Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Waiting, Wondering, and Waning


Have you ever bought a lottery ticket, then sat at chair’s edge, eyes glued to the television while they draw the winning numbers? With each little ping-pong ball, you check your ticket two or three times to make absolutely certain the numbers really don’t match–or do they? It’s especially fun when the pot reaches into the double-digit millions or more, and the first number matches, then the second, then…

Entering writing or pitch contests are like that. It sometimes feels so random, even after you’ve sweated and slaved over your manuscript, query, and synopsis. It feels like that when you hit the “Send” button and your query heads through the interwebs to your dream agents. I subbed for Pitch Wars (jump on the #PitchWars Twitter feed, there’s some great stuff going on) this year, along with 1,590 other writers. Now we’re all waiting. OMG, the anticipation, the anxiety, the fear, the hope! There are 108 mentors reviewing all the submissions. Each mentor will pick one mentee, and work with that writer for two months to polish their manuscript to a high sheen before the agent round in November.

The kicker is, all of us aspiring mentees won’t find out if we have a mentor until…drumroll… September 2. The submission window closed on Monday, August 17, and we have to wait two weeks (and a couple days) to find out if we get picked. Needless to say, many of us have turned to lurking on the #PitchWars feed, or stalking our target mentors on Twitter in case they let some key clue slip out. Of course, they’re quite careful to keep any tidbits they scatter for us vague enough they could refer to many manuscripts.

The best thing, I think, about the whole deal–well, besides actually getting a mentor 🙂 –is the opportunity to get in touch with so many writers. The community is made of up great people who are rooting for everyone. We’re all on the same team, and it’s a great opportunity to find critique partners or beta readers for your manuscript. There’s an awful lot of creativity floating around. To while away the time, some mentee hopefuls have “pimped” their bios on their blogs. Check out the pimp-my-bio blog hop. And I’m toying with some ideas for my own pimp-my-bio page, but there’s an insane amount of humor and wit out there; not sure I can make a good showing. So, I’ll regale you with tales of my waning garden instead.

IMG_0175 It’s harvest time. Oh boy, is it ever! Note to self: smaller garden next year. No, I really mean it this time. Seriously.

Who am I kidding? It’s all fun and games until you’ve got 3 bushels of pickling cucumbers-turned-mutant staring at you, daring you to keep picking and add to their ranks. Oh, but I won–I brought them to work. Ha! Take that, you oversized cucurbits! No one had been out to the garden for a week due to rain and going out of town for a family gathering. My nice, finger-sized cucumbers had swelled to monster proportions. The people at work appreciated them!

The tomatoes are easier to handle; I’ve canned two batches of tomatoes so far, and will likely do at least two more. Each batch is 8 quarts, because that’s all I can fit in my hot-water canner.

IMG_0171The rest of the garden is fading. The cilantro has gone to seed, and will start resprouting soon, so there’s still hope for late-season pico de gallo. The dill has almost all gone past the point of using for pickles (Oh, snap. Might have to use the mature seeds for my dill pickles. Nuts.) The potatoes have died back, and we’ll need to add mulch so the potatoes that make it to the surface won’t turn green under the sunlight before we dig them all up.

This time of year, everything is ready at the same time: cucumbers for pickles, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, watermelon, and zucchini (still). The only things not quite ready yet are the rutabaga, parsnips, and those mini-pumpkins people use for decor in fall, all planted at the request of my sister-in-law, who ran out of room in her own garden.

IMG_0114Fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cilantro make for awesome pico de gallo. If you’ve never made it, you should try it at least once. Proportions are to taste, but it’s so easy. Dice some tomatoes (dice them small enough that they’ll stay on a chip), peppers, a jalapeno or two, and some onions. Before you mix everything together, put the diced tomatoes into a strainer and add salt. Let them drain for a bit; the salt helps to draw the water out of them. Once the tomatoes have drained for a half hour or so, add the other ingredients in whatever proportion you like, then add fresh cilantro to taste. Toss in a couple splashes of lime juice, mix well, crack open that big bag of tortilla chips, and dig in!

Also, quick shout-out to Brenda Drake, Erica Chapman, and all the other Pitch Wars mentors–THANK YOU for your time, efforts, and talents. Despite writers having a reputation for quiet, solitary pursuits, we have a vibrant community full of support for each other. The #PitchWars feed shows just how much we cheer each other on. Good luck to all!


Author: Julie Holmes, author

Pen names: J. M. Holmes, J. M. Goebel A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I've been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. In real life, I am a technical writer with a family of two teens, a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, two chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

9 thoughts on “Waiting, Wondering, and Waning

  1. The garden looks great. That should keep you busy while waiting on Sept. 2 – only a bit over a week away. Good luck, it sounds exciting and worth the wait. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! Yep, busy is right. 🙂 Did more pickles last night, and today made a nice batch of pico de gallo with fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cilantro–Yum! It does distract me from the wait, although I need to work on my WIP. The tomatoes can only wait so long, though. I think another batch of tomatoes is due to be canned tomorrow.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it’s good to stay busy and focused on other things (including other writing) when you’re waiting for crucial news like that. At least it’s how I deal with the agonizing wait when I submit a manuscript. I fill my head with other things, including working on other books. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you! Wishing you luck!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mae! I’m really trying to stay busy. I keep reminding myself it really isn’t much different than sending a query out to an agent, and waiting for a response. I’ve got enough plot changes in my WIP I’m debating starting over from scene 1. I’d like to have at least some of the new ideas down as part of my first revision, so I might just press on and make more notes. Have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Best of luck, fingers crossed for you. What a lovely garden to keep you busy -the produce must taste divine; there really isn’t anything quite like home grown produce.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I realise I’ve read this rather late for the deadline of Sept 2nd is well passed. I’m wondering if you got anywhere…? I only entered one writing competition and I waited months. In order to enter you had to be unpublished, even self published, so I held off for months until they finally let me know I’d no chance! So I went ahead and published the book.

    The tales of your garden reminds me of all the years I raced against time to used all the fruit – redcurrants, raspberries, blackcurrants, cherries, gooseberries, and strawberries. Later came the runner beans, plumbs, apples – oh, so many apples! – and pears, tomatoes, cabbages, onions and purple sprouting broccoli. I kept asking my other half, who is the gardener to please grow less stuff because I couldn’t deal with it all. The silly thing is, we had far more produce from the garden of later years when we didn’t need it so much because most of our children had left home by then. This is because he was working less hours and time to do it. This year, for the first time in many I have not had the excess to deal with – because we have moved house and hubby is having to start his fruit and veg patch from scratch! It’s been a relief! Happy gardening!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t get a mentor this year in Pitch Wars, but I got a couple very encouraging emails from the mentors I submitted to. Maybe next year! I’m working on a project I’m excited about, with the goal of having it ready to pitch to agents (and enter into Pitch Wars) next year.

      Yes, it is a race to do something with all the garden bounty before it goes bad. That’s the main reason I bring so much produce (mostly cucumbers and zucchini) to work–so others can enjoy what I can’t process. Every year I keep telling myself I need a smaller garden. Some day, I’ll actually listen!


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