Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Robert Olen Butler

Pen on Fire is the blog associated with the podcast/radio show Writers on Writing, which I've been listing to on my iPod for two or three years. This interview is one of the best I've heard recently about how to get not only the words on the page, but the meaning in the words. I don't think Mr. Butler would put it that way, but he's a creative writing teacher and has lots to say about what makes a literary fiction writer.

Plus, he's the author of one of my all-time favorite stories, "JEALOUS HUSBAND RETURNS IN FORM OF PARROT."


Weekly update #3

New words: 2,067 (last week0+ 1079 (so far this week)
Rejections: 2, both personal

I'm fighting a cold, so I probably won't be particularly eloquent (though perhaps a teensy bit bitter) today. Sorry.

A word or two on rejections. There is a hierarchy of rejections. At the bottom, there's the slip of paper that says something generic about how the magazine/publisher didn't want/need your work (or waste a whole 4 cents on a full sheet of paper on you). Some Ed. Assistants soften the blow by writing "Thanks!" in loopy letters and signing them with purple pen.

Next up is a rejection printed on letterhead with your name and address and the title of your work included in the text. Somebody had to put those things there (though I suspect that there are computer programs that may do this). Bonus if someone signed a name in blue pen (not purple). At least you warranted five minutes of someone's time to fill in a form letter. And it's on a full sheet of paper.

Finally, as rejections go, the two I got this week were wonderful. Both of them were on the aforementioned full sheets of paper with my name spelled correctly, etc. The bonus is that each of them gave a brief critique of the work by way of explaining why they passed on it! One actually complimented my "voice" and hinted that another publisher might very well be interested (though she didn't mention any names...damn). The other suggested that I was hunting in the wrong genre (she didn't really like anything but the concept of the book). Still, good advice.

This is truly useful information!

The thing about editors/agents/publishers is that "it only takes one." That is, it only takes one person to fall in love with the book and push it through the publishing process. The editor who complimented me on my voice is getting more of my work in the future because she likes the way I write, even if she didn't like that particular book.

For more on "It only takes one," read this post by Dean Wesley Smith (search the text for "It only takes one."). Yes, I posted a link to this post a week or two ago, but it's worth reposting.

So, those are my thoughts on rejections. I'll take any win I can get, especially on a day when I don't feel well.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Games Writers Play

This is a link to a writer buddy's blog. Every Tuesday he's aiming to post a writing game that is meant to help writers write more. I'm spreading the word! Halleluia!

He's part of the more words = more success school of thought, which I subscribe to, also. Any way I can get more words on the page, the better, as more words are at least practice, and at most, money. :)

Be sure to check back on his blog for more games. I'll send links about the ones I love the most.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Killing Sacred Cows: Agents

Dean Wesley Smith is a very successful writer who is trying to kill the sacred cows--as he calls the harmful myths--of writing. The article below is about agents. Be SURE to read the comments, especially those by Laura Resnick.



Saturday, January 16, 2010

Week 2 update

Words this week: 5,092 all of them for the new novel.
No contact from publishers this week.

I had a bit of an epiphany this week, too, thanks to reading Dick Francis. In the novel "10 lbs. Penalty," Francis condenses three years in a span of a a couple chapters and a light went on in my head. When I "finished" the novel on Nov. 30, I thought I had a book I needed to fill in plus three or four ideas for a sequel. Francis showed me that a story can have a lull of months or years, after which the writer can pick up the threads and continue the story.

In my case, I don't have ideas for a sequel, I have ideas for the next 30-40K of the book. Yippee! This means that I have abandoned the idea of revising the first part of the book until I'm done with this second part. I'm pretty excited by this.

So, I met my goal! Hooray!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Weekly update #1

(1) Story finished, mailed to market
(1) rejection for LSCTS received.

School started this week, so I've felt slammed, so not much writing has occurred. However, the story mentioned above was completed and mailed this week, so I'm counting it, even though it was actually written in December.

I am nearly done with whatever it is I'm doing with Something. Mapping out the chapters is somewhat useful, but now I need to get them in order and fill in the blanks. I do want to finish the book by the end of the month (which, if you look in this blog's archives, is what I wanted to do with LSCTS, last year...not very successfully).

I have a friend who says he wants to trade a chapter for a poem. He likes the way I edit/critique/revise his poems, and I value his opinion on writing, so it might work out. He's not much of a genre fiction fan, though, so I have to remember that when I read his responses. :)

So, not bad for the first seven days of the month. whoopee.