How To Pass Time Waiting For a Publisher’s Response

 

Write. Check email. Play with kids. Clean house. Feed kids and make sure they get ready for the day ahead. Check email. Google “standard publishing contracts, tiered rejection letters and what they mean, how to get a literary agent and reading the success stories of those whom have already, ‘been there, done that, read the book and wrote the sequel.’ Read more of the book Writing the Character Centered Screenplay by Andrew Horton. Watch more TVO with the kids. Play the drums with my daughter and guitar with my son. (Please note I do not know how to play a musical instrument so my definition of play is not dependent on talent.) Do anything but check the email for the rest of the day if I can help it. I easily could have chewed to the cuticles of my nails by now with all the anticipation I’m feeling (but I haven’t and likely won’t) while waiting for the results: I’m waiting to know whether or not a certain publisher is going to accept or pass on my manuscript Nuka.

It started a few days ago when I received a reply to a follow-up email from the publisher who is aware I have been waiting a few months for a verdict on my manuscript. I can’t say I expected so much as a boo from the editor before he makes his decision as editors are notorious for their crazy and demanding work schedules but the response he took the time to provide to my follow-up email was more than appreciated. I was told I’ll know this week whether or not they are interested in publishing my work.

I am hoping to being offered a publishing contract but I am also realistic, it could go either way and I have to prepare for that. I’ve received form letters in the past on projects that never moved on to see the light of day while other work has gone on to be published or optioned so I can anticipate how I might react if the answer is not what I’m hoping but it doesn’t make the wait any easier.

Past rejection letters have pushed me to write more and work harder on developing my prose and scripts. I’ve contemplated writing the crappiest rejection letter I could possibly receive to alleviate the stress I might feel if the answer is not in my favor but honestly, that’s been done and these writers are either still twiddling their fingers at their desk or they’re published or optioned and writing more. (It still for some reason sounds like a good idea to at least pass some time).

And then I remind myself that even famous authors have had their share of rejection letters and that it would not be an anomaly if it happened to me. http://mentalfloss.com/article/26662/try-try-again-rejection-letters-received-bestselling-authors

I’ve been thinking of ways to pass the time this week and so far they include generating story ideas, photography fun at Mud Lake, getting my nails done, going to the beach, taking the family to the museum, eating chocolate sundaes at Dairy Queen, work on trashing a wedding dress I have for a potential short I might shoot for Digi60 which is coming up soon see http://www.digi60.org

Honestly I don’t know why this response waiting period feels different than the others. It’s my first novella but not my first published book. It only carries with it the weight of my blood, sweat, and tears I put into it metaphorically bleeding to death at the keyboard, searching for the right word, eliminating sentences that end with adverbs, keeping the story in the present tense, creating roadblocks for the protagonist along the way, building suspense, all that great textbook stuff writers’ ought to include to make a compelling story. But I remind myself, my book is not me, I am not my book. The book and I are not one and therefore any decision that is arrived at is completely impersonal and in no way a reflection of who I am or my worth as a writer. It will either complement the books that the publisher is looking for or delivers, or it won’t.

I would just be ecstatic to receive a positive response but I am open to all the possibilities that lay before me with the answer just out of my grasp at this time.

So I have made the decision that whatever the result I will dedicate the next few weeks devoted to finishing rewriting that feature length script I’ve been working on. I will research self-marketing a little more, look into getting Loved Like Me my children’s book on adoption formatted for circulation again and perhaps I will research literary agents that work with traditional publishers and continue work on a novel I have more than 100 pages written on so far.

For good measure I will drink a plethora of coffee, write more blogs and update my social media posts with everything hopefully unrelated to this self-torture of counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds, another milestone of my life as a writer will either be made or missed. My children will continue to keep me busy playing with Play-Dough, singing those wonderful songs from Mary Poppins, (because we all know what a spoonful of sugar does) and how that’s helpful if coffee is your drug of choice {at least if you’ve seen the film this may resonate with you}, and right now a word like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is exactly what I need to explain what I’m feeling inside.

Whatever the results I do not know when or if I will have the resolve to publish them.

Will the manuscript be accepted or rejected? Contract or form letter? Tiered rejection letter? Some other response? Will I need an agent? Would I want an agent? The possibilities are numerous. I don’t know. But I do know that my current project won’t get written by itself. I tell myself I’ve got this. What writing projects are you working on these days? What has your experience with publishers been like? How did you react when you received rejection or acceptance letters? I’d love to know.

Back to work.

 

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The F Word

 

This blog has been quiet for a while now. In part because I have been focused a lot on turning forty this year and in part because I have been too busy with being a mom and a photographer while waiting to hear back from a second publisher about a thriller I finished earlier this year.

