Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Be Careful What You Wish For and Flash Friday

So I’m once again skipping over a follow-up to last Friday’s post. I had it in my head what I was going to do as an encore while writing that one, but it feels too shaky to see the light of day right now. Instead I’ll muse over some things that have happened this week.

Be Careful What You Wish For. The query process is underway, finally. On the initial bout of queries I’ve gotten responses from about half so far. I figured I’d wait and see how this went before hitting the next batch, because I might want to alter my query. Given stated response times from some of the agents in question (of those that do respond on a negative) I figure I should have a pretty good idea in the next two weeks what my next move is.

A couple of weeks ago I saw that Krista of Mother. Write. (Repeat.) was running her monthly An Agent’s Inbox for April, and her agent of the month was Katie Shea of Donald Maass Agency. That made me go all like this, as Ms. Shea is definitely on my list of Agents I’d Like to Work With. So I prepped my e-mail to Krista and sat with my cursor poised over the ‘Send’ button, endured a moment of panic when, at 9:59:49, I discovered the last line was in a different font than the rest, hustled to try to fix it (not thinking that Krista would take care of it), was sure I was going to get frozen out, like trying to be the ninth caller at random to win concert tickets from the radio station, because no one ever wins those. You know how it is: Busy. Redial. Busy. Redial. “Sorry, the contest is closed.” Click. Commence cursing.

Last-second fumbling notwithstanding, I made it (as entry #1, no less). Be careful what you wish for. And I sweated out until Wednesday when I saw it posted, and read the first comment, and decided not to read anymore until, I don’t know, when I have built up the required intestinal fortitude. The dream, of course, is that Ms. Shea will say, “Oh. My. God. I must sign this man. NOW.” All based on a query and 250 (260, actually, I ran over in the name of sentence integrity) words. Yeah, not gonna happen, I know, but a man can dream.

What I expect to happen, and the real reason I’m in it, is because it’s a rare chance to get an inside look at the thought process of an agent. I’ve gotten four rejects so far, all form rejects, so it could be the query, it could be the pages, it could be any number of things. Yes, it’s possible Ms. Shea will love my work, but if she doesn’t, I’ll know why, and that’s worth any potential embarrassment at being flayed publicly.

It has also been a very instructive process to critique some of the other entries (I just can’t do all 19 others, though). This is not Query Letter Hell on Absolute Write.  These are letters and pages that have been polished, polished, polished, carefully crafted and agonized over. I’m not saying the ones on AW aren’t, but I think what we see there tend to be in a much rougher stage. I’ve learned a lot from being in this contest, and even if I don’t ‘win’, I’ll still have won. Thanks, Krista, for running ‘An Agent’s Inbox’, and thanks to Ms. Shea for giving her time and experience. Thanks also to the other contestants and commenters.

Flash Friday. I’m posting a link to a newsletter for The Smithy Center for the Arts, a great, community-based arts center in my area. This is where I go for my Writer’s Circle every Sunday. The Director of the Smithy (who also participates in the group) asked if we’d be willing to put work in the newsletter from time-to-time, so I’ve got a short piece in there this month, called The Prophet.

The story came about at the end of Writer’s Circle, after a frustrating free writing period where I just could not concentrate, and came up with nothing (it might have been one of those days where things were so bad I mused over the weight of my pen). At the end of the day, with a few minutes to spare, we decided to do a three-minute speed write, and The Prophet just came to me. I didn’t spend as much time editing as I should have, there are a few things wrong, but that’s okay. Take a surf over there, I hope you enjoy it, and have a nice weekend.

10 Responses

  1. Good luck with that, Jeff.

    I submitted my query for what I thought would be a critique by an agent and ended up with a request for a full — and a rejection, but it was personalized and she asked me to send her my next project. So, not too bad.

  2. OH. MY. GOD!! That was AWESOME!!! I totally didn't see that coming! Man, you are so good, Jeff. I want more!! More!!

    As for the query thing, it was getting my query out there in every contest or forum I could that made it so much better, tight and concise, and ultimately, got me a request and a contract. So keep it up!

  3. Thanks, Nancy, glad you enjoyed it. As is always the case, I looked at it in 'printed form' and said, "Oh, no, I should have done…." but I can live with it. It was fun to write.

    Yes, doing the multi-contest, super workshopping thing will make it nice and shiny for sure. It will be quite interesting to see what Ms. Shea has to say.

  4. Krista's inbox events are awesome. Same with Authoress' ones. I put in my 250 words in one more than a year ago (different ms) and got fabulous feedback that really helped me. I hope you get the same! Good luck with it 🙂

  5. Oh. My. God. The Prophet was amazing. How did you pack such a punch in so few words? Holy crap! Thet title is perfect too! WOW. Just WOW!!!!!!

    Good luck with the queries although you won't need it, good as you are! I'll be interested to see what kind of feedback you get.

    I'll be reeling over that Prophet story for some time.


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