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Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Gentle Good Riddance to 2009

It's been quite a year...not so good in many ways. On the other hand, I did receive some lessons handed down from the universe.
  1. A stranger found my dad dead in the woods. Lesson: life is unpredictable
  2. My dad cut me out of his will. Lesson: life is humbling
  3. I finished my novel. Lesson: Keep writing, especially when it's hard
  4. No novel of mine got published in 2009, despite this bold statement. Lesson: Never make public predictions
  5. I started a new novel anyway. Lesson: Resilience is a writing tool
  6. Believe it or not, I feel lucky for 1-5  Lesson: Why be an asshole?
As for the decade as a whole, all in all it was pretty good:
  1. In 2000 I won a fiction grant for $25,000.00 that let me quit my job and write my novel, then start a freelance writing business, so I could continue working on other creative writing and finally finish my novel.  Which I did. Eventually.  Lesson:  The universe provides
  2. I moved to a new state and married the love of  my life. Lesson: Only a few lucky s.o.b.'s get to marry for love, so be grateful every minute because life is unpredictable and humbling (see above)
  3. I published several personal essays and short stories, won a few prizes, including one for $15,000.00 and one for $500.00.  Lesson:  Submit, submit, submit...and enjoy when things go well
  4. I finished a new book of stories and a new book of essays.  Lesson: Write, write, write.
  5. I got a lot of therapy and joined a 12-step group to deal with my alcoholic childhood (Funny sentence: I wasn't the alcoholic), also learned to breathe.  Lesson:  There is help if you seek it
  6. I didn't get any of my books published, but I'm not ready to give up.  In fact, perhaps you could say I'm just getting started.  Lesson: What else can I do? Give up?
Here are a few goals for the New Year:
  1. Be grateful for all the people I love and love them better
  2. Be grateful for all the people who love me and accept love better
  3. Ask for help more often and breathe more often
  4. Remember how humbling it is to be human; stay in that place
  5. Have a positive attitude whenever possible
  6. Try to believe in something, anything, even God if that's what it takes
What about you all, mice? What are your goals for 2010?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Suck Face, Indeed!

While I have only ever tried to get a book or 3 in print, not a word into the lexicon, I thought this was a cute rejection. Click to enlarge and read.  I think I would have rejected "suck face" with this particular definition, too...and I rarely reject anything. Alas.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's Book Buyer Eat Book Agent Eat Book Writer World

Blagent Rachelle Gardner offers an interesting industry-wide take on rejection.  Damn, she's got a lot of followers.  I guess we are a desperate sort, we writers.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Nice [B][L]inkage

Here's what I love about the agent/writer Betsey Lerner: She links her excellent blog to LROD; I'm sure she's the only industry person who has done so.  Right on, sister! Way to have a sense of humor! You know I am not a fan of blagent sycophants, and wouldn't want to become one myself, but definitely read Lerner's awesome last post of 2009. (Why can't she be my agent? Just wondering.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Oh, Just Go Ahead & Recycle the Beyotch

Well, at least these anonymous rejecting professionals know that writing is hard work.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Graceless Form

Leave it to good old Harper's to state the obvious in a way that comforts.  Got to love.

Monday, December 21, 2009

2009: A Year in Rejection?

It's worth paying attention when Wylie-Merrick dole out advice on a blog, isn't it?  Read here and decide for yourself, then come back and discuss: "There’s a saying on the literary street that it’s better to have not published at all than to publish and fail."  Is that true?  I find the whole tone of the W-M blog obnoxious. (Is it just me? Or is it the the evil little blog-writing minions and their attitude?)  By the way, I've been informed that Wylie-Merrick is not the freaky dude with the scary nickname pictured left. That is in fact Andrew Wylie, who is of no relation to Wylie-Merrick Agency. It's confusing.  

