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Friday, April 30, 2010

You Write Like A Lizard Apparently

According to The Rejected Quarterly--not my Bible, but maybe should be--The Acorn sent the following rejection to Richard Kostelanetz"The ability to string words together into a comprehensible phrase or sentence is what distinguishes human beings from a dictionary and the lower animal forms. When you have reached that stage in your development, try us again." Seriously?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Junker on a Space Junket

This just in over the wires about our friend Howard Junker.  An LROD reader stumbled on this Zyzzyva blog post and sounded the following warning: "Seriously, the guy is all about showing off how mean he is. He's only gotten worse in his old age. It's like a cry for help or something. Why would you post this self-righteous response?" Some people will do anything for attention; some editors are cranky. Do you see what we're dealing with here people?  No wonder it's so difficult.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Outside Looking In

What to do when even the stupid advertisers reject you:
"When I first reviewed your site, I admit that I must not have spent enough time familiarizing myself with your content. The posts I previewed were edgy, but basically acceptable under our editorial guidelines. After more careful review, I’m finding many potential problems (not with your content, but things that our advertisers will object to.) I don’t think it would be fair for us to ask you to alter your blogging style, and I apologize for not reviewing your content more carefully before accepting your site for our network. I’m happy to discuss our editorial guidelines with you and see if we can make it work – but at this time, I cannot issue ad code for your site."
P.S. Not mine...found it on the Interwebs.  I don't apply for advertisers, though  maybe I should.  The rejections are entertaining, it appears.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Submit Where You'd Love to Be

I just caught up with the foxy Book Fox, John Fox, who has an interesting report from the AWP conference on the hierarchy of literary magazines.  Interesting post.  If you need some suggestions about where to submit in terms of breaking in, try this list of respected cliterature and illiterate magazines.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Here's What's True

You could be an Emmy award winning writer who has worked on MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, and THE SIMPSONS and you could still not get an agent.  Ken Levine, dudes.  Granted he was writing plays, but still....Ken Levine.  Guess you and I don't probably stand a chance.  But you and I probably already knew that, didn't we? That's okay; for us it's all about the art anyway.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

GAK 2010 Winner--Bill Shapiro

The mice have spoken, people, and I am pleased to announce that the winner of the 2010 GAK Award, The Golden Apple of Kindness, goes to Bill Shapiro, author of Other People's Rejection Letters.  And this prize has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the fact that Bill has invited yours truly to his fantastic and glamorous (I hope) book party in New York City. Thank you for participating and sending in such amusing comments as:

  1. A book of rejections?  That's right up this blog's alley
  2. Sha*PIE*ro...even though he says his name funny
  3. I vote bill
  4. Let's kiss Betsy Lerner's ass (minority opinion)
Runners up for the GAK 2010?  Jacob Appel and Betsy Lerner, whose prize is to have their names prestigiously listed on this prestigious blog for inclusion on the old resume. They can also console each other by forming an agent/author relationship, selling Jacob's book, and getting it nominated for a Pulitzer. (Really, is that too much to ask?) Congratulations to everyone involved! Please feel free to stop by with congratulations, acceptance speeches, protests, accusations, what have you.
Remember this: At LROD every loser is a winner.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another Day, Another Agent

A friend called yesterday insisting I send my novel to his agent because he (the friend) had read and liked it (the novel). You don't get that kind of a phone call every day. I've been revising the ending. (I kind of think the novel rushes to its conclusion due to my anxiety about ending it properly, so I need to think about how to get back in there and slow it down a little.) Anyway, I sent it off because the agent's assistant wanted it now, and I am nothing if not obedient.  Whatevs.  It'll be a new rejection to post in a few months.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Should Have Gotten An MFA

Poor little Iowa Workshop boy got some rejections and put his novel in the drawer before receiving the Pulitzer.  Hello?! A nice highlight from the Times article:
The early rejection “was funny at the time,” Mr. Harding said. “And even funnier now.” Mr. Harding, a onetime drummer for a rock band, is far too discreet to name any of the agents or editors who wouldn’t touch his work a few years ago.
Oh, seriously, don't listen to me; I'm a jealous douche. I don't even like myself today.  Good for you, Paul Harding.  Good for you.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Crazyhorse (Lazyman) Rejection

From a loyal anonymous reader in today's mailbag:

This rejection confused me at first because I couldn't recall sending in a regular submission to Crazyhorse. Then I got to the second paragraph remembered that I entered their short story contest back in December. I'm not one to complain about form rejections, but it seems extra lazy to not even bother to separate their regular submissions and contest entry rejections. Is is that difficult to send the appropriate rejection based on how the writer submitted? Plus, everyone *knows* that the lines "We received many fine entries" and "We hope you submit again" are just smoke up our asses, but when they're grouped together in two separate rejection options, it looks even more ridiculous.cThis strikes me as being almost as clueless as New Millennium being "unable" to tell you which of your stories was a finalist in their contest.

