Archive for the ‘WriteBrained Network’ Tag

A Peek inside My Brain: Proceed with Caution

Ten days ago, I said I was swamped.  Now?  I don’t even have a good word for it.  I have so many things on my mind and on my plate, I feel like I have been in a state of mental paralysis for almost two weeks.  This summer is already bananas.*

ON MY MIND

SheNoWriMo. I started out with gusto, but my parents’ visit halted my momentum.  As one of my writer friends pointed out, once you get off track with something like that, it tends to snowball.  Argh!

I’m just being too much of a perfectionist and have kind of hit a wall because I don’t want to write words just to write words.  Plus, I am editing as I go (which I’m not supposed to be doing).

My current word count is 14,620—5,380 off my official word count goal—but I think, once I figure out a few plot details that are tripping me up right now, I can chip away at the deficit and still come out on track.  We’ll see.

Cleveland Cavaliers. You might be wondering how I could be so silent about them following their untimely elimination from the second round of the NBA Playoffs and all the hullabaloo surrounding LeBron James in the media.

My answer is simply this: I don’t really want to talk about it.  But, since we’re peeking inside my brain, I’ll admit it: I’m heartbroken.  And I don’t expect anyone not from Cleveland to understand that.  In fact, I feel silly talking about it, knowing how the rest of the country feels about the city I hold so dear, but there it is.

It’s weird because I’ve never really been much of a sports person, to be honest.  I suck at sports—always hated playing sports because I suck at them/never cared enough about them to want to be good.

What makes me so sad/may sound totally loserish is that LBJ inspired an entire city—made believers out of unlikely basketball fans (myself included).  Because of James’s talent and charisma, I came to love the game and the team.

I’m a huge fan of “the underdog,” which Cleveland pretty much always is.  I’ve talked before about how our team never gets any credit for being good.  It just figures that,  just when we started getting *some* credit from members of the national media, it all derailed in less than a week.

Without explanation and without taking ownership of it, LeBron just quit.  I know the loss isn’t 100% on him, but he has been instrumental in every change that team has made and he was supposed to be the superstar.  It just doesn’t make sense that—all of a sudden—he didn’t believe the team was good enough and checked out.  Even more puzzling, he did it when we actually still had a great shot.

So, in a large (and probably loserish) way, it feels like the sudden and unexplained betrayal of a friend.  And that makes me sad.  As does the huge effect this will have on the entire franchise—and the city itself.

And that’s probably why you won’t hear another word about it from me until “King James” makes his decision—if I even decide to comment then.

Operation House Demo. My dad is a retired builder/contractor, and he’s going to be gutting both our master bathroom and laundry room.  This will be done in phases, as we live in Virginia and my parents live in Ohio, so my folks are going to be making a series of visits—for about 3-4 days a month—until the projects are done.  Phase one begins next weekend!

While it’s very exciting, it’s also stressful both in terms of writing and getting work done while they’re here.  And, it’s remodeling—I’ve never done this before!

At least I know we’re in great hands.  It’s always been a dream of mine to have my dad build me a home.  Since we live out of state, this is the next best thing. :)

Trips. I’m pretty much booked until the beginning of August:

  • Girls’ weekend trip to Asheville, N.C., with a friend of mine who lives in Georgia
  • Sister-in-law’s graduation & senior art show
  • Southeastern Writers Association conference in St. Simons Island, Ga. (+speaking engagement there)
  • Myrtle Beach vacation with my hubs’s family
  • Hubs to Utah/Me to Cleveland
  • Romance Writers of America conference in Orlando, Fla. (+speaking engagement there)

ON MY PLATE

  • Sheena Easton (my WIP)!
  • I’m editing a book!
  • I’m critiquing three manuscripts!
  • Shenandoah Writers & Shenandoah Writers Online!

*Not that I’ve had a relaxing summer in a good many years.  To read about my crazy summer last year, click here, here, here, here, and here.

Shenandoah Writers: May 18 Meeting

Last night, at the May 18 Shenandoah Writers (IRL) meeting, we covered several topics.

