Friday, February 26, 2010

The Joys of Hell, I

I'm spending a good part of today in Hell, writing queries to prospective agents. It feels like I'm somewhere in Dante's Circles 2-5, where sins of incontinence are punished ... those souls who were not very adept at resisting their passions. My passion is writing, not querying. (Is that a word?) But there's a method to my sinfullness!

I've gotten tons of good advice from a successful, local writer (Jessica), and from my nextdoor neighbor, who's also a writer (Ricardo). Let's call her Virgil 1, and him Virgil 2. (Are you keeping pace with this stunning literary allusion?)

I've known Virgil 1 three or four years, and several weeks ago I contacted her about "picking her brain." You see, I'd just finished my novel ("finished," that is, until an agent, editor or publisher says otherwise), and I hoped she might offer a little free advice about acquiring an agent. She graciously agreed, even to the "free" part. We met a few days later at a local bistro (beer for me, wine for her), and she was a veritable fountain (Yeah, that's a cliche.) of information: names of agents, blog sites, tips, cautionary advice, etc.

Wow! I told her she's an angel! (Or so she seemed!) So, that's what I'm doing today: the dreaded "follow-up" to that bistro meeting, a classic case of an angel leading a poor innocent to Hell. (Yes, I'm mixing my metaphors, Virgil and angel ...) So far, I've queried two of the agencies Virgil 1 suggested (I checked them out first, seeing if they were suitable for my novel, which I describe in my queries as "a realistic literary novel, in the vein of "Sideways" and "Sometimes a Great Notion," and is completed at 120,000 words. It is the first part of a prospective trilogy, the theme of which appeals to a universal commercial market: man’s struggle for love against the powerful currents of the past.") [Pretty cool, huh?]

The two agencies I've thus far queried (this serves as my official notification of a "multiple query") are the Kimberley Cameron Agency and the Ann Rittenberg Agency.

Virgil 2, my nextdoor neighbor and fellow swiller of cheap wine, is a man who's passionate about writing and writers. He and his wife host a literary event each month in their home. It's a rather mad, spontaneous occasion, which attracts a crazy, eclectic group of artists, singers, writers, jugglers, etc. "Emotive" is the term he would use to describe it. It's his favorite word, to the exclusion of all others. Anyway, he suggested I query a local publisher, Ooligan Press, which I did a few days ago.

What these two Virgil's have done for me (to me?) is incalcuable, and I deeply thank them ... or curse them, since they've led me into this Hell, and haven't yet pointed the way out.

Anyone know the way to Purgatory?

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