Dear [Writer],
Thank you for sending your manuscript "Title of Story" to us here at Crazyhorse via the online submission manager. We are sorry this particular manuscript was not selected for publication in Crazyhorse. We hope you will send us another soon, though. We could not publish Crazyhorse without the fine writing submitted to us. While we regret that the large number of submissions we receive makes it difficult for the editors to respond personally, we want to emphasize that an editor personally read your manuscript. Devoted reading is part of the Crazyhorse editorial mission; it is also our own personal one. If this manuscript was a prize entry: we are sorry this prize entry was not selected for the Crazyhorse fiction or poetry prize or for publication in Crazyhorse. We receive many fine prize entries, so it was a difficult decision to make. Thank you for sending us your manuscript to read, and thank you for supporting the nonprofit Crazyhorse with your entry's subscription. By the end of May we will announce the prize winners and finalists on the Crazyhorse website, by e-mail list, and by SASE if you included one with your entry. Thank you for supporting the journal with your reading, writing, and subscribing,
The Editors

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hurry Up And Wait

Maybe they should just wear this shirt and save everyone involved a whole lot of trouble.  Speaking of, there are still two agents who have had my novel since the dawn of time (well, the second agent has only had it since the Mesozoic Age, but still.  The first agent already gave me the lame...."Wha?? You said you were going to send but you never did, so I've been waiting for it.  If you send it again, I'll read immediately."  That was around the turn of the New Year. The other dude said his folks were processing my manuscript; that was February.  Is it time to shake trees again?  I hate this business.  I really, really do.  Why can't these people just do their job and reject me with speed and efficiency?  (It's not a question you have to answer.)

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Fish Swims in...Ireland

Jacob Appel strikes again...this time in Europe. (He's tres cosmopolitan, isn't he? Man, I love that guy in an unnatural way.) So, anyway, listen, it's about time to award a new GAK to someone both kind and heroic. I have listed the following nominees with some thoughts about each, but I'm going to let you have your say.

And the nominees are....

  • Jacob Appel (the guy who wins when you lose): I know, I know; he already won a GAK, but he just keeps impressing the hell out of me with his kind and humble emails and his incredible literary drive. Also, I think it would be funny to have him win two in a row.
  • Betsy Lerner (agent/writer): I know, I know; she's an agent, and therefore a controversial choice, but she is considering our number one nominee for representation, which is more than most agents reading this blog would do. Also, she's a writer; that has to be worth something. After reading her blog, you may think "kindness" is a stretch. But she's vaguely amusing for an agent, no?
  • Bill Shapiro (writer/editor/sympathetic dude): I know, I know; you think he wrote the book I should have written, but I have no interest in all that; I'm strictly literary (kiss of death). Bill has done a fine and respectful job promoting our cause; plus he's a super nice guy.
If you'd like to have a write-in ballot, feel free to nominate your own candidate, or yourself, but make sure to say why you deserve a GAK. Otherwise, cast your vote in the comments section, and make a plea for the candidate of your choice, if you are so inclined. I'll make a final decision sometime next week, and we'll all get our tuxes out for the award ceremony.

UPDATE: I had a brief email exchange with Appel who (get this) casts his vote for Bill Shapiro because, he writes, "his book is brilliant and, from everything I've heard of him, he's an extremely classy human being."  Take note all you cynics: his vote is not for himself or for the agent who may still take him on as a client. (He will let us know when that deed is done, he promises.) If that's not integrity, I don't know what is.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Once Upon A Time

Or maybe you've been doing it WRONG all these years and that's why you're a reject! This theory is capitulated by some people. (He looks like a nice guy, Charles Deemer; maybe he's right.) Maybe you just need an orphan/ wanderer/ warrior/ martyr protagonist plus a beginning, middle and end.  Funny, my novel has one character who is (nearly) all four of those things in an ordinary/extraordinary world. People should be banging down my door! Nah, never mind.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

No Place For You in __________

There's something sort of quaint about this Yale Review rejection.  The word "kindness" does not often grace a rejection slip, for instance.  Also, the way the letter leads you to the logo is kind of charming; reminds me of the old Mad Libs, where you fill in the blank with a noun or a verb, so it comes out silly.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tin House Managing Editor "Breaks Out" with "New Voice"

