The Freedman and the Pharaoh's Staff
by Lane Heymont
When I first wrote, rather finished, The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff I went down the traditional route of querying agents. I have a list of every agent I ever queried...92 to be exact. Forty of which were rejections, half a dozen partial requests, and a few more full requests. Overall, I would say fifty were no responses, IF I'm being kind to myself.
It took me six months to find an agent. Admittedly I felt foolish saying, "It took me six months!" Why? Well, because some people never find agents. This isn't to say you can't get published without one! So, don't worry, there are plenty of small presses, e-pubbers, and other means out there for unagented authors.
Before I “sold” The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff my agent and I ended up parting ways—he fell ill. So, I hit the grindstone myself, and eventually ended up at Sunbury Press, Inc.
Luck I suppose.
Back to rejections. I was ecstatic about the first few rejections that came. RESPONSES? YAY! But, a dozen rejections in and I thought, "This sucks." When I reached 20 rejections—peppered with some requests—I faltered. It’s not easy to maintain while “losing”, but that’s the crux of this rant.
When querying and/or piling on rejections there is no losing. Each rejection teaches you something—even if it’s just to grow that thick skin all writers must. Through out my querying I was already writing my second novel, and that's what helped stave off the rejection blues. NEVER STOP WRITING! If you're a writer you need to write. It’s in your blood.
Back to querying agents. It's hard, draining, time-consuming (if you're doing it right), but full of hope, excitement, and can often be dream shattering. Yeah I said it—it can and probably will at some point drag you into the depths of chocolate and ice cream.
That's life. We live in a world of failure and success. But you must continue on through the failure. You begin any process as a failure, and you are one until you succeed. Heck, Einstein failed math and was a patent clerk. However, he never gave up until he was a success. Metaphorically speaking?
Your job as a writer is to write and query if you want to get published. It's like anything else. In order to get results you need to do the work.
Whenever the rejection blues got so overwhelming that they threatened to crush my determination, I reminded myself of H.P. Lovecraft. He earned over 200 rejections before getting published. That's right, the master of the Cthulhu Mythos received over 200 letters saying, "Tough cookies, Mr. Lovecraft. You’re stuff’s too weird and will never sell." And do you know what he did with those 200 rejection letters?
Lovecraft plastered the walls of his office with each letter saying “screw off”. The office that gave birth to one of the most frightening literary mythos was lined floor to ceiling with rejection letters.
Two hundred? Jeez, I only got forty! Now THAT is one dedicated author, AND he didn't stop writing while querying.
All a rejection letter means is "try again" and Lovecraft knew it. He never gave up, and neither should you. We all deserve the life we want. So, just take it. Query. Query. Write. Write. Write. Query, Query, and Query some more.
*Expanded from an earlier/crummier post of mine.
About The Author:
Lane Heymont was born in Pennsylvania. He earned a BA in Liberal Arts with a focus on literature and history. He also holds a double minor in psychology and business. After college, he turned his focus back to writing. Lane has several short stories published, one of which was recommended for the 2012 Bram Stoker Award in short fiction.
Genre: Historical, Fantasy, Slipstream
Publisher: Sunbury Press, Inc.
Publisher: Sunbury Press, Inc.
Release Date: December 23, 2012
Jeb, a former slave, rescues his brother-in-law Crispus from the Ku Klux Klan, pulling him into a world of Creole Voodoo, hatred, time travel, and redemption. The two brothers-in-law set out to stop Verdiss and his Klan followers from using the Pharaoh's Staff, a magical artifact from ancient Egypt. Soon, Jeb and Crispus learn Verdiss’ diabolical plan and discover that he is working for an even more evil force. In the end Jeb and Crispus must stop the eradication of an entire people and each must find redemption for his own past sins.
Allenville flashed in Jeb’s head. Bodies burning, people tortured and brutalized in the streets. Somehow he felt the same thoughts in Fallon. The way his slender hand tightened around his when he’d said the word. He imagined hatred blistering inside the boy. Maybe the need for a father blinded him. Thank the Lawd–that ain’t the case no more…I hope.
“Jeb. Fallon. This way. I found a mambo a few blocks away on Laurel Street.” Crispus’s voice broke through the crowd.
“Come on!” Fallon pulled Jeb through the throng of people. Crispus’s voice always sounded just beyond them, amidst the night madness of Baton Rouge. “Wait!”
“Where’d he go?” Jeb tugged on Fallon’s hand, pushing aside a doughy man.
“He took a right down Nacadian Road. Wait, Crispus!” The hideous ensemble of vendors, farriers, knackers, and other merchants crying out their goods seemed to drown out the boy’s call.
One moment, mayhem wracked the market, the next it fell silent. Fallon stopped, so Jeb did. He couldn’t move, the herd seemed to stop stampeding. Footfalls echoed in the street. The crowd spread. Then came the heavy clacks of soldier’s boots on the flagstones. A band of men, too many to tell. But Jeb knew them by the procession’s cadence–Confederate soldiers. Men clad in gray uniforms marching through Baton Rouge. No doubt, they’d be Klansmen too. Shouts of jubilation spread like wildfire among the townspeople.
“Kill them carpetbaggers!” came a woman’s elegant voice.
“Long live the general!”
“The South shall rise again!” shouted a boy.
Jeb felt the panic in Fallon’s hand, his heartbeat racing as he pulled him away. “What general? I know that cadence like I know my field.” Jeb focused on dodging whatever lay in his way, stumbling over garbage and bumping into people.
Fallon stammered over his words, “Not–not–nothing. Nathan Bedford Forrest?” He gasped, tightening his grip on Jeb.
Somehow Jeb overcame his instincts, keeping his head bowed. Not daring to look up in fear that monster of a man would see him. Though blind, Jeb saw Forrest clad in the gray Confederate officer’s uniform, adorned with medals. He’d seen photos of him. Tall, in his fifties, a receding hairline and a curly mane of black hair. A well-kept goatee tinged gray like his uniform.
I can end it all. Fight through the crowd. A single shot to the head. To hell with being blind, I can do it. For a moment Jeb meant it, caressing his pistol. It’d be easy. Instead, he listened to the Ku Klux Klan founder, savior of the white race, and ender of Reconstruction, parade along the street. Celebrated by a throng of who knew how many people. They were closer now, close enough for Jeb to count them. Four guards following him. Plus Forrest, that’s five. Six shot pistol. Just enough for one miss. He gripped his pistol. It didn’t matter that the crowd loved Forrest, even cheered him on. Six rounds is enough. Jeb edged his pistol free from its holster.