Ready to Submit

Here is a run down of my life since Saturday.

Saturday- Recieve request for manuscript. Happy dance. Call family and friends. More happy dancing.

Sunday- Printed manuscript. bought red pencil and a starbucks (which I intend to write off if I get published.) Selected Warren Zevon on the iPhone, hit shuffle then play. Started reading manuscript to make sure it was totally ready for submission. Read until 10:00 pm

Monday- Went to work, came home read until 10:00 pm

Tuesday- Went to work, came home and finished reading. Started converting red pencil marks into digital form. Worked until 9:00 pm…passed out.

Wednesday- Finished correcting manuscript. Wrote new synopsis (Agent wanted a shorter one.) Re-wrote Bio. Reformated everything to agent’s very detailed specificatitions. Composed email to send it. Paused.

I am not sending it until tomorrow morning.

Giving myself a good night’s sleep and fresh eyes to look at the synopsis and bio one more time before I send it off.

Put Warren Zevon on the iPhone, select Keep Me in Your Heart, hit play.

Good Night.


ps New bio is on the about lystra page if you want to read it.


Done reading my MS

Meanwhile I finished re-reading my MS for submission. There is a world of difference between thinking you are ready for submission and knowing you have to submit. Reading my MS, knowing that an agent is going to be reading it shortly put a whole new light on my work.

I enjoyed reading my MS. It has been a long time since I’ve just sat down and read it, so I saw it in a different light than before. I liked it. No, I loved it. I am extremely proud of it. A novel is more work than anyone who hasn’t written one knows. A novelist has a lot to think about while he is writting. He has to have more than just the scene he is writing in his head. He has to work with the pacing and the plot for the entire novel in each sentence he writes. He has to be aware of the larger story, even when writing the smallest parts. Reading my story after so long made me realize that I accomplished that goal. The story works well, the plot unfolds with just the right amounts of twists to keep the reader guessing. That is no mean task. I finished reading my MS last night and had to smile. It was a lot of work, but a job well done.

Now if I can just make somebody in the publishing industry to see that.



Another Rejection

Jennifer Jackson sent me a really nice rejection letter. Much better than the first one, which simply said: Not interested thanks. Jennifer said that she wasn’t sure the book was for her and wished me good luck finding representation. Very nice. 

It helps that I have somebody interested to blunt the blow.

Printing it out and putting it in the file. Definately a keeper.



Published in: on January 26, 2010 at 11:23 am  Comments Off on Another Rejection  
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Request for Full

So while I was writing my post on getting a rejection letter I received a request for a full manuscript.

Holy shit.

Now I have to wonder. DO I send my chopped version or the director’s cut? I sent her pages already, and some of those pages were chopped in my editiing frenzy.

My current frame of mind is to send the original version and if she asks me if I can cut it down I can say yes.

What do you think?



I want to know.

Please comment.

Published in: on January 24, 2010 at 12:54 am  Comments (4)  


I received my first rejection letter yesterday. Bummer. The major problem with my current querying method is that I am really, really attached to the agents I am sending my query to. By the time I am done researching them I feel like I know them. I have read their bios, subscribed to and read their blogs and even followed them on Twitter. So it hurts a little bit more than some random stranger rejecting you.

Still, rejection is just a part of writing. A major part. I was almost excited about getting my first rejection letter…almost. I feel like it is a rite of passage that all writers must endure. I decided this morning to use the rejection to inspire me instead of depress me.

With that inspiration supercharging me I decided to tackle the biggest problem with my manuscript. It is too long. 125,000 words is too long for a first novel. I read it all over the place, nearly every blogging agent has posted about word count somewhere or another. All of them say the maximum is 120,000, several even put it down to 100,000. I decided I needed to get my MS down below 120k. That meant cutting 5,000 words (approximately 20 pages) off my story. That is a lot. I have been loath to do this because in order to cut that many words I would have to cut entire scenes. I have already gone through my MS to remove unnecessary adjectives, redundant descriptions, or any other little adjustments I could make. That wasn’t enough to get my word count down.

So this morning I went all Lizzie Borden on my MS. I pulled out my vorpal sword and went snicker snack. Hacking off scenes like a madman, I discovered that it was as bad as I thought it would be. After a few bloody moments I had a new and improved shorter manuscript. I am now at 118k! For those of you who have read my manuscript, don’t despair, I still have the original version (Saved As “Midnight in Vegas-the Director’s Cut”) just in case. I still like my longer version better than the shorter version but I think the shorter version still works and is more attractive to agents and publishers.

My big problem now is to find a reader who hasn’t read the original to tell me if the story still works. Anyone who has read it will automatically fill in the missing scenes and won’t have any questions on why this or that happened.

I need a fresh reader who has no idea what they are missing.