SWO LIVE CHAT

  • May 25—9-10P.M. on Shenandoah Writers Online
  • I’m open to topic suggestions.  If you have any, please let me know ASAP.

CRITIQUING

  • Changes to the critiquing schedule
    • We are going to cover one person’s work at each of the next several meetings, instead of two. This is because we don’t want to short-change the second person being critiqued at a given meeting (by rushing it, etc.)—plus, we don’t want to spend the whole time critiquing, when I’m sure there will be other things to discuss.
  • Page limit for critiques
    • When you’re up for critique, submit the first two chapters, not to exceed 20 pages.  For essays or short stories, just send the whole thing.

Awesome cartoon by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, from Inkygirl.com

  • How to send
    • Person being critiqued must e-mail the group a copy of his/her critique submission no later than one week before the next meeting (so, you have up to a week to get your crit submission together and then the rest of us have a week to read it/comment)
    • When you send your crit piece, make sure you are sending a .doc file, so we are all able to open it.
    • E-mail being sent to all members with everyone’s email addresses
  • How to critique
    • Dave brought in some awesome handouts of not only constructive ways to critique but also areas in which to critique.  When he sends me the files, I will post them in the forum on the SWO network, so we can all access them.
    • We agreed that all critiquers need to have a hard copy of the critique submission printed out & brought with them to the meeting. This means each person will need to print out his/her own copy prior to coming to the meeting.
    • Ideally, you will have read and commented right on the submission before each meeting.

    • At the meetings, either the author or someone else (I don’t mind doing this for everyone) will read the submission out loud, so the author can hear how it sounds/catch awkward or unwieldy sentences and so everyone can have the piece fresh in his/her mind. This will also enable critiquers to write down more notes as the piece is being read.
    • Each critiquer will discuss positive comments and constructive criticism on how to improve/clarify/etc.
    • At the end of the critique session, each member will hand in his/her hard copy to the author so he/she has something concrete for reference when revising.
  • Openings assignment
    • After we hammered out the details, we spent some time going through various novel openers and what we learned about the book from them.
    • This was a little awkward to do with just three of us, but I think it went OK over all.
    • I will post my handout to SWO, for anyone who wants to take a look.
  • Next meeting
    • The next meeting is June 1 @ Barnes & Noble (7PM)
    • Dave is up for critique
    • I would also like to discuss journalistic writing & freelancing a bit after we critique because I will be putting together my class on that subject for the Southeastern Writers Association at the end of June.
      • Anything you think I should include, I’m all ears.
      • I would also like to know what writers unfamiliar with or new to how to approach journalistic writing & freelancing NEED TO KNOW—so bring any questions you have as well.

Shenandoah Writers Hosting a Write-In Saturday, May 15

For any writers in the Harrisonburg, Va., area who are interested, I am hosting a write-in at my humble abode this Saturday, May 15, from 11 A.M. – 5 P.M.

THE GIST

Because this profession has the propensity to be such a solitary one, I find I sometimes need that extra boost that camaraderie provides (hence Shenandoah Writers, Shenandoah Writers Online, SheNoWriMo, etc.).  While the act of writing is individual, I think it might be neat to feed off the energy of others.  That’s why I think, although I would have done SheNoWriMo myself if I’d had to, I have been staying on top of my word count (for the most part).  It makes one accountable.

It has worked for some of my favorite authors (John Green, Maureen Johnson, E. Lockhart), so perhaps it will work for us as well!
I have never been to a write-in or writers’ retreat before, but I envision this as a way to force oneself to get the writing done.  We all have crazy things going on in our lives, I’m sure, and we don’t always make as much time to write as we intend – so this is kind of an organized way of taking that time and being accountable to others – butt in chair and WRITE, as they say, the whole time.  

We will each be working on our OWN projects.  It will likely be a largely quiet day.

WHAT WE’LL HAVE

We have plenty of comfortable spaces to set up little “Internet cafes” as well as places to get a little bit of distance—no need for anyone to bring card tables or chairs, like we discussed at the meeting.  As well, we have outlets all over the place as well as two power strips, so we should be set in terms of power, no matter where people set up camp.

