Monday, July 18, 2011

Here We Go Again

I'm sure you recall me mentioning last week that I've decided to take the plunge again, the literary plunge that is. I've decided to see if my writing's improved enough to secure a literary agent.  As you know, I've thus far waffled back and forth about whether or not I really want an agent and whether mainstream publication is really my goal. 

Last week, I was cautiously optimistic given that my first foray into this produced an immediate result from a rather reputable agent who asked for the manuscript. I'm disappointed to report I was right to err on the side of caution. It took only a few days for her to respond that she couldn't offer representation as my project wasn't ready for publication. I did find it encouraging that she was amenable to previewing any additional projects I had provided my writing improved. Of course, I found that perplexing too given that my target audience is clamoring for me to publish this book so they can have a copy of their own.

Immediately following this rejection, I received several more in rapid succession.  Most were very polite form replies in which the agents professed to be lacking in time or in passion for my project to take on new clients. Given how saturated with submissions today's agents are, I fully understand this. Understanding doesn't equal acceptance.

Having received one rejection after another is somewhat disheartening. It reminds me that writing is a business and my dream is subject to the whims of another. One of the joys of self publishing is that I maintain all creative control and see a realization of the dream. And let's be honest, self-publishing is no longer as stigmatized as it once was.  Still, there's that part of me that craves mainstream success.  Not to mention, I'd like to see someone else hocking my product for me.

So, in the interest of achieving my dream and setting that example, I suppose I'll forge on for now. And I only have one thing to say.  Here we go again.

Author Note: No blog will be posted on July 26 so this author and her family can take a a much needed vacation. I leave my house and my dogs in the capable hands of the sitter while I leave reality behind. See you in August!

Monday, July 11, 2011

That's What friends are For

As a writer, I'm often second guessing my work. I think it's safe to say I'm my own worst critic. In fairness, what writer doesn't feel this way? I have a friend who's an excellent writer but just can't stop ripping his own work to shreds. In fact, it took him years to work up the guts just to share his work with fellow writers. When he finally did, he was surprised at how well received it was.

How I feel about my writing depends on a number of factors. If I'm having success in other areas of my life, I love my writing. If I've gotten an unsollicited compliment, I love my writing. If I get five rejection letters in one day, I hate my writing. If I enter a contest and don't win, I hate my writing.  And I especially hate my writing when I have writer's block.  Like good writing has ebbs and flows, so do my emotions about this career I both love and hate.

Lately, I've been on a downward trend with the writing. While I've been getting rave reviews on line for my latest offering on my favorite author sharing web site, it didn't win a contest I recently entered.  I also haven't been able to snag an agent for this work. Add to that the fact that I haven't sold a copy of my latest book since September of last year and that makes for a pretty low point in a writer's life.

Just last night, I was sharing these feelings with a good friend of mine. She's a fellow writer who happens to be on her way up.  While I don't fault her for that, I always have that I wish it was me feeling. I've had a number of agents, but I have yet to find that one who can sell my work.  To make myself feel better about this, I have to remind myself one agent was a blatant scam artist while another had some questionable business practices that have earned a number of negative reviews on Preditors and Editors.

As I vented to my friend, I threw out the idea of giving up. Being the supportive friend that she is, she immediately advised against that.  She said all the right things a good friend should say, including the fact that I'm too talented to just quit. I had to smile when she said getting published, even at age eighty, still meant I'd acheived my dream. I had to smile because I'm not even forty yet. That gives me a little over forty years to accomplish my goal.

After listening to my friend last night, I woke up this morning with this realization that she's right. Quitting isn't in me, at least not when it comes to writing. With this fresh resolve, I vowed to start anew.  I logged onto Publisher's Market Place and started combing the agent listing. While I waited to get a prescription filled for my sick child, I dashed off a few query letters via email and waited. You could've knocked me over with a feather when I got a reply today asking to see my whole manuscript. Given that such prompt response is unheard of in a booming business such as ours, I did some research on the agent. I was elated to find she's a reputable agent with a proven track record of success.  I'd say that bodes well.