I need a fast reader who can get me some feedback quick so I can modify my query and submit my leaner and meaner MS.

Any volunteers?



Published in: on January 23, 2010 at 6:58 pm  Comments Off on Snicker-Snack  
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Saga of Bohok- Chapter 6

Chapter 6

The rest of the trip was made in complete silence. Bohok focused on synchronizing his paddling with the chief’s to maximize their effort.  It still took a long time for them to make their way up the river. Bohok was exhausted from rowing so long alone and the chief’s age began to show after a while. Still when they arrived at the village the entire tribe was standing on the shores waiting for them.  

Chief Yoosin jumped out of the bow of the boat as they ran it into the bank.  He spoke to Bohok as he pulled the boat up onto land. “I must go and light the fisherman’s fire. You will stay with me tonight in the log house.  These people are eager to hear your story. I suggest you only tell them a little. Save the whole story for the fire. “

The chief scooped up his bag from the boat and walked through the crowd.  Bohok looked up at them. There were so many faces looking eagerly at him.  Several people reached out hands to help him from the boat. Bohok cautiously took them and they nearly lifted him off his feet.

Bohok found himself in the middle of a swarm of people. They pressed close, reaching out to touch him. He heard the questions but could not identify the speakers from within the mass of people. They all asked the same questions, over and over again, they came in an endless stream. “How big is it? How did you catch it? What does it look like? Where you scared? Are you proud?”

Bohok wiggled through the people, first he tried to answer the questions but he was always cut off by more. Finally he decided that the chief was right. He spoke as loudly as he could without shouting, “I will tell you all tonight at the fisherman’s fire.” He repeated the same answer over and over as he made his way to the log house. The crowd around him seemed to grow at each turn, until Bohok wondered if there was a person in the village that wasn’t crowded around him. He smiled to himself, it felt good, to be the center of all this attention.

Finally they reached the long house and the fire pit. The chief had the bon fire roaring. He was smiling into the blaze, pleased with his work. Most of the men who had accompanied them down the river already sat in their usual places on the logs surrounding the fire.

The crowd around Bohok dispersed as wives went to sit next to husbands and children went to sit at their father’s feet. Soon the bowl surrounding the fire pit was full of every man, woman, and child in the village. The air hummed with excited voices as the tribe settled in.

Bohok stood at the lip of the bowl and looked at all the people of the clan. He hadn’t seen the clan gathered since his banishment. He hadn’t realized how much he had missed them until he saw them all assembled together. These were his people, no matter what his bloodline.

The chief beckoned him down to the fire. Kirso and Yannin were already sitting down at the center of the pit next to the chief. Bohok picked his way down through the people to join them.

The chief patted Bohok on the shoulder and motioned for him to sit down next to Kirso. Bohok looked down at the log that Yannin and Kirso were sitting on. Kirso had deliberately sat far enough away from Yannin that Bohok barely had enough room to sit. Kirso smirked at Bohok as he sat down on the narrow section of log that was left to him.  Bohok teetered on the edge of the log as the chief began to speak.

“My people,” the chief held up his long pole. “We have been given a gift from the River. It has bestowed upon its people a great bounty. A great fish has come up the river and Bohok has caught it.”

The chief looked down with a smile at Bohok. Bohok smiled back, and he noticed that Kirso was fuming and distracted. Bohok used the moment to push up against Kirso and scoot him over a little, buying him some more room on the log.

“This isn’t the first time such a fish has come up the river. It happened before, long, long ago. In those times they named this great fish. They named it a whale. I so name it today. This whale will provide a bounty to all our people and even to the other tribes. It is our duty to call upon them and let them know that…”

Kirso shoved back against Bohok, putting an elbow in his ribs and nearly pushing him off the log.

“…we have received this great gift. In past times a feast was held when a whale was given to the tribe. All the peoples were invited…”

Bohok planted his feet in the sand and slammed a shoulder into Kirso knocking him into Yannin. He quickly scooted over on the log. Yannin pushed Kirso back towards Bohok and glared at both of them.

“…to share in this gift from the spirits. I have chosen three of our men…”

Kirso pushed Bohok off the log. Kirso started to shift into Bohok’s spot but Yannin grabbed his arm and held him in his place.

“…to go to the other tribes and invite them to our village. To enjoy our hospitality..”

Bohok scrambled back up on the log, careful not to draw the chief’s attention. He shot Kirso an angry look.

“…and share in the bounty provided by the whale. I have chosen Yannin.” The chief gestured to Yannin. “To go down the river and tell the Root-Eaters.” Yannin stood.

“I chose Kirso to go up into the mountains and tell the Elk-Eaters.” The chief pointed proudly to his son. Kirso stood up next to Yannin

“And I chose Bohok to go over the mountains and tell the Bug-Eaters.” Bohok stood as well.

