all is considered good. Of course, I still need someone to request the whole manuscript (they generally only want to see the first couple of chapters), then, naturally, offer to represent me. Then I need to be satisfied that they are going to be the right person/firm to represent me (initially I only do minimal vetting since I am expecting to send out dozens before getting the desired response). Since my first two I have sent an additional six and expect to send a couple every day until I get to a couple dozen. It has surprised me how quickly I am finding repetition in my search (there are quite a few on-line resources for finding agents), it really is a small world. Realistically there might only be a couple of dozen agents who have the potential to represent my work.

Getting an agent, of course, only starts the clock ticking on getting a publisher and naturally simply finding a publisher isn’t enough, the publisher needs to be vetted and their promised promotional and marketing efforts evaluated. It might still be better to self publish, but getting a novel properly edited and ready for electronic / print-on-demand publishing could cost $5K, so not something to be done lightly. Still, the various stuff I have read on the ‘net indicates that agents can manage to contact publishers in parallel while doing so myself would basically get me blacklisted if they found out.

We are almost finished with the greenhouse/pool construction. I still think it is feasible to be done by the end of this year, but we may very well be working over the Christmas break. We were just able to heat the pool during the summer, but at the expense of a huge amount of propane (way more than I had expected, instead of filling up once a year we might have to fill up several times). As the weather cooled and the air dried out we could no longer reach the target temp. In desperation we decided to put on a pool cover. Surprisingly, sad to report, the cover worked amazingly well and even allowed us to heat the pool to 84F for my mother-in-law (who didn’t actually manage to take a dip this visit). I say ‘sadly’ because in retrospect I should have known that the cover was basically a requirement, most of the heat loss is through evaporation. Before the cover the air inside was so humid that the walls and ceiling literally dripped. Now, while it is certainly more humid than outside, there is no condensation (at least when the outside temp is in the mid 30’s, well see when it really gets cold). My genius wife thought of ways to attach the cover and easily roll it up, so it is fairly easy to work with.

The Vegas trip sucked almost entirely. My wife insisted we leave to get to the airport last Thursday at 4PM for an 8:45PM flight. My mother-in-law kindly reserved a front row seat for me not realizing that regular seats have better leg room, so instead of sitting next to my wife and being able to straighten my knees, I had to sit next to a stranger (who had a dog! at least it didn’t cry) and have sore knees for 5 hours. Normally I sit against the window and can lean against the wall to doze, this time my head just lolled about and I got a really sore, stiff neck. Then, in Vegas, you have to take a 10-15 minute bus ride to get to the car rental where you then get to stand in line for a half hour to get the car, then, though the room was maybe 2 miles as the crow flies, drive close to 10 miles to get there. All in all 13 hours door-to-door and barely any sleep. It was 1:30 AM Friday, local time (or 4:30 AM back home, when my alarm goes off) when I could finally get to bed. Naturally I was only able to sleep a few hours, so was up around sunup, all alone (the rest of the family went out to eat and didn’t get to bed until 3:30).

I had planned to play in at least one poker tournament and had figured on Friday at noon was the best time (if you wind up winning you are playing for 4-5 hours, of course you could bust out on the first hand or anywhere in between). A combination of things scratched that off the list, then we had planned to visit with my wife’s childhood friend who happens to live in Vegas Friday evening, but we were too tired despite taking several naps. We did manage to squeeze in a trip to a buffet where we ate until we hurt, but then decided to walk the not-quite 2 miles back to our room. That, plus a constitutional, helped immensely with the pain. Saturday was all about the wedding, though naturally there was plenty of hurry up and wait. The ceremony was quite nice, at the Bellagio overlooking the pool where the water show is. They timed the ceremony to end exactly when the water show started (or, more likely, held the beginning of the water show until the end of the ceremony). Quite lovely, though there was no place to sit and my feet were killing me.

The reception was just later enough to mean the time in between was wasted, then we went to Maggiano’s restaurant for 4 hours. Though the food was quite good, I really don’t care for loud parties and though I tried hard not to ruin it for anyone, I spent most of my time there with a stony expression just counting down the seconds until it was finally over.

Sunday was no better, when the family is all together even the most trivial decisions take an hour, so other than getting some Thai food we just sat around and packed. The trip back, thankfully, was much better. The boss only insisted we leave 2 hours before departure, we got to the gate a half hour before it was time to leave (yes, it did take 90 minutes to travel the 2 miles (as the crow flies), drop off the car, get through security and the airport). The plane left on time, I got to sit next to my wife in a regular seat against the window and actually got some decent rest. We got lucky and the parking shuttle bus arrived exactly as we made it to the pickup point and the roads were wide open. At least the trip home was angst free, though I had already vowed that this would be my last trip before we even left on Thursday. We’ll see; perhaps if we aren’t checking in tons of my ‘rents-in-law luggage (one of the reasons the boss wanted to leave so early on the way out) and can leave in the morning rather than evening (so our sleep schedule isn’t so completely screwed up) and we can stay for a week. We have a timeshare in Vegas, so the room is prepaid, if we use miles to fly the trip can be quite inexpensive, though we have to go during the summer since the boy is in school and summer in Vegas sucks.

I was quite disappointed in the level of eye candy when we were at Vegas. Being in the mid 60’s with a brisk breeze no doubt caused a lot of women to cover up, but even inside the casinos the women just weren’t what I was desiring to look at. There were ‘bits and pieces’ all over, of course, lots of beautiful hair, excellent legs, nice butts, perky breasts, flat tummies, but not in single packages. The best I remember was actually a fellow passenger on the flight out. As I like to say, though she so seldom seems to respond as if it is received as the complement I intend, there was very little competition for my wife.

I hope I can pick up the posting pace to something better than glacial, but until my work situation improves I am not optimistic. In any case, if I find the right agent I may keep my focus on writing novels instead of blogging as with only the evenings (though with construction nearly over, I might be able to start doing some sort of writing on the weekends come next year) I have to prioritize.

Author: Tfoui

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