Okay, so this has absolutely nothing to do with writing, but occasionally I do things besides read and write. Usually it’s another creative endeavor and it usually still involves paper. These are my two most recent projects and no, my husband and children’s faces are not really green on the finished product. 🙂 They are both pieces done on canvas, the first is all paper, and the second is felt pieced onto the canvas.
So there’s been a lot going on around the internets lately. It’s impossible to touch them all, but I am going to hit a few I think worth mentioning.
1) self-pubbing vs. traditional – It won’t surprise most of you that this topic has been up for discussion. Again. People on both sides of the topic are very verbal about why their way is right or someone else’s is wrong. But see, here’s the thing, every author has to decide for themselves what they want out of their career. What their goals are. The pathway they want to take to get there. What is right for one author isn’t going to be right for another. Just because the choice someone made isn’t the one you would make, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. As writers we need to support each other, buy the work of your friends whether it’s traditionally pubbed or self-pubbed. If a book is genuinely good, tell people. If it’s a horrible, unedited piece of crap I guess you can tell people that to, but I’d mostly suggest keeping my mouth shut on that one.
2) The usefulness of agents – While several people have been discussing this of late, a rather prominent author, whose name I shall not mention, kind of went off on a tirade about how writers are increasingly disgruntled with their agents, especially when it comes to self-pubbing. Again, the decision of whether or not to find an agent is a personal one, but I personally wouldn’t want to tread the publishing world without one. Despite all my reading, all my research I know NOTHING about this business compared to an agent. I need someone to have my back, to help me watch out for the potholes. That’s what an agent does, they look out for you, they market you, they talk you down from the ledges. And as us writers are an unstable lot, it’s good to have someone to do that for you on occasion.
3) Norway vs. Amy Winehouse – I am only going to say this. Both of these events are tragedies. While Norway’s loss is obviously a much larger one, it is okay for people to be sad about more than one thing at a time. It doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten about the other.
I guess that about covers it for now. I’ll be posting later in the week about professionalism in the writing world. I know y’all just can’t wait. 🙂
So if you follow my blog, you know I talk about my writing journey here. What’s going on with the subs to agents and what not. Well, not today. Today you get a little story about life in my house.
As a background I should probably tell you that we had a beta fish named Aquin for almost four years that recently kicked. It had been a long time coming. I’d actually taken to calling him zombie fish because he’d just lay there unmoving until I was sure he was dead, then he’d take off swimming.
Well, after the appropriate mourning period for fish (which is one week if anyone is interested) I took my youngest son to the pet store to get new fish today. This time we went with guppies so we could have more than one fish. We got four. One orange, one silver and black, one yellow and one silvery blue. I decided since there are four of us, we each got to name one fish.
Youngest promptly declared the orange one his and named him Buddy. I took the silver and black one and named him Oreo. Hubby got the silvery blue one and named him Cloud. Oldest son (who is 7 by the way) got the yellow one. He looked him over and promptly declared him to be Tim.
So yes, I now have a fish named Tim. For the record, this is the same kid that, at three years of age, named his Beta fish Aquin.
I love my kids.
Okay, so Borders isn’t dying so to speak, just filing for bankruptcy. My local store is one of the ones slated for closure. I’ve been thinking about this a lot since the news was announced. Where did they go wrong? Here’s my thinking, if anyone cares.
My first experience with Borders came when I was a kid. They opened up in my town and I was enthralled. There was this store with all these shelves of books you could get lost in. The tables up front held art books and photo books and the occasional bargain book. I can’t even begin to tell you how many treasures I found on those tables. How many of those books I still own twenty years later. There was no pretension in that store, it wasn’t pretending to be anything but what it was. A bookstore for book lovers.
The store I saw today had very little to remind me of that first one. The tables up front were filled with copies of books that everyone already knows the names to. That fill the bestseller lists. In one corner there stood a gift and stationary section complete with umbrellas and lego mini figures. Literary fiction and non-fiction lined the outside walls. There were a few more tall shelves of non fiction. A large three-sided floor display for manga, roleplaying games and YA. The back corner housed the children’s section which had as many toys as books.
And then there were the shelves full of movies and music, the cafe, the calendar display, the magazine displays. Smack dab in the middle of all of this were five or six shelves that housed the genre fiction front and back. Six short shelves both in height and length. And here I was reminded why I quit shopping at Borders in the first place.
