Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Update and a little break


No foolin’ today. I’ve got plans. Sure, they’re plans I’d like to put off, but there is a benefit to inviting one’s relatives over for a family gathering. You can only procrastinate so long before you absolutely have to get things done, like cleaning, organizing, catching up on reading–wait, scratch that last one. Won’t have much time to read this weekend after I get the other stuff done. Ugh.

Today’s supposed to be a wonderful spring day, so I’ve got washing windows and cleaning the refrigerator on my list, along with all the incidentals like vacuuming and organizing. I’m a lot farther behind this year than I usually am because of my self-imposed NaNo from last month.

Which, by the way, I managed to complete by the 30th–woo-hoo! The story isn’t done, and I won’t finish it because the plot needs a serious overhaul. I’ll look at that later, after the whole family gathering thing.

Now to the white board in my writing office. The list of publishers reminds me of how far I’ve come on this writing journey of mine. I got an update from my agent yesterday. Five more publishers haven’t indicated much interest, but they haven’t specifically passed. I put question marks behind those.

“Your agent said they could still show interest, love. It just might take a little longer.” My Muse stands beside me, shoulder to shoulder–er, make that my shoulder to his arm. He’s got a height advantage on me. Today he’s wearing painters pants (yes, like those painters pants, complete with a few paint stains, though I’m not sure what he’d paint that particular shade of orange, or purple) and a faded red t-shirt that might’ve shrunk a bit. Not that I’m complaining…

I pointed to the four remaining publishers who still appear interested. “We’re hoping to hear back from these, but she’s going to call next week to talk about possible tweaks to the story based on what little feedback we’ve gotten.”

Most of the feedback we’ve gotten from some of the publishers who’ve passed is just as helpful–or not–as feedback I’ve gotten from agent query rejections. And it’s all over the board. One likes this, but really doesn’t think that works for them. Two others really like that, but have different opinions about the rest.

“How do you plan to tweak things?” My Muse picks up a marker and starts a list off to the side. “One didn’t like this so much, but two others loved it. One didn’t like the pacing, but all the other feedback you’ve gotten indicates the pacing is good.” He makes a check. “There’s the usual ‘just didn’t connect with it’. And one mentioned voice.”

The dreaded ambiguity of “voice”. What is voice, anyway? I’ll have to do some reading on that, I think. Anyone have any suggestions for a good reference on voice? I’ll also look at Janice Hardy’s blog–she’s got a great one for writers called Fiction University. I’m sure there’s at least one post on voice.

He gives me a sideways glance. “Remember, it’s all subjective.”

“I know. I’m going to try to read through my manuscript with the vague feedback in mind before I talk to my agent. Try to come up with ideas for tweaks before she submits to more publishers.”

I’m not sure what kind of tweaks. The main character in the book is a female aircraft mechanic, so there is some–not much–technical stuff. A lot less technical stuff than there was in the earlier drafts. Maybe trimming even more of that. Which I’m reluctant to do because, I suppose, I feel like it gives her more validity, but if that’s hanging people up, then I’ll work with it.

So, I’ll be busy this weekend. Maybe I’ll have to do a post on voice next week. Wait, no. Family gathering next week. Maybe I’ll cheat and just post cat pics.

Like anyone would complain about that πŸ˜€

Have a great weekend and keep on writing!


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.

12 thoughts on “Update and a little break

  1. Enjoy your time off. I need to get some cleaning done, too. Oh, joy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Feedback is so varied and subjective. It’s hard to decide what to take seriously and what to dismiss as personal taste. Good luck with the cleaning, and enjoy your family!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right! It’s interesting especially that one editor loved everything, but not my MCs career choice, yet two others specifically said they loved her career choice. Talk about examples of subjectivity πŸ™‚ I’m chalking most of it up to personal taste. There’s an editor out there who will love it (I did find an agent who loves it after all!). Enjoy your weekend, Em!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I spent most of my day cooking different meals for later in the week. Tomorrow is my writing day, so I’ll see how much I get accomplished.

    Congrats on meeting your self-imposed NaNo (I need to do the same). A lot of what flies with publishers these days is also what comes down to personal taste. I remember many moons ago when I was working with an agent, one of my manuscripts was rejected by a publisher because it had too much romance and not enough mystery. A different publisher rejected it because it had too much mystery and not enough romance. ARRRGH! Where’s the middle guy, LOL!

    Hang in there. I know you’re on the verge of good things happening.

    And I;m always happy with cat pictures πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, Mae. I think the passes–from the feedback we’ve gotten–have more to do with personal taste than real issues with the manuscript. One editor liked the ms, but not the MC’s career choice, but two others specifically said they loved the MC’s career choice. And her career is one of the things that sets her apart!

      Crossing fingers that one of the remaining four (or even one of the question marks) will be interested, but we’ll pitch to another batch of publishers anyway. I keep thinking we’ll find that editor who will love it sooner rather than later (or it’s wishful thinking πŸ™‚ )

      BTW, thanks for the pics of Raven–she’s such a beautiful cat. I’ll have to follow Zoey around with a camera for my next post!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a frustrating thing. And thanks for going through it first so I know what to expect. πŸ˜‰ (Should I EVENTUALLY GET THERE!!!) But for reals, that sounds annoying and hard to get such varying feedback. Hard to know what to do with it. This was such a fascinating post I didn’t even mind the lack of cat pictures… this time! The mention at the end was nice though.
    So get this: I had a really great in with one agent, like, she should be a shoe in almost. But she had to pass b/c she’s already shopping a book on the same topic, though to MG. What are the chances?! It’s not a universal topic, by any means! She must have been sincere, however, b/c she said she liked my writing and would be happy to look at any other books I had on a different topic. Darn-ditty-darn-darn! I just have to assume she wasn’t meant to be the agent for me. Meanwhile, on query tracker, I see that the one who asked for a full is not great at actually READING the fulls, or so it seems. One guy gave up after 6 mos of her still not reading it, even after a couple of nudges. Not sure how to feel about that. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    • I knew going into this journey it’d be a long, often frustrating process. The feedback reminds me of feedback I’ve gotten from agents (those that bother to send feedback as opposed to a form rejection or silence), so I’m not surprised. The hard thing is figuring out if that feedback warrants tweaks or not. I usually approach feedback with the idea that if something is pointed out by one person, it’s probably just them, but if more than one person points out the same thing, then I should look at that. So far, there really isn’t anything in particular to look at, so I’m figuring the passes are more personal taste than anything (makes me feel better to think of it that way πŸ˜€ )

      I had a rejection like that once, that the agent had something similar already, and she’d look at something else. Just keep sending queries. Send ten or so, see if you get any bites. If no bites, tweak the query and try another ten agents. Honestly, if the agent is like that, then they’re probably so busy they don’t have time to read the fulls even if they asked for them. Try others. You’ll get there!

      Have a great week!


  5. Washing windows? What’s that? Have fun with family – it’s good to set aside the writing for a few days anyway.

    It is amazing how subjective publishers are, isn’t it? But then so are human beings. Go figure. I’d be careful about tweaking until you get some solid interest or until your agent tells you to. You can end up tweaking it out of someone else’s “yes pile.” What a journey. Hang in there. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! Yep, washed windows yesterday. I’m waiting to scrub the floor until the day before guests arrive, otherwise I’ll have to do it again πŸ™‚

      I hear ya about tweaking. I’m going through the ms now, and found a couple spots where a word change or sentence rearrange would help it read more smoothly, but overall I don’t want to do too many changes yet for just the reason you mention. I’ll see what my agent has to say when I talk to her later in the week.

      Have a great week, D!

      Liked by 1 person

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