Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My #First Novel's First Review is In. #Librarians of the World Unite!

Last week, I got the very first review of my novel, which, you will recall, is due out on November 11th. (Mark your little mice-like calendars please.) The kindly review was from Kirkus; you know, the journal for librarians. The thing is I LOVE librarians, and I want every last one of them to read my book and lovingly put it on the shelf and dust it occasionally with tender affection. Kirkus, as you all probably know, can be very tough. Usually, they give you a plot summary and an insult, which is just how they are. Apparently, they have to cut to the chase in service to all the librarians, whom probably everybody loves and has hopes for some kind of sweet treatment on their shelves. That said, the reviewer called my book a "polished debut novel," which is cool. The reviewer then gave a very complex and accurate summation of the book: not exactly plot point by plot point, since amazingly none of the big surprises were revealed, but enough of the little surprises were described to make it meaty. Even I read the review and thought, "Oh, there's a book I'd like to read." And then, gentle anonymouse readers, a gift was delivered to my doorstep in the very last sentence of the review: a complimentary line that can be lifted whole out of the review in praise of my writing. It is not just a good quote, but it is interesting too. I think of all the fine editors and agents over the years who have called my book "too dark" to publish. Seems this Kirkus reviewer had only something good to say about the darkness of my novel, and maybe, just maybe, saw the light shining through all that darkness, which is exactly how I write and live my life. Even if it is just one reader who "gets" my novel, and sees the light in it, then I will feel good about it, especially if the one reader is a reviewer. (I'll take others, too, please.) Goodness knows that the bad reviews will get here too; they always do. But today, micycles, I am happy, and it seems to me all this has well been worth the struggle. I thank you for being in the trenches with me, and I encourage you to keep on with your own work, and never give up. Yo. Yo. Yo.  (Notice above how close "hope" is to "nope.")

Thursday, September 25, 2014

This Agent Must Not Have Many Editor Friends To Take To Lunch

You know that Literary Agents and I generally do not see eye to eye, though I love them dearly, each and every one, from their tiny toes to the hairs of their chiny-chin-chins. That said, I have to say, I got a good chuckle out of this agent, Andy Ross, who has posted faux literary rejections on his website. Clever. And I like his spunk.  Here is an excerpt of my favs:
  • Plato's Republic: "I’m not sure that the author has anything really new to say about the themes he discusses."
  • Sophocles' Oedipus Rex: "Although I am a personal admirer of Mr. Sophocles, I feel that Oedipus is a minor work and, quite frankly, a little derivative." 
  • Joyce's Ulysses: "I’m sorry. I just don’t get it."
  • Tolstoy's War and Peace: "Just between you and me, this manuscript just isn’t ready for prime time. For starters, it is a real door-stopper."
Funny guy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Was There A History of Internal Editorial Comments at the VQR After All?

Remember the 2008 uproar over the Virginia Quarterly Review here at old LROD? This was when the VQR got caught sending snippy internal notes to one another about certain submissions? And they ended up with an apology: "It seems obvious—and is regrettable—that some writers got the idea that VQR delights in belittling unsolicited submissions. Nothing could be further from the truth. (yadda, yadda, yadda)." Well, here's one from the archives. I cannot read what the message says on the second page, though.  Something about Gerard Manly Hopkins? Something about Peggy being uptight?  Not sure. But maybe those insider editorial comments emerged from a kind of history at VQR.  Just sayin'.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Panic in Needle Park: The Final Version of My Novel is Complete Today!

I got a peek at the final version of my book, which is on its way to the printers for release on November 11th. Wow. What a feeling. It's interesting because I feel like there should be some sort of balloons or streamers going off around my head, or there should be someone who is jumping up and down for me about it, besides me, myself and I. But, in the end, perhaps as it is with birth and death, a novel is an extraordinarily private happening in all its stages. That seems like it wouldn't be so, given that the whole point is to have someone else (or many someones) read and share in the thing. But reading, also, is a private happening, so it's confusing. At least to me.  That said, I am happy with the final product. I am ready for it to be in the world on its own. It is the best possible novel I could have written, I think.  Not perfect, but flawed in its own charming way. What happens next is no longer up to me.  That creates both a relief and some vague panicky feelings that there will never be enough of what I need (heroine? readers? good reviews? attention?) to keep me lifted up out of my own despair.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Imagine Your Rejection for Playboy's Playmate of the Month

Never mind about getting fiction rejected from these hallowed pages. Imagine the sting of getting your tender nude and naked body rejected! AND the editors assert that they have viewed your photos carefully...indeed, I bet they have. Luckily, they still affirm that you are an attractive young lady, which must be similar to the old trope: "You are a fine writer, gentle madam (or good sir) storyteller." I guess it's a good thing they don't offer anything more specific about size, shape or relative perkiness, if you know what I'm saying. Still....ouchy! My bellybutton is pretty and deserves to be on display. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thank You For Your Efforts and Letting Me Read Your Work

It's all right, little kitties, everyone gets a form rejection letter. I've been worrying lately about the state of the short story. It seems like the only way those things get read any more is if they are in a collection, published as a book.  But maybe I have just lost touch with all the great stuff out there on the great and vast Inter-webs. I better get back to reading fiction that way, bettern't I?