In addition, we recently acquired a 30-cup coffee pot, so we will have plenty of fuel to keep us going!

WHAT TO BRING

  • Laptops
  • Power cords for your laptops
  • Pens/Notebooks if you think you’ll be writing/outlining by hand
  • Your favorite writing snacks – we intend to do dinner at 5PM with anyone who wants to go, but if you’d like to snack throughout the day, pack yourself a little somethin’ somethin’ :)

RSVP

Please let me know if you can make it. Even if you’ve never been to a Shenandoah Writers (IRL) meeting, but you’re in the area and interested, we’d love to have you—I just need to be able to plan for it, so it would be nice if you’d let me know.

As well, if you aren’t sure you can commit to the whole time, that’s totally fine.  You can certainly come and go as you please.

Please contact me for directions.

FINALLY

I think it will be a neat experience.  And hey—if it doesn’t work out or we hate it or something, that’s okay, too.  We’ll find out!

If you have any questions between now and Saturday, please feel free to shoot me an e-mail.

Looking forward to it!

Swamped & SheNoWriMo

I know I’ve been a bit quieter than normal the last couple of days, but I’ve been seriously swamped: My parents are visiting the ‘burg—my mom and I got Mothers’ Day pedicures this morning AND we started planning our house renovations with my dad today—I’m editing a manuscript, reading two others, and writing my second . . . so I’ve had to take a bloggity blog break.

Seriously. This is me.

SHENOWRIMO* WEEK 1 UPDATE

First of all, it’s been going really well.  All the Shenandoah Writers Online members who’ve been participating—and there are several—are kicking major ass.  ::applause::

My “official” word count goal  is 1,000 words/day- but I’m *really* hoping to do 1,500/day, and I have pretty much been sticking to that . . . until this weekend.

I planned to catch up after the ‘rents went to bed last night and before they woke this morning—and while I chipped away with a respectable 516 words last night, Momma Bear and Papa Bear rose pretty much at dawn today, so this is the first writing time I’ve had.

I’m a little disappointed—not that my parents are here—don’t get me wrong!—but I had such great momentum going, and I’m worried I won’t catch up to my 1500-word “unofficial” goal until after they leave.

I did get to talk about the book for about an hour today, though, and I think that helped the wheels turn a bit.  Hopefully, the words will ooze from my fingertips this eve.

All that said, it’s great to visit with them.  My hubs and I don’t get to see either of our folks as much as we want, so I’ve decided to make my peace with the writing and get something down whenever I can.  Just gotta chip away at the deficit, right?  Hopefully, I won’t have too too much to make up the rest of the week.

CURRENT STATUS

I am at 11,077 words—1,077 over my “official” goal and 3,923 under my unofficial one . . .

. . . and that’s my cue to get back to work!

Chip, chip, chip - all this chipping is making me hungry!

ONE LAST THING

Bravo to everyone participating in SheNoWriMo.  This has been so great so far, and I promise to catch up and make all y’all proud!  (And no, I don’t normally say “all y’all”!)

*It’s not too late to join the SheNanigans! (<— Yep, I’m a HUGE dork.) Click here for more details about SWO & SheNoWriMo.

If You Missed the SWO LIVE CHAT . . .

. . . you weren’t alone.

For those new to the blog, I just had to move my online writing group from Ning to Grou.ps, and the new network is buggy: I tried to send a reminder about the chat to all SWO members today to no avail (I found out that feature has been defunct the last two days—grr!), one of my regular attendees couldn’t access the network at the time of the chat, as well as a host of other wonky things with the new site.

Eeeeeeeeh - the site is buggy, Doc!

Overall, I’ve been impressed with Grou.ps.  After all, it can’t be easy for them to accommodate the Great Ning Exodus of 2010.  They have a tech support group for administrators, which has been helpful to me, and they seem to be actively taking care of buggy things as people report them.  However, don’t mess with my chat!

I suspect they’ll have all the kinks worked out before the May chat.  (I hope! I hope!)

