Querying and Out for Blood

Bleak by Fightpunch (Deviantart.com)

Bleak by Fightpunch (Deviantart.com)

I've done it. I'm finally finished. I put in my time (5 years to be exact) and now I've finally completed The Faithful. It's been a long and, honestly, grueling process. But, after so much time and agony filled nights, the first novel is completed and sitting pretty on its throne. While I'd like to say that if I'd known I only needed 65k words for my chosen genre, I would've stopped two years ago, I'm pretty sure that's a lie.

After all, I'm much happier with where this one ends and the fates of my characters than I was with the 67k word version. The only thing the 67k version had going for it was that I had an immediate sequel that kept most, if not all, of my principal cast. Now, I have only a handful of characters still around to move forward into the next book, but a whole new swath to play with. So, you tell me, which is better in the long run?

I recently attended the Oklahoma Writer's Federation, Inc. 2013 Writing Conference and was able to have individual pitch sessions with four agents. Out of this, one agent said it really wasn't his thing, but requested a "few" pages, which turns out meant 15 to 20 (as I found out from another author writing in the same genre who talked with the same agent), the next two requested 50 pages and a synopsis, which I cleared my 7 page behemoth synopsis with them before leaving, and the biggest, I think, was one that requested only the first 3 chapters, but said that if I had ANY writing credits going into the meeting, she would've requested a full. Instead, she's taking a tentative step and finding out if she likes my writing style before devoting that type of time to.

Since then, I've gone out of my way to post query about a dozen agencies (making my fair share of mistakes along the way). So far, I've only got one rejection back (the rest no responses) and that one was query only, no synopsis or excerpt.

I have no doubts about my style, my voice. The only problem is that my manuscript is highly stylized. For instance, here is the first paragraph of The Faithful:

Raine Morgan, tired of waiting, pulled a crushed pack from his front pocket, fished a twisted cigarette from it. Flame flickered then vanished. He took a drag, stared at the line of bars, the neon flashing above, calling the shuffling drunkards and wannabes out into the dead of night for some faintly promised tail. He scoffed, leaving a fresh trail of smoke diving from his open mouth.

I've run into a particular line of editing, a thought process, with each person that has started reading my novel. They want me to take out the double verbs ending in -ed, instead changing them to -ing. Now I'm not immediately adverse to that, but for me it cuts down on the immediacy of what he's doing. To me, it lends a style, a voice to my writing that could easily be drowned out with a simple change like that. So I nod at their edits, then change it back. It is a constant (at least with this character) throughout the novel. It is this character, Raine Morgan. This, as I see it, will be my only stumbling block. Maybe it's a big one, but I hope not.

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Justin D. Herd

Justin D. Herd is a purveyor of the weird and strange. He occasionally squawks at friends and family, but does so only under the cover of night. Okay, that's not true. He squawks in full daylight. Drinking games have been built around his peculiarities, but the truth of it is this: he is a loving husband, with two wonderful dem--children. One growls at things he likes, including pretty women. The other has started to learn hand-eye coordination. Neither had made it to the tender age of three. From there, things will only get more interesting. He spends most of his writing time either at a coffee shop or sitting at one of his many desks around his house. Any other place makes it nearly impossible for him to write. He uses horror movies and rock music to help get the juices flowing. His favorite authors are Jeremy Robert Johnson, Alan Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Justin Cronin, and Patrick Rothfuss. He consumes most of his books through audiobooks, but still loves his personal library and getting lost in the printed word.