Where's Driev? And Who Is He Anyhow?

I promised an update on Bound in Shadow ~ The Coinblade Chronicles, and what better time than now since it has found its way firmly back onto the center of my plate.

I did a little research and it seems I began sharing bits of CBC for WIPpet Wednesdays in November of 2013. Holy Crap! Wow. Um… eek. Anyhow, the first post is Here if you want to see it. It’s the first book I’ve written in first person, but Driev Talbert, the main character, started talking to me, insisting I tell his story. Driev is not someone I want to argue with, so write I did. Wrote, finished, polished, sent off to Betas and then…

Well, before I go too far, here’s a rough blurb to introduce Driev to those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure.

 Life is full of choices, some easier than others. For Driev Talbert a grey moral code can make things much more complicated. In fact, for Driev, choosing between facing his own personal demons, or sacrificing an innocent boy, isn’t as simple as it would seem.

After spending the past five years in the underbelly of Mossrae, intent on leaving nothing more than a rotting corpse in the gutter, the last thing Driev wants is to return to his old life, no matter how privileged it had been. But the gods do so love a good laugh. Especially, it seems, when delivered at Driev’s expense. So it should have been no surprise to him when his attempt to save a friend from hanging doesn’t go quite the way he planned, leaving him saddled with a street urchin drawing all the wrong kinds of interest. Interest which puts Driev back into the lap of the Coinblades, the elite of Mossrae’s Shadow Guilds. While being on the wrong side of any Shadow Guild isn’t a laughing matter, being on the wrong side of the Coinblades is suicide. For Driev, whose history with them is one of the memories he tries very hard to avoid, death would be preferable. Even a slow torturous one.

Finding himself pulled back into a life he desperately wanted to leave behind, and dumped into the middle of political games with deadly consequences, Driev must finally come to terms with his past before it consumes him, and with it the last thing he holds dear.

I originally began CBC  for a contest. I started too late and the deadline was way too tight, but once into it, I couldn’t stop. And once finished, I *loved* it. I admit, LOVED it. More than anything else I’ve ever written. So I bravely finished polishing and sent it off for a round of Beta reading to make sure I just wasn’t blinded by my own brilliance it was everything I thought it might be.

Waited with trepidation.

Pretended to not care.


Waited another hour.

Went back to pretending not to care.

Turns out, no one had any huge problems with it. A few minor plot issues, some little tweaks here and there. In short, they loved it.

So, for some reason, I decided to try the traditional route. I carefully crafted about five bazillion query letters and then settled on one, made my agent query list, agonized endlessly over that document from hell — the synopsis — and started sending queries off. One by painful one.

I began in July 2014. At that point, I would send a query, wait for a response, then send another. I sent a total of three queries in 2014 because of that process. Net result: 1 form rejection, 1 partial request then rejected, 1 closed-no-response.

With 2015 I pulled out the stops and decided to query several agents at once. I first sent the queries in small batches, only sending another out when one came back. I have a lovely spreadsheet with date sent, length of time the agent’s guidelines said they would respond in, 60 days allowed if they gave no indication of response time. (Some times were adjusted based on comments found on Query Tracker, a site I highly recommend if you’re going this route.)

After a while, my patience for the process wearing increasingly thin, I decided to send out all remaining queries. As of this writing, my stats since July 2014 are:

  • A total of 40 queries sent out.
  • 1 partial request which then resulted in a rejection.
  • 11 form rejections
  • 16 closed-no-response
  • 12 queries remain open, only 2 of which are with agents who state they respond to all.

Some would be greatly disheartened by the above. However, after reading many comments on QueryTracker and Twitter, as well as looking at statistics provided by agents and the industry, I’m not. When agents receive literally hundreds to thousands of queries a day, most of which never make it past their assistants, and they sign maybe one or two new clients a year (or none at all)… well, the phrase snowball’s chance in hell comes to mind. And even though many agents now ask for the first 5-50 pages to be included with the query, many are still only going off that all-important query letter which needs to be brief, to the point, and condense all the nuances of a 96,000 word book into maybe 500 words overall.

But that’s nothing new. That’s traditional publishing, and I knew that going in. This ain’t my first rodeo. (Although I do have to say, I find the number of agents who opt to give absolutely no response a bit off-putting. How hard is it to have that form rejection queued up and ready to go?)