The first publisher I queried recently responded with a pretty rejection letter that included a personal note which defined my manuscript Nuka as “culturally rich”. With all the talk in the air of cultural appropriation I find myself in a possible predicament with the book having Inuit characters and a northern theme and even though my husband and children are Inuit  (I am not ) and so I am taking steps to decide whether or not to go forward with publication.

I have been seeking the opinions and input of members of the Inuit community and first sending my manuscript to northern publishers who I feel would best input whether or not I should go forward with publication. throughout creation of the manuscript I welcomed feedback from the community through my social media statuses.

In other news I have been studying the craft of writing as always through books dating back to the early eighties (that’s another blog)  and working on a re-write of my first feature film but at my age, excuses for not writing and engaging of the craft of at least thinking about writing count for nothing. Did I mention I’m turning forty? (Yes, that’s weighing heavily on me these days). I may create a count down to forty project, it’s up in the air.

I figured by now I would have published a few books, had more articles produced, written more short stories but in truth the stories do not write themselves and I have always been more focused on family than career since I hit thirty-two. My first children’s book did not get the type of distribution I hoped for and as a result I pulled it off the market. I had my pity party. I’m over it now and have moved on to other projects. Most of which, until today were still in the thinking stage.

For a long time I had a basement office, which I finally invited my husband to let him turn it into a man cave, or whatever it is men do with basements when their wives aren’t hogging that space. As a result I have bags of books to give away that I also swore I would have read by now when I bought them. (There are only about four bookcases worth of books in this place to begin with, maybe five if I count the ones I have aside that I still plan to read.)

I have written a few extra paragraphs onto a manuscript I started around 2012 but I don’t count that as progress, the fictitious child is still trapped in a negligent home and the siblings are still at war with one another. However, if I make good starting today this book may be done by year’s end yet. (Update: the child is being rescued and it could be a happy ending yet.)

In doing things I love, mothering, housecleaning (kidding but it’s a necessary evil), taking the kids to the library and going out for coffee I have found it difficult to leave my camera behind. I have discovered that it takes a few seconds to tell a story from start to finish with a single image than it does coming up with the right word for a sentence when the one that comes to mind fails to meet its purpose and the minute hand on the clock ticks like a dreadful fading pulse as if every metaphorical breath could be the character’s last if I don’t think up another word and fast.

I’ve been doing a lot of freelance photography work and for a while I feared that I might actually enjoy photography more than writing. I realise now that’s not possible (for me) as I have finally found my way back to the keyboard and to you the reader without whom this blog would just be a bunch of pixels wasting away. And now, coffee.

Writing Literary Fiction

 

The Morning after Effect

todolist

So it’s the morning after I sent my manuscript out and let’s be honest, I’m still working on my first cup of coffee so that is the only plan of attack at this moment. It’s been a helluva week though filled with (blank space) still waking up, or as Janet Burroway, author of Writing Fiction, A Guide To Narrative Craft refers to the blank space, it’s the critic, keeping me from moving this blog forward, so I’m going to keep writing and hope this all makes sense when I’m done. (It is only 6:30 a.m. in my defense). I’m re-reading that book again, because every now and then I like to refresh what I know about writing and sharpen writing skills that perhaps I didn’t work as hard on or even missed reading it the last time around.

*8:30 now and I’m awake enough to remember that the week was filled with milestones for my writing career (none of which I will repeat at this time) suffice to say, good morning.

What amazes me as I write this blog, is that the kids are still asleep, which of course only happens when I wake up for no good reason before them. On the bright side, it’s the weekend (for some of us anyhow). I do not include myself in those lucky enough to bask in it though, since I have self-imposed deadlines that need to be met for other writing projects I am finishing.

Speaking of deadlines, I always find it amusing that writers are often not taken as seriously as people whose deadlines are imposed by others. I wonder why that is? I think it’s similar to a person who doesn’t have kids telling one who does that they are tired, the reception is often not something that smooths over as easily. After all how could a person with no children tugging at their ankles all morning, afternoon and evening possibly relate to one that does? The answer, I think, is universal: responsibilities and people to answer to, we are only as accountable as writers (I think) as we hold ourselves to be.

What are my responsibilities as a writer and mother? To balance the life I have created for myself in a way where I don’t find myself in over my head at the end of the day and yet still get stuff done. How do I do that? I create priorities and don’t get side-tracked. (Memo to me after getting the kids breakfast: as a mom of two I often get side-tracked.) The trick, I find, is to be side –tracked while keeping one hand (metaphorically) and when possible, at the keyboard.

