Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My last column for GLVWG this term

As I stood before the general membership at the May meeting, I had a strange moment of realization. Every meeting I ask for success stories from our membership, and without fail I receive them. It’s an uplifting exercise to hear the different forms of success and how success differs from person to person.
The end of the GLVWG year and the upcoming election also signals another event that many of us share: rejection season. After The Write Stuff conference in March, the membership as a whole must receive a lot of rejections at the end of May. Count out six to eight weeks from our conference, it brings us to our May meeting.
Every year there’s some good news, but every year at this time many members have a heavy heart. Rejected again. The exact words in the letters and emails change, but the message is the same.
The form letters don’t sting. Writers easily toss those aside easily and forget about them. It’s the rejections that follow requests for partials or fulls that burn, cause doubts. Statements like “Many people will connect with this character, but I didn’t” or “I didn’t like the voice as much as I wanted to” can hit hard.
Many of these statements don’t even make clear sense, because it’s not a conversation. We don’t have the luxury of discussing with the editor or agent what they meant by their words, so it’s like secret code with no real key.
The simplest way to get over rejection is to start a new query and submit, submit, submit. Some people set it aside and continue work on a different project, to let the hurt cool. Some people view rejection as a sign that something’s wrong and set out to fix it.
Unless the agent or editor says there’s basic grammar mistakes, the plot sounds like a cliché or that every character was flat (or equally discouraging remarks), there’s nothing wrong.
An agent, editor or publisher must love the material he/she acquires as much as the author does or the relationship doesn’t work. It’s a tough business. It’s a tough world. Finding that one opportunity or that one person is hard.
Everyone at GLVWG understands.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Besides the poem I wrote about my tooth, my writing time has been limited. I'm formulating a lot of ideas right now on how to revise my manuscripts, who to submit to next and what I'd like to do with my very brief pre-summer vacation. Summer class starts Monday.

I have many ideas and not much focus or energy, so I flit from idea to idea trying to find one that sticks. I have several ideas inspired by The Write Stuff and by the conference's keynote speaker agent Donald Maass. Those are for the manuscript I finished a month ago. I also have some concerns about Manipulations, the book I've been pitching, that I'd like to address. Primarily, the bad guy got tougher in book two and I think he needs to reflect that in book one.

I've resisted diving too far into Galen's back story because of the research I knew it would entail. Today I thought I'd read the passages that relate to his past and see if they spurred any idea of how I could strengthen them. I found something in this:

"A Huguenot couple had lost their daughter to a fever that their eldest son now had. They had traveled with him and his brother from the south of England. Hesper healed the boy. ... When it came time for the family to return to England, and escape the Irish climate, they offered the baby as payment. Or so Hesper had told him."

In my head I heard this voice say, "She lied."

I knew Galen's family were Huguenots from Bretagne (Brittany, the north of France). But what if the whole story was hooey? What if they fled Bretagne for some other reason? What if they left the south of England for the same reason?

I started with a quick internet search via the iPhone and discovered revolts in Bretagne, legends of Ankou, tidbits about the landscape and the language, and now I'm at the college library looking for more.

And Ankou? I haven't researched him here yet but he's Death, the Reaper. A skeleton in a shroud and flat Breton hat with an upturned scythe and an oxcart...

Sometimes with the right research, the story amazingly tumbles together as if you knew it all along.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

On Rejection

Monday I broke four teeth and got stitches.

The next week, I gave myself a rather large second degree burn on my hip.

The day after that, I received this in an agent rejection:

"Thanks for your patience with my getting back to you. I really enjoyed reading MANIPULATIONS. You are clearly a talented writer and I think Adelaide is a character readers will connect with. I also think you’ve developed a really rich story."

Sigh. Form letter rejections are so much easier. 

Back to submissions. Someone needs to kidnap me, give me a laptop and Internet connection with good music... And reward me with food for each query I submit.

Mourning 29

May 2 turned out to be one of my not-so-good days.

As readers of my food blog and my friends know, I fell on a neighbor's bad patch of sidewalk and spit up part of a tooth. I thought that was the end of that. One broken tooth. Turns out I have FOUR broken teeth (one of which was extracted, a rather significant molar) and stitches and lots of pain, ibuprofen and future dental bills with insurance kicking in less than 25% of the bill.

Meanwhile, I'm getting ready for bikini season whether I wanted to diet or not.

It gave me some opportunity to think about the characters in my novel. There is a lot of wounds everyone receives and I wonder if they recover appropriately.

I also wrote a poem, now in it's second draft.

This is the current opening of "Mourning 29":

29's departure brutalized me.
A jolt to the face,
A ravaging of my soul
When a shockwave
Erupted through my jaw
Into my ears and
As I commenced my morning.
Then the pain subsided.
I thought the worst had passed.