Moving on

Sunday, September 26, 2010


The theme of the SCBWI-Carolinas fall conference in Charlotte this past weekend was "Oh, the Places We'll Go."  And where I went was away from my computer screen, out of my hole, my busy-ness, my stale state of mind, and my writer's block and into a world of possibilities, dreams, connections, inspiration, and support with fellow writers.  Now if that isn't good mental health for a writer, I don't know what is.

Writing by its very nature is lonely, isolating, stressful, and emotionally draining.  Ironically, it is often the chosen profession or obsession of creative people in less than stellar mental health who are ill-equipped to ride the roller-coaster of rejections.

No matter what your state of mind or stage in the writing process these days, you might be surprised at what you'll find when you venture out "to go places."   

Take me, for instance.  I'm the queen of lurkers on several writers' listserves. I haven't darkened the door of our local critique group in years, and I rarely venture out to conferences these days.  Maybe it was the spirit of Dr. Seuss himself, or the shere desperation of one writer in search of an agent that drew me to the SCBWI-Carolinas conference this past weekend in Charlotte.  No matter.  Within a few short hours of writerly immersion I found encouragement from fellow authors (especially Alan Gratz), a second wind for the agent pursuit, and a fresh twist for a new manuscript rolling around in my head.

Thanks, Dr. Seuss  and (SCBWI conference leaders).  I really needed that!

Monday, September 20, 2010


For the past several months, in between teaching and family commitments, I’ve been hot on the agent pursuit with my YA novel written in verse and set in the sixties, two factors that immediately distance me from all those dystopian-paranormal-urban fantasy-supernatural-pop culture-hungry agents. I jumped into this pursuit realizing that the odds might be against me in this market at this particular time with this particular piece of work, but hey, maybe I just want to suffer. As I come up for air, my statistical read-out according to goes something like this:

• Dozens of disregards: I stopped counting somewhere around 3 dozen. These are the agents or agencies whose profile or list have nothing in common with my particular offering after minutes or precious hours of researching websites, blogs, agent bios and current book lists
  • 25 query submissions
  • 16 rejections
    •  3 offered kind and encouraging words but still “passed” (rejected)
  • 3 requests for a full (complete manuscript)
    • 1 rejection with kind words and “I didn’t fall in love with it that much”
    • 2 fulls still under consideration
That last sub-bullet has me shivering in my boots. The outer limits of the typical 6-8 week response time is upon me, and I’m thinking I should have heard by now. If they were “in love” with my manuscript they would pick up the phone and knock my socks off with that sought after phone call. And I know I should press on ahead, getting my next batch of one or two dozen queries out there. And in the in-between times, I should be energetically cranking out the next creative thing I can think of writing. But first, I’ve jotted down a few words of wisdom I’ve picked up in all those rejection letters……..

Dear Mr., Missy, or Lass

Regrettably I fear I must pass,

I’m concerned about your work in this market

Frankly, take the manuscript and park it

Your piece doesn’t stir up my passion

ReVAMP it, it’s way too old fashion

I can’t connect with your setting

The voice I’m really regretting

Thanks for sending your stuff

Sadly, we don't love it enough

Your project’s not right for our list

Honey, I think you’ve been dissed.