Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Slap in the Face, Part 2, or: Evil Editor Strikes Again

Hi all

It's with a heavy heart that I come to you to report on the fate of my query for my MG fantasy novel, Oliver and the Underlings. See, I did it again. I sent another version of the query to Evil Editor, and, well...  here, see for yourself:


It's times like these where I question why I'm doing this writing thing, and my sanity. Instead of making progress, I appear to be going backward. 

I've had people ask me why I just don't work on another project and put the current ones - Oliver an the Underlings and The Vanilla Wafer Chronicles - aside. To answer that question, let me provide a glimpse into my writing schedule:

Sunday - no writing time
Monday through Friday - 1 hour per day available to write
Saturday - no writing time

In that one hour per day that I have to write, I have to decide the following:
     - Do I work on something new?
     - Do I work on an existing project?
     - Do I critique something that I've promised to someone else?
     - Do I write a blog post such as this one?
     - Do I write a book review?
     - Do I read?
     - Do I take care of some other personal business that needs                  taking care of?
     - Do I do none of the above and go out for a walk or something?

Thinking about this logically, the best course of action would be to get the existing projects to a point where they're viable for publication. The rest of the options seem either insurmountable or activities that, while all necessary, noble, and/or enjoyable, take me away from my own writing. 

In addition, and with all logic aside, I have a passion for these finished books. I feel there IS something important there, even if no one else can see it because I can't seem to convey that effectively to others.

If there's anyone out there reading this blog, do you struggle with any of these issues? Are you restricted with the time you have to write? How do you decide what to do during the times you sit down at your desk? Do you finish current projects first before starting something new? What do you do when a query is just not hitting any marks? Is there somewhere you go to for help? Do you shelf it and start something else?

Feel free to chime in with any advice in the comments.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Writing Intentions Check-In

Hi all

Just a quick check-in with my writing intentions for the year.

In a word? They're going: OK.

Here's where things stand so far:

My writing goals for 2015:
1. Submit at least one previously unpublished story per month: NOT MET - missed May and August so far
2. Submit at least one book for the year: DONE!

May came and knocked me around a bit, between kids' end of school things, work-related projects, etc. What happened in August? I'm not sure. Maybe the Universe really does require balance and thought I needed to skip the 5th month from the END of the year along with the 5th month from the BEGINNING of the year.

As for getting any of my submissions published, no such luck in that dept. either. Rejections, or no answers, so far.

So do I just throw in the towel on the whole writing intentions thing? I want to sometimes. I hate it when I don't meet my own goals. But then I shake my head, dust myself off, and keep writing, because that's what writers do. They fall short of their goals, they miss deadlines, they try harder, and sometimes - and let's be honest, it really is sometimes - succeed! But that sometimes can only happen by putting in the effort. Otherwise, the sometimes turns into never.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

2015 Writing Intentions Progress, May Days, and BEA

Hi all

Sorry for the long absence, but a lot of things have been going on, both non-writing and writing related.

Here's a summary of my writing related activities:

First, just a quick update on my writing intentions for this year. So far, I'm on track! In March, I only submitted one story, and it's one that I've submitted before, but I did a bit of editing on it and sent it out. It got rejected recently, but that's OK. Rejections are a sign of activity for a writer. In April, I sent out an application for the Boston Public Library's Children's Writer-in- Residence Program, which is a program designed to give both financial support and an office space to emerging writers who are currently working on a children's book. Last year, I applied using my middle grade novel Oliver and the Underlings as my proposed book. This year, I entered using The Vanilla Wafer Chronicles. The selected winner will be announced in July. Keeping my fingers, toes, etc. crossed!

Second, I am currently participating in the May Days challenge which a bunch of my writer friends are participating in. The goal is to just get people writing every day for the month of May. I saw that the original concept for the group was to write at least 2 pages a day, so I'm making that my goal, since I tend to work better with concrete goals such as that. So far, I've only written 10 pages of a new novel I'm working on based on a novelette I had previously written. But it's 10 pages more than I had at the beginning of the month.

Finally, I have decided to attend Book Expo America (BEA) 2015. I've mentioned it before, but for those who don't know, BEA is basically the largest book trade fair in the United States. I'm going there because, despite me not wanting to go because I STILL have books from past BEAs I haven't read or reviewed yet, I get to meet some amazing authors and other publishing professionals, hear what's going on in the publishing world, get inspired, and, of course, get an opportunity to get some ARCs of some amazing books by some amazing authors. This year it's being held in New York City from May 27th to May 29th. I also heard next year it's moving to Chicago, which is another reason I've decided to make the trip this year. I doubt I'll have the opportunity to travel to Chicago once it moves. I'll still continue to do my best to review all the books I've gotten there. Keep an eye on George's Backlogged Book Reviews on my blog.

That's all the news that's fit to print for now. More to come. Thanks for following!

Friday, February 27, 2015

February Writing Intentions

Hi all

I'm still on track for my writing intentions for the year. See, setting goals is a big help.

Here is a list of what I've been up to this month.

1. I submitted a query for my middle grade fantasy novel, Oliver and the Underlings, to Evil Editor, which I mentioned in a previous blog entry. If you want to see my query, and its subsequent tearing apart by Evil Editor, go here:


2. I did some light editing on an old, homeless flash fiction story called "The Liar" and sent it to 365 Tomorrows, which provides a science fiction or speculative flash fiction story every day. If you're interested in either reading or submitting to this market, check it out:


3. I wrote a brand new piece of flash fiction called "In Search of the Squid" and submitted it to a contest being offered by Flash! Friday. You can check out the current contest here:


Submissions are still being accepted until 11:59 PM ET tonight if you're interested in entering. My story appears in the comments, submitted at 9:32 PM (to help you find it). Make sure to read all the other stories there, for this contest and past contests.

