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  • Writer's pictureKim Beall

Just in Case...

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted anything in this blog! My apologies, but, you know what I've always said: I'm not gonna just crank out blog posts unless I have something to say.

OK, I did have something to say, but it was always the same thing: "Yep. Still querying Rivers and Roads, trying to obtain agent representation. Still getting a lot of form rejections, a few personalized rejections (yay) and the occasional, rare, request for the full manuscript (yay!) followed by ongoing silence." Not that I was discouraged. Well, not too discouraged. Just, it wasn't exactly news.

Still querying anyway, though! And I'm going to keep on querying this manuscript until I land an agent or run out of relevant agents to query. I haven't run out yet. Seems that new agents keep appearing every time I think I only have a couple dozen left. New agents come on the scene, other agents decide to start adding fantasy to their lists, and still others have simply been closed to submissions for a while now and have opened back up. So it may still be quite a while before I run out of agents. (Well, or land one!)

I am determined to take as bad a beating as it takes, on this manuscript, before I give up. I really, really need to prove to myself that I CAN DO THIS! That I and this story are both good enough for traditional publishing.

OK I know I and the story are both good enough. But I have no illusions about the publishing industry. I know I chose a hard row to hoe, writing stuff that bends genre boundaries and, even worse, stuff that isn't currently Trending. But trends change daily, and at some point, what I've written will just happen to coincide with exactly what is trending, and when that magical day comes, I and my new agent will be in the right place at the right time.

But that doesn't mean I haven't been writing this entire time! I'm actually working on two projects at the moment - something I once swore I'd never do. The first one is more like what I usually write: think Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" meets ghosts and other supernatural beings who, ultimately, help solve the mystery. So there's that. Like I said, it's more like what I prefer to read and write.

But I thought, well, just in case. Just in case it really is not possible and never will be possible for traditional publishers to sell contemporary fantasy for adults that is not grim and full of mayhem, just in case, maybe I can get my foot in the door with a mainstream Cozy Mystery. Readers gobble those up by the metric ton, right? And I do enjoy reading Cozies. I just never felt like writing one was My Thing.

But then! Oh, but then I was gently informed: it is, in fact, perfectly acceptable to have ghosts in a Cozy Mystery! And the ghosts do NOT have to turn out, in the end, to be mere figments of the amateur sleuth's imagination! They can be actual ghosts, completely real within the parameters of the story-world. And there are hundreds of such Cozies already out there, even ones published by traditional publishing houses!

Can you imagine my glee? I practically turned somersaults! (Fortunately I did not, because I haven't done that in over fifty years.) Also... also also! There can be other supernatural beings in Cozies - faeries and land-spirits and all sorts of things! It's a whole subgenre of its own, known as Paranormal Cozy Mystery. How did I not know about this before?

Well, I hit Google and snatched up a small boatload of these novels. I devoured the first dozen or so, loved some of them, and then got to work writing one of my own.

OK I have to say: at first I was underwhelmed with my own foray into Cozy authorhood. I couldn't shake the conviction that I was backing down from My True Destiny. Cozies, for instance, have a lot of restrictions on what can appear on the page. A lot of things in my previous work would not fly with the Cozy audience. But, hey, you can have ghosts and fairies! So I dove in and did my best to build a relationship with this genre. Unfortunately I just wasn't feeling it. Until...

Until this past month when, slowly at first, and then more and more I found myself thinking about the story when I wasn't actually writing. More and more often I suddenly realized someone in the Real World had been speaking to me and I hadn't heard a word they said because I was listening to dialogue between my characters in my head. Waking up in the middle of the night to jump up and write down a connection that had occurred to me while I was sleeping. (I learned long ago not to wait until morning to do this!)

It's been so long since I've been in this place with a story, and now I understand: it's not so much the genre that captures me and drives me to discover the rest of the story. Whether reading or writing, it's the characters and the world they live in that make the story a story worth experiencing. It's the relationships between them that drive the plot. It's getting to know them and care about them that makes me obsessed with telling their story ... and it feels so good to be obsessed again!

Moon over Tavisheen
Moon over Tavisheen

Oh, wouldn't it be ironic if suddenly, now, out of the blue I land a Dream Agent who obtains an Amazing Publishing Deal for me with Rivers and Roads, thus tearing my heart most angstfully between Tavisheen and my work-in-progress Cozy Mystery? (Come on, Fate, I'm trying to tempt you, here!)


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