A request for the manuscript is a far cry from an offer of representation or publication, but it's a place to start. And it's a place I wouldn't be at today if it wasn't for my friend's encouragement yesterday. They say that's what friends are for, but I still owe her a thank you.

Thanks, Erica! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Embracing Freedoms: How about a Little Equality Here?

With yesterday being the fourth of July, it got me thinking about freedom.  In this country, above all others, we’re afforded a number of freedoms.  One of my favorites is the freedom of speech with the freedom of religion coming in a close second. I’m sure you’re asking yourself what this has to do with writing since my posts are typically centered on writing. The answer will soon become clear.

I’m sure you’ve heard me mention a number of times that not too long ago I joined an online community that allows me to upload my work and reach my target audience. The upside of this is the mass exposure I’ve gotten.  The downside of this is the mass exposure I’ve gotten.  Allow me to explain because you may as well know now.

You see, my recent novel is entitled The Unholy Trinity.  The protagonist is a fifteen year old girl whose father is a mass murderer.  The tagline: What happens when the daughter of a mass murderer falls for the son of Satan?  The cover of my novel, designed by my own fifteen year old daughter, is a triangle of sixes bordered by flames. The novel invites readers to explore the romance between the offspring of Satan and a mass murderer and introduces the concept of the need for a balance between good and evil as opposed to the cliché concept that good must always prevail.

As I’m sure you can imagine this has stirred a fair amount of controversy. I have to confess, when I first penned the novel I never expected it to see the light of day. Nor did I expect to share it with audiences via the world wide web.  Likewise, I had some reservations about posting it for the world to see. In my lifetime, I’ve found that some people, Americans in particular, (sorry but its true) tend to be very unforgiving of anything that challenges the notion of the acceptance of God.  I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating now, The Unholy Trinity is a work of fiction. I no more believe its premise than JK Rowling believes in wizards or Stephanie Meyer believes in vampires.

That being said, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the mass acceptance this work has gained. Yes, atheists and agnostics love it. So do Wiccans as it seems to follow the belief of balance they’re faith adheres to. You know what? The open minded religious love it too. They’re willing to take a leap and accept it as a work of fiction. Despite the rave reviews it’s garnered, despite the growing legion of fans I have, despite the fact that it’s already spawned at least two instances of fan fiction, and despite the fact it’s well written, if I do say so myself, I’ve had to contend with some backlash.

I’ve been called evil and wicked. I’ve been told I’m a terrible writer who obviously has no talent given the trashy subject matter I’ve chosen.  I’ve been reminded more than once that I will be spending eternity burning in Hell for my blasphemy. I’ve even been accused of being the reason Heaven will be devoid of as many souls.  Funny, but when I wrote a story about a young Marine named Linc, the son of a Baptist minister who used his faith to help him through his first deployment to Iraq, I didn’t suffer those accusations. I digress though. 

This reaction doesn’t surprise me, but I must say it baffles and even offends me a bit. One of the driving forces behind the creation of this country was the notion that people wanted the right to practice their own religion. Freedom of religion is a constitutional right in the United States. I appreciate this freedom and respect those who choose to exercise it.  I don’t expect anyone to justify their beliefs or lack thereof nor do I allow it to play a part in the opinion I formulate of a person. And I certainly don’t belittle or chastise someone whose belief structure differs from mine. Why then should I be subjected to such a thing?

The simple answer is that I opened myself up for this kind of criticism when I posted my work on such a public forum. And let’s be honest, I knew it was coming. I even expected it to come on a much larger scale. What I didn’t expect was the outpouring of support.  There are many open minded readers who adore this story, and its author, who have come to my defense, some rather vehemently I must say. This kind of support means as much to me as the adoration of my work.

In closing, I’d like to remind everyone that freedom of speech and freedom of religion, along with a few others, are inalienable rights granted to Americans.  Enjoy those freedoms, and please if you can, find it in your hearts to allow others to do the same.