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Posts tagged ‘publishing’

Cathy: Moving along

I have committed significant time each day to work on my young reader novel. Thank you for many of your posts and conversations to motivate me to do such a thing for myself and my book. A very real sacrifice is involved for our family, the fact that I have no steady income. So, I’m dropping a big networking hint: any of you with connections to a youth-focused publisher or agent, please float hints of my progress their way, or their info my way! When the manuscript is nearly complete, I will need to shop it, fairly desperately. I am lousy at marketing. Let me sit in a corner and write all day long, but show it to someone who might put it in production? Yikes! I’m a little over a third into what I hope to accomplish in page count. It is a fun (I hope) nerd overcoming bully story with a science twist a la astronomy with some sub-focus on family and friendships. How’s that for a synopsis without giving anything away?

Last week, I got through some dialogue. Dialogue is easier for me to imagine than to actually write. I hear it well in my head, but how do the characters sound on the page? All like me or the narrator? I hope not. So, it’s slow going, besides all the interruptions. But the good news for this week is, knock on wood, neither of the boys are sick — each stayed home from school a day last week, two different ones, of course. I have no appointments for any of us. The cat and dog have both been deflea-ed, finally, at the vet. Bad news is I planned a picnic at my house on Saturday for my Asperger’s group that I don’t foresee doing much prep for as it is a potluck, but I do need to move a dirt pile, reorganize the desk again, hopefully get through some of my albatross box of papers to be filed, and flea bomb the backyard. That’s right, nature girl is going to intentionally poison the planet. Good news is I am going to write THE SCENE this week. If I’m lucky, THE OTHER SCENE, too. These two scenes are at the heart of the book, upon what everything after depends. They should also advance me to the halfway point. Woo-hoo!

I just finished re-reading an old favorite book that didn’t help my frame of mind for writing a youth novel, but I enjoyed it anyway — Alice Walker’s In the Temple of My Familiar. My next step to move my writing along in the vein of a youth novel is to re-read some Jerry Spinelli, Sharon Creech, and other authors for the age group, whose work I love and whose style is very conversational and very much from the point of view of an eleven- or twelve-year-old. I think that will help my dialogue problem a lot. I should grab some Carl Hiaasen and Gary Paulson, too. A dog figures prominently in the story, and Paulson writes Dog really well. I mention these authors because I believe a lot of the best writing out there now by contemporaries is for the youth market. Go check out the Newbery Medal winners. They are a great lot.

Enjoy! I didn’t know what I was missing until a few years ago, so I really do recommend a trip to your local library youth room. The reads are so quick, too! If you want a really good cry, you must check out Sharon Creech’s The Wanderer or Love That Dog. I’m no crier and I absolutely blubbered my way through those, out loud, in front of a class of fifth graders. If you like disturbing (Lisa D and Christa), check out Spinelli’s The Wringer. I read that four years ago and it still haunts me.

Happy writing, painting, puzzling, knitting, etc this week!

New literary journal: Wild Apples

wildapplesWild Apples is a new literary/arts magazine being published by a group of amazing women–two of whom (artist Linda Hoffman and poet Susan Edwards Richmond) I interviewed for my book on creativity and motherhood.

Taking its name and inspiration from Henry David Thoreau’s essay “Wild Apples,” this twice-yearly arts and literary publication combines poetry and prose with the work of visual artists and photographers. Wild Apples brings together the work of artists and writers who are connected by the common threads of care for the environment, engagement in social concerns, and commitment to the arts and the ways they shape our world.

If you’re a writer, poet, artist, or photographer, check out the submission guidelines. Collaborative work is encouraged. More information is available at the Wild Apples website.

Miranda: Another perspective on rejection

Those of you who receive the Glimmer Train newsletter may have seen this already, but for everyone else, here’s a reassuring take on rejection from Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of Pay it Forward among other novels. An excerpt from her article:

It might sound like dwelling on the negative if I say I received 122 short story rejections before my first acceptance. But, for writers just starting out, it’s important to hear. If you know I was rejected more than a thousand times while placing 50 stories, it might be hard for you to justify giving up after five printed slips….Just about every one of my rejected stories has gone on to be published. Without further revision. Some were rejected a handful of times. Others garnered over 50 rejections before finding a home.

Hyde offers several reassuring reasons for why submissions may be rejected. Her full article (it’s short) is online at Glimmer Train.

What’s your own personal quota on submitting before you “shelve” a piece? Five, ten, twenty–no limit? Personally, if a short story I wrote isn’t accepted or doesn’t place in a contest, I look at it again, revise, and send it on out. I like the feeling of having stories in the queue somewhere–sure, the chances of publication or winning are usually small, but it’s a numbers game. You certainly can’t sell or win if you’re not submitting. If you believe in what you wrote, keep it out there.

Suzanne: An Introduction

I’m an American living in Japan with my Japanese baseball coach husband and our eight-year-old twins. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a writer. I’ve been writing stories and novels since childhood. This year – after five attempts at writing a novel – I have finally succeeded in publishing one. Losing Kei, my debut, completed in stolen hours at coffee shops and at the kitchen table while my family slept, was published in January.