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Inappropriate illustrations

Oh, the deep regrets of FSG! Any kid-book author/illustrators out there wish to comment? Is it worse or better than being a rejected writer?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Sign of the e-Times

In case you have missed the sign posts along the way, here are some clues about the e-future:
Get the picture? No wonder the publishing industry is embattled...poor fat cats are losing money, and while it means authors are also losing money (think of the music industry a few years ago), I have to say I kind of enjoy the way Interweb technology makes profiteers scramble. In the meantime, if you find yourself feeling antsy, you're not alone.  Here's a little primer on e-book rights.  Might as well get familiar now.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tallying, Tallying, Tallying: More Rejections to Come?

So, as per your advice (some of you), I sent out a friendly little email to the agents who have had my novel under consideration since the dawn of time. Here are the results:
  1. Half way through and is "enjoying it," so doesn't want to be counted out.  Apology for lameness of taking 6 months.  (Wonder if halfway means no compelling reason to finish?)
  2. "Wha? Huh? You never sent it to me. I want it. Send it now. I'll read right away."  (Of course, I had sent it at the beginning of September, but who am I to argue?)
  3. Radio silence
Also, re: the agent who liked my writing, but wasn't really into my novel topic, and wanted to see my other work, thinking that I might not oppose piece-meal representation, I sent some samples off.  Immediately got a cheery email with apology that holidays were busy, but the New Year would be the perfect time to read my materials.

So, that's three for four.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Down with 'Delitionism'!

Take a gander at this Guardian article by Keith Kahn-Harris advocating for a return to the old-fashioned rejection letter.  Some day we will grow nostalgic for it, I am told. Don't you love it when some clever bird coins a new rejection phrase? Bravo!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rejection Self-Amusement: Very Important

Got this beauty in the mailbag yesterday:

Dear W/R:

Thought you, especially, might appreciate the below, which I recently sent out to some friends. I don't mind if you share it.


Hi folks -
Thought y'all might get a kick out of this. Looking back over the many frustrations in 5 years of submitting multiple novels to multiple agents and publishers, the biggest by far has been those who show interest, request copies of the manuscript and then disappear, never to be heard from again. 

When this happens, about all you can do is continue to e-mail until, at some point, you wear them down and they deign to actually give you an official rejection. Fun, eh?

I confess that, after a year or more of unanswered e-mails from a particular person, I often lost it a bit and grew somewhat sarcastic. Recently, I've begun compiling some of the more entertaining exchanges from these past 5 years. Here's a few e-mails from me to various industry folks who, for whatever reason, proved incapable of sustaining correspondence.


Dear [Agent/Editor]
Just checking in once more to see if you've had a chance to take a look at the pages I sent. It is my sincere hope that you are not dead. That may sound overly dramatic, but the fact is that people die every day, and when they do, one of the first things that happens is they stop responding to e-mails.

Dear [Agent/Editor]
Checking in once more to see if you've had a chance to review the chapters I sent you.

I must say: the one-sided nature of our correspondence as of late is going to make for some mighty dull reading when they publish the first volume of my "Collected Letters - 1991-2008 - The Struggling Years."

I urge you to write yourself into my saga while there's still time... a simple rejection note will suffice...

A man of your stature deserves more than a footnote. i.e: "requested material in fall of 2007 but correspondence ends here - " etc.

Dear [Agent/Editor]
I want you to know that I deeply regret the souring of our relationship, virtual though it may be. I look back wistfully on the early days of our courtship: I wooed you with a query letter; you bantered back coquettishly by requesting some sample chapters... how innocent and untroubled it all seems now.

In retrospect, I can see how that marked the turning point, and it seems to have all gone downhill from there. I understand that every relationship has its summer, its fall, its inevitable wintering. Still, I cannot help but regret having driven you away from me. Was I too needy? Too distant? Did you begin to feel that I never really "saw" you? Did you feel trapped? Or were you afraid that *I* felt trapped?

Alas, winter is upon us, and regret cannot thaw the icicles that surround the heart.

In woe,
Dear [Agent/Editor]
It's now been six months since you requested my manuscript. Could you at least do me the courtesy of an official rejection? I hate having a "blank" in the manuscript ledger. It's so untidy.