“These brave young men will be our voices, calling our brothers and sisters from distant tribes here to join with us.”

The people cheered. Bohok felt a surge of pride like he had never felt before. He felt loved and honored, he let the feeling sink in as the chief continued.

“As Bohok caught the whale in his net. I think it is only fitting that we allow him to tell the first tale of the fisherman’s fire.” Again the crowd hooted and squealed.

“Bohok.” The chief addressed him. “Would you tell us how you captured the great fish?”

Bohok nodded and began telling his tale. He told them about swimming out to the sandbar. He told them how he thought that his net had caught a log and about his surprise at being pulled into the water by the whale. He told them about being dragged through the water and finally bringing himself to the surface. He described to them how the creature breathed from the top of its head. How its skin felt, what it smelled like. He described the awesome power of the whale as it beached itself on the sandbar. Then he described looking into its eye as it slowly died. Bohok tried to give the people as much detail as he could. He acted out much of the action, showing them the things he could not tell.

When he was done the tribe was silent. The only sound coming to Bohok’s ear was the popping of logs in the fire. Then one man started thumping his staff against the log at his feet, an acknowledgement of a story well told. Then another and another joined him. Women and children began clapping their hands, stomping their feet, and cheering. Bohok could not help but smile.

Then Kirso started laughing. He laughed so loudly that the people stopped clapping and cheering. He held on to his sides he was laughing so hard. Kirso’s friends in the crowd started laughing with him.

The chief spoke, “What is so funny Kirso?”

“That you would applaud that story.” Kirso wiped tears from his eyes. “That is not a story of triumph or bravery. That is a story of dumb luck. Did you hear the same tale as me? He did not catch the whale, it caught him.”

Bohok felt his temper rising, but he fought it down. Kirso was goading him, trying to get him to dishonor himself like at the last fisherman’s fire. Bohok steeled himself against Kirso’s words. He would not fall into that trap again. He had spent too many nights reliving that horrible night to make the same mistake twice.

 “This man is a half blood fool.” Kirso laughed. “Who was nearly drowned by a fish that caught him.”

“Kirso!” The chief glowered at his son. “You shall not speak to Bohok that way.”

Kirso glared at his father. “You are always standing up for him.” He complained. “Why can’t you see him for what he really is? He does not belong among us. He is a dirt washing Bug-Eater and a liar.”

Bohok’s fists tightened into balls. He squeezed them to keep his temper in check.

“No Kirso. He is a man, like you and I. You will treat him with the respect a man is due.”

“I have no respect for this liar. He said he caught the whale in his net. He did no such thing. He said it himself; the great fish swam onto the beach. He did not catch it. That business about looking into its eye, saying it was like a man’s eye, like the great fish had a soul. I have never heard such an outrageous lie told in my life. I have looked into the eyes of hundreds of fish and I never felt like one was communicating with me. I have had enough of his stories.” He launched himself forward and shoved Bohok’s shoulder. “I have had enough of his lies!”

“Kirso!” Chief Yoosin yelled.

Bohok didn’t remember hitting Kirso. He could remember being pushed and he could remember Kirso laying on the ground holding his bloodied nose. The only way he knew he had hit him was that his hand hurt.

“Bohok!” Chief Yoosin turned to Bohok. His face was red with anger. “Help him up.” He pointed down to Kirso.

Reluctantly, Bohok obeyed. He reached a hand down to help Kirso off the ground. Kirso slapped it away with a growl and stood on his own.

“Did you see that father?” Kirso spat out a glob of blood and snot. “That is your Bug-Eater. He does not follow the Way of the River.”

“And neither do you.” Chief Yoosin retorted. “You have brought me much shame this evening.”

“But Father!” Kirso started but the chief silenced him with an out stretched hand.

“I will hear no more words from you tonight.” The chief glared at Bohok and Kirso.

“I have never seen two people who were so alike hate each other so much.”

Bohok was shocked by the chief’s words, he was nothing like Kirso. He saw his own disgusted look mirrored in Kirso’s face.

“I have tried to guide both you boys in the Way. I have failed! Tonight I have given both of you honors that you do not deserve.”

Bohok’s knees went weak, he wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to stomach hearing this.

“I cannot let this go unpunished.” The chief looked at Bohok and Kirso. “As the Elk-Eater Tribe lives on the way to the Bug-Eaters you shall accompany each other to both villages. You will not leave each other’s side. You will return together or you shall not return at all. Get into the house and prepare yourselves for your journey. You will leave this village before the sun rises. I do not wish to look upon you until you return.” The chief pointed to the door of the house. “Go!”

Kirso lowered his head and started into the house. Bohok looked out at the crowd of people, and into their shocked faces. He wondered what they were more surprised by; his and Kirso’s outburst, or the chief’s. Bohok had never seen the chief lose his temper. He doubted that any of the tribe ever had either. Reluctantly he followed Kirso into the log house.

