And the winner is…

…not me.

But a funny thing happened on my way to see the winners of the Query Tracker contest I blogged about below.

The winners of the literary agent-hosted contest were posted on the QT blog and I admit that although I did not expect to win it (honest, it’s true) there was still a small nagging disappointment in not seeing my entry listed in back-lit glory among the winners.

Reading through the winning entries, I saw immediately why I could not have won; entries were supposed to be a single sentence and mine, well, mine was longer. I used all the transitional punctuation that Strunk and White could muster in order to get every single juicy bit of awesomeness into my one-line pitch. I successfully tipped the scale.

But wait, there’s more!

At the end of the blog entry from the agent it said that he liked several others that were not tapped for winning and he would be in touch with them privately. So I called my bff and shared the news of my first official rejection, albeit one of omission and not necessarily of commission by the agent. I laughed sarcastically in my forever optimistic way that of course I was now simply waiting for an email from the agent. You have to manifest your dreams, my friends…

Imagine my surprise when The Universe delivered and said email arrived later that day. He liked my stuff, wanted to see more, invited me to submit my query to him. (!!) For this agent, a standard submission is your query letter and first 10-pages. I spent the next two days refining my already refined first ten, nibbled my fingernails down to the nubs, and then refined, rethought, and eventually rewrote my query letter. Keep in mind this is my first time querying. Ever.

I emailed him my stuff and became a frantic writing machine. What if he likes it and asks for more? Does my manuscript have what it takes? Should I rewrite that scene there? What if he asks for the first 50 pages, 75? I am ready… the work is ready… I think. Sqwea!

The stress. The good news is that I became a woman on a mission. I went from being a writer: lowercase and mentioned with a grin and begging to be taken seriously, to being a Writer: Someone with Street Cred asked to see My Goods.

More good news came two weeks later when I got my rejection letter. A rejection is good news? Well, when you’re being realistic about your chances with a moderately polished manuscript, yes, this one was. After hearing about writers sending in a submission and waiting for months and months for a reply only to get a form letter, I was blissful as I read his thoughts about what I wrote, what he liked, where I need to improve about what he saw of the manuscript, and what I should think about fixing in the all important query letter. But rejection and all, something I did caught his eye. I was invited to submit. He read what I sent.

I feel really good about it all and cannot wait to give him another try when I have my book where it needs to be.

Writers write…

And so I am back in my wrinkled up dusty old writer’s hat, and finally making an attempt to bridge that gap from writer to published author. My book is coming along nicely. Rewrites are a bear. I have been spending time researching the industry and getting involved in the gigantic world of literary agents, fellow writers, editors, and publishers. I entered my first contest at Query Tracker, which was exciting to me, and a huge step in putting my work “out there”. It is one thing to send my manuscript to friends who will be gentle and kind in their critiques (one hopes), but quite another to let a professional agent take a peek. Fingers crossed that my entry catches his eye! I had to submit a one-line pitch and the first paragraph of my novel. 10 winners will be able to submit more for a professional critique. I had a lot of fun actually drafting that pitch line. It is useful now to have a concise and complete explanation of my book. Whenever I sat and tried to think of how to summarize it well enough to be crisp, I could hear the deep-voice movie trailer man saying, “In a world…” So, at least I got that under control. Back to writing…