Dear [Agent/Editor] 
I myself have struggled with shyness from time to time over the years, so I don't want you to think me unsympathetic to your problem. Let me assure you that your inability to respond needn't become a debilitating handicap. Let's nip this thing in the bud right now, shall we? If you can muster up an official rejection of the manuscript you requested from me, I give you my word I will not react harshly. I'll be just as nurturing and supportive as can be. I ask you to trust me on this. You're safe here. Let's take this step together.

Dear [Agent/Editor]
As spring deepens into summer, my thoughts turn to that most precious of gifts: response. As the skin responds to the sun's rays by reddening, as the rooster answers the dawn with his mighty yawp, as Death answers us all in his own good time, I dream modestly of a response to my own queries.

But at this point I think Death's may precede yours.

Hey [Agent/Editor]
Just checking in to see where you're at with [novel]. I'm
35,000 words into the next novel already. Wouldn't that be a hoot if I
finished an entire novel in the time it took you to read 50 pages?

Fair warning: the new one's coming along quickly...


Dear [Agent/Editor]
50,000 words and counting...

Dear [Agent/Editor]
Thank you for your response. Unfortunately, due to the volume of form letter rejections I receive daily, I am unable to respond personally to each impersonal rejection. Please understand that this does not reflect unfavorably on your impersonal form letter rejection, which is very much appreciated. 

Best of luck,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stories like Jell-O

James Viscosi gets the best rejections, doesn't he?  Seems so unfair, and yet this editor should have worked with him on the story and published it.  Remember when they worked with people?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Manuscript to the Shredder

Here's what it's like to get a rejection in South Africa. Click the image to enlarge and read.  Not very glamorous there either.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ed Wilson's Preemptive Rejection

Well, I guess if you win the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal for Literature, the unwashed peeps are going to ask you for things.  The little check mark next to the declined request is what came back from the very, very busy Mr. Wilson.  What would your list of preemptive strikes look like?
    Mine would include:
  • Take out the garbage 
  • Forward stupid emails 
  • Shovel the driveway
  • Appear on T.V. (but only because I'm shy) 
Thanks to The Blog of Tim Ferriss for the original find.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Success of My Search Went South

I've gotten a few of these over the years.  Plus I've gotten some personalized CBLTD rejections, and a couple of agents who wanted me to do rewrites for them. Those were the old days, baby.  Now, I just sit, wait, and act like I don't even care.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's So Bad It's Good, F. Larry

What the hell have I stumbled on here? Someone posting my version of heaven! F. Larry Badgood, indeed! I want to read the 100 pages of bad sex writing and be confused about the "orgy scene."  Is that spaghetti sauce?  Did someone actually go to the trouble of fabricating these rejections, as if he'd found them in the garbage, and then put them up just for our fun and enjoyment? How entirely amusing! Feel free to speculate about the crazed mind of Bo Swiderski, who may not even be a real person. (I'm not even going to wait until tomorrow to post these; enjoy them now.)  Comment away...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I Swear I Thought it Said "Olivia B. Bummer"!

Jenny Edwards, Rejection Queen, has posted what would be a pretty damn adorable version of her most recent rejection if you replace the name "Blumer" with the word "Bummer":

Olivia B. Blumer
The Blumer Literary Agency
350 Seventh Avenue
Suite 2003
New York, NY 10001-5013                       (Form rejection)
Dear Sir or Madam:
    I am grateful to have had the opportunity to consider your work, and regret having to respond in such an impersonal fashion. The volume of submissions is such that an individual response is no longer possible. I have read the material that you sent and while interesting, it isn't appropriate for my list. My taste is eclectic and I am always seeking some balance in my client list, so my reaction to your work may have as much to with my needs as it does with your talent. While I must delcine to represent you, I do wish you luck elsewhere. Thanks again for the opportunity.
    Sincerely yours,
    The Blumer Literary Agency

Queenie is having a hard time with the holidays, as is everyone with a messed-up family of origin (I include myself in that esteemed club), so go on over to her blog and give her some good cheer and encouragement, please.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Have Found My Virtual Guru