Anywho… where does that leave CBC you ask?

In better shape now than it was a year ago.


Say again?

Yep. And before you ask me to explain myself, allow me to explain myself.

I’ve had another year + to think about what I want for it. To put it to another round of Betas. Not that there was anything wrong with the first round. A better batch of Betas could not have been found (if you missed my post Friday I shared some of the lovely comments my Betas provided). They helped immensely and gave excellent feedback as always. That, in turn, brought about changes. And… the first round of Betas were overwhelmingly woman. That’s not a bad thing. But CBC is written from the male POV and only one male set eyes on it and he is, admittedly, not a huge reader of fantasy. How could I be sure I’d captured the male psyche? How could I know CBC would appeal to the male audience as well? So I scared up some male fantasy fans, some of whom are die-hard gamers, and now CBC is in their hands.

The delay in putting CBC out there also helped ideas claim every available piece of grey matter left unattended. That is not always a good thing. Me and ideas? Oi. And now I have them. Oooooh boy, do I have them. Whether they pan out or not, who can say. But if even half of them do, look out below! Or above! Just… look out!

Finally, because I want CBC to be the ultimate best I can put out there, I sent a sample to the awesome Kate Johnston, editor extraordinaire. She read, commented, we chatted, and in a month or so CBC will be landing in her capable hands. *gulp* That, in case you’re wondering, is its own very special kind of terror right there.

Meanwhile, cover sketches are being developed, and aforementioned ideas are working their way into full-blown plans.

But what about the outstanding queries? What if someone requests a full? Offers representation?

*shrug* I dunno.

I guess I’ll cross that bridge when and if it comes. For now? Damn the torpedoes, and full steam ahead!



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  1. Again, THANK YOU for sharing these stats! Between Venn projects, I’m working on a new secret project that I might try to sub out to trads for the first time in ages. Not necessarily because I don’t want to self-pub, but because I figure “it’s been a while, why not give it another try?” So it’s great to see other people taking the same leap.

    The more you talk about CBC, the more I’m excited to read the final product!

    • Ooooh, secret projects! How exciting. I forgot to add to my stats that I also sent it directly to Baen Books because… why not. I started a list of small presses that I thought about contacting as well, those that don’t require an agent to get you in the front door, but then decided not to pursue that. I’m getting far too impatient to share Driev with the world.

  2. Yay! So glad to hear you are working with Driev again; does this mean we might see more of him soon?

    • Probably not in the near future. First I need to finish EoD, then give some love to Roe and Fader again. But I do have a second Driev tale started, many scenes, many notes, and am toying with perhaps a novella or two.

  3. Sorry to hear that the pros didn’t pick up on this gem. Their loss. I, too, have been down that hopeful route. NOT FUN. But at least you gave it a shot. Who knows what will happen in the future with it? Looking forward to its debut.

  4. As you know, I love Driev — within reason. *g* Glad to hear you’re moving forward with his story again!

  5. Wow!! Thank you for this update. I wondered what was going on with Driev. Yeah, those stats seem familiar. I’ve been there. I’ve loved Driev since that first excerpt. His story deserves to be out there.

  6. I briefly tried the agenting thing too, I still have some queries out, I only got an answer on a couple of them — but then I only sent them a few weeks ago so I guess I need to wait a while longer. I didn’t send many queries and to be fair I don’t want to go down that route. It’s so overwhelmingly negative.

    Indie publishing is so much more positive in the way that you’re in control, you can move the story forward, if you want to write a sequel you can and you don’t have to wait for someone to give you permission. Saying that I have yet to publish my first book, but I just think being proactive and moving forward is infinitely better than being forced to wait around for some stranger to reject you – over and over again. If only for your mental well being!

    Here’s hoping Driev makes it into the hands of many eager readers — sounds like you already have a few fans of him here! 🙂

    • Yeah, Driev has a small following already. That’s a very encouraging thing.

      Yes, the traditional route can be a bit cold. The odds are so incredibly long… and I think it depends on the day your query hits, as well. What mood the assistant or agent is in.

  7. I’m looking forward to working with you. And Driev. 😉

  8. Pingback: Bound in Shadow in the Land of Tradition |

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