Published in: on January 21, 2010 at 10:25 pm  Comments Off on Saga of Bohok- Chapter 6  
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I dream a lot

I dream a lot, and plot and scheme

And think of clever things to say and clever ways to say them

Sometimes when I am brave I wander over to you

Dropping my carefully construed dialogue along the way

And smile and wonder where I put my words and panic

And say something stupid

Then I make an excuse as I can do that pretty well now

As I have had lots of practice

And I walk back over to my side of the bar

Or my group of friends

Or to my little apartment

And I find my words and my dreams

There on the floor for me to kick

Like some imaginary can

So many plots and schemes and clever things to say

So many times when I am brave but not brave enough

To say I want you.

Written 1997- For my Deana

Published in: on January 20, 2010 at 10:29 pm  Comments (3)  

The scene in my head

Jennifer Jackson tossed her third Starbucks into the trash as she got into the elevator. Her hands were barely shaking anymore as she hit the button for her floor. Today is the day she thought grimly, the elevator lurching into motion made her jump a little. She had stopped taking query letters until January 15, 2010 and today was that day. She was sure when she got into her office the InBox would be full of hopeful letters sent by desperate fools. Her job was to sift through the muck and pull out the nuggets of talent and skill then process the raw ore into fine pieces of jewelry for the world to observe and enjoy. The only problem was that the nuggets were rarer than gold.

The elevator dinged and Jennifer jumped, she took a Red Bull from her purse and popped the top, she still wasn’t ready. Guzzling the can she walked into the front office of the Donald Maass Literary agency. Donald was there waiting for her. He was always the first one in the office.

“Well, it’s begun.” He smiled and handed her a coffee.

Jennifer took a deep drink before responding. “How bad is it?”

“Hundreds, maybe thousands, I lost count.”

Jennifer made a face. “Really?”

“Afraid so.” Donald took the now empty coffee cup from Jennifer’s trembling hands and replaced it with a fresh one.

“Anything good?” She asked hopefully.

“Actually, yes, the first one you received. I liked it. You should read it.”

“The first one Donald?”

“Sent at the stroke of midnight, and the funny thing is I’ve met the author.”


“At BEA last year. You know I usually don’t remember specific people from the thousands I meet at conventions each year, but I liked this guy. He came off really smart and funny too. I am happy to see he got his synopsis done. Of course I only talked to him for about five seconds but hey, some people stand out.”

“Well, I’ll have to read that one first.” Jennifer smiled. Perhaps today wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

I sent Jennifer Jackson a query last night at midnight her time. I hope reality matches what is going on in my head. I might be pushing it with Donald Maass remembering me, but who knows.



Some grim statistics and some boggling information

I am doing my homework and researching agents and I stumbled across a disturbing post by literary Agent Jennifer Jackson. Jennifer works for Donald Maass Literary Agency and represents some great authors (Jim Butcher). She isn’t currently accepting queries but I intend to send her one once she starts again. In her post she lists her query stats for 2009. She received 8004 queries last year and request more information from 47 of them. That’s right 1 in 170, that is long, long, long odds. Of course the odds for drawing a pair of aces as hole cards in Texas Hold’Em is 1 in 210 and I have seen pocket rockets more than once so don’t lose heart. There are a lot of other factors to consider as well, this isn’t putting a quarter in a slot machine and hoping for triple sevens. The agent doesn’t randomly choose which queries she answers it is about what she is interested in. Still, it is scary seeing the numbers.

The astonishing part of her post is that of the 47 that garnered the prestigious request for more information, 3 did not respond. Can you believe that? Why even bother going through all the pain, suffering and heartache if you’re just going to ignore responses. In a subsequent post Jennifer theorized why someone wouldn’t respond, but I can’t believe someone wouldn’t at least send a message detailing why they couldn’t or wouldn’t respond. Rest assured I will respond instantly to anyone who contacts me. Even if I’m trapped under a bus, I’ll have someone bring me my laptop to reply to the email.

This wacky publishing business really shows how crazy a world we live in. I just wanted to share.



Published in: on January 13, 2010 at 10:40 pm  Comments Off on Some grim statistics and some boggling information  
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I upgraded my wordpress account and registered my domain name. You can now get to my blog by typing in You don’t have to bother with the wordpress part anymore. This upgrade will let me do a lot of other cool things with this blog, things that you can only do with a registered domain name. It is pretty exciting for me. I added some more widgets to the sidebar too. You can now subscribe to this blog and it will email you notices whenever I post up new stuff. Also I added a “share this” button that lets you share any post over pretty much every social media format in existence. So if you read something you like click on that button and help me get it out there! Try them out when you get a chance.



Published in: on January 12, 2010 at 11:17 am  Comments Off on  
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