Another project which I worked on simultaneously – an anthology entitled Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs – will be officially published next month. And coming up, in November, Topka Press will publish my first children’s picture book, Playing for Papa.

So it’s going to be a great year, and yet I still feel like I’m teetering on the edge of a career as a writer. It’s been two years since I finished writing my novel and the short story that will become a picture book. I’d expected to have another novel completed by now, especially since my children are now in elementary school. And the short story collection that was accepted for publication by a press that I admire is no longer accepted. The editor that I was working with died suddenly, and the press’s interest in my work died along with him. And what’s more, the publisher of my novel has sold his company. The new owners seem to have a different vision for the company, one that might not include me.

So this writing business, I’ve found, is a precarious one. There are infinite levels of failure. Yet I persist. I didn’t start writing for money or fame or adulation. I wrote because I love it. And I still do.

Having written five novels already, I know that I can go the distance and write another one. This month, the members of my writer’s group have committed ourselves to writing 10,000 words. As of today, I’ve completed 2,663 words on my novel-in-progress. Onward!

Brittany: Where’s the finish line?

Christa’s post last week left me with a lot to think about. I’m sure I had read it before, that authors are often judged on the basis of their debut novel’s sales, that depending on its success and failure, a career can be born or lost. I probably skimmed over that part in some guide book, thinking that it didn’t apply to me. But after Christa mentioned it, and I responded with a pollyanna-esque comment that now makes me cringe, I started to re-consider my point of view. Her concern is something that bears contemplation… which I have been doing nonstop ever since.

Since that post, I haven’t been able to write. I’ve been happy with my re-writes up to this point, but I wonder now if I’m as far ahead as I thought I was. Is my sparse writing style enough? Can I do better? The other big questions that spring to mind are when will I really be finished? And will I know I’m finished when I get there?

It’s ironic that my book is about home improvement when time and again I have likened the re-writing, re-editing, re-assessing process to the continual construction of the Winchester Mystery House. I think we can safely say that the “additions” to that house didn’t improve it in any way. I wonder about this as I tear apart my novel and try to reconstruct it into something better, something more functional. Am I simply making additions or am I actually making improvements?

I can see this going on indefinetely. The more I learn of the cut-throat behind-the-scenes business of the publishing industry, the more my fear grows that I’m never going to be finished. I was always the student who wanted to turn in my best work, but deadlines always loomed at school. Now there are no deadlines. I can tweak endlessly. And because I lack the experience to know when enough is enough, I might very well end up doing that.

So my question is to those of you who’ve declared your project finished and have gone on to see it published: How do you know when you’ve reached the finish line?

Christa: Confession time

I’m going to admit to something that I haven’t wanted to admit to myself for a long time: the reason for my creative funk, all my questioning and browbeating, is at heart a temper tantrum. Why? Because I didn’t get my way.

By now, I was “supposed to” have landed an agent. I really was convinced that my writing was good enough. Even though I knew it was certainly possible that it wouldn’t happen within six months, I didn’t really think it wouldn’t. I believed at least that I would get requests for fulls and that those would tide me over.

I did get those requests, but early on, and nothing since about Thanksgiving. While I’m aware there are other options in publishing (I’m looking at small presses), I’ve still found myself wondering: what’s really in store for my career? Is this really what’s meant for my life?

I hope not. Because the thought of not being a novelist really, really depresses me.

But here’s the other thing, the other part of this confession. What I was hoping for was to be a wunderkind. I’m turning 33 in a month, and I really just wanted to be “discovered” and published before I turned 40. I wanted this because no one has ever thought much of me (at least until I met my husband). I was “nothing special” for many years. Two teachers loved my writing, but my parents didn’t love it and my peers didn’t get it. I have always wanted to “prove” myself, even though none of those people will ever be satisfied.

An author gave me some advice a few years back that I’ve kept, and now that I’m in this position, her words mean a lot more to me than they did then: “There’s been a lot of discussions of youth/writing recently. But you know what? There’s absolutely no percentage to being a wunderkind because, eventually, they’re going to take the kind away and you’re going to have to be a wunder on your own. And, at the risk of sounding very, very vain, I’m fairly confident that there’s not a 30-something on the planet who can write a wiser book than I can. Better, more beautiful? Sure. But there are things we learn as life goes on that makes writing richer with each decade. So think about the life as part of the writing, and don’t beat yourself up.”

What elicited her advice? My fear, even then, that I wouldn’t get anything done because of my kids.

In many ways I’m in a better position now than I was then. I have a number of short story credits in good, reputable markets; I’m helping to edit a magazine. So I can’t say I’m still stuck in a rut, and that’s good. Meanwhile, like I wrote to Bethany, fiction is an intrinsic part of my sense of balance. For my own sake and that of my family, I need to continue to pursue it. Even if it’s only a few sentences a day. And that “wunderkind” thing? Well, maybe that’s my personal bar that needs to be lowered.

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