THE GIST

If you missed our chat on revision and rewriting tonight for whatever reason, here are the highlights:

  • Re: Revision & Rewriting: What’s Your Process & How Do You Know When to Stop?
    • We discussed a method of editing I use: editor Bobbie Christmas’s “Find and Refine Method” as outlined in her out-of-print book, Write in Style: Using Your Word Processor and Other Techniques to Improve Your Writing
      • In the book, Christmas discusses how to tighten your writing and lists words and phrases you can search for within your manuscript to quickly find the problematic areas—all using your word processor’s “find” function (i.e., passive verbs, adverbs, certain words and phrases writers often overuse, etc.)
    • One member mentioned a CD called Writer’s Mind, which is designed to engage patterns of your own EEG and stimulate your creativity
    • We talked about reading your manuscript aloud
      • Doing this not only makes others think you are strange, but it also enables you to catch spelling/grammar mistakes as well as pinpoint problematic syntax, etc.
    • We touched how allowing space/distance between yourself and your manuscript is key
      • If you are too close, you’re not going to catch as many errors—your brain kind of fills in missed words, etc.
      • We debated how much space one needs—how much distance—and this, of course, is subjective
        • Some felt sleeping on it and revisiting the manuscript the next day was sufficient
        • One person suggested you not live, touch, or breathe the MS for at least a month before editing
        • Some mentioned sending the piece to beta readers and working on something else to get your mind off said manuscript
          • By the time the betas have read it, you should be sufficiently recharged

    Make like Michael Strahan's front teeth, and get some space between you and your MS!

  • This led to a discussion about beta readers—Re: where to find them and how to know if you can “trust” someone to give you constructive feedback
    • Some places suggested to find beta readers included: listservs, online writing groups, writer friends you make at conferences, etc.
      • One of my favorite comments of the chat: “Beta readers = fellow writers. Avid readers. Not Mom, Not Dad. No one you’ve slept with.” :)
    • Re: How to know if the betas are going to be any good
      • We pretty much agreed that it’s a crap shoot
      • You want to be on the lookout for someone with a “good eye”
        • You might establish this by getting a feel for the person through e-mails, chats—get to know them—see if they’re a good fit—research them.  THEN, make your decision.
        • One member said he has his betas complete a questionnaire so he can elicit constructive feedback—a very interesting way to guide the beta reader to focus on whatever you need them to focus on!

You could also pick up a beta at a pet store for, like, a dollar.

  • Re: How to know when to stop editing
    • We pretty much said it can be kind of a gut thing
    • My rule:  When you’ve revised so many times that you hate yourself—and your manuscript—and you feel like you might physically die if someone made you look at it again, then you *might* be done . . . but you should probably still have someone else look at it at that point.  Get that distance we mentioned.

Rappers from the '90s have surprisingly good advice for revising. (It was a toss up between this and one with "Stop - Hammertime" spray-painted on it.)

  • Re: Miscellaneous
    • We discovered that the new chat has awesome—but random—emoticons that we just stumbled upon
      • For example, by typing “(rain)”, a raincloud appears in place of the words—WHA?
      • This distracted us several times.
    • We discussed light versus edgy YA, as a few of us learned we had been hearing similar comments from agents about our MSS.
    • Marice decided she’s going to host a writing conference at her place Down Under. ;)
    • I invited myself to Australia, Los Angeles, and Macon, Ga.

Now, it’s your turn.  Anything to add to the conversation?

This Week’s SWO Live Chat, SheNoWriMo and Write-In

As most of you probably already know, we moved Shenandoah Writers Online from Ning.com to Grou.ps.  Click here for more information about it.

In a lot of ways, this new home is a bit more streamlined than our original place on Ning, and I’m already excited about the increased amount of activity among members so far.  Hooray!

