Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Rejection 101

Well, it had to happen one of these days and it has. I've officially have been rejected by a gen-u-ine NY publisher. And no, I'm not going to invoke their name for reasons that will become apparent. It was fated to happen this way. Thirteen months ago I sent them my two fantasy novels along with a synopsis of each novel and a cover letter citing the awards I'd won, etc. I'd checked over their website and they were searching for fantasy with a strong heroine. My heroine, Morwyn, is exactly that. So off the books went.

I finally started thinking about them about nine months later. So I called and they couldn't find the books. I saw this as a hint from the Head Office (pointing upward at this moment) that this particular publisher wasn't supposed to have these books. Especially since I sent them via FedEx Ground and had a delivery confirmation. So I said, "Such things happen."

Well, they found finally the books the other day and after perusing the first twenty or so pages of the first book, sent them back with a very polite rejection letter. Am I upset? Hardly. I wrote those novels two and three years ago, respectively, and so they are no longer representative of my writing skills. I am light years ahead of that level now, even though they are good books. And if I had it to do all over, I wouldn't have submitted them to them in the first place. It's amazing how my perception has changed over the past year now that I better understand both my skills and how to weed through what publishers say they want and what they really mean.

The editor was very polite, suggesting I take writing courses and join a critique group (which I've already done). And that I should research other publishers and target my books toward where they might fit better (i.e. I have more in my books than just a heroine's journey). My books are classic fantasy. Not a good fit.

So now I'm official and I'm filing the letter away for someday when I have ten published books on the my shelves and I want to reminisce. It'll happen. It's just a matter of time. All I have to do is ... JUST KEEP WRITING.


Wednesday, June 23, 2004

On Interviews & Dinosaurs

I survived the weekend of four hour-long interviews and they went very well. Whew! All of the authors were great to talk to and we discussed such diverse subjects as vampires, the differences/similarities between Diana, Princess of Wales & Princess Grace of Monaco, identity theft and ghost hunting. Yes, I did read all the books. Give me a few more years of this and I'm going be the person you want on your Trivial Pursuit team.

Courtesy of David English (one of Leisure Talk's hosts) I became familiar with Eric Garcia's writing, in particular his (wait for it) dinosaur P.I. series. Yup, a dino P.I. The book is Anonymous Rex and I have it on audio tape. I've been cuing up my IPod every spare moment to listen to the exploits of the poor(modern day)schmuck who is just trying to make a living, find out who killed his partner and keep his dino identity secret. Cool premise and Eric's writing is a kick. I suggest you check him out.

Doing the final edits on the first fifty pages of my book so I can enter it in a contest. I'm having to generate a synopsis, which means I have to guess what is going to happen for the remaining 300+ pages. Sigh. I think I've got it. The contest offers excellent feedback and that's what I need right now.

Starting to have an Anonymous Rex withdrawal, so I'd best go.


Friday, June 18, 2004

Drunken Frog in Blender

That's my latest sentiment, that I feel like a drunken frog in a blender. It's been hectic and July is only going to get worse. Between the radio station, the novel, the conventions, the classes I teach and all the other little irons in the fire, it's been amazingly busy.

The upside is that all of this is positive stuff. No ugly things like family issues or stuff like that. The station is attracting cool hosts, I'm getting to chat with really interesting guests (five of them this weekend!) and listenership is growing. All good stuff.

Meanwhile, back at the computer screen, the novel is screaming for attention. I'm trying to polish the first fifty-odd pages and create a dynamite synopsis by the 26th so I can enter it in a contest and receive some constructive feedback. I realized this one isn't a romance, per se. No hero. That's something new for me. The heroine still is a bit two-dimensional in my mind, but she's getting there. And just as I'd hoped, every time she thinks she'd gotten things figured out, the sand shifts beneath her feet. That's perfect.

Off to Starbucks to wire up for the day and then to lunch with a writer friend to brainstorm scenarios for her novel. Then home to jump back into the blender and push the "PUREE" button.

Later folks....

Monday, June 14, 2004

Con Lag 101

I am a con rat -- in other words, I attend a fair number of conventions. Most are of the science fiction/fantasy variety, some are of the romance writers type and others are in search of Jack the Ripper (yet another story.)

For those of you who travel via airplanes, you can readily appreciate what I experience post convention -- I call it 'con lag'. It has all the symptoms of jetlag. In other words, a brain that does not function, a body that feels seriously out of whack and the intense desire to curl up with a stuffed animal and sleep all day. Given all the energy I expend at a convention, I'm wasted afterwards. Hence I coined the term 'con lag' when I found it mirrored what I felt flying back from, let's say, England or Hong Kong, depending on the intensity of the convention.

After my first few convention experiences back in 1998, I learned how to mitigate 'con lag' as much as possible. Oddly enough, the remedy is roughly the same for the air variety. Lots of fluids, healthy foods, lots of sleep and an aversion to making important decisions. The less alcohol consumed during the convention, the better.

DreamCon's con lag has proved to be survivable, similiar to flying back from the West coast. It's not extremely pleasant, but that's the breaks. It doesn't rate like the serious three-day con lag I get from DragonCon. Dragon is a HUGE convention and I'm working from sunrise to midnight, doing panels, meeting/greeting, staying up and talking with friends I see once a year. After four straight days of that, I crash. And it's UGLY. Really ugly. Just like the jetlag you get when you fly home from Hong Kong. I've done both and they're equal.

