What Rejections Teach Us

They say you’re not supposed to blog about rejections.  I agree.  After that kind of a statement you know there’s a but, and this is no exception.

I just received my first rejection for the year!  (The exclamation point is on purpose.)  You might think I’m crazy.  I wouldn’t blame you if you did.  There is a reason for my excitement:  I learned something.

Anytime you have a chance to learn something, even if it is from rejections or your mistakes, take it, own it, and whatever you do –  make the best of it.

The publishing company said (and I’m paraphrasing) that while they enjoyed my piece (They called it interesting and poignant) that it didn’t stick closely enough to the prompt.  They took it a step further and explained that when they offer a prompt they expect it to play a prominent role in the piece (oops!).  They summed up their rejection by saying they liked my writing and hoped I’d submit to them again.

Now that’s a lot of information in a five sentence rejection.

One:  I was ecstatic that it wasn’t a form rejection.

Two:  They said what they liked about my piece and complimented my writing- it’s the first validation I have received that confirms I’m not way out of my league.

Three:  They told me why I was rejected and more importantly what it takes to be published with them.  Stick to the prompt.  It is as simple and as difficult as that.

Four: And I’m really excited about this one- they want me to submit to them again so I didn’t screw up too badly.

I would have loved to add “Published Author Extraordinaire” to my list of life’s accomplishments. This year I vow to be the submission queen.  I have four completed novels and a number of shorts that need to find homes.  I plan to rack up the rejections and when I find the right agent/publisher I know it will be because…

A:  I will have followed their submission guidelines carefully.

B: My writing is both interesting and poignant.

C: I will never give up.

My original goal this year was to be agented, sell a novel or rack up 100 rejections.  I’m going to change that to – I will never give hope and will do everything in my power to become a published author.

See what a difference 1 rejection can make?

Now it’s your turn, my faithful followers- what have your rejections taught you?

 

Outlining AFTER you write a novel.

Whether or not you outline before you write a novel, you should consider doing an outline after the novel is finished and before editing.  Why? Because I said so.  Just kidding.  Har me out.

Plot lines bend and they weave all over the place and it’s hard to keep them all straight in a single glance.  You forget small details that make a world of difference in your story.  If there are any parts of the story you found “weak” or “too cluttered,” you need to be able to get a birds-eye view of them.  An outline can help you do that.

Even if you wrote an outline before you started writing, you should revisit it and make sure it has all the crazy plot bunnies that weaved their way in when you were in the zone.

* An outline will show you where your story sags, even if you don’t want to admit it.

* An outline will show you where you “info dumped” and pushed your characters too hard.

* An outline will show you your story arc and flow.

* An outline will make sure you closed up all those crazy plot holes.

* An outline will give you the piece of mind that everything is there and you wont have to do five million drafts.

For some, outlining will take a half hour.  For others it will be a will long adventure.  I promise you it’s time well spent and will save you time in the long run.  If it doesn’t I will give you your money back…

Because it has to be said…

Dear freakish creepy clowns.  My writing group gets together at the local Perkins because it cheep and it’s friendly, but I think a huge group a painted smiles is taking it a bit far.  I don’t have an issue with clowns perse.  I like going to the circus. I like parades.  I can usually handle watching them bend phallic shaped balloons into the rough equivalent of animal shapes.

<- These clowns are nothing like that.

They parade themselves around like perfectly normal people with cross dressing issues and the innate ability to make a child laugh…or cry.  They are sitting there laughing at their own jokes, sharing meal time conversation while sipping soda through a straw.   I totally get that I’m an “adult” and should realize that they are people to, but come on!! I’ve got my limits.

I found said limit when I walking back from the bathroom by myself (my fellow writing group was too chicken to go with me) and as one, a mass of yarn hair and creepy smiles turned to stare at me.  I know what they were doing;they wanted to know if I’d freak out or totally embarrass myself by asking for a picture (which I considered), but then it dawned on me- I was not the one in a costume.  How did I become the freak show?

Get some Noxzema, wipe that smirk off your face and get a real job.  There. I said it.

Before this post could go live, one my writing partners…we’ll call her the girl from shelikesitverbal.com insisted she wanted to get her picture taken with the clowns.   I was standing there anyways so I had my picture taken too.  Without further ado, here is a picture that will commemorate our time with the clowns at Perkins.

Thanks for the laughs and tears guys and gal.

Perkins- 1/17/2012

From the mouth of babes and to the dismay of husbands

I have two funny situations to tell you about.

The first one won’t take me long.  My daughter is eight years old and it is frightening how similar we are.  The other day she told me that she likes to keep her imaginary friends in her head so she doesn’t lose them.  I couldn’t be more proud.

