[WARNING: No animated GIFs appear in this post. There is, however, a sprinkling of profanity.]

Ah, slush piles. They seem to be everywhere.

You’ll find them in literary agents’ inboxes, acquisition editors’ inboxes, lit magazine editors’ inboxes, contest coordinators’ inboxes. Made it through one slush pile? Fantastic. There’ll be another one waiting around the corner. Made it through all the slush piles? Even better. Now hold your breath and count to eleventy-million while the contractual wrinkles get ironed out.

Point? It doesn’t matter a damn what you write, or where you are in the writing process. It doesn’t matter whether you write long stuff or short stuff or something in-between, although I’d recommend against the novella–no one seems to want that flavour of fiction anymore. (so much for the next Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Love Story) Sooner or later your book or short story or flash fiction piece is gonna be sitting on someone’s virtual desktop and–I guarantee this–you’re gonna be drumming your fingers and stalking Duotrope, The Grinder, QueryTracker, Publisher’s Marketplace and every agent/editor/litmag/publishing house/contest judge with a Twitter account.

Trust me. You will do this. And it will drive you in-fucking-sane.

(Apologies to my tender-eared readers for the profanity. I read a lot of Stephen King.)

They say (and by ‘they’ I mean some of the writers who’ve blogged about the submission process here and pretty much everyone else in the world) that the thing to do while you’re waiting is to write another novel or story or poem or whatever it is you write. Just steer clear of the Notorious Novella.

Yes. Really. Another novel.

And I’ve now explained my month-long absence from the ether in four words.

Book Two, which I think is a nice, catchy title for the draft I’ve just lobbed north to my agent, isn’t a sequel to Lucky 13. It’s about as different as different can get–think Stranger in a Strange Land compared to Sense and Sensibility. (Okay, they both have lots of S’s in their titles, but the similarities stop with the shared sibilants.) Different genre, different age group, different inspiration.

And lemme tell you, it was a blast to write. Playing around with a new voice and setting kept me off the bottle sane. Now that Alec’s got the latest revision, however, I’m back to drumming my fingers, which can only mean one thing:

It’s time to start working on another book.

So, folks, how do YOU play the waiting game?