It morphed from this fantasy land of my childhood where I could get lost for days to this commercial, cold thing. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I go in a bookstore, I go there to buy books. In all my many trips to many different bookstores, I have never bought a movie and only once have a purchased a CD. It’s a BOOK store. I don’t buy toys there for my kids, or board games or umbrellas. I want to buy an escape to my real life, an adventure on the high seas, or a day in the rain forest or fall in love with the local cop who happens to be a werewolf with a vampire cousin. Whatever.
This huge bookstore had six pathetic shelves dedicated to the books that make up the majority of the sales. And they wonder where they went wrong. Really? I quit shopping at Borders because they never had the books I was looking for. Usually when I go to a bookstore it’s because I have read about a series or a book I just have to read right now. Sometimes those books are several years old. Too many times I went to Borders only to have to leave and go down the street to Barnes and Noble who always seemed to have what I was after.
Now don’t get me wrong, Barnes and Noble has a cafe and gifts and movies and music. But all that stuff takes up the same amount of room as it does at Borders. The Barnes and Noble has probably three times the square footage. And the rest of that is filled with books. Wonderful, glorious books. Which is why I go to a bookstore in the first place. Borders seems to have forgotten that.
I’m sorry for those that have lost their jobs, and even sorrier that the managers found out in a conference call shortly before the rest of us did. I’m hopeful that Borders takes the opportunity to learn from this and truly does restructure. If they got back to their roots, I might drive the forty-five minutes I’m now going to have to go to get to one of their stores.
I didn’t mean to disappear, but I’ve been incredibly busy. First on the submissions front, I got a request for more pages on one of my partials. Very happy about that. I also lied about not sending any more queries. I sent one more, but it was more of a resend. It’s to an agency that always responds if you query properly and I hadn’t heard anything after the suggested time frame.
Odds are, I forgot to paste my pages and synopsis under the query. Let this be a lesson to you people: Double check the directions before you hit send. I forgot to do that on another one and they were polite enough to nudge me and remind me (which they shouldn’t have had to do) and that led to a full request. Very important that you double and triple check all the directions people. Make agent and intern lives easier.
On the writing front, I’m still working on the sequel to Possession, but I have also started rewriting Enemy Hearts. Notice I said rewriting NOT revising. Big difference. I can’t even tell you how many times I have revised this book and it still felt off. I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong with it, but there was something not right. Then a friend mentioned rewriting something (where you take the idea, plot etc you’ve already written and literally write new words for it) and a lightbulb went off. Have started doing that for Enemy Hearts and it is SO much better. I’m starting to think it was my voice that was missing from the previous version and that’s just said. That’s the most important part of a story.
Hmmm….what else? On the personal front, I bought a Keurig. Love that thing. So nice. Especially in a household where we only drink one or two cups of coffee at a time. Oh, and Red is an awesome movie. Go see it now if you haven’t already done so. Guess that’s it for now.
Happy Writing, People!
First of all, I got another full request today! Yay, me! 🙂 Very happy.
Secondly, I read a blog post by an agent today (which you can read here ) which basically says writers should not blog about the submissions process. Now, this agent was mostly discussing this as it relates to submissions after you have an agent and they are trying to sell to an editor. The comments are eye-opening as well.
And I have to say I agree with this post actually. “But, Kathy…” you say, “you blog all the time about your submissions” This is true. I do. but I don’t bad mouth anyone in these posts. I don’t say I’d do anything to have this agent. They’re better than that one. The reason I don’t do that is it’s not true.
Every single agent (or editor) that I have queried, I have researched. I would love to have any of them as an agent. If I didn’t want them as an agent, I wouldn’t have queried them. Seriously. What would be the point? I’m not a writer that thinks any representation is better than none.
I also have no complaints about the process. Why? I RESEARCHED. Should I repeat that? Why not? I RESEARCHED. I knew this was going to be a long process. It would be stupid to think it anything but. Agents get hundreds, even thousands of queries. Even if they request material from only a small percentage of those letters, that’s a lot of reading. Plus, their clients take priority. And there are contests, and conferences, and a little thing called a personal life.
I lurk on writing forums sometimes and I am totally floored by the people complaining because an agent has had their full manuscript for 6 weeks and they haven’t heard anything yet. Seriously? It takes time people. You might as well sit back and enjoy the ride. Now, if an agent has had your submission for longer than the time frame that’s posted on their site you can nudge. But only, and I repeat ONLY, to make sure they received your submission in the first place. Things happen, emails get lost.
That’s not to say if someone’s had your manuscript for 6 months you shouldn’t say “Hey, just wondering if you got to me yet” but be polite. And do not vent in a public forum for crying out loud. This whole thing is a job interview people. One big, long job interview. Conduct yourself accordingly.
