Ok, here I go again!
Query time, round two. I’ve made more edits, more changes. My most major edit was two weeks ago. I’ve always known I had to begin with an event that happens in the center of the book, because before then, you really didn’t want to read more. However, I liked the chronological flow, and I thought you really, as a reader, needed to know the back story to understand the rest of the book. I’d tried before to begin at this particular spot, but couldn’t rearrange the first 14 chapters (exactly, 14) to my liking. And it’s irked me greatly all these years. But I couldn’t figure out how to make it work.
I sat down a couple of weeks ago after reading though those mainly informational beginning chapters and decided, once I reached that event again, that I had to chop it up. No excuses, no other way. Also, chronologically, it’s just not working. So I hashed it up out-of-order this time and I love it! I’m so thrilled. I wish I’d been able to accept that before. Hashing it up, I knew exactly where each piece was meant to be, and I like that it changes things now into being more of a mystery, and that as you read, you understand more, which I thought readers really needed right up front. Very wrong.
It’s beautiful. Have I mentioned that I’m thrilled with the change? So happy.
Now, however, I’m back to the dreaded query. Why, why, why is one letter so monstrously terrifying and difficult? Do all authors struggle with it or is it because I’ve written her story with so many layers and no mainstream category to explain it? How do showcase it?
It’s not a romance, but there is a strong love story playing at the fringes. I know that technically, an urban fantasy must take place on Earth, with the fantasy part bleeding into normal life. Her back story, all those informational chapters, take place in Chicago, and the books that will follow this one will sometimes deal more with the US than Home. Not so much urban fantasy even then, but, dual residency fantasy?
I flip through fantasy books and read their hooks on the back and typically put them right back down. They sound the same. The protagonist must do something drastic to save the world from a great evil, and as I’ve none of that, can I then not call it fantasy? But her mother was raised by dragons, she’s taken hostage by a unicorn, and she’s in a different world (though I hate calling it a world, and stick with country. Downplay.) Fantasy writing allows you some wonderful liberties, liberties I employed greatly as the mainstay of Lira’s story could be called fictional drama worthy of Jodi Picoult.
Because, honestly, how can you ever heal and continue with your life after your child is violently kidnapped from you if not through the support and love and protection of a dragon and a unicorn? I follow the news of missing children and look at my own and then look at those mothers and wonder, how? How are you not howling in a corner rocking violently back and forth?
That’s the important part. As broken and shattered as she is, she is not a damsel in distress still waiting for her prince. She is the daughter of warriors after all. She may not have their type of strength, but her ferocity is there nonetheless.
Anyway, as juvenile as those two creatures may make my story seem, I guarantee that it isn’t.
So there’s the main theme. Everything in her life has come horrifyingly undone but the world(s) won’t let her fade. Even so, how do you bring yourself to the decision that you can’t wither and fade away when the pain is too great, how do you hang onto and strengthen that tiny thread of hope? How do you love and raise your other children? How do you accomplish something completely different when that tragedy is always there in your mind?
Yet, reading those other hooks makes me tingly: what if I’ve ventured into a new genre all together? What if I truly have written something no one’s seen or read before, and it is exactly what everyone’s searching for? Because the other main theme is the story of the incredible bond between mothers and daughters. There’s not much in the way of that, I think. Look at Disney, our children’s big role model. Where are the mothers? If they’re alive, they’re relatively inconsequential (think Sleeping Beauty, Mulan, and even Tangled). Otherwise, they’re raised by idyllic single fathers (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid) and if they have a mother figure, she’s an evil stepmother (Snow White, Cinderella). If no stepmothers and no mothers, the villain is then a woman (Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Tangled). Then there’s Bambi, whose mother was murdered, and don’t get me started on what they did to Dumbo’s mother.
What really spurred me to write within that theme is Braveheart, the movie. It was all about the bonds between different fathers and sons, whether supportive or tyrannical or political. That absolutely fascinated me. Also, powerful, short-lived romance that stayed at the edges of the rest of the story.
There are many ways we become mothers, yet even when our children don’t come from our bodies, or share in our species, we love them just as ferociously. If that bond is tampered with, it doesn’t disintegrate and go away. And even if the bond we’ve forged is not loving and protective, it’s a bond that remains and still produces an effect.
Yes, I’m stalling and whining. There’s that simple little letter that still has to get written first.
Can I re-query an agent after two years? I really wanted those particular houses.