Courtly Love went from a 98,214 word ms into 89,949 word count. Blood, sweat, and tears, let me tell you. It was gruesome.
I chucked the new prologue I had just written. I downsized and combined chapters 1 and 2 into one chapter. For this I used the helpful critiques I won (I won something! W00t!) from Creepy Query Girl's query spoof competition. I downplayed a minor character that had gotten too much face time, but I liked her.
As much as I hated doing all this, it probably was the step that was needed to clear up the question on whether Courtly Love is historical fiction or historical romance or chick lit. I think it is much more clearly historical romance.
Of course, I'm keeping a copy of my 98k ms. I haven't decided which version to send out to agents in future queries.
Kensington Brava (one of the few publishers that accepts unrepresented queries) is having their Writing With The Stars contest. You submit your ms, synopsis, and a cover letter and, after rounds of judging, they will pick 10 finalists from the entries to work with 10 of their published authors in a mentor capacity. Could be great. Could suck. Who knows?
The contest does require exclusivity. You can still query agents, but if one does pick you up, they cannot query other publishers during the span of the contest. The contest does not promise a publishing contract, but it has some good perks. And it's another way to get my book out there. I recently had a publisher request my ms -- but I don't expect that to go anywhere (My husband acts as my marketer so that I can focus on writing. I don't know why he sent to them, because after he told me they wanted more, I read their faq page. My book is too long, too steamy, and too too for their guidelines. They did read my query, so I'm surprised they request the ms.)
Okay, at this point I'm babbling, so I'll sign off and get back to Courtly Christmas.
Addendum: I chose not to enter this contest. One of the editors I queried just requested my ms -- so I'll see where that takes me. The whole point of the contest, for me, was to get my ms read , and that's happening (happy dance!). I figured I'd post this blog anyway to share the info about the contest. Plus, my blog, in general, is about the process -- and this was part of the process. Wish me luck!