Thursday, March 27, 2014

They're Heeere!

Advanced reading copies are here. And just like poltergeist, it's all very unreal and a little scary. If you're a press person, or a lit blogger, or just a curious bird, and you want a copy to review, read, or carry around, or if you want to be the one to reveal WR's identity on your platform (if anyone at this point really cares), just drop me a line old-school at writerrejected [at] aol [dot] com. Pub date is November, 2014. I'll give you an exclusive on whatever part of the story you want. Or not. I have no idea if anyone out there is still with me. Prob should have moved on to other technologies: twitter and whatnot. The person I live with (aka my spouse) tells me that blogs are dead. And I thought I was on the cutting edge trumpeting in 80 posts the death of fiction. Oh well, I am behind the times because it took 15 years to publish my novel. What can you do?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hang on to Your Hat, Terrified Self

News flash: Advanced reading copies have arrived at the publisher's, and a few are probably by now in a box winging their way to me. Also, copies are being shipped to the kind literatti who have agreed to blurb my book. And are off to a really great media list.  And have been sent for humble submission to the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize judges at the Center for Fiction. Anyway. Wow. In a way, it's happening so fast.  But also in a "15-years-later" kind of way. I was thinking about not putting a photo on the back because I am weirded out by the fact that I am so much older than I thought I'd be when I finally pushed out this second book. What picture could ever represent all those years? But friends and spouse convinced me that I would be sorry to not have some representation of me at this moment to go out there with the thing.  I am sure they are right.  I would probably regret it. The whole photograph thing was a nightmare, but I think I landed on a photo that at the very least looks like me--if you squint and stand back and rub it with Vaseline. We'll see. Also, I really have the urge to slow time down, realizing that this will never happen again. Never will there be a day where I get an email announcing with glee that the advanced reading copies of my first novel are ready. I love my publisher. She is an amazing person, who does so much for literary publishing, and barely makes any money, and says things like, "I just think this should be a book in the world," and ends her email with "Here we go!"

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Very Rare Rejection that Kicked Off 2014

I got this rejection for a non-fiction project at the same time I found out my novel was accepted for publication, so maybe it is not as warm and fuzzy to you as it is to me. Maybe I was under the influence of acceptance, but I did think it a very, very nice rejection.  And you know me: except for Rosemary Ahern, I do not use the n-label very freely, especially not for agents.  This is a special occasion:
Dear WR,
Thank you so much for contacting me with your writing. I am a VERY BIG fan of [referring editor], and her writing, and her judgment, so I especially appreciate her putting us in touch with each other – I trust and admire her taste very much. I have read your proposal for [non-fiction book], and I think you are a gifted writer.  You have a great voice and I am so curious about your book – I almost want to read it just for personal inspiration and because I know I’d enjoy it and it would be very thought-provoking. However – and it pains me to write this – I don’t know that I could easily sell your book. I represent two other books that also cover similar ground, in terms of subject and approach, and I’ve encountered difficulty in placing these works with a publisher. I am sorry not to be more encouraging, but I do want to wish you all success with your other writing projects and your [topic of a different non-fiction] book. I distinctly remember reading that piece in the New York Times when it appeared there!

I think that I may even nominate Claudia Cross for a GAK award. As I told her (weirdly) in my response to this rejection, I wish she could be my friend. Since that is impossible, perhaps she can be my 2014 GAK nominee.  p.s. Did you know that since 2007 when I started this blog, a substance called Gak has been introduced on the market as a child's toy? Reference the photo above for a sense of what the stuff is.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

U2 Rejected

U2! Some people are just plain wrong,

Bored with Myself

Today I learned the word "rejection" was first used in 1415 (MCDXV). Here's what else happened that year: Several reformers of the Catholic church were burned at the stake for heresy. Henry IV died, and Henry V took over as King of England and invaded France.  Also Cecily Neville, mother of Edward IV and Richard III of England was born.  If you watch and enjoy (as I have) the excellent BBS/Starz miniseries The White Queen based on Philippa Gregory's wildly successful historical series (The Cousins' War: The White Queen, The Red Queen, The Kingmakers Daughter) you might find this interesting. Otherwise, you may go about your business and ignore this post.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Southern Plug

