Friday, October 30, 2009

Lessons learned from rejection

A couple of months ago, I wrote a short story, one of the most enjoyable stories I've had the pleasure to write. It had everything I love: evil super-science villains working on a mad science island! Superhero spies! And one naive, conflicted man, caught in the middle. It was deliciously and unapologetically over-the-top. I love that story.

Sadly, I seem to be the only one engaged in that love. I got some mixed feedback from my peers, and I went back and did some revision. Then I sent it out to some markets.

Submission is the stage of the writing process where the writer discovers the disconnect between the brilliance she perceives in her own mind and the cold trained judgment of the editor. Two editors did go out of their way to personalize their rejections. 'The story almost caught me in a couple of places, but never quite made it.' 'The character development just wasn't there.' I appreciate their insights, and will keep them in mind when I work on future stories. However, I don't think I'm going to do any more revision on this story.

I think I understand the problem. While the story spoke to me, it just didn't touch other readers in the same way. Perhaps if I went back and tinkered some more, I would be able to alter the story enough to make it "marketable". I'm still developing my structuring and story-telling skills, and maybe I'm just not "there" yet.

But perhaps a sale wasn't the purpose of this particular story. I had a ball writing it, and it clarified some ideas I've had for a fantasy/sci-fi universe that I'll be using in future stories. I also used it to experiment with plot twists, something I've been told is lacking in my work. (As a caveat, one editor commenting on the story told me that plot twists are not a substitute for character development; but hey, at least he acknowledged the plot twist!) So for now I'm going to mark that story as an enjoyable learning experience and continue on with new projects.

Edited on: 01/19/10 to protect story name

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nanowrimo approacheth

For all of you of a writing bent, Nanowrimo starts in just five days. If you don't know about Nano, hang around and learn how you, yes you, can become a real honest-to-gosh writer.

Every year during the month of November, thousands of souls worldwide attempt to write a novel in a month. Granted, the term "novel" is used loosely; you must produce a work of fiction 50,000 words in length. What about structure, developing characters, etc.? Well, Nanowrimo's motto is "No plot, no problem!" The idea is, through the journey of putting words on paper (or computer), a story will come up out of the jumble.

I have a special affection for Nano, since the book I'm now finishing started life as a Nano project last year. With sheepishness, I admit I did not finish that draft. I actually tossed it after about 20,000 words, disgusted. I wandered, working on other projects, letting my novel idea gather dust. However, I started over and did finish what became the first draft of Slideways. Now I'm pushing on to the end.

Per the rules, I can't compete in Nano this year. All draft writing must be done only during the month of November. You can plot, brainstorm, and do as many character sketches as you want before then, but you cannot set down Chapter One until November 1st at midnight. So, while I won't be an official entrant, my goal is to complete my second draft on November 30th. I will be celebrate alongside my Nano friends, but not directly with them.

Feel motivated to try your hand at a novel creation? Pop on over to Nanowrimo and give it a go.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Free Romance Webinar

I sent this information over to Laura Bickle at Salamander's Tales. Laura had the clever idea of posting this online so everyone could take advantage of it; I'm following suit. If you are a fan of romance, you should check out this free webinar from Booklist:

Booklist Webinar
Sweet Talk: Romance Fiction in the Library
November 12, 3-4 PM Central Time

Romance is hot . . . in the library, that is. Join Donna Seaman, Booklist's romance fiction editor, and a panel of librarians, authors, and publishers to discuss the state of the genre—in public libraries and in the marketplace.

Panelists include:

John Charles, Reference Librarian, Scottsdale (AZ) Public Library, and Booklist reviewer
Shelley Mosley, Adjunct Librarian at Glendale (AZ) Community College, and Booklist reviewer
Madeline Hunter, best-selling author of 17 historical romances
Kayleigh George, Library Marketing Coordinator at HarperCollins Publishers
Cheryl Herman, Library Marketing Director, Books on Tape and Listening Library (Random House)

The reservation link is:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Second Draft

Right now I'm slogging through the second draft of my novel, tentatively retitled "Slideways". I've been tinkering along the way, making each chapter as captivating as I am able before moving along to the next one. I've gotten up to Chapter Five; however, my husband (my first reader) pointed out some glaring problems with Chapter Three. So, now it's time to go back and revise again.

Moving ever forward...