So now it's time for yet another quart of water, a bubble in the hot tub and a good night's sleep. Tomorrow the brain will boot up and life will be better.

Til later....

Saturday, June 12, 2004

DreamCon 2004

Greetings from sunny Jacksonville, FL. I'm at DreamCon doing my author schtick and enjoying the convention, the venue and most of all --- the tall ships! The 2nd leg of the Tall Ships Challenge Race is here so that means there are barques, brigantines, schooners and ketches parked just outside our hotel. WOW. The U.S. Coast Guard's Barque Eagle is here, along with the Barque Tenacious from UK, a half scale two-masted pirate brigantine (Meka II) and lots of other fine ships from around the world. We had no idea this was going on until we got here. Tonight they're having a fireworks display (darn, it's right outside our window) so we'll just have to suffer along (grin). Alas, I did miss the Viking boat races this afternoon. That would have been cool.

DreamCon has been good. A typical first year con which means that some things go swimmingly and others not so swimmingly. Book sales have been brisk and I had the opportunity to sit on a panel with the likes of Erin Gray, Chase Masterson, P.N. Elrod, etc. Nice ladies.

Unfortunately, the fun ends tomorrow and it's back home to catch up on the work. However, I've begun to wonder if sailing is in my future!

Until later...

Monday, June 07, 2004

The Caffeine-Addicted Muse

Fabulously busy week with lots happening. The high point was three one-hour interviews yesterday on such diverse subjects as feng shui, how to teach someone to read and an intimate look at a writer's journey over three decades. I was seriously tired by last night. So I ate dinner, soaked in the hot tub, sent off a press release and went to bed. YAWN.

However, the week did afford me the opportunity to get more work done on my current book. Starbucks' coffee and atmosphere is the only way to fly. If I stay home, I see things to do. At Starbucks, I plug in my headphones so I don't have to listen to their music and I write. And write and write. Wired by caffeine (I usually only have one cup in the morning) I can go for three or more hours. The staff doesn't seem to care. They probably think I'm the next J.K. Rowling or something. Probably not. When the book is published (note the accent on the positive there) I'll hand out free books and autograph them for the staff and customers. It would be the least I could do to pay them back for watching me banging away at my keyboard for hours on end.

Now for you writers out there, lest you think what I'm writing during my Starbucks ventures is deathless prose... it isn't. It's seriously rough. I'm just putting it on paper and I'll go back later and make it sing, dance and play Peoria. I can write detailed scenes when the mood strikes, but right now isn't the time. Get it down on the paper, that's the plan.

One other note about Starbucks -- it seems that a number of the ladies who come into the one I frequent are babes... or in more modern parlance -- hotties. These ladies have it together. Makeup is perfect, clothes are perfect, you name it, it's perfect. So that makes me wonder if the guys who sit there on their computers for hours on end are there to work or there for eye candy. Hummm. Perhaps I should have bought stock in Starbucks long ago.

Happy week, people. I'll do updates from scenic Jacksonville, FL from my post at DreamCon.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Memorial Day, 2004

This Memorial Day held deeper significance for me than usual. The dedication of the WWII Memorial reminded me of my dad and how he'd be pleased they'd built such a thing. He wouldn't have gone to see it, but he would have been pleased. He'd always hoped to go back to Europe before he died. Unfortunately, he ran out of time. Left in his passing are some really nifty photos he took while he was near Luxemburg in an Artillery unit, just GI's hanging together in a foreign country near the end of the war.

The other reason is that picture of the military cargo plane full of flag-draped coffins that was on the front page of the papers a few weeks ago. It reminds me that we're losing people daily in Iraq and Afghanistan. Every soldier's loss resonates throughout a family for decades. With every one we should be asking, "Is this worth it?" It's a question we have to answer, not our government, for ultimately we should BE the conscience of our elected officials.

And since I mentioned my father, one of the more poignant tales he told me about his war experience was about the Russian POW's. After the war ended, they were being marched back home after surviving the German POW camps. Someone asked one of them, through an interpreter, whether he was happy to be going home. He said no. He (and the others) feared what Stalin would do to them. That made no sense to the Americans. But the Russian's concerns proved valid when Stalin had the former prisoners of war locked up as traitors. The majority of them died in prison camps within their own country.

The lesson, I think, is that democracy is a tenuous thing. It can be as strong as steel but slowly be weakened over time even by the best intentions. Our job is to keep vigilant. To say someone is unpatriotic because he/she questions the motive and actions of our leaders is abhorrent. A democracy has to be open or it isn't a democracy. Often the open dialog creates rifts and brings unpleasant matters to the surface, but that's the way it has to be. A secretive government only works to its own benefit, not to that of its citizens. If allowed to run 'under the radar' for too long, you begin to fear your leaders, just like the Russians. For those who believe such a thing can't happen in America, history proves otherwise.

Everytime I think of those flag-draped coffins, I am reminded the cost of preserving a democracy -- it's damned high and getting higher every day.