Saturday, January 29, 2011


Roland Barthes wrote The Death of the Author. The idea behind this, is that once something is written, it no longer is the author's thoughts or feelings...when reading you cannot factor the author in because it's not him/her thinking/feeling it, it is purely the character. My thoughts on this is that the author removes him/herself from the story so that when you (the reader) reads it, you're not thinking "Did this actually happen to the author?" "Is the writer really this angry?"...It is the writer's job to be able to claim fiction and remove themselves far enough away from their work that they can talk comfortably about it. So that when the love interest dies, they don't break down. After all, this work is fiction. NONE OF IT IS TRUE.

To be completely honest, this is all horse shit. While fiction writers aren't writing a memoir, they still put themselves into their work. For example (and the example I used in my lit theory and criticism class): I wrote a novel about a girl who keeps secrets. In one chapter, you find out she has a brother who abandoned her and her sisters. I took the piece, read it to the class, asked if anyone had ever read this before (claiming it to be written by someone else). No one (save a friend) had read the piece. I asked how things changed if I said I wrote it. The nonfiction portion: I have a brother (half brother) somewhere in the world. I loved him as a child, he left us. Without him, this portion of my character would not exist. However, I am not my character, and she is not me.

Moral of this blog is that all of my characters have traces of me in them (people who know me well enough constantly call me out on this). Some have anger problems, some have mental problems, some fall in love too easily....But the better part of writing is that you can make these people do whatever you want: they can commit murder, they can jump off a roof and be fine, they can fuck the entire soccer team. They can have political views that differ from your own, they can experience things you'll never be able to.

But at the same time, this person you created, you end up loving because well, they're a part of you. You've just invested a day/a week/any amount of time creating that person, getting acquainted. You love them because they're the best and worst parts of yourself....and if you choose, you can kill them off and not have to deal with them again :)

I love writing.

Friday, January 28, 2011


I'm not a patient girl. I never have been. I eat undercooked rice because it takes too long for the water to boil. I don't like making meals because the prep time is extensive. Usually I eat freezer ready meals, which magically after two minutes in the microwave still have chunks of ice on them. (As long as the chicken feels/tastes cooked, I don't usually go through round two of a microwave...I will most likely contract some form of food poisoning soon). I skim boring parts of books. If a movie doesn't take off quick enough, I do something else (like fall asleep). If I'm chatting with people and they take too long to respond, I get bored and walk away from the computer. (You get the idea.)

So, right now, my novel is completely written. Honestly, it has been since high school, and I've been editing it ever since. It has had a major facial reconstruction, and idea construction. To me, the ending finally makes sense. But, parts are still not as strong as I'd like them to be. So I've been going through, tearing apart pages and chapters, and making it stronger. I've also had the help of the wonderful Tammy Henry, Laura Schmidt, Alyssa Wells Midler, and Elizabeth Henry. Though being torn to shreds helps to know "I can't engage with this character," and know I'm doing something wrong. Because of this editorial statement, the entire introduction and first chapter were re-done so that the reader has a better grasp of who this woman is. 

I've found people I want to submit to (as previously stated). The one woman I want to submit to more than anything wants a short and concise query letter. She wants paranormal romance. She wants something different...and I think I'd be a good fit for her. But, she also wants a very polished manuscript....Well, up to chapter ten or so is polished....?

Right now I have to keep my query letter in the FINISHED folder of my external hard-drive. I take it out and send to people to see what they think. I've just received word from a PUBLISHED AUTHOR, Zu Vincent, that she is willing to read said letter and give suggestions. (I met her last year at the AWP conference.) She and I will both be attending the 2011 conference in Washington D.C., and I'm hoping to be able to attend her panel. Either way, it is taking everything I have in me not to just balls out and type said agent's e-mail address into the "Send" tab, and blow my shot.

But kids, it takes patience. You have to be PERFECT. Your work has to be PERFECT. It pays to be patient, to wait it out, to continue editing. So, I have set a deadline: February 15th. Why? Because I fucking HATE Valentine's Day, and February, so this will give me something to look forward to. Plus, because there is a deadline, the possibility isn't stretching into the abyss, there is a set time frame I am forcing myself to work under. If my editors haven't finished, then I'm saying screw them and submitting anyway. I feel like my query letter is strong enough, I feel like the first three chapters are strong enough. 