If you’re a member but you haven’t come over to the new place yet—OR, if you’re not a member yet but would be interested in joining this writing community, click here to get started.*

SWO LIVE CHAT TUESDAY, APRIL 27

I’m hosting a live chat this Tuesday, April 27, from 9-10 P.M. EST.  Our chats sometimes run over, if we feel so inclined , but the “official” time for this event is from 9-10.  Even if you can only stop by for a few minutes, it’d be good to have you poke your head in and say hello.**

This month’s topic: Rewriting & Revision: What’s Your Process & How Do You Know When to Stop?

SHENOWRIMO

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, so now it’s official: May is the time for SheNoWriMo.

The rules:  There are no rules.

Well, that’s not entirely true—but, let’s say, you make your own rules.  Just write something.  Every day.  For the month of May.  I want SheNoWriMo to be like NaNoWriMo, but a little more accommodating.  Otherwise, no one’s going to do it!

For traditional NaNoWriMo, folks set out to write 1500 words a day—and then, at the end of the month of November (National Novel Writing Month), they have a 50,000-word first draft of something.  For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, click here.

For SheNoWriMo, let’s be more flexible.  Just set a goal for your daily word count.  For instance, if you think your schedule will only allow you to comfortably write 500 words/day, fine.  That’s your goal.  Post it on your “wall” and have at it.

You can write one continuous piece or a lot of smaller pieces—or, heck—even just writing prompts.

Repite, por favor?

Just set a goal for yourself and DO THE WRITING.  And keep us posted about it.  Ideally, I’d like all participants to keep a daily record (on their SWO walls) of their progress.

However, I realize there are all kinds of writers out there.  My husband, for instance, won’t be writing fiction—he’ll be pulling stuff out of his (*ahem*) dissertation and creating articles for publication in his field of mathematics education.  God bless him!

So, while he won’t be writing a novel, he could potentially set out a writing goal of 500 words per day—because I’m sure there will be a fair amount of research he’ll have to do and, you know, that whole professor thing getting in the way of his writing . . .

If you’re wondering about word count, as a general rule, 250 words=1 page.  That should help you gauge the amount of words to which you think you can commit.

Don’t be too aggressive; you don’t want to make it impossible to reach your daily goals, or that might discourage you from continuing the whole month.  However, don’t be wimpy either; this is supposed to be a challenge.

Essentially, tailor SheNoWriMo to your lifestyle as well as your writing tastes/purposes.  I do hope a lot of peeps will consider taking part in it.

Because . . . there could potentially be a fabulous priiii-iiiize *if I have enough participants.  I’m looking at said prize right now . . . (and, no, it’s not Molly!)

WRITE-IN

Last, but not least, I am going to be hosting an SWO write-in here at Château Schultz one Saturday in May—I haven’t decided when yet, but details forthcoming.

I know that most of you are not within driving distance of McGaheysville, Va., and therefore won’t be able to make it IRL (in real life), but that is OK.  It would be great to do a “virtual” write-in with us—especially for SheNoWriMo participants.  After all, I have iChat and Skype.  And, at the very least, we can use the “chat” function on SWO to talk to one another.

*For more information about SWO, click on “Shenandoah Writers” in “Categories” in the right-hand side bar.

**You must be a member of SWO to participate in the chat.  Not a member yet?  E-mail me or click here to get started.

The New SWO Down for Maintenance; Stand By

Hey, Shenandoah Writers Online peeps!

The site is down for maintenance, so fear not—they will be back.  And, apparently, it will be “great.”

Bear with Grou.ps.  I’m sure they are just overwhelmed by the Ning exodus.

At any rate, here is their equivalent of the Twitter fail whale.  Enjoy.

Shenandoah Writers: February Writing Prompt

This series is for everyone following along with us while we read Brian Kiteley’s The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction.

In this section of 3 A.M., Kiteley discusses women and men.

We had to cancel the February meeting, due to inclement weather, but I’d like to continue in our reading.  For those of you following along with the group, please do Exercise 49.

Binary Oppositions.