The second one is about a short I’m working on.  It is for an “around the office” call for submission.  I was batting around ideas of what I wanted to do and decided to tell the story from the chairs perspective.  I was telling my husband what I was up to and he looked at me like I was crazy.  I didn’t pause before telling him, “the only reason I’m telling it from the chairs perspective is because the pen wasn’t talking to me.”  What’s great is that I was able to keep a straight face because it was 100% the truth.  I love my profession.

I’m sure you’re wondering if there is a point to all this.  Apparently a quick laugh isn’t enough for some people.  I say have fun with your story.  Surround yourself with people who can laugh with you as much as they do at you and writing becomes a whole lot more fun (and it was pretty awesome to begin with).

May all your muses be kind to you.

Have you hugged a self published author lately?

This is my blog, which means I get to be brutally honest.  I have read a lot of crap lately.  Whether the stories were from a big publisher, a small one, or the brave people who go it alone, I’m tired of getting two chapters in before my interest wanes.  My bank account reflects my bitter disappointment, having downloaded as many as three books in one day.

I want to read a good book, by a good author, who has done it on their own.

This is where you come in.  If you know of a self published book that will amaze me and reassert my faith in peoples ability to tell a good story, leave a comment.  Tell me about the story.  Tell me why you love it.  Please don’t spam me with your awesomtastic book. Have your friends tell me why your book will keep me turning the pages.  Hug another self published author and tell me about theirs. I have never done a book review on this site, but I will if the indie book(s) suggested to me have me going wow, I will.

I look forward to your recommendations.

My unexplained hiatus explained

Hi.  I’m not sure you remember me, but hopefully you remember the good times we had.  I am here to tell you there are more good times coming in 2012.

The end of 2011 was a strange combination of stress and success.

I almost lost my day job…twice.  If that doesn’t tell me it’s time to sell some books and build my career then I’m far denser than I thought.

I’ve never talked about my day job before.  I work as a personal care assistant and a respite provider to a awesomtastic kid who has a whole host of health problems, but his primary diagnosis is CP.  He has taught me so much about myself and the extremes I will go to in order to protect him.    The county his family lives in wanted to take him off the waiver program, which is how he pays his bills.  In my humble opinion, my buddy is the reason the waiver program was created.  We took our arguments to court – without a lawyer – and won!  What should have been the end of a horribly stressful time only got worse.  The county kept us in limbo and worse they took us back to court claiming that the Judge didn’t fully understand their arguments.  We won again.  I’m still waiting for them to try something else.  They have the right to take their fight to district court and if they do, we’ll be ready.

Another big thing changed in my life.  My husband graduated from college with a degree in Computer Forensics.  He is one of those sexy nerds that boggles my mind and amazes me at every turn.  To add to his list of accomplishments, he landed a job right after graduation.  He applied on a whim, with very low expectations of getting a call back.  To everyones surprise (but mine) they called him.  Three rounds later they offered him the job.   It’s pretty fancy, high stress, in his field and he couldn’t be happier.  I got to watch every step of the way as he pursued his dream.  It was downright inspiring.  It made me look at my list of accomplishments and those I have yet to achieve and prioritize.

November is NaNo time and that was a crazy ride.  Not only did I win, but I still like the story.  I haven’t started tearing into yet, but the bones are all there.  I’m super excited about it.  It is the zombie apocalypse told from three perspectives – the girl everyone wants to be, the boy who is a danger to himself, and the blind nerd that has to save the world.  I’ll post more about the story soon.  Suffice to say, I love it and I think you will to.

December I was fried.  Holidays are always a little bit of family drama, mixed with too much food and a lot of shredded paper.  The characters who live in my head went on hiatus.  I let them.  It was a win for my psyche but a blunder for my success.

Another thing happened last year and I’m pretty excited about it.  I decided to enter a pitch contest.  With the help of my friends, family, crazy fans and total strangers I won the first round in the final hours.  I passed the second round and ultimately didn’t get chosen to win the contest as a whole.  It was still an awesome experience and what’s more, I put myself out there to be rejected.  It didn’t sting nearly as much as I expected it to.  I learned I was ready to put myself out there.  I have been fine tuning my plan for 2012, so expect a post soon.

In the mean time, I didn’t get anything done on my blog.  I barely checked emails.  Twitterville moved on without me.  I couldn’t log into facebook.  In other words, I fell off the face of the planet.

Well folks…I’m back, and I’m more motivated than ever.  Who’s with me?

NaNoWriMo winners unite!

We did it.  We managed to kick out 50,000 words in one month.  I so wish I had witty words to share with you, but the truth is NaNo stole all of them.  Leave a comment if you won NaNo this year.  We all want to cheer with you!

 

BTW- I cleared 50333 words.  Not my best year by far, but it was a win damn it.  I’m gonna celebrate!

 

Liz

 

There is no right way or wrong way to write a story

Period.

There are tons of formulas out there for writing.  When/where/how you should plot a book, let it arc and how much you resolve.  You can write according to these “rules” until you go crazy with it…or you can be yourself and write your book for YOURSELF.