But, I said I would wait, and so I will. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Query Letter

I secretly think that all writers hate these with a fiery passion. Personally, I enjoy the places that are all, "Let the work stand for itself, we don't care about your merit." It might be because I'm lazy, or because I'm afraid what I'm saying won't be good enough...Either way, I hate query letters.

For those of you who don't know, the query letter is essentially the pitch. It says "Hi, I'm Lynne Schmidt. This is the novel I wrote, this is what it's about, and here is my publication record." It also has to say "I've done research, I know what you're looking for, and you're looking for me," without being so pretentious. 

Some places allow simultaneous submissions (you're allowed to submit to more than one agency), some don't. You have so much homework to do before you can even think, "This is where my work is going." It's hard because aside from doing all of that, you have to edit your 190+ page novel and make sure it's perfect so when/if they say "Hey, I'd like to see what you have to offer," you can say, "Okay, here it is!"

It's also hard because some places reject you flat out if you don't have enough publication experience. (Read previous blogs, I'm pretty amateur.) I'm trying constantly to bulk up my resume, but that's also difficult because now I have to edit those stories or poems, wait the 3-6 months for the response period, and then update all of my information. I'm also submitting like crazy to competitions, but I also am lacking funds to be able to do so. All of this tires me out, constantly. 

Key things to have in your query letter:
*Genre--Contemporary, sci-fi, magical realism
*Word Count--Make sure it's complete and polished!
*Correct spelling of agent/editor
*Plot and examples; don't just say "And then tragedy strikes..."--Tell the person what happens, "Then, when X's sister dies in a car accident..." 
*Aim for it to be about 250 words
*Brief bio--"I've had publications in the following literary magazines....I received an MFA from... etc"
*Comparisons to your work--However, DON'T claim to be the next Stephen King, Stephenie Meyer, J.K Rowling
*Contact information

Other than that, be sure to read the SUBMISSION GUIDELINES for each and every agent you query. Some want five pages, some want ten, some want none. 

There are two agents I'm looking pretty heavily into right now. Well, really one because she seems amazing. I keep talking to everyone about her as though she's my best friend, when I've never met the woman *that sounds stalkerish, my bad*. I love her personality, her online presence, what she's looking all fits. I want to go to Starbucks with her and drink coffee. Honestly, I would be honored to have her, or any agent. You want to feel like you know these people, like you would have a good WORKING relationship with them.

I'm finding myself constantly wanting to jump the gun and just submit to someone already. But that's stupid and that's how you get rejected. I'm forcing myself to be patient, to look over my query letter when I'm bored and out of work. When I have no creative juices flowing, I edit my novel. When I have NOTHING to offer, I annoy the people I've been sending my stuff to to re-edit.

But, as I stated earlier, I get tired out. So it's time for bed :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Nerve Wracking Excitement

Firstly, I'd just like to say that I had to look up if the word wracking spelling and all, is correct. Turns out it is, so back off. :)

Secondly, the excitement. I said in my first post I had been rejected from Tin House. I lied. While I haven't been accepted, they've had my work for almost three months now. At the 90-100 day mark, I will be contacting them to see what the deal is.

This is why I'm SUPER excited though:

"Winter 2011 
Beauty. Deadline April 1.  For our special 50th Issue, we will be having some fun with the idea of beauty. We are looking for fiction, poetry, and nonfiction that confronts notions of beauty across cultures, economic strata, genders, and races. What is beauty? What is art? We are looking for personal takes on what is beautiful. Think of Francis Bacon: "There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion." We’ll also be looking for pieces that look into the marketing of beauty, and how notions of beauty are used to create celebrity and at the same time to marginalize and exclude. "

Here is what my query letter said: 
"...I am submitting a prose piece with a word count totaling 1,678 words. It is titled Breaking Myself Down, about a girl essentially tearing herself apart bit by bit to get to something more natural to her and her being and less socially placed.  I feel like in today’s age they tell people to look, act, and think a certain way, to the point that the outside is the shell and the inside is a stranger. This piece is the recognition of that, and facing who you are/what you are/and what people go through..."