Write an exercise about a couple who appear to be complete opposites.  Write down a list of the binary oppositions, the ways in which these two people are opposed, perhaps surreptitiously smuggling in reasons why they’re attracted to each other.  After you’ve written this piece, throw out two-thirds of the sentences.  Then go back and add in about the same amount as you threw out—new sentences, new ideas, which have nothing to do with these oppositions, which may in fact let startling similarities leak into the tale.  American grocery stores, every few weeks, routinely throw out two-thirds of their stock.  Practice this sort of profligacy in your fiction.  Once you’ve finished the list stage, write one sentence as if it were a female sentence and the next as if it were a male sentence.  Write these sentences back and forth this way, male/female, five times (for a total of ten sentences).  Then write a male paragraph.  End with a female paragraph.

400 words

Kiteley goes on to say:

Other languages have feminine and masculine endings; English doesn’t, as a rule.  Each noun in French is either masculine or feminine, and the reasons for this are not always clear.  What would a male sentence look like? The car took a sharp turn, its outer wheels lifting slightly off, and the thump of the wheels landing on earth again was as satisfying as jarring. A feminine sentence, using the same details, might look like this: Part of the automobile briefly left the ground as it veered into the turn, the body shimmying, the brakes useless, the steering wheel emitting and oddly reassuring moan.

This is obviously subjective.  The first (male) sentence plays with harsh sounds and confident knowledge of what’s going on even if the mind apprehending this information doesn’t know what’s going on.  The second (female) sentence is less sure of the mechanics of the event, issues a softer set of sounds than the first sentence, and personifies the vehicle in body terms.  no one is going to quarrel with the results of this experiment.  It is not important to succeed here in making a male and then female sentence.  What’s important is that you think you’re making masculine and feminine sentences.

ONE LAST THING

If you choose to do any of these, please send them to me at ricki@rickischultz.com – OR – if you are a member of Shenandoah Writers Online, please post them there.

Incidentally, if you *aren’t* a member of Shenandoah Writers Online, why not??  In short, we are a brand-new online community of writers—from all over the country—on Ning.  Click the above link or e-mail me for more information.

Enjoy!

In the Blogosphere: 2/8-2/12

“In the Blogosphere” is a weekly series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week.  Most posts will be from that week, but if I find some “oldies but goodies,” I’ll throw those up here as well.

I never find as much time to read blogs as I want, but here are a few posts that struck me this week.

RESOURCES

If you’re entering the editing stages, this post by YA author Natalie Whipple is for you.  On her Between Fact & Fiction blog, Whipple discusses different ways to edit.

Stuck on structure?  Aspiring sci-fi author Andrew Rosenberg has a great series on story structure at The WriteRunner—and here, he’s begun another one on scene structure.

Need help with your synopsis?  The good people of Writer’s Digest have provided this checklist for your perusing pleasure.

There is a serious drought of boy books in young adult fiction, but before you try your hand at breaking your way into this area, check out this post over at YA Fresh.  In it, Tina Ferraro shares tips on writing for guys, as outlined by YA authors Michael Reisman and Ben Esch at a recent bookstore appearance.

This isn't the kind of boy book I'm talking about, but it's good too. :)

LITERARY AGENTS

If you’re in the query stages and you’re not getting any bites, see how your query stacks up against a really good one.  Here, Caren Johnson Literary‘s Elana Roth analyzes a query letter that grabbed her.

I know I’ve been linking to her a lot lately, but WordServe Literary‘s Rachelle Gardner keeps writing terrific posts!  In this one, she talks craft, story and voice.

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

In a world where real journalism is dying and blogs are taking over cyberspace, the folks at Hyper Modern Writing remind us of the importance of fact checking.

As well, at Ragan’s PR Daily, Christine Kent says short, snappy subject lines might be the key to freelancing success.

If you’re thinking about joining a writing group, Australia’s Marsha Durham gives you a few things to consider before making a commitment, over on her Writing Companion blog.

IN THE NEWS

I just added this link so I could post a picture of Taylor Lautner (just kidding).  In The New York Times, director of the American Indian Studies Center at the University of California Angela R. Riley opines about Twilight saga author Stephenie Meyer‘s use of the Quileute Indians.

Someone get this poor boy a towel!