I feel compelled to share something with you. You should understand that sharing this information could lead to potentially huge embarrassment for me. I say this because I include my website address in all of my queries. If you are an agent checking me out with the possibility of being a potential client please disregard the rest of this post. Okay? Thank you.
Remember that post about the email I got from Deidre Knight and how thrilled I was? Yeah, I carry that email around in my back pocket. I also have it posted downstairs above my writing area and on the board above my desk at work. Why? I don’t know really. It’s not as if it was gushing praise of my superior writing ability. It was two sentences that amounted to I really like what I’ve read so far, send me the rest.
But here’s the thing…in this process of trying to get past an assistant to an agent and hopefully get anything other than a form rejection, to have someone, an important someone, tell you they get it is an awesome feeling. When I view it, it’s a reminder that maybe I am kind of good at this writing thing after all. When I get frustrated, I read it again and realize that I can do this.
Is there going to be a lot more work ahead? Of course. I get that. I understand that Deidre asking for more doesn’t mean I’m not going to get another form rejection to add to my pile. But for a moment, just for a moment, I can pretend my book is something great and that I’m not the only one that sees that.
Okay, so here’s the thing….rejection sucks.
What’s that? You were expecting some big eloquent blog post about the trials and tribulations of rejection in the writer’s life? Yeah, sorry. Not going to happen. Mainly because despite the multitude of resources, blogs, writer’s handbooks, etc with all their differing takes on the subject, they all boil down to the fact that rejection sucks.
See, even though my idea was enough to get me a request for a partial from a prestigious agent and a full from an editor with Kensington books, one form rejection on a query makes me doubt everything. And why should it? I mean Kensington freaking books wants to read my manuscript people! This is huge. Over the moon outstanding even.
But until I actually have an agent, I will keep querying. I will keep putting myself out there and taking the risk. And I will keep getting rejected. Okay, maybe not. Maybe today’s lightning fast rejection (it came back in less than 12 hours) was a fluke. Maybe everyone else will read my query and think it sounds awesome and ask for multitudes of pages. Maybe.
And part of me knows that the rejections that come after pages are read, after a full has been requested and rejected will be so much harder. I mean, how can they not like this thing that I poured a year of my life into? How dare they tell me it’s not for them? Then I’ll look back over it and think “oh, my god. This is horrible. How could I write such crap?” And my friends will smack me on the back of the head and tell me to get over it, because I rock, my book rocks, and my main character can kick your ass on any given day of the week.
You see that little niggling thread of doubt that has woven its way through this post? That is why rejection sucks. Writers doubt themselves constantly. We agonize, we analyze. And no matter how many people tell you what you do is awesome, that one rejection from someone who probably skimmed your letter and said, no kick ass heroines for me today, will always make you wonder if you can do this.
I know I can, and I’m not going to quit trying even if every query and all the pages I have out right now come back saying ‘not for me.’ So I guess you got the long post you were after even if it’s not very eloquent. But it still all boils down to…Rejection sucks.
I write constantly. I mean you might think I’m looking up information in the computer at work or shopping for groceries, but really I’m writing. My brain is always processing information, storing it away to be used later. I don’t even get a break when I’m sleeping. I keep a database of book ideas to refer to later, I’d say roughly 75% of those came from dreams.
Yeah, I have odd dreams. I actually had a friend who told me once that it wasn’t what I wrote that bothered her, it was the fact it was in my head before I wrote it. What can I say. She had a point.
There are times actually when I have a new idea or a new character beating against my brain. I think about it constantly, all the time, no matter what. Even if I’m working on a different project at the time. I have found when this happens that I have to sit down and get the idea down.
That doesn’t mean I have to write the whole book, or even a whole story. I just have to get enough of it down that I don’t need to keep it in my brain any longer. Once I do that, the voices are subdued enough I can work on other things.
Before you comment on the voices thing, I should mention I’m not the only person I know that hears voices. Several of my writer friends do as well. Yes, there’s a whole group of us. Scary thought, huh?
The whole point of this post? I’m one of those people who can not not write. Yes that’s a double negative. Get over it. What I mean is that I am incapable of not writing. I’ve tried it, it doesn’t work. I’ve written in some form or another consistently since middle school. The only time I went for any prolonged period without writing was when I was pregnant and I think that’s because my brain was mush for about 7 months of that time. So this writing thing, isn’t a cute little hobby of mine. It isn’t something I picked up to fill my free time. I have no free time. It’s not even something I have a choice about doing. I have to write or I’ll go insane. Of that I have no doubt.