Someone referring to him/herself as Anonymouse, sent in this interesting missive: Hi, Writer, Rejected! Love your blog. After finding it, I actually went back to the beginning and have been reading all 3+ years of entries. You're the best! Maybe my grapes are just sour, but I wanted to share this with you: I received my latest issue of One Story recently, and was pleased to see the envelope was printed with things like "New Voice!" "Debut Writer!" and so on. It turns out the author of this story had never published a piece of fiction before. I was pretty excited. I thought, "Wow, they are actually publishing a nobody like me. It really is possible." Actually, this writer was apparently even more of a "nobody" than I am -- I've had stories published, just not in journals as prestigious as One Story. And then I opened the issue....and discovered that this "debut writer" is the managing editor of Tin House and the director of the Tin House summer writers workshop. And all the air went out of my balloons. This is not a statement on the quality of story/writing/author. I'm not saying this author didn't deserve to be published in One Story, that he doesn't struggle just as much as other writers, that he's never been rejected, etc. Not at all. If anything, I'm just disappointed that the journal played it up to be the discovery of a new, emerging writer when he clearly has some huge connections. Yes, it's his first published story, so that's technically true. But when you're the managing editor of Tin House and the director of their summer writing workshop, you're not exactly a newbie to the scene. He wasn't just plucked out of the air. I do wish him well and congratulate him for getting publishing in such a great journal. But in a perfect world, I would have been way more excited to see One Story use their fancy "New Voice!" envelopes on a debut writer who doesn't work for one of the top tier lit mags.
I actually feel a little guilty about writing this. I don't want to offend the writer because, frankly, it doesn't have anything to do with him or his writing. In fact, if I were in his shoes, I'd be thrilled. I am be curious, though, to see if other writers also reacted by rolling their eyes when they saw the "debut" title.

Same old, same old.  Sigh is right, Charlie Brown.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Friday's poetic post about yearning somehow prompted this fantastical comment from someone who seems to share some opinions with one of my brothers. So, this is what happened to the Republican party: they went skipping down paranoid lane in the state of bigotry toward the looney bin. Anyway, aren't we just a quiet little literary blog? What do you suppose brought on this assault with the written word?

In the last 50 years, liberals(LIKE OBAMA) have sided with every enemy that America has had.Viet Cong troops were loved by Hanoi Jane and Hanoi John and you liberals supported the communist troops over those of us that were drafted and had to go over there Communist USSR - Stalin was called "Uncle Joe" by Liberals (commie loving scumbags) while he exterminated close to 25 million people. Cuba - Fidel a folk hero loved by liberals everywhere Venezuela - Chevez, another communist dictator revered and loved by liberals Terrorist Nations and terrorist groups (they're peaceful people who hate women / anyone who's not in their particular sect / behead people / blow themselves up as well as children 2. Show their complete hatred of any thing patriotic and Christian 3. Teach children that perverts are living an alternate and wholesome lifestyle. 4. Believe that murderers and other deviates are just mis-understood people that shouldn't be in prison. "If only we could have a talk with them and point out how their behavior disappoints us"..... this also works with terrorists, maybe they just need a timeout! 5. Liberal support of illegal scumbags causing crime, getting free medical care, subsidized housing and food, free schooling all paid for by us taxpayers. 6. Demanding and passing laws that give criminals more rights than victims. 7. Yesterday one of you liberals on here posted saying you were looking for a site that was something like "f&^k the troops" and saying that they wanted to find the site and say how much they supported them. Proving again that you phony liberals don't really "Support Our Troops" its just another pack of PC lies covering up your hatred of this country. And many more ways.... They want to change America to the "new communism" as some of you liberals have told me (being anonymous here allows you liberals to state what your goals actually are). Go to this site dedicated to the communist party: and see that they have recommended every liberal democrat candidate that has run for the presidency during the last 4 or 5 elections and probably more. Read the communist stated goals, compare them to the goals set by the democrats..... suprise! they're the same. UNLIKE LIBERALS WHO LOOK AT THIS AS A PLUS.....I DON'T VOTE FOR CANDIDATES THAT ARE RECOMMENDED BY COMMUNISTS.IF YOU DON'T STAND BEHIND OUR TROOPS, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO STAND IN FRONT OF THEM!! Support Our Troops -> OBAMA IS A JOKE. HE IS RUINING AMERICA AND SIDING WITH TERRORISTS. HE HATES OUR TROOPS AND WANTS TO KILL BABIES. HE IS NOT HELPING THE HARD WORKING AMERICANS JUST THE LEFT-WING LOONS WHO HELPED HIM GET INTO OFFICE! HE CANT EVEN TALK WITHOUT HIS TELEPROMPTER TELLING HIM WHAT TO SAY. THIS GUY SHOULD BE IMPEACHED FOR SEVERAL REASONS. WWW.OBAMACRIMES.COM LIBERALISM - ABANDON THE SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH SETTLE FOR A GOOD FANTASY. IF OBAMA IS THE ANSWER, IT MUST HAVE BEEN A STUPID QUESTION.

