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WHAT CATS SEE & Querying Update

My short story WHAT CATS SEE is now available to read on Dark Recesses Press's webzine.


If it's ever seemed like your cat is fighting invisible monsters, this story explores how that just might be true.


To celebrate, here are some photos of my own cat, Mia:





Baww.


Things have been quiet on this website, but I've been hard at work. I'm in the editing stages for a modern horror/comedy novel which I'd describe as GOOD OMENS meets GHOSTBUSTERS meets EVIL DEAD meets THEY LIVE meets BLACK MIRROR. It still needs revising, but writing this book brought me a lot of joy, and working on it has helped me get through the pandemic.


Additionally, last summer, I began querying agents for the cosmic horror / dark fantasy hybrid manuscript I've been working on for years now, code-named PROJECT SPIRAL (not its real name, obviously). I spaced out my query batches so as to incorporate any feedback any agents got me. That said, right now agents are inundated with queries, and those that reply at all often don't give you much. (This is understandable given the sheer amount of queries agents are getting these days.) So I've mostly just gotten form rejections, even from two who asked for the full manuscript, but one or two did say, "This is really good, I just don't know how to sell it / it's too long. Keep at it!"


(For clarity: "too long" in this case has meant 148K words, which is roughly 500 pages. Many of your favorite fantasy novels are far longer, and most readers like 'em longer as well. Unfortunately, publishers seem to only want books around 90K - 100K words these days, even in the realm of epic speculative fiction. Words cannot describe how envious I am of SFF authors who started their careers in earlier eras, and weren't subjected to such absurd standards.)


The length of SPIRAL has been a thorn at my side for the past six years. An earlier draft was nearly 200K words even though I had intended for something half that length. I've continuously struggled to cut it down as much as possible, even though my critique group members and beta readers have often encouraged me to make it longer. It is no understatement to say that if I hadn't spent SO much time trying to cut this book down to fit the publishing industry's arbitrary standards, I would have finished two more books by now.


So, I've spent the last four months revising it yet again, punching up the opening pages (and a few other parts I wasn't satisfied with), and brutally cutting down any stray words I could find. With enormous effort, I managed to cut it down to 138K words. I don't believe I can cut it down more without weakening the story. I don't know whether a 138K-word manuscript is at all more marketable than a 148K-word manuscript, but I do think it's a stronger manuscript now, and that's what matters in the end.


So ultimately, it's a good thing that I've been taking this slowly. There are a large number of agencies that I still need to query, and this way I'll be sending them the best possible version of the book. With all the years of effort I've spent on this book, and deeply how personal it is to me, I refuse to give up on it. Fortunately, I do have other projects in the works (such as the horror/comedy I mentioned before). One way or another, you'll get to read it.


~Jonathan













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