There is no need for a second Steven King.

You won’t write the next twilight.

Harry Potter has already been written.

Those belong to someone else.  What the world wants is YOUR book.  I say give it to them.  Write it backwards, write it in blocks, skip around, write one word at a time from beginning to end, plot the hell out of it or wing it.  Whatever gets your book written, write it.  There is no right way or wrong way.

I thought you might want to hear that.  I know I need a reminder every once and again.

Have a great day and happy writing!

Liz

The mighty word count

NaNoWriMo makes us take a hard look at the method with write with.  If you are any thing like me you set little goals.  Not just word count, but other goals too so you know you will hit minimum novel length (which for many of us isn’t the 50,000 words NaNo suggests)  One of the things we do is look at chapter length.  It isn’t just during NaNo that we do this.  How long you make your chapters is highly personal.

Mine vary according to which project I’m working on.  Sometimes 2,000-2,500 is a good length.  Sometime I shoot for under three.  There is one novel in particular that I shot for anywhere between 3,000 and 5,000 words.  Whatever your word count goal there are times you fall short.  This post is for you.

I have had chapters end at 1000 words or less.  There are many things I can do and so can you.

1.  You can let it.  There is no hard and fast rule about chapter length.  Sometimes a short chapter is exactly what you need to speed up your plot.

2. You can add a scene.  Adding a scene doesn’t mean it has to be at the end.  It can be anywhere within the chapter.  Perhaps you can go into more detail during specific parts. Your character could have an epiphany.  You can interject another character, another problem, a sub plot.

3.  You can combine it with the chapter before or after it.  I’ve done it before and been surprised by how well it fit.

Especially if you are in rough draft mode, you need to just let the story tell itself.  You don’t know what scenes, chapters, or plots will even make the final draft.  Being too strict with yourself can make you write words that only pad a chapter, not add meaning.  You wouldn’t want that.  Write the good stuff.  The weak stuff will sort itself out in a later draft.

Good luck with you word count!

#nanowrimo can inspire more than word count

 NaNo Restored My Faith In Me

 By: K.D. Storm
                               
 I have AD/HD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). Most of my life I have been told that I cannot do the things that requires one to pay attention for long periods of time nor could finish projects that I start.  Therefore, when I told people as I grew up that I wanted to be a writer I would get pats on my head with sad smiles. Some would even get brave enough to tell me that I should stick to jobs that did not require much effort.
For years, I would write and sadly, I fell into the trap of believing the misguided advice of those who thought they were looking out for me. I allowed myself to use my disability as a crutch. I disregarded the little encouragement I received as nothing more than blind love (People like my mother, my brothers, and a few of my closest friends) that were just as misguided as me. I was about to give up on the whole silly thing. Then I discovered NaNo.
By chance, I read an article about National Novel Writing Month. I got very excited about it. Here was a chance to see if I had what it took to write a novel in one month’s time. It would show me and those who were around me that I could finish a project. This challenge would help guide me in the direction I would take with my future. I signed up.
It was not easy that first year. I had only found out about the challenge two weeks before it was it was to start. I did not have any form of an outline. I did not know anyone who wrote. I also held down one full time third shift job and one part time waitressing job. My son was six years old and was use to having my undivided attention. Somewhere in there, I also needed to sleep. The odds were against me.
I bought a notebook and labeled it NaNo 2009. This is what I would use to write on the sly at work. I made the NaNo calendar my desktop wallpaper. I joined every NaNo club I could find. I was ready to go.
I realized quickly that writing 1,670 words by hand every day was not easy. Especially when you had to type it in every day after working ten hours at night. I fell behind by four days. I was frustrated. I began to wonder if everyone was right. Maybe someone with AD/HD could not write a novel.
Unexpectedly my son’s father offered up encouragement. He pointed out that I had overcome many hurdles in my life that most would never survive. To have an ex be so encouraging was shocking but it was just the shot in the arm I needed to make my dream a reality.
I made a few changes in my plan of attack. I started using my little mini-computer instead of handwriting everything out. I would write everywhere I went. In my mother’s car on our way to work with a flash light pointing at the keyboard. I would write sitting under a tree while waiting for my son’s school bus. I would write after my shift at the bar I waitressed at part time and in the cooler of my full time job while I stocked it.
When my birthday came, I took the weekend off and rented a hotel room. I did not leave it. I wrote, slept, and consumed coffee the whole weekend. I would not allow my dream die without a fighting chance. Every time I would feel my attention wavier, I would give myself a stern talking to and get back to work.
By November 30th I had done the unthinkable for me. I have completed my first novel with days to spare (I hit the 50,000 by November 18th) and had decided not to let my dream of becoming a published writer die just because others said I could not do it. NaNo helped me get my writing groove back. It helped me to realize that if I want something bad enough I could make it a reality. Above all NaNo helped renew my faith in me.