I feel as though I've submitted what they're looking for, and I submitted during their reading period. They've had it for awhile. Could this be the first piece I get published? (As stated before, I've had minor things in Zephyr and Authors of Tomorrow, but this feels different....i wasn't really trying with those)

I am super hopeful right now. I will keep ya'll posted.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Frustrations

There is nothing worse than getting a stack of edits back, well after you've submitted the manuscript, and finding errors in the first story. Your heart sinks, and  you fear, Oh God, I'm going to get rejected. But it's still an awful waiting game. Then there's always that hope, What if what I wrote is still good enough....?

Everyone knows that when submitting something, revise, revise, revise. I do. The manuscript in question is the short story chapbook I submitted to Burnside Review. Each story had been written on their own over the last year or two, and were clumped together into what is/was known as Kitchen Floor Confessions. I had been editing the stories pretty much any time I got  bored--throwing something new into the mix, finding spelling or tense errors. Then for a month straight they were hit hard, by me and everyone else I sent them to, and then by me a few more times.

As far as the manuscript as a whole is concerned, Laura and Alyssa were the only ones to send back ANY edits. Peter never went through. Nor did Mike. Tammy and Elizabeth are excused as I gave them to them WAYYYY late. Just today, I got Sandy's back. Laura and Alyssa didn't get through all the stories, and by the end I had re-ordered many of them (so the last story originally is now the first). The first story, did not get re-edited by them, only by me...the person who wrote it and was so used to reading it that everything came out the way it was supposed to...or so I thought.

I'm not going to lie, the processes is exhausting. I think that's why we (as writers) need distance from our work. So we can go back to a story once we've forgotten what it was about, and re-edit, and make it polished and pretty and ready to submit again.

Game On (Game On).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Well Hello There

The first thing you need to know about me is that by this time next year, I will be published. It may be a short story, a long short story, more poems, a novel...but my name will start getting out there. It is for this reason, and this reason alone that the world will not end in 2012.

I've been writing ever since I can remember. I wrote stories, and once upon a time I used to also illustrate for them. Since then I've become lazy, and moved up in the world (no longer writing the same story, over and over and over again about a horse named Buttercup).

Now I write more fiction than anything else. I still write poems, and sometimes short non-fiction stories, but I like making things up much more.

I'm also on the path to "SELF DISCOVERY", so maybe that will cause a few more stories to pour out. By the time I'm 30 I'd like to have my memoir written, and maybe published. But written feels like a good goal.

Before you start thinking "Wow, this girl is ambitious," let me give you some background:
I am 22 years old. I graduated with the class of 2010 from the University of New England with a degree in Medical Biology. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I'm a writer, not a biologist. But some day, I'd also like to save animals, too. I've been published minimally: in each edition of Zephyr (the schools literary journal), and had an essay in Authors of Tomorrow. Those are my credentials.

Outside of that, like the greats before me, I too have had my share of rejections:
Burnside Review (too many times to count)
MakeOut Creek
Poetry Foundation
Missouri Review
Tin House
Boston Literary Magazine (Also too many times to count, but they at least give reasons why)
Copper Nickle
Men in Bed Anthology Collection
....And probably more, but it was before the time I was aware of e-mail submissions. Either way, as stated, I will be published.

Right now I'm in the process of looking up literary agents and editing stories for upcoming competitions. I'm flat broke. I have less than $30 in my bank account ($20 of which will need to go to an oil change). I am always accepting donations for reading or submission fees. In the mean time, if you'd like to edit and be on an acknowledgement page someday....let me know :)

I'm not going to lie, I'm not the happiest kid who's ever been created, but all of that is in this blog. This blog however is writing focused, to tell you how I'm doing, what I've submitted to where, and to thank people like: Laura Schmidt, Tammy Henry, Mike Appel, Sandy Scarboro, Elizabeth Henry, Patrick Gagnon, Chris Butler, and all the others who put up with me reading to them, forcing them to read for me. Most of them push me to be a better writer, tear apart what I write so that it can excel, so I have something to be proud of. They are friends and they make my life go around. But that's enough of that.

Until then, this is me saying Keep On Keeping On (Joe Dirt rules).
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