My query buddy and favorite chicken artist, Victoria Solomon, reminded me the other day that querying a novel is a numbers game, and it's time for me to roll the dice again.
I took a nice break after my first round of queries and did some marvelous research for a historical fiction story. I even wrote an outline for it. (Oh, outlining! What fun!) Then I spent some time thinking about which book to write next -- the sequel to Briars and Black Hellebore (which doesn't actually need Briars and could stand on its own just fine) or the historical fiction idea I've just pursued.
The world around me seems so serious right now--I keep hearing about violence and hatred and ugly politics--and a part of me feels ashamed of spending time in a made-up fantasy land, writing silly books about magical forests and sexy royal dynasties.
I asked myself the question: "Okay, if Briars and Black Hellebore were a story written by an author who lived in the real 11th century, who might that author be? How did she become the author of this tale?" And I came up with a glorious idea that is darker, weirder, edgier, and more gruesome than my fantasy about a kingdom that has fallen to monsters and cannibals.
Then again, my very intelligent and politically aware friend Victoria has been coping with her anxieties about the seriousness of the real world by filling her social media feeds with drawings of chickens doing people things, much to the delight of her friends and family. And I fully support that.
Maybe this is exactly the kind of time when people need a juicy, indulgent fantasy break.
I've written a draft first sentence for both potential next books--the fantasy and the historical fiction. They are:
The bishop's wife could not obey the virtues of a good woman.
Leirah's heart broke for the first time when Kerzil died.
My husband put in an enthusiastic vote for the one about the naughty bishop's wife. My historical fiction idea still feels beautiful and exciting to me, but I think my husband is right. I need to give the "fun" story its due--and, as Victoria reminded me, receiving a full manuscript request from my top-pick agent right after sending out the first batch of 11 queries is a sign that I should keep querying Briars for now. And I don't need to worry so much about whether its sequel ends up being a sequel at all. That's something I can leave to the professionals--the agent, editor, or publisher who may be inspired to work with me.
I want to give Briars a fair chance. So I've sent out a couple more queries, bringing my total up to a lucky 13, and I have set aside my epic outlaw journey story for a sunnier day, when I'm bored with pretty, sparkly fairy stories and I feel the urge to go spelunking in some of humanity's darkest corners.
For now, I'll write the story that makes my inner child happy. I'm calling it The Grove of Thorismud. And it will be as refreshing as a cold stream in the summertime.
P.S. Don't forget to wear green on Thursday in honor of Maewyn Succat, America's favorite 5th century Irish bishop!