Thursday, March 19, 2009
The Cats and the Queries
I finished my middle grade novel about six months ago. I’m trying to adapt one of my favorite picture book stories into a middle grade novel length. The story never worked as a picture book since too much was going on for a PB word count. But lately, whenever I sit down to write, the queries get in the way.
A voice in my head says, “You have a book that you spent a year and a half on, and it’s sitting here, without representation. Send out a query.” That sounds reasonable. So I figure, hey, I can take twenty minutes out of my three hours of writing time to send a query. It’s email. I can copy and paste. I already have a working list of agents I want to query. Twenty minutes. Right.
First I have to review the individual agent’s website and submissions guidelines. Then go back and rework the query letter “template” I have for this particular manuscript. The one with the synopsis it took me a month to get right. Then I start the email. Copy and paste the first 10, 20, or 50 pages of the book into the body of the email. Which messes up the format entirely. It was double spaced Times New Roman, but now it’s all over the place. Paragraphs are squashed together, while the extra hard returns between chapters are a gap as wide as the Shenandoah Valley. Why has this happened? I sigh. I “select all,” click on Times New Roman and 12 pt, and try to get it back the way it was. Why is one paragraph still squashed? Aaaugh! I get the format right, but have accidentally deleted a paragraph. And twenty minutes has turned into an hour and forty five.
It is not helping that the cat keeps jumping onto the desk. She has a cat bed in the window, mind you. Two feet from the desk. But no, she has to sit at my elbow, alternately nuzzling my arm and the computer screen. I throw her off. She jumps back up. Steps on some keys. Did she just change the font again? And before anyone suggests I kick her out and shut the door, I'd like to mention this is the loudest, most demanding cat my husband has ever met. And he volunteers for the SPCA. He's seen a few cats in his time. She's been known to howl outside a closed door for hours.
And so it goes. Which is why I haven't finished my chapter for critique this week.