 

If I can’t be writing I can generate story ideas. Some better than others.

 

When I get to writing I work on my paid assignments before working on long term projects for myself. Some days I only get fifteen to twenty minutes of writing done. (Okay I admit I’m a social media addict – of sorts) so if I could step away from some of those apps I would be a bit further ahead in the game. But, those fifteen to twenty minutes that come between colouring, crafts, outdoor play and other endeavors add up over time. That was how I wrote my novella, between the chaos and joys of parenting. And that is how today, I begin writing my novel. That, and a little sleep deprived.

A Writer’s Resolutions

 

 

 

 

 

 

A First For Everything

This is the first podcast by and up and coming podcaster who  goes by the name of Spikerite. I was privileged to be the first author he interviewed and thought he did a great job. If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to in the writing world besides my blog, check this out and by all means, sharing is kind.

D-I-V-O-R-C-E,Commitment and the Writer

weddress

 

I’ve divorced myself from the writing lifestyle. That is to say, I’ve been away from regular hours in the office typing away at a keyboard. I haven’t committed to writing exercises, carrying around books to study the plot and character structure or even just to bask in a café and enjoy the winter scenery of page after page of even my favorite author and I’m not about to apologize. In fact, it is quite possible the healthiest thing I have done for my writing career to date.

Minus a blog here and there it’s been nothing but leisure activities including but not limited to photographing everything under the sun, family time and watching some great flicks. (As long as I can keep my eyes open after the kids are asleep that is). More than one person has suggested and I agree they are right, that perhaps it’s too soon for my little ones to be watching Misery or Carrie so I save the horrors and thrillers for when they are sleeping  CryptTV.com streams some of my favs. Then there’s the action movies I have to choose from and my fav actors to watch. I never tire of films with Johnny Depp or Meryl Streep (Ottawa’s local actors are also quite good but I’m not naming names. You know who you are.)

I love watching One True Thing for the thousandth time. I cry every time I watch Losing Isaiah. The Deep End of the Ocean is a touching drama that will pull at heart strings too, I love that the protagonist is a mother and a photographer. I’m a fan of Finding Forrester. Alice Through the Looking Glass and Maleficent is a go to when I just want to get away from it all. G.I Jane, Far and Away, God Bless the Child, my absolute favorite local film is, I can’t say actually (I have a few preferences) but ottawashortfilms.com has a collection of great shorts.

I’ve been pressed for time to make it to the theatres but I would have loved to see La La Land,

A Monster Calls and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

I drink less coffee and more tea these days, my Stephen King book, Blaze, came in handy when I had to go to the emergency room in a matter where everything worked out; I got to read little more than a paragraph that night. Like I said, I really have not been living the writer’s life as of late.

I meet people in person over chatting online. I talk to strangers but I don’t take notes. I ride the bus but I don’t use my senses to explain the experience of being transported from one end of the city to the other, I don’t bother to take note of the sights, smells and other senses. Instead, I chat with my children playing silly mom and daughter/son games. I speak loudly when it might be better to whisper. I remember who I am when I’m not a writer. I breathe.

Life. It’s all about life and living. But I’m here now, committed once again to the writer’s lifestyle and the dedication and focus I need to recommit to get manuscripts polished and sent out and queries ready for publishers. Really, I went on a Writer’s Vacation, I plan to do it again in the future now that I remember. I remember who I am when I am not a writer.

Sometimes, you just have to say no to the workload and deadlines. Sometimes, you have to choose yourself over your work, your health over a hefty paycheque. Sometimes saying no is what writers’ like me really need to do to really want to say yes when all is said and done. This is what I want. This is what I do.

What do you say?

 

 

 

How to Write a Children’s Book and Get it Published

Stoked for my interview with Carol Anne Meehan later today on 1310 News, (Ottawa ). Hope you’ll be tuning in. It’s going to be an adventure!

Not My Straitjacket

llm book cover

Want to write a children’s book? You’re reading the write right blog. Although technically the first version of write that I used was actually right for the context of this blog. The ability to write, to string words into compelling, coherent, sentences is one of the first lines of defense you will require as a writer. You will also need a great idea, plenty of paper and pen or a computer.

Don’t know what to write about? Stories are all around you. While it is important not to write real accounts of people’s lives unless you are memoir writing and you have their permission to do so, you can draw from your everyday life experiences. Do you remember what it was like to be a child? There’s a starting point for you. If you would rather write about the experiences of modern day childhood and draw from contemporary issues, observe…

View original post 1,018 more words

How to Write a Children’s Book and Get it Published

llm book cover

Want to write a children’s book? You’re reading the write right blog. Although technically the first version of write that I used was actually right for the context of this blog. The ability to write, to string words into compelling, coherent, sentences is one of the first lines of defense you will require as a writer. You will also need a great idea, plenty of paper and pen or a computer.

