Taming Butterflies

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about stepping out of my comfort zone. I think the theme is still with me this week. Right now I’m gathering the courage to do something out of my comfort zone. Just thinking about it is enough to send butterflies circling around in my stomach.

Currently, I’m editing a single title urban fantasy called “Rising Dawn.” On many levels, this manuscript was a stretch for me. If you’ve read my work, you know I normally write dark, paranormal, erotic romance. This work in progress is the exact opposite — a light, funny urban fantasy. It was a stretch for me, but a healthy one. I think I’ve grown as a writer because of it.

Now the time is fast approaching when I’ll start querying agents. I’ve written single title length manuscripts before, I’ve even queried agents before, but none of it resulted in representation or a sale. This time I want it to be different. This time around, I want that sale so bad I can taste it. I obsess about it. I crave it.

I’ve managed to build up this whole submission process in my mind so that it’s now a life-or-death situation for me. (Go ahead, you can laugh. It’s silly to think this, I know.) I feel like I *must* get an agent this year, and I *must* make that sale to New York next year. Otherwise, I’m a failure. The dream is dead. Where does this come from? To be honest, I’m not quite sure. No automatic “get out of rejection free” card after you’ve written so many manuscripts. As an author, if I’m not ready for the public, then I don’t want my work published. As hard as it is receiving form rejections from agents and editors, it’s even harder getting bad reviews from readers and critics. If my work isn’t up to snuff, then I should go back to the drawing board.

The thing is, I’ve already gone back to the drawing board — twice. This is my third time submitting a polished manuscript to New York and I feel that this should be “the one.” I’ve paid my dues, so its my time, right?

Maybe, maybe not. It’s tough in a situation like this to have perspective, but I’m trying. I love this book and love its characters. I’m close to the manuscript because I’ve spent so much time on it. The thought of someone not liking my baby hurts and hurts bad. It freezes me with fear and fills me with doubt. The thought of going back and starting all over with another story terrifies me to the core. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to go through this a fourth time. Or a fifth. Or a… *gulp* Tenth.

I’m trying to push through my negative vibes and gather the courage to start querying. I’ve done all of my research, made a short and long list of agents, prepared my query letter, polished it within an inch of its life, and I’m ready to go… kind of.

I put together my first email on Monday. I double checked the email address and ran the spell checker, but… I just couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t hit the send button on the email. There’s so much at stake here! Six months of blood, sweat and tears went into this manuscript. I don’t want to fail… but if I never hit “send,” then I’ve already failed, haven’t I?

So, I’m asking all of you writers and readers out for some tips on taming the butterflies. Can you help a girl gather the courage to hit “send?”

And in the meantime, here’s the blurb of my urban fantasy. Enjoy!

Dawn, a twenty-three year old coffee barista, makes a New Years resolution to stop sitting at home and start becoming social again. After five years away from the dating scene, she goes into one of trendiest clubs in Atlanta in search of love and ends up battling a powerful necromancer for her soul. The whole incident leaves her battered and confused, and she starts to look for answers. With the help of a fedora-wearing vigilante, a cocky club owner, and a Voodoo practicing hair dresser, she starts to find them. Together these three introduce her to an underground world where zombies rule and everyone has a hidden agenda.

As the necromancer’s motives become known, Dawn discovers and develops some unique supernatural abilities. Strong emotions drive her magic, and in this cold, passionless underworld she becomes more powerful with each passing day. Being on an emotional roller coaster can be draining however, especially when most of her feelings are wrapped up in a man with a mysterious past and who has an affinity for Indiana Jones-style hats. When her enemies set a trap, Dawn is forced to confront some of her insecurities. In doing so she learns that in order to live life to its fullest, one must be prepared to die — or at least change the color of your hair.

8 Responses to “Taming Butterflies”
  1. I’m going to take a departure from my usual emotional response when it comes to motivation. By now folks have gotten to know my Nike commercial mentality and my cheerleader soul pretty well:)

    Here’s what I’ve come to believe about submitting…

    Once an author has learned the craft of storytelling, the home for each story is out there, it’s just a matter of finding it.

    When you hit send…today!…it will be the beginning of your search. Nothing more. Nothing less. Hopefully your search will be short and sweet and your book will find a home in the market you most desire. Hopefully. The important thing to remember is that *it will find a home* at one publisher or another *if you search and if you don’t give up*.

    At this point, you know how to tell a story and you tell a story well. We all want to read Dawn’s tale!

    So, hit send already. The sooner you get started, the sooner your UF will be for sale for all of us to buy:D

  2. Suzanne Rock says:

    Thanks Barbara. I appreciate your comment. And you’re right, of course. I just have to keep going. There’s a home out there somewhere, I know. I just have to find it.

    FWIW, I was on Jim Butcher’s website this morning and read his “about me” page. In it he tells how he got his popular series, The Dresden Files, published. I found it very inspiring. I think that, along with your comment, might help me hit the “send” button. Here’s his story…


  3. Thanks so much for sharing that link, Suzanne. Jim Butcher’s story is inspirational. Even more so because I think the Dresden Files rock and I can’t believe they didn’t get snatched up in an instant.

  4. Chandra Ryan says:

    The blurb sounds great!

    I always go with a reward to calm my butterflies. Usually in the shape of five new books, which I promptly sit down and read. It takes my mind off the e-mail I just sent and when I come up from the reading binge I’ve usually got so many other things to take care of I don’t have time to obsess about the submission 🙂

    But really, Barbara is right. Your story will find a home, it’s just a matter of finding it the right home. I hope you hit send soon, though, ’cause I already want to read it.

  5. Suzanne Rock says:

    Thanks Chandra – I appreciate your comments. Most of the time hitting “send” doesn’t bother me. For some odd reason this time its different. I’m just as nervous now as I was when sent out my very first manuscript into the world (which got universally rejected, btw, lol). Let’s hope that the outcome this time around is different…

    Yeah, BJH – I love the Dresden Files, too. From what I hear Jim’s super nice in person. Hearing the story about his path to publication is so inspiring. I hit “send” on my query letter to two agents this morning. I’m going to keep sending the query out to two agents every week until I exhaust my list – which will probably be sometime in June. Slow and steady wins the race, right? 😉 Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

  6. Good luck, Suzanne. I well understand how some stories seem to become a part of us even more than others. Unforgiven was like that for me because Dillon seemed to live on and on in my heart. Writing his story was like an exorcism! Hunger was like that for me because it was the first story I ever wrote from the gut. I write like that often now, but Hunger seemed to tap into that viseral energy for the first time. After Hunger, Captured came straight from the vein to the page, no lie.

    Each of those stories had at least one rejection before it sold.

    Like Butcher said, rejections are a part of life like a car horn or a red light. I guess we have to have rain before we get the rainbow!

  7. Glad to hear that you already started hitting send. Like everyone else has already said, there is a home for your story, you just have to find the right one and keep searching until you find it. As for readers for your story, you’ve already got one here! Good luck!

  8. Amanda Vyne says:

    Despite the butterflies, there is just something so fresh and promising about that stage of the process. Maybe it’s that sense of fragile excitement you get with every ring of the phone, every “you got mail”. It’s like standing on a precipice…so exciting and terrifying.

    You’ll do fine…no matter the response, it doesn’t make you any less an author.

    Best of luck!

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