INTERVIEWS

Over at Writer’s Digest, check out what 179 Ways to Save a Novel author Peter Selgin has to say about agents, writing and the publishing industry overall.

As well, The Knight Agency‘s Lucienne Diver had an interesting little chat with The Naughty List author Suzanne Young over on her blog, Authorial, Agently and Personal Ramblings.

In case you missed my post earlier in the week, I interviewed fellow Southeastern Writers Association presenter inspirational author Emily Sue Harvey.

Also, Shenandoah Writers Online member Katy Doman conducted our first Author Spotlight with nonfiction writer and poet Dana Wildsmith. You must be a member of SWO to access this interview, but e-mail me at ricki@rickischultz.com, and I’ll send you an invitiation on the double!

GRAMMAR HUMOR

Hehehehehehe.

FACEBOOK FUN

Think your Facebook etiquette is decent?  Better check, using this cartoon at The Oatmeal as well as this YouTube video.

How to Write Full Time & Stay Sane: 5 Tips on Dealing with Rejection

How to Write Full Time and Stay Sane is a series that offers advice to full-time writers about how to stay productive and in good spirits.

Staying sane is something I’ll admit I haven’t been doing very well the past week or so.  Although I’ve had some exciting successes in that time (sold my first piece to a magazine, landed another gig teaching a summer workshop), I’ve also received my first few query rejections for my manuscript.  Because of this, I have assembled some tips as well as links from industry professionals to help you deal with this agonizing process.

Now, no one is more self-deprecating than I—nor will you find more of a realist (although, some might use the term “pessimist”)—so I’ve mentally prepared for this time of literary limbo.  In fact, more than one writer and loved one has scolded me for referring to the query process as “the rejection process” before I’d even received one.  But I can’t help it: I’d much rather be pleasantly surprised than sorely disappointed.

Which are you?

But even with that in mind, and even if you get the nicest, most personalized rejection (and I’ve gotten two of those so far), rejection still sucks.

You know getting rejections is normal; you know how subjective this is; you know how pertinent finding the right agent is; you know you must locate someone who falls head over heels for your work; you recognize how tedious of a task that’s going to be . . .

. . . but you also know you’ve put tens of thousands of hours into the writing and editing of this thing, and you’re doing the most vulnerable thing you’ve ever done by sending it out into the world—and then someone doesn’t want it for whatever reason.

So, yeah, rejection sucks no matter how ready you are for it.

HOW TO DEAL

Tip #1: File It & Forget It

In a recent Shenandoah Writers Online LIVE CHAT (let me know if you want in, BTW), a friend of mine—whose manuscript has been rejected 28 times—said that every time he gets a rejection, he files it and moves on to something else.

That’s great advice.  And if you can do that, more power to ya.  I think the more seasoned you become in this business and the more irons you have on the fire, your skin can definitely thicken—but we’re not all there yet.

As well, I am lucky enough to be able to do this full time, and believe me: news of my first story getting accepted to a Virginia magazine alleviated some of my I’m-going-to-die-hopeless-and-penniless-and-20-lbs.-over-weight” (Thank you, Stuart Smalley) attitude. However, I fully realize that many of you reading this have day jobs.  The only thing you’ve got cooking is your manuscript, and you don’t have time to distract yourself with other writing endeavors.

So, although filing and forgetting might sound good on paper (or on screen, as it were), I realize it’s easier said than done.  Which brings me to . . .

I'm good enough, I'm smart enough - and doggone it, people like me.

Tip #2: Send to a Friend

During the writing and editing process, we are discouraged from showing our work to loved ones because so many amateurs make the mistake of thinking that if their mother or spouse loves the book, it’s bound to be a New York Times bestseller.

Along that same vein, I am not suggesting you appeal to family and friends for a critique of your manuscript, but now is the time to revel in their bias toward loving it.  Print out a few copies and send them to your biggest fans.

While it’s gut-wrenching (no matter whose eyes scan your pages), if you include a close circle—those who’ve been rooting for you all along (your buddy from work, who always asks about your progress; your parents, who are eager to see what you’ve been doing all this time, etc.)—you are sure to get rave reviews.

