As you all know from my incessant musings on the topic, Living in Sin might be finished, but it's not anywhere near being done. Aside from any other issue, it's simply much too long to be saleable in its current form. And this means hefty revisions. It means, in all likelihood, that I'll have to eliminate some secondary characters and their scenes, and invent new (hopefully shorter!) ones using the characters who remain to fill in the gaps in motivation or plot that occur as a result of the cuts. It's a huge task and not one I can say I look forward to.
So I've found other things to do this week instead, and I'm a bit embarrassed to say that they're not the things I promised myself I would do, starting with finishing a project for my paying job that I've been struggling with and dragging my feet on for what feels like months. Oh, I've been working on that project. It's just that I haven't done it at anywhere near the pace or with anything like the exclusivity I told myself I would because I keep getting sidetracked by "writey/publishey" tasks.
It started with taking a stab at my query letter. One of my goals in 2007 is to apply for PRO status through RWA (note that you might not be able to get to this link if you're not an RWA member and signed in to the site) because I'm told it gets you a better priority for appointments with agents/editors at the national convention. And one of the requirements for acheiving PRO status is that you prove you've queried an agent or editor.
Writing a query letter was every bit as hard as I expected. After making an initial attempt at 2:00 a.m. (I was up nursing a tickle/cough I just couldn't shake) that sucked about as much as you'd expect something you wrote in the middle of the night to suck, I went through a series of versions with Lacey, Darcy, and Janice. Just when I thought I'd nailed it, Lacey showed it to her brother, Luke, who instantly tore it apart by saying, "Yeah. So what?" (Thanks, Luke. I think!) Another few rounds later, we got something we all agreed was pretty good, although whether it's good enough to sell my manuscript is whole 'nother thing. It's entirely possible that after a few attempts with this version, I'll toss it out the window and start from scratch.
The weirdest thing about the query letter, though, is that I couldn't find a way to work in that "high concept" sentence you all helped me with last week. It just didn't fit, no matter how hard I tried. Square peg, round hole and all that.
Then, after knocking off the query letter, I started on my character backstories and synopsis for the next book, Lady Libertine. And that, my friends, has been a real kick. Neither the heroine's nor the hero's backstories are written in anything approaching a historical, Victorian voice, which means I'll never get to use them except as my own prompts, but it was so much fun to write something new, to invent new people. Even though the heroine, Amelia, is featured in Living in Sin, we don't find out much about her in that story. Before I could write her book, I had to understand why she's as selfish and vain as she is, why she hates her husband and step-son, and why she's promiscuous. Now I know. And finding out the answers, which just flowed out of me without much thought, as if I'd known them all along when I really hadn't, was definitely interesting and exciting!
The hero's backstory turned out to be even more enjoyable to write, though. Keeping in mind that this is really a rough draft primarily for my own edification, here it is:
Remy Giroux isn’t blessed with his eldest brother’s primogeniture, his middle brother’s religious calling, or his youngest brother’s Midas touch with finances. But the third son of a minor French barony has to make his own way in the world, and Remy has the right stuff to embark on a career in the post-Napoleonic French military: innate physical toughness, a sharp wit, and nerves of steel. The top brass quickly takes note of another characteristic it can use to its advantage: Remy has a surprising facility with languages accompanied by a face and form tempting enough to invite even virtuous women to sin. Remy soon finds himself posted on various ostensibly “diplomatic” missions—to Russia, to Prussia, and to Mother England—with express instructions to gain as much intelligence as possible from the wives and mistresses of the men who control government.
Remy is good at his job, but he finds it has its drawbacks, starting with the inability to ever be honest and ending with the inability to trust anyone, ever. After making the near-fatal mistake of believing himself in love with a woman he’s been sent to shake down only to have her betray him to her government’s authorities, he decides it’s time to get out of the military intel game. But he doesn’t know how to do much besides gain information from unsuspecting marks and so he strikes out in the private intelligence market. It’s not overly profitable, but finding missing people (who usually want to be missing) and misplaced valuables (which usually turn up right where you’d expect them) is a living, and one he doesn’t have to sell his soul to make. At least not until his next client hires him at an exorbitant retainer to retrieve a set of blueprints from beneath the nose of England’s most beautiful and passionate lady.
Hey, it’s dirty work, but someone has to do it.
So, what have you been doing with this curious time between Christmas and New Year's?