Another Day

As I suspected it would, the sun rose again today.

When it set last night, I had a “no” from the agent. I knew it when I saw the email pop up. A lovely “no.” The very best kind of “no,” all of my writing buddies hasten to reassure me.

She says:

Thanks so much for sending the full manuscript of OBSIDIAN and for giving me time to read it!
I love the world you’ve created here and I definitely recognize your talent. Unfortunately, I am going to pass on the offer of representation. For me, I just didn’t fall in love with the characters enough, or their adventures in your wonderful world. I’m sorry – I wish I had better news for you. I know you have lots of excitement going on right now with your work and I know you’ll be in good hands!
Wishing you the very best in your publishing career!

So, here I am, once again with the walk of shame. I gave her everything I had and it wasn’t enough. I know no one knows what makes someone fall in love. And yet, we’ve all been in those relationships where the guy says “it’s not you, it’s me” — and you know, of course it’s you. There’s some reason they can’t see spending their life with you, popping out little baby novels.

But it means nothing in the end. It doesn’t really matter if it’s your annoying mother or the fact that you have a cowlick that can’t be controlled or a tendency to ramble on about how much it annoys you when people speed up when they see you trying to change lanes. They don’t want to buy the cow and that’s all you need to know. Tasty milk, but no thank you.

So, I got back on the horse. Nudged a couple of agents with fulls and partials. Got on (Publishers Marketplace) and picked out a couple of sexy-looking possibilities. Gave ’em a wink.

The birds and Isabel say it’s Springtime. Mysterious plants are coming up — mysterious because we only moved here in August and someone else planted these spring bulbs. I’m putting my bets on Daffodils and Hyacinths, by their nubby tops.

And meanwhile a project I’ve been seeding for a while at work may be coming to fruition at a time we really need it. My boss is happy and loves me forever.

Also, Allison, who has the lucrative multi-book contract I covet, just received a 26-page revision letter. Single-spaced. It’s like she’s got the wedding all set, and just found out she’s got to have radical cosmetic surgery first. She’s getting over it now, though we were both shocked to read the comments at first. In the end, she’ll have a much stronger book. But, oh, the pain and suffering.

I’m working on the next novel, which is winding into a dark forest of odd characters and a mixed-race little girl witch. Who knows how I’ll sell this one.

The lovely thing for me is, I don’t have to worry about that.

Patience Panties

A gal I talk to on Twitter, @Uppington, recently finished reading Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides, which remains one of my all-time favorite novels. There’s this exquisite moment when the mother shows the children the sun setting at the exact moment the moon rises. Conroy is a master of character and setting. He weaves both together to create in the reader the magic of that moment.

I don’t know if Conroy suggested it to me, but I always feel the magic of that moment. Here it’s the moon setting into the valley, an ocean of fog, the quiet blues and blacks of night giving way to glimmering pinks. I turn around, and there is the sunrise, blazing into the fire of day.

Those moments between are unbearably full.

I’m waiting between things right now. Writers are often cautioned to be patient. (I’ve mentioned before, this is not my forte.) The romance writers often put this in terms of “putting on your patience panties.” I don’t know if this is because the overwhelming majority of romance writers are women and identify with the lessons of girlhood or because they’re accustomed to the language of motherhood. Writers who become upset about bad contest scores or book reviews are often advised to put on their “big girl panties” and suck it up. I suppose men will tell each other to “cowboy up” or some such. It’s the same thing.

So, what’s happened is, an epublisher offered to buy this little erotic novella I wrote. They have a good reputation, so that will be fine. Another epublisher with a slightly better rep also has it, so I inquired with them if they were close to a decision or if I should just withdraw the novella and go with the other publisher. I got a very strange, misspelled, answer back that basically said I’d hear when I heard. The first epublisher is looking better and better all the time.

Meanwhile, this agent has my full manuscript. She requested it from a query I sent, so I’ve been somewhat more hopeful on this one. The other agents who’ve requested my full MSS are ones who met me at conferences. When agents or editors meet you in person, I think they’re somewhat more inclined to ask for the full MSS, because they know you and want to give you the best opportunity they can. One of those agents also has Obsidian: The Revision. She’d passed on the original version, but agreed to read the revision. I haven’t heard from her, so I’m not holding out much hope there.

But the agent reading from the query… Well, let’s just say I’ve been to this prom before and came home without an engagement ring.

At any rate, I emailed her to ask if she cared if I entered a deal on the epubbing of the novella. I expected her to say no, but she answered and said she’d read the full right away and we could discuss then.

So, I’m waiting. Knowing she’s reading it. Making a decision. Totally out of my control. I’m afraid to check my email, since that will likely be a “no.” I’m carrying my cell phone out to the mailbox with me, in case she calls with a “yes.”

I’m thirteen again.

At the same time, I know this day will end with the sun setting and the moon rising to replace it. Fire will give way to black and tomorrow morning it will all repeat.

And I have my own washer and dryer, so I can wash my patience panties as often as necessary.

Native Landscape

This sunset was still on the camera when I left for Virginia. I dragged it all over the country with me and now I’m not sure when I snapped the picture. I like the subtlety of the peaches, though.

I’m happy to be back in my vista.

People from the East and South complain of the open spaces here, how they feel exposed and swallowed up by the expanse of it. I recall someone telling a story about being tailed for miles on the highway on the eastern plains of Colorado or Wyoming — I forget which — slowing so the person could pass, though the other car never would. The driver simply clung to the back bumper. Finally the storyteller pulled over and the other car did, too. An East Coast woman tumbled out, apologizing, saying how she felt so overwhelmed by the empty sky and deserted highway that she just wanted to be near another car.

My New Hampshire boss complains that she has a difficult time judging distance here. She can’t tell how fast a car is approaching or how close it is, because she feels she has nothing to reference it to.

I understand what they mean because I feel suffocated in places like Virginia. The Appalachians are pretty, yes, but they hem you in. The trees, even shed of leaves seem to block the sky. Granted, it was foggy and rainy during our visit, compounding the feeling. Even the houses, though, seem to be built to wrap around you and divide you from the outside.

Not like our house, designed to pull the vista in and fill the rooms with it.

I drove from Abingdon to the DC area, to visit Allison. Oh, said the innkeeper in Abingdon, you’ll drive through the Shenandoah valley. It’s so beautiful. At one point it just opens up and you can see the valley and the mountains.

Even with all this fog and rain? I asked.

Oh, he said.

It cleared enough going north that I did see some of the valley and the distant rolling hills, which I just can’t quite bring myself to call mountains. Theirs is a vista of softness and blur. Eternally smoky.

Something in me relaxed to return to the crisp Western light, our slice-edged mountains. Even in a sleepy photo like this one, the outline of the peaks is crisp and defined.

I suppose it’s all what you’re used to. I grew up in the West and some restless part of me only settles down when I’m here. Georgia O’Keeffe came here for the light though, among countless others.

Great is the gift of being able to see.