Over at's Since You Asked column, Cary Tennis dished out some beautiful advice to a writer whose second novel was rejected after her editor read it and ditched her. Writes the columnist/sage: "The rejection is felt by your true, innocent, unprotected self, the self that requires unconditional love. At this crucial time, you must listen to the wounded innocent and feel that pain and bewilderment. But you must also invoke the powerful, avenging hero. It is not just the innocent that helps us write. It is also the warrior. The innocent creates these lovely things and looks up wide-eyed and says, Look! Isn't it beautiful? The warrior sharpens her arrows deep into the night, checks her armor, practices the kill shot, surveys the opposition, steels herself against fear. The innocent needs the warrior. Beauty and strength: One without the other is not enough. The empty warrior is like the blinded one-eyed Cyclops, flailing madly in the cave. The unworldly artist is like an infant left in the forest to be eaten. As artists, we need both the innocent and the warrior." It seriously brought a tear to my eye to feel so understood. Take a click on over to read the whole column: heart-wrenching letter and beautiful response. You won't be sorry.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Holiday Rejection Haiku Challenge

agents who never read, life at a standstill
reject not my novel

[Not very good...I bet you can do better.  Give it a shot?  Rule: 17 syllables.]

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Attitude Adjustment for Thanksgiving*

  • Not thrilled about the traffic, but gleeful about Thanksgiving with the wonderful, wacky in-laws
  • Not pleased about literary career, but grateful I have a new novel that seems to be sticking
  • Unhappy about the death of books, but lucky to have this blog
  • Annoyed that editor keeps changing mind about this and that, including when to run my piece (a topical personal essay), but glad to be published just the same
  • Sad no one wants to publish my first novel, but thinking it over, what in the hell made me feel entitled to that fate, anyway? I'm a fortunate s.o.b. to have published my first book, an experience I basically squandered by being disappointed that it wasn't bigger 
  • Stupid to bummed when in fact I have been able to arrange my life so that I can make money as a paid writer and still have time to find fullfillment as a creative writer.  (Life is good.  Maybe it's time to stop whining, right?) 
  • I have food, a home, a job, a great marriage (to another writer, in fact), loving friends, and the best standard poodle in the world  
  • Oh, and, I even have you mice for company...
*Don't worry I'll be bitter again on Monday.  Hope you all have a great holiday with lots of blessings

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Almost-Brush (Anonymously) With A Friend of Ours

Here's something funny:  I was asked to participate in a reading recently, and who was on the reading roster? None other than the famous GAK-award winner and LROD gentleman, Jacob M. Appel.  Unfortch, I can't make the reading due to funky timing, but isn't that a hoot?  Can you imagine my standing near him, reading my story after he read his story? He wouldn't even know that I am who I am!  Well, maybe next time, Mr. A.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Have Much To Be Thankful For...So Ignore This Post

So, we have officially entered the season of silence, the months of no response from publishing professionals. You know the routine: holiday, holiday, New Year, see you in 2010.
     But here's a question for you: I still have the manuscript of my novel out with 3 potential agents: one has had the thing since August and wrote in September to say she was reading and would be back to me soon.  (Guess it wasn't a very impressive partial read.)  The other two have had the manuscript since early October. So, do I shake the trees to see if my novel falls out thrice rejected? Or do I just let it ride until January when my novel will come back on its own thrice rejected for the New Year? Remember this bold assertion that's now so sad?
    It's always a dilemma for me: rejection now or rejection later. I have decided to ignore the nauseating thimbleful of hope that inevitably gets in the mix to pull me out of reality. But I have had a piece about being a writer accepted for publication in a very widely read journal, so I could use it as an excuse for getting in touch.
    Any advice?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Books of the Year

The Atlantic's Books of the Year list is here.  Benjamin Schwartz will even tell you why on audio.  He says that the book form has probably run its course...dead or at least shrinking. (Schwarz says: "Sadly, most of or readers are not spending their extra-curricular hours talking about books.") Note that in the winners and runners up features 3 short story collections and 1 biography of Flannery O. The interviewer notices this, too.  Have short stories replaced novels due to our ever expanding access to information and lack of time? Didn't everyone used to say you had to publish your novel before your short story collection?   Were they wrong?  Discuss.