Don’t know what to write about? Stories are all around you. While it is important not to write real accounts of people’s lives unless you are memoir writing and you have their permission to do so, you can draw from your everyday life experiences. Do you remember what it was like to be a child? There’s a starting point for you. If you would rather write about the experiences of modern day childhood and draw from contemporary issues, observe the children you come across in your everyday relationships. The woman you see walking down the street whose child is tagging along at her heels, the child playing alone across the street, the kids playing in the parks, families taking walks together, put yourself in those kids shoes. How might they feel? What might they think? How do you think they see life through their eyes at their age? All you need is a starting point and you can go from there.

Some writers don’t like starting the day or a new piece of writing without a coffee (or something else to drink) and a sign on the door of the room they’re working in. It might have a message scribbled on it such as: genius at work or caution, writer at large, so their friends or family members know they are entering a magic realm where interrupting the writer is involved in a ‘do this/enter at your own risk’ type of thing. (Although sometimes it is completely fine to disturb the muse, like if someone’s burning dinner, interrupt the writer immediately. Some of the best writers I know and have heard of are the first to tell you that writing is a sacred, solitary event best served over (often) a hot coffee, computer and a space of your own.

You might think you have picked the easiest genre to tackle as a children’s writer. Quite the opposite is true. Writing for children is more difficult than genres such as copy writing or writing harlequins or even dramas. Children are some of a writer’s toughest critics because they will (most times) be honest with you in what they think about your story. Write a story that is compelling and that they can relate to. Sounds easy right? It can be. In retrospect, usually. It can take an army to slay the fictional literary dragon.

Write something that grabs their interest and is appropriate to the age range for which you are writing. Young readers’ are not likely to tell you what you want to hear about the book you slaved away at and instead will tell you where the flaws in your story might be the best way they know how and will be quick to put down the story if it doesn’t keep their interest. At this point, I want to acknowledge the billions of polite children who read books who might tell you in a more subtle manner that the story you wrote did not get their attention but nonetheless children are some of the most direct people I have ever encountered and they are often (though not always) right in their conclusions, no matter how blunt the manner in which they express it can be.

Now that I’ve told you the worst of it, the next thing I want you to prepare yourself for is that writing your first draft is not going to be roses. It will be gruelling and there will be moments you will want to rip up the pages and start over because you may not be happy with what you’ve written so far: don’t. Two things: keep writing and no looking back until the end of the first draft. That means if your protagonist is dangling from a cliff at page 22 and you can’t remember why you may peek at the last paragraph, okay page, to remember why, but don’t go back to page one and start rewriting. That is why some books take so long to get written, the author is constantly in rewrite mode.

The muse will not likely find you every day. To be successful you need to treat this like you would someone’s mother: with a lot of respect and a great deal of care. If you write something and put it out without getting it professionally edited or at least getting feedback on the manuscript before writing the second draft it may haunt you later.

When you finish the first draft put it away for a while Use this time to enjoy other aspects of your life you may have been neglecting while you wrote your book. Reward yourself for your hard work. Whether that means a night on the town or kicking back and watching a movie with loved ones to celebrate that you have completed your first draft you deserve to give yourself this recognition.

Has it been a few weeks? (Days don’t count.) Time to pull that manuscript out again and brush through it with a fine-tooth comb. Take out unnecessary words. Write in the present tense, it gives the reader the feeling of being a part of the experience. Prepare to cut and paste. You may find you have buried your lead in the body of the story.

Face the music: you may not like what you’ve written enough to ever let the first draft see the light of day again. Whatever you do, back-up and save your work. When you have finished the second draft send it to people you trust to give you an honest (not biased) opinion. If you can read your story to your children, nieces or nephews or you can ask your friends’ kids to give you some feedback. Don’t take it personally. You are NOT your work. This is a hard rule for writers to follow because so much of what a writer does comes from attaching their heart to their screen/paper.

When you have implemented whatever feedback you found helpful it is time to send your work to an editor. The editing process is necessary to weed out weak words, proofread, revise poor syntax, story structure issues and other writing hazards. While you are waiting to receive your work back start researching publishers unless you plan to self-publish.

Got that golden edited manuscript back? Congrats. You’ve finished writing a children’s book. Start sending it out to publishers. Happy querying!

 

For more information on my children’s book Loved Like Me, listen to my interview with Carol Anne Meehan on 1310 News at 2:30 today Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

This article was previously published on kallababy.com