Unfortunately, we could not place your work at this time, but please think of us again in the future. Recent issues have featured many authors who continued submitting work to us until we received something that suited Yemassee. It always helps to be familiar with the journal, so please consider ordering a subscription or sample copy, or stop by our new website at to view our issues archive. Upcoming fiction and poetry contests are also listed on the site, including the William Richey Fiction Contest, judged by George Singleton, now open till Nov. 15th, with a $1000 prize. Thanks again for the chance to read your work. Best of luck with this. Sincerely, The Editors Yemassee

Friday, March 7, 2014

A New Digital New Yorker Rejection is in Play

I received the following notice from an LROD reader, who received a new (signed) New Yorker digital rejection that varies from our last digital report:
I have received the standard rejection reply from the New Yorker magazine many times. This last however was different.
Dear (my name): We are grateful for the opportunity to read and consider your new work. We are very much regret that we are unable to carry it in the magazine. We do, however look forward to reading more when the time comes. Sincerely, Paul Muldoon (poetry editor) and Elizabeth Denison (poetry coordinator)
What does this mean? I'm not obtuse. Maybe paranoid. Does anyone think this is positive or a tiered response or "here's a nice way to reject your work so that you don't go postal on our offices?" 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Taking a Bio Break

I always thought I'd be the cool kind of writer who'd have a one-line bio. Something like: "So-and-so lives in such-and-such a state." Kind of like, I don't have anything to prove, do not need to mention my previous book, or my so-called honors; just want you to know I live somewhere.  Or: "So-and-so lives on the planet. That would be a good one. "This is So-and-So's first novel; So-and-so lives on the planet." Unfortunately, a little voice from the back of my skull starts kicking up dust: "What about that one prize? Shouldn't you mention that one? It's in the acknowledgments, but this is the cover. Mention it on the cover!" And then I just might as well give in and put everything about me on the cover: My address, social security number, place of birth, favorite food, problems with gluten." It's either nothing....or everything. It's the problem with me, in general: I'm not so good at the middle ground. No, that's stupid. I'm going to go with a one-line bio: "So-and-so took a lifetime to write this novel, and nearly died in the process. But So-and-so lives." That about says it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Would You Actually Call that Authorship?

I notice that my intense novel nuttery is now focused on the incidental personal items, which normally appear on the outside of the book. For starters, the photo. Do I really need a picture of myself on the cover? My friends and family say that I will regret not including one, but the trauma of it all seems overwhelming. (And, seriously, trauma is a stupid thing to say for the topic at hand. First-world problems and totally privileged writer issue.) Not just the way I look and how I should smile, but other issues. Here's the thing: after 15 years writing this thing, the idea of owning authorship seems a little false. What I really did is 1) have no choice in the matter of writing this novel, 2) simply kept going and going, refusing to give up, as if I were being pushed along by some inside engine with no breaks, 3) stumbled after years and years of trying to find the right collection of chapters, pages, sentences, words. Authorship seems like a large claim for such fumbling around.  But maybe that's just what writing feels like. My other book did not feel that way, though. So, I don't know.  Also, I thought I'd be super young and fresh-faced when this novel (my second book) came flying out into the spotlight, rather than eons later to come crawling out all blurry-eyed and twitchy. But so much of what I thought might happen in this life did not ever materialize. So it goes, as Vonnegut would say. I feel like painting on a mustache and grinning stupidly with my eyes all squinty and my hair in tufts. You know a photo that says, "I friggin' did it...and it has not been a particularly purdy road getting here." Or, perhaps my blurry green smiley face, so you'll all know it is me?

Monday, March 3, 2014

This Novel is Not Your Palimpsest, Yo

Here's something weird: I delivered my notes on the novel proof copy today. It's very strange and unsettling to think that this is the last (or near last) time I will ever have the opportunity to change the words on the page. For 15 years, the luxury (I thought torture) was that I could change anything, any time, and change it back, and noodle around as much as I pleased. I did it quite a bit over the years, ever striving for perfect results.  The thing is that when you change one little thing–a word, a phrase, a relationship between characters–it has all sorts of rippling effects you cannot anticipate. So, there never really is such a thing as perfection, I think. It's always changing, but now here we are; this is it. No more chances to change the words. They stick as they are, as close to perfect as it ever gets, which is probably not very. How do you know when you're done with something? When the publisher rips it out of your clutching hands? I guess so. It's disconcerting.