For those of you not in the writing world, I am rapidly approaching the cliff, labeled "Submission." Writers work and work and work and work some more. Our goal is to complete an amazing manuscript, fix and polish it, and prepare a killer query letter that makes an agent or publisher want to read our manuscript. Then you stand with your toes at the edge of the cliff, mustering all the courage you can, and send your baby manuscript off into the great beyond, leaping into the open air, trusting your work is good enough to interest someone. The week of December 2nd will be my time to leap off the cliff, "Submission." (Sidenote: I will be sending my manuscript to one agent, whom I met at a conference, because I want her to be my agent. Otherwise, I'd be spending December researching agents, looking for who is interested in my genre and topic, is accepting new clients/unpublished clients, etc.)
Some big things have been happening.
Step 1, I finished my novel. I know I should elaborate on that and share how I celebrated. Truth be told, I cried. I was so moved by my character and his story, and I was sad the story was over.
I was also incredibly nervous to start Step 2: Revisions. I braced myself for brutal honesty, because I picked family, friends, and critique partners I trusted would give me honest feedback (Sidenote: I did not ask my husband. I won't be asking him until maybe right before/after submission, because I care too much about what he thinks). I got my coffee from Starbucks, sat down in the bustling room, opened a spreadsheet, and prepared to put comments in the "Suggestions" and "LOVE" Columns. The suggestions filled up first, and I found them actually very helpful. But soon enough, the LOVE Column slowly trickled in, rivaling the Suggestions. By the end of my last beta reader's document, I was in tears again, so incredibly moved that my beta readers were DEMANDING I send them the next part and how much they loved it. I have made some very necessary changes, I believe, including their names. My main character's name was Edward, and because of Twilight's vampire, Edward, I had to search for a new name. I mourned and snapped at anyone who stepped in between me and the name Edward. But eventually I called my sister, Kristi, who is currently pregnant (hopefully with a boy), and asked her permission to use a boy's name she adores, Owen. She agreed immediately and assured me she probably won't be allowed to use it anyway. So Cinderfella's real name is now Owen. His foster mother's name is now Madelyn, instead of Marianne, after my daughter Adelyn. And a special girl in my novel calls herself Violet (and that was one of the hardest ones to name). As I changed these names, I found I had to fix the manuscript as well. One particular day had me lost in my manuscript until 5:30 p.m. (thankfully, my girls napped about 3.5 hours that day). This past Wednesday, I finished my own revisions of the story, as my beta readers have been too busy to send me back feedback (except you, Sharon! Wahoo!). That was so freeing! I'm still going to go back through as a skeptic and look at it as if someone else wrote it. But that was a huge feat!
Step 3, I have been inspiring people. I really apologize if it sounds like I'm tooting my own horn, but in this industry, if you're not excited about your work, no one else will be. I have had at least four people in the last week ask to read my story, and I have received some amazing compliments on my writing style, my descriptions, the suspense I create, the reality of the setting, and even the idea itself. This Wednesday, I was thrilled to run into a couple of old coworkers. After catching up, I shared my dream and what I'm doing, and I actually inspired HER to follow her dream of writing. How incredible to stir someone else's fire to pursue their dreams! Her parting words to me were along the lines, "I think I just had a divine meeting in Starbucks!" That touched me so! And that's exactly what I hope my novel does for its readers! I hope it inspires them to rise above their injustices and trust that their futures can be whatever they want them to be. They can still rise above the circumstances they are given.
Step 4, I will be working on my query letter. Sometimes the query letter can be more painful than the revisions, because this is what gets the agent to read the novel. I won't be working this week, because my husband and I are celebrating our anniversary in Nashville. But the rest of this month will be finishing my revisions on my novel and my query letter. Then before/after Thanksgiving, I'll be submitting my query letter to another amazing author I met at the conference (check out Mindy McGinnis's book, "Not a Drop to Drink") to get feedback on my query letter.
Then Step 5, the leap, SUBMISSION!
To conclude, my mom asked me what I'm going to do after I'm done. "Why, write the next book, of course!" I'm already thinking through the next plotline, because the Epilogue sets you up for the next book. And then I'm going to finally read all the books I want to read, starting with writer friend, Diane Bradley's, adventure MG novel, "Wilder's Edge." Then I still want to read Mary Balogh's latest book I have on my Kindle. You get the picture.
I leave you with a picture of Ella, my fierce dragon, when she's mad or impatient or hungry. This is the life of a Writing Mom, dealing with dragons during the day, and writing during naps.