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Welcome to My Official Web Page!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Countdown Begins

I will start querying Hatshepsut in exactly one week.

Eep!

This is exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. I was one of those kids in school whose mediocre efforts were always good enough. My senior year in AP Literature I wrote an essay on Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. I aced it.

And never read the book. Nope, I didn't rip the essay from the internet either- this was just before the dawn of the world wide web. And I didn't cheat. I kept one ear open for a couple weeks in class and winged it. Viola!

Now, I'm not saying I'm an expert at anything. I'm pretty good at a lot of things- cooking, teaching, yoga, photography, painting- but I'm no Wolfgang Puck, Socrates, Rodney Yee, Ansel Adams, or Van Gogh.

When I finished the first draft of Hatshepsut there was this immediate idea that I needed to edit and send it off. But it wasn't ready. Each time I thought it was almost done, I was wrong.

Now I'm 99% done. I've tied up all the plot holes, cleaned up adverbs and dialogue, enriched the setting, checked chapter endings, and done more word searches than I can count (curse you, just!). This weekend is the final sweep and then it will be ready.

This is the first thing I can remember actually trying to make perfect. To make something as perfect as I can and then willingly face scores of rejections is daunting. Downright scary.

What about you? How did you know your MS was ready to query? Or how do you think you'll know? Is there anything else in life you can remember trying to make perfect?

Oh, and there's going to be a contest next week to celebrate my plunge into the word of querying. Stay tuned!

29 comments:

Bane of Anubis said...

Congrats!

As far as my MSes, I know they're never perfect, so I start querying when I hate them too much to edit anymore and need a few rejections to brighten my day :).

Stephanie Thornton said...

Bane- I know that if an agent does like it they're going to ask for more revisions. But at this point the darn thing is just about as perfect as I can get it. I'll have to remember that rejections can have the power to brighten my day- help me remember that!

Stephanie McGee said...

Ah, crap. I still need to get your poem to you. Congrats on getting ready to query!

Amalia T. said...

Yay!
Hopefully we can finish up together. Or something. I have a feeling that I'll still have some word-searching to do after I get the revisions finished, but man!

I was just like you, in school. I never bothered trying to perfect anything. Now I'm bending over backwards to polish this, and the whole situation is frustrating as all get out! RAR! But I will persist!

And I know this is the final revision on my own, because the book has become something beyond what I thought I was capable of as I revised it. This has been my Break Through. Also, like Bane, I'm not sure I will be able to sit down and revise it again without wanting to throw the entire book out the window...

Dominique said...

Congrats on being about to query. It will be an exciting time for you. :)

I don't know just when I'll know my MS is done. Probably when I think about it and don't have a list of ways it could be better. I just had one of those flashes today.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Stephanie- No worries! Take your time and just know I'll be excited to see the poem when it's ready. :)

Amalia- We need to come up with a way to celebrate together. This is MAJOR! I've already wanted to throw the book (mine, not yours!) out the window several times. I've been doing word searches the last few days- just, still, was -ing, Hatshepsut was, Senenmut was... Word search is my friend.

Dominique- My flashes have peetered out. I know there will be more when an agent and then an editor gets their hands on it, but for now I think I've taken it as far as I can.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Woo-hoo! I am excited for you. You've done the hard work. It's time to let it fly.
(Oh, and Rodney Yee greets me in the mornings--at least on DVD)

Mystery Robin said...

Congratulations!! I love querying. :)

Amalia T. said...

Stephanie-- I will think about it in the back of my mind while I try to get through four chapters a day. If I don't post some major progress by Friday, someone needs to thwack me, though!

Lorel Clayton said...

Good luck! I hate that evil "just" too. I replaced it with "only", now I hate it too. I think I'll be ready to query after I've written book five, then gone back a re-written all of them before that. Maybe.

Jade said...

Good luck! I'll send positive vibes your way, because the power of good vibes is earth shattering.

Katie Ganshert said...

Best wishes as you venture into this new stage of writing! How di I know my book was ready? I couldn't look at it anymore. I'd looked at it SO much, revised it SO much, that it just all became a jumbled, blurry mess. And plus, my beta readers told me it was ready. :)

Congrats on the new adventure!

Matthew Delman said...

Funny enough, I use the word "only" more than I use the word "just" -- 116 occurrences vs. 24 occurrences. Weird.

Congrats on starting to query! Let us know how it goes!

Gary Corby said...

I wish you all the luck in the world. (Keep your Eye of Horus close to you).

Remember, you only need one yes.

storyqueen said...

Good luck to you!

and as for finishing a manuscript...well, some come out more ready than others, that's for sure.

But as for knowing when it is finished, it's more a case of, "That's all I can do for it at this time." It's more a case of knowing you gave it your all that of it being "done".

Again, good luck!

Shelley

Paul Greci said...

Congrats on being ready to query!! Good luck!

As to how you if your book is ready? I think that's different for everybody. But the main thing is that you feel ready! Got get 'em!

Natalie said...

YAY!!! Good luck Stephanie. If your manuscript is as awesome as your blog I'm sure it will be a home run.

For me, my manuscript is ready when I can't make it any better (or when I no longer have the will to try to make it better). :)

Deb@RGRamblings said...

Good luck Stephanie! Fingers crossed. I haven't reached the point where I feel ready to send anything off yet...

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I am so excited for you, Stephanie! I will add Hatshepsut's success to my nightly prayers, cross my fingers, sprinkle fairy dust, whatever works! :-)

Good luck!

Abby Annis said...

I've thought mine was ready a couple of times, but I was wrong both times, so I don't know. Maybe someday I'll be right. ;)

Good luck querying!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I'm sending you every good wish as you begin this next exciting step! I know my ms is ready when I'm so sick of the thing I want to throw it up against a wall.

Jemi Fraser said...

Good question! I thought my ms was ready - but only sent out a few queries. Nerves and good advice from friends limited the number I sent. I'm glad. I got some great feedback from agents, and am letting the ms sit for a bit while I work on my NaNo. I'll attack it again based on the feedback I received & then try again.

roxy said...

I love a good query. Writing them isn't the fun that writing your book has been, but it's a stimulating challenge. I'm a new follower of your blog, and I really enjoyed it. Can't wait to learn more about Hatshepsut. It sounds fascinating.

Falen said...

i love that you have a specific date to begin querying. I think i'll have to steal that idea.

Also, i too, wrote many an essay in highschool and later, college, on books that i never read. As long as I paid attention in class, i was guaranteed at least a B

Wendy Sparrow said...

YAY!!!!! I'm excited that you're ready to query. It's a scary and exciting place.

BTW... you totally didn't miss much with "Heart of Darkness"... it had good quotes, but I thought picked apart it was just as good as together. Classic lines, though. "THE HORROR! THE HORROR!"

Yay... again and congrats.

Anita Saxena said...

So excited for you as you embark on your querying journey! I only queried once about 4 years ago (just one or two places) with my first novel. But deep down, I knew it wasn't ready, and I stopped. And I have yet to get to a place in my current MS where I feel like it is query-able. I've got a looooong way to go.
Best of luck! Keep us posted.

Elana Johnson said...

Oooh, exciting times ahead! Good luck in the query trenches! :)

JenE said...

How exciting!! Good luck to you!

Anissa said...

In the past I think I queried too soon. I'm trying to rectify that now. It's hard not to jump the gun. Good for you waiting. I'm very excited to hear how it goes. You deserve the best!