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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.