Also, why so shout-y? Nobody listening when you get your crazy on?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Yearn. Dignify It.

Here's what Louise Gl├╝ck has to say about being a writer. The fundamental experience “is helplessness...most writers spend much of their time in various kinds of torment: wanting to write, being unable to write, wanting to write differently, not being able to write differently. It is a life dignified. . .by yearning, not made serene by sensations of achievement.”

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Reject-O-Meter Awesomeness

Our friend Bill Shapiro (pronounced Shup-AYE-roe, BTW), Prince of Letters, King of Letter Books, Royal Poodle of Rejections, is approaching his pub date. Crown is promoting his book (title: Other People's Rejection Letters,) in this adorable way.  Want to send someone a letter via The Reject-O-Matic? Feel free, my friends; knock yourselves out. Personally, I went a little crazy with this similar adorable promotion (Hours of freaking fun, I tell you...), but I think I'm going to send some rejectoes on the double. (Suggestion to Reject-O-Matic wizards: Allow more spaces for the names.  I had to shorten up Dennis the Vizsla and my own moniker, as you can see above.) In the meantime, why not pre-order your very own copy of Other People's Rejection Letters today? Stay tuned for more from Bill here next month.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rejected Novels for the Relief Effort

...Or you can send your many voluminous unpublished manuscript to help sop up the flood waters of New England. My favorite line in this funny article is: "St. Stephen has been unable to find a publisher for the tome, and will ship his manuscript in three semi-trailer trucks to a processing plant in Shirley, Mass., where it will be mixed with uneaten fish sticks from the cafeteria at Bernie Carbo Junior High School to give it more substance." Also, the expert from his absorbable novel, "a three-volume family saga in the manner of William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County novels," is also pretty funny:
. . . and it was not the knowingness or the beingness between the two who were the issue or the effluvium of their polar opposite forebears who yet shared the sameness and the oneness of the South yes the South with its crape myrtle and Yoo-Hoo Chocolate Soda and lightning bugs even though the drinking fountain yes the drinking fountain at Sonny Tufts Park in Atlanta had been shared yes shared by them illicitly and implictly even though serially and even though one was white and one black.
Kudos to the author, Con Chapman.  He seems like one of us!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tender Young Shoot

It's that time of year again. Spring is here, and everywhere young peeps are receiving college rejections. The season offers warmer weather and momentary solidarity with juicy youth. It makes me feel like I understand that distant generation, at least I understand their pain. A (young?) LROD (British?) reader sent the following in with the comment, "Two days after a phone interview! AH IT BUUUURRNNNSS!" Here's the rejection: Thank you for your application for admission to the above programme at Goldsmiths College. I regret to inform you that, after careful consideration, the College is unable to offer you a place. Your application was reviewed by the relevant programme admissions tutor whose decision was made after careful analysis of all relevant areas, including your academic qualifications, relevant life and work experience, personal statement and academic reference. There is strong competition for places on the majority of programmes at the College and every decision is taken in the context of a high ratio of applications to vacancies. Because of the popularity of our programmes, the College has to turn down many well-qualified applicants every year. Thank you for your interest in Goldsmiths College.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Why Not Start Today?

Not for nothing, but I think I'm getting myself a copy of this book.  You?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

How Great Thou Art

Blogs are weird, literary blogs are weirder, but blogging agents (blagents) are the weirdest. I only ever knew agents who went to great lengths to hide themselves, including coming up with fictional signatures for slush rejections (usually names of movie stars), so that when mail arrived for, say "Vivian Vance,"  they knew how seriously to take it (not very). The agents I knew never wanted desperate writers getting close because basically desperate writers are smelly. The agents I knew already had to suffer thousands of stories from strangers and casual acquaintances about someone's aunt's new boyfriend who was a writer, or someone's best friend's best friend who wrote a novel (always awful in the end). It's why I liked Miss Snark; she was anonymous and saucy, admired for her spunk. But have you ever read the comments on the blogs of Nathan Bransford, Janet Reid, Rachel Gardner, etc.? Those blagents get a whole lot of smoke blown where the sun don't shine. In my day, agents would put smoke (and mirrors) to other uses. I guess it's nice that privacy (some would call it trickery) is a thing of the past. It's nice that agents stand with us in the light of day now...some of them anyway. And maybe it's good that blagents make themselves virtually available for attention, especially since some would say their place and function in the profession is shrinking. But, I don't know, something about all those poor writers and would-be authors standing around in the crowded comments section vying to get a piece of the blagentry with false flattery makes me sad.

UPDATE: There's a lot of ridiculous April Fool's Day activity in the blagentry....check it out.