That's most likely all I'll tackle for the month of February, seeing as there is only a day and change left.

On to March!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"The Great American Sentence" Contest

Hi all

Recently I was hunting around for some interesting writing contests to satisfy my New Year's writing intentions, and I came across this:


Easy Street: a Magazine of Books and Culture is offering a contest where you can send in all those stellar first sentences of your books-in-progress. Or, if you have even more impressive sentences buried in the middle of your works somewhere, you can send those in as well. You can send up to 5 sentences, and winners will be paid $5 per word, or $10 per word if you share information on this contest on your social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, blog, etc).

If you're interested, you'd better hurry. Entries will only be accepted for another few days. The contest ends midnight on February 28, EST.

If I come across any more interesting contests in my travels, I'll happily pass them along. Check back often!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

My Latest (Much-Needed) Slap in the Face

Rejection. You can't ever really love it, but it's a cold, hard, and sometimes brutal fact when you're a writer and you're submitting material to be read and accepted by an agent or an editor. Your only other alternative is to keep all those stories buried in your notebooks and computer files somewhere, never to see the light of day. But what's the point of that? It's why you write in the first place. For your voice to be heard. For others to get the same excitement and joy from the story that you did when you first wrote it.

Except I think I've reached a point in my life where I DO love rejection. Especially when it comes with some helpful critique, which, as I've mentioned in my most recent post, is coming more and more frequently for me these days. In a world where agents and editors are increasingly busy and more selective, it's great when they can take time and provide some little nuggets to writers. I'm incredibly appreciative of any help they can provide. Personally, I feel the frequency I do get helpful feedback shows that I'm in a good place, that there's something there worth commenting on.

Let's get back to the brutality of feedback. Recently, I submitted a query for my middle-grade fantasy book, Oliver and the Underlings, to Evil Editor. For those who are unfamiliar with who Evil Editor is... well, I'm not 100% sure myself. All I know is, some anonymous professional in the publishing industry has set up a website to publicly help, and simultaneously ridicule, any writer brave enough to offer up their query for critique. In addition to his feedback, you also get, as an added bonus, his Evil Minions (a.k.a. his readers) supplying humorous interpretations of what your title could possibly mean, as well as his own humorous interpretation of your pitch. 

You can check out his website here for more information:


I sent my query last week, and today was the day Evil Editor chose to tear it apart. So here is Evil Editor's comments on Oliver and the Underlings, in all their un-glory: 


On the surface, this seems very insulting. Those without a thick skin might slam their laptop closed after reading it and throw it out a window. 

On closer inspection, however, there is much to be learned here within the embarrassing commentary.

First, queries are all about perception. My book is an innocent middle-grade story about monsters, and yet outside readers picked up on all kinds of inferences I never intended nor realized I was making. One lesson you can take from this is to make sure your intentions are clear and appropriate for the age group you're writing about.

Second, queries need to be simple and easy to follow. A main character's goals, journey, and obstacles have to be clear and straightforward. Plus, although your book may have multiple plot lines to it, there is one major plot line that supersedes all others. It will most likely be the one involving the highest stakes for the main character. Find out what it is and make that clear as well.

Third, and this is the scariest realization of all for me, an unclear query might mean an unclear story overall. It makes me wonder whether queries should be written BEFORE the book is finished, almost as a guide to keep things on track. It also makes me wonder if my aversion to writing a synopsis or outline of a story is really a good idea. Although I don't think I'll be giving up my free writing style any time soon. Maybe queries, outlines, etc. would be good tools to use after the initial draft but before doing any real editing.

So, was the rejection harsh? Yes. Was it deserved? A little time to sit and think might be best to answer this, but in my case, I believe it is. Were my wounds deep? No. If anything, I liken it to that pain you feel after you've just done a hard workout. It's a good pain, just another step toward getting a healthy book out into the world.

Anyone else who would like to share their own experiences of rejection and how it has helped you or made your writing stronger, feel free to drop a comment in the box.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Quick Check-In on 2015 Writing Intentions and Other Goings-On

Hi all

First, just a quick check-in on my intentions for the year.

For the month of January, I managed to submit a total of one short story, which means I'm well on my way of fulfilling my goals for the year (one story submitted per month, one book submitted for the year).

I did submit that story TWICE though. The first time it was rejected. The nice thing is, the first rejection came with some great feedback, which I find to be a major improvement and a good indication that my writing is finally making people notice. I'd rather have some great personal rejections any day than the ol' "Sorry, this piece is not right for our publication." Usually when I receive that, either one of two things have happened. Either I've targeted an incorrect market for my story (which is probably the more likely scenario), or the story is so bad that it doesn't even warrant a response. Being a more optimistic person regarding my writing, I always assume it's the first option and try to do a better job at targeting a new market for the piece.

I've also been working on improving my query for Oliver and the Underlings. I'll have more news about what I've been doing on that front soon. I've also been working on another book idea that started out life as as novelette, was restarted for NaNoWriMo 2014 (which I didn't get too far with), and is now being re-rewritten. I hope to have that book finished halfway through this year so I can use the other half to possibly polish it up and get it sent out to agents.

I hope you all are busy working on your own writing goals/intentions for this year. Feel free to let me know about your own progress and ups and downs in the comments.