p.s. Does anyone want to buy a patiently shelved book of short stories? Some of the stories have won awards.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

There is No "Truth" in This Title

Stay tuned for 592 pages of a memoir written by the chubby little devil himself and entitled "Courage and Consequences" (not "Truth or..." because everyone knows you can get off scott-free for lying. The book cost publishers about $3 million, and the evil little chubster has reportedly asked for an extension already. (Helping to ruin a country may be easy, but writing a book? A whole 'nother story, as they say.) For a while everyone thought the evil little chumbmeister was a diabolical genius, but now that seems like overstatement, doesn't it? Similarly, Alan Greenspan, whose deal for $7 million yielded The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World. with his gigantic face on the cover. And yet, oh, how hard our false gods of power and money fall! He sure had himself some adventures, eh? Whoa, capitalist cowboy Question: What unethical, ill-advised, amoral or misguided activities have you masterminded to get your book published?  What world have you ruined to enter this lucrative industry?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Case of the Evil Pencils

Can't get your novel published?  Well, it could be worse.  You could have writer's block, too.  I had writer's block once in the early 90's for about 5 years.  It was total hell.  Anyway, if you are suffering from can't-get-published and writer's block, read this article for your writer's block and keep coming back to the blog for the company.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

You Didn't Win; Here's Your Subscription

It looks like this rejection has been in a flood.  See the stain?  Lullwater, indeed. Anyhoo, the person who won the prize was an MFA student from University of Georgia, which seems fishy, unless you had to be from Georgia to submit for the prize.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Who Killed Literary Fiction?

According to this Ben Yagoda's new book, Memoir did.  Here's an excerpt form the book review: More truly provocative is Yagoda's assertion that the rise of memoir shows how "authorship has been democratized"; everyone has a story to tell and who better to tell it than the one who lived it? We put less faith in expertise and objectivity, and more in what's spoken "straight from the heart." Furthermore the authenticity of a first-person account of a true story will, in many readers' minds, make up for a lack of the literary finesse required in fiction. James Frey could not find a publisher for the preening, bombastic "A Million Little Pieces" when he first attempted to sell it as a novel; marketed as a memoir, it was a hit, and continued to sell well even after he was publicly disgraced for making up many of the book's more melodramatic events.  Ugh.

Friday, November 13, 2009

As Long As You Had Fun, We Forgive Your Sarcasm

Over at the BookEnds, blagent Jessica  writes a rant about some poor rejected writer who allegedly sent an angry email to 400 publishing professionals, his/her rejecters! Now that takes cajones. I would like to know (a) who wrote that email (come foreward; this is your home), and (b) who were the 400 publishing professional recipients (someone: leak us the note at writerrejected at aol dot com; we won't tell anyone from whence it came.).  What fun!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Now You're Just Yanking My Chain

A reader sent this beauty in, saying it was a rejection sent out by science fiction writer David Gerrold for an anthology he edited long ago.   Apparently, Gerrold is best known for writing a favorite Star Trek episode from the original series.  Click to enlarge for easier reading. It will give you a giggle.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More On The Fate of Agents

There's more debate over at media bistro in the comments section on a posting titled "Literary Agents, Bah, Who Needs 'Em?"  Here's a highlight from the article: One published author who asks to be unnamed disagrees, "What do you need an agent for anymore, really? Why? To negotiate a meager advance? You can't get them on the phone anyway. You're stuck promoting the book yourself because publishers don't put any marketing dollars into your book unless you're John Grisham. I don't see the whole point when I can hire an attorney to negotiate my publishing contract for a flat fee or just upload the book to Kindle myself."  And a juicy highlight from the comments: You can't get them on the phone anyway. You're stuck promoting the book yourself because publishers don't put any marketing dollars into your book unless you're John Grisham. I don't see the whole point when I can hire an attorney to negotiate... Well, that's good 'cause my agent quit a couple of years ago and headed for the hills, clutching a newborn infant to her chest. I suppose she got herself and her family out just in time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Well, As Long As You Say So

