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The MLS and the slush pile

We arrived in northern Virginia last night, and spent most of today trudging through depressingly horrible houses, hoping to find a gem.

I'm sad to say we didn't. Maybe this is what agents and editors feel like when reading submissions. The query letters (MLS listings) showed the houses to their best advantage with glowing praise for updated kitchens and great schools, and photos that cut out the ugly abandoned house next door.

Sometimes the first few rooms showed really well. Just like many of us clean up our first three chapters and leave the rest of the MS for later, many homeowners spent money/time on the entry, living room, and kitchen, but ignored the nasty basement, cracked asphalt, and dog smell.

We even saw a few that had been listed incorrectly as having a finished basement or garage. It's like sending the query to an agent who doesn't represent your genre. Unprofessional.

Today we rejected every house in the area we were hoping to live (of those that met our price range and minimum requirements). Tomorrow, we're expanding our search farther from DC, to another area we like that should provide nicer homes for the price.

An agent looking for an author to represent wants more than just a good writer. She's looking for someone great, who really speaks to her. In the same vein, I'm looking for a great house that can meet all of our needs, where I can see my family living for the next four to six years. A house that calls to me.

A home.

Tomorrow, I'll be plowing through more of the slush pile in search of a prize. Wish me luck!

The original version of this post was published for the Romance Magicians blog today.

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