As long as you take their glowing assessments for what they are and don’t let them cloud your realistic attitude toward the query process and the publishing industry, this praise can be just the ticket to convince you not to jump.

After all, regardless of whether or not your book will ever get any agent to want it, regardless if the book is even publishable, remember: completing a manuscript is a huge accomplishment. You deserve to have someone stroke your ego a bit.

 

Your manuscript is GRRRRRRREAT!

CONFUSION

When my first rejection rolled in, I scoured every resource I knew to figure out how to respond.

First of all, don’t get me wrong: I know you aren’t supposed to respond.

But the rejection was not just a personalized version of a form rejection letter.  As well, a YA author friend of mine had given me a referral to this agent because she represented said YA author friend, and the agent had mentioned our mutual acquaintance in the e-mail, so it wasn’t as though this was a cold query.

While I knew not responding at all would have been perfectly acceptable, and while I wasn’t going to lash out at the woman, I went back and forth about sending a “thank you.”

Agents are flooded with e-mail daily, and many are quite vocal on their blogs and on Twitter about not wasting their time, but in doing a little research, I found several well-known agents with conflicting information.  (Wait, agents don’t all agree on everything??)

HOW TO DEAL (AGAIN)

Tip #3: Seek Professional Help

When in doubt, turn to the rejecters themselves—agents and editors.  Many have blogs and other Web sites dedicated to everything from their personal preferences to typical response times.

Here, Curtis Brown Ltd. agent Nathan Bransford lists acceptable etiquette for rejection follow-up.

For a different perspective, see this post by FinePrint Literary‘s Colleen Lindsay on what not to do after a rejection.

Over on her blog, Lindsay’s FinePrint colleague Janet Reid describes how to cut down on your anguish over unanswered queries by making sure you haven’t sent something that isn’t a query.

Tip #4: Gain Some Perspective

Once you’ve gotten a few rejections and you’re feeling like a hack, it’s important to put it in perspective and remind yourself that it’s normal.

Rabbit or duck?

On her blog at QueryTracker, YA author Mary Lindsey discusses how to handle rejection at arm’s length.  Her article is good on its own, but Lindsey references Hal Spacejock series author Simon Haynes‘s post, “Rejection of the Literary Kind,” which is also worth a read.

As well, on his Web site, sci-fi writer, photographer and Web designer Jeremiah Tolbert offers an editor’s perspective on rejection.

To round out this area, over at Streetdirectory.com, award-winning romance and nonfiction author Dana Girard categorizes rejection into seven levels and suggests ways you can decode what each kind of rejection means in terms of your manuscript.

Tip #5: Commiserate

For those days when you feel like you’re the only person who sucks this bad, check out the following sites for a little misery-loves-company.

Want some company?

At Absolute Write Water Cooler, you can find several conversation threads where people share their rejections stories, but here’s a link to one where some poor schlubs compete for who got rejected the fastest. Can you beat 30 seconds?

If you’re looking for a gold mine in terms of rejection, bitterness and hilarity, check out Literary Rejections on Display.  The person running the blog—Writer, Rejected—actually says in the About Me profile, “I am a published, award-winning author of fiction and creative nonfiction—but whatever. In the eyes of many, I am still a literary reject.” Writer, Rejected posts his/her own rejection letters (as well as rejection letters sent in by others) and analyzes them—in a sane and fair way (usually).  There are several good posts, so definitely make time to poke around in the blog, but here is an example of a rejection analysis.

And here’s a cranky little rant by freelancer Chris Rodell titled “Reject Me, Please” over at his Media Bistro blog.  If you’re especially pissed off and cynical, this is the post for you.

PEP TALK

This last post (from Nathan Bransford’s blog by guest blogger Jon Gibbs) isn’t directly about getting rejection letters, but it discusses how we reject ourselves at times—how we make excuses for why we can’t do this and that.

Use this when you’re in need of a little pep talk, and it’s sure to snap you back to a state of sanity.

If you're seeing the old lady, you definitely need a pep talk.

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