HuffPo via Crain's reports that Amazon flew some impressive agent big wigs to Amz-HQ in Seattle in order to reassure the worried little fellows that just because Kindle is turning reading into an eBook experience, "they are not trying to destroy publishing as we know it."  So let's just go with that, then.  ("Amazon is not entirely used to their role as the evil empire," said one anonymous agent, probably the same dumbass who rejected you last week.) As long as everyone is convinced that this is not Amazon's intent....even if it IS the result of eBooks and the Interwebs...I guess we're all okay.  We'll just continue in a hazy fog of uncertainty and denial.  We'll just keep not buying books unless somehow featuring Brittney Spears, Michael Jackson, or vampires. Okay? Okay, good talk.

UPDATE: This on the topic from the New York Times.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Fancy People Are Here

The first self-publishing book expo was held at a Manhattan hotel on Saturday. The event featured 55 exhibitors, 12 panels, and about 200 attendees.  This Epoch Times reporter says it "drew a small but quality crowd."

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Personality Subtheory of Rejection

Finally, a psychological diagram that explains why I am a well-adjusted coper of the highest magnitude. As a child, I was seriously rejected by my father.  The trend continued into adulthood. My now-dead dad even went so far as to choose me among all his children to disinherit, though we are all born of the same woman, his wife for 58 years, our mother. This is true, actually; a little swipe from beyond the grave that took the whole family aback.  (Why me? you are wondering. I wonder the same.)  Not that there was any money, or anything; I think he was just going for a final crushing blow.
     This is probably the deep, dark reason why I started this blog in the first place, and why I keep clamoring for more rejection after so much already. Could it be that I can't get enough?  Perhaps I'm going for mastery?
     That said, as my friend Helen famously put it: "Well, at least now you have a topic for your memoir."  (She said it more eloquently than that.) I would probably need a less defended tone to write a successful narrative about how such a bad thing could happen to such a good person as myself.  I'm working on it and will keep you posted on my progress.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

No Equal in Mastery

In Louis Zukofsky's long, musical poem "A," which he started in 1927 and wrote until his death, there is this amusing passage, which is allegedly from a Chinese book rejection:

He was pretty much unknown for most of his writing life, and had a nice revival in the 1970's, so that just goes to never know what's going to happen next, little mice.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Don't Go Getting Clever On Us Now

I am told this is a real rejection form letter sent out by an American publisher.  Anyone know anything about it?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Just Do It!

"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." --Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rejection Fire

The print version of EW has a story about Kathryn Stockett, best-selling author of debut novel The Help.  Here's a highlight to brighten up your day:

"Nearly 60 agents turned down Kathryn Stockett's debut novel before publisher Amy Einhorn picked it up in 2007. 'Those rejections lit a fire under my rear end,' says Stockett. 'I would say, "I've got to make it better.' Now those agents must be feeling some serious regret. Published in February, The Help, about a '60s-era Mississippian who's writing a book about African-American maids, now has 789,000 copies in print. Its steady word-of-mouth sales have kept it on the New York Times best-seller list longer than any other hardcover novel this year. Not bad for a novel whose first printing was just 57,300."

My Next Novel

Inspired by reading the New York Times Book Review yesterday, I've decided that my next novel is going to be about a vampire child growing up in war-torn Iraq.  (Seriously, does every book have to have a vampire in it? What's the cultural obsession, I wonder?) Hey, to change the subject, did anyone read George Saunder's latest story in the New Yorker?  It kind of blew my mind.

Friday, October 30, 2009

In Case You Didn't Know

Janet Reid is cluing in the clueless over at her blog.  Here's a highlight answering why  editors write nice rejections:
     Publishers are not stupid. They are large companies with products to sell to consumers and the last thing, the LAST thing, they want to do is make consumers angry and unwilling to buy as in "oh those beasts at LaDeDah Publishers were so rude, I'll never buy one of their books again."