Saturday, April 30, 2011

Things To Expect From The Submission Process


When you're submitting anything; manuscript, short story, poems...anything, there is a waiting period. Some agents get back to you in under twenty minutes. Some competitions say "Winners announced in November". Some places that say "Winners announced X-Month" will get pushed back to "Z-Month". All I know is that it's a huge waiting game of hope, and fear, and anxiety, and nervousness when opening my e-mail. All the time I'm scared. But it's the good kind. I think.

Outside of that, if you get a request for a manuscript, you'll wait to hear back (most agents that I've read up on say -full- manuscript can take 4-8 weeks, sometimes longer). If you land an agent, you'll wait while they pitch for you. If you land a publisher, you'll wait for for your book to be published. (I know an author who waited 18 months for her novel to get published.)

Otherwise, if your submissions consist of literary magazines or contests you'll wait to hear back for the winner. Sometimes they move in advancements for rounds (in example: "Advance to round two" "Advance to round 50"). Even if you get accepted or win, chances are you'll be waiting for the publication.

So, if you're a writer and trying to get published, find things to do while you wait. I vote, write more. I hear it's the best way to fend off writer's block.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Well hello there. I've been kinda MIA for a bit, and I apologize. There have been things good and bad that have been going on in my life, but I don't want to be too "woe is me" so I'll share some goodness:

1) I went to see Silverstein in concert. If you don't know this band and like lyrics, and language, and powerful words...look them up. They are a Screamo band, but if you can look passed that and listen to Shane Told's's amazing. Another reason why Silverstein rocks, is because Shane is also their screamer. He's able to turn his voice into something so raw and ugly, and then something so simple and (honestly) beautiful, I stand in awe.

Easily One Of The Best Moments Of My Life
This Is Shane Told
2) I got some awesome birthday presents yesterday and a couple of days before from my good friend, Pat. He got me "Now Write" books for both creative nonfiction, and fiction. This is amazing, and once I move out of my bug infested house, I cannot wait to sit down with these and knock out some writing exercises. (Especially because I've been so angry recently it's given me another bout of writer's block. Ugh)

3) It has officially been a week since I submitted my manuscript. And I haven't gotten rejected yet. Although, I did receive another rejection the other day from an was a form letter but I couldn't stop laughing because it was the most friendly form rejection in the entire world (which included a link to other agents to possibly submit to). I love the literary world.

4) A few days before all of this, I received an e-mail from James Frey thanking me for my support of him and his writing. It was very nice, and made my night.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Social Networking

Alright, I've sold out and obtained a Twitter (follow me! Lynne Schmidt :) ). And it turns out, it's much more fun than I thought it'd be....

Social networking is huge in the literary industry. It's why we have conferences, and book signings, and book clubs, and critique groups (the list goes on).
You can find many agents on Twitter, or some have Facebook pages or even blogs. It's amazing how open and honest and HELPFUL these people are. They'll tell you what they're looking for, what they're NOT looking for, what they'd LOVE to see. Some more insightful blog posts have actually explained to me why and how manuscripts are chosen. Some agents (See FinePrint Literary) even go out of their way to critque your pages for you, or even your query letter (have you heard of QueryShark?). Some give feedback, some are WAYY too busy. But in reality, all agents do the best job that they are able to do, and as a writer, that's something for us to keep in mind. Don't be offended by form letters, rejoyce in rejections that give reasons why you're rejected.

Moral of the story is: if you're trying to get published and you're not doing your research, you should be. There is a lot out there that can help.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What Is Your Novel About?

This question is one of the hardest questions for me to answer. For a couple of reasons:

1) I feel like the biggest nerd when I talk about my novels--Confessions of an Immortal heart deals with an immortal girl (woman?), most people chuckle and say "Not another Twilight". Don't worry, it's not. When I actually say what it's about, they're usually a little more interested:
(This is my query letter)
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet tells the story of a love so intense, the two youths commit suicide rather than facing the rest of their lives without each other. In Twilight, Edward thinks Bella has died and chooses to end his existence rather than spend eternity without her. Both stories give the ideal ending in that both lovers are together again. But what happens when one half of the equation is permanently missing? Can true love really last forever, or will holding on just destroy you?

In Confessions of an Immortal Heart, the reader finds that the love interest has been murdered and all the narrator wants, is to die as well. However, due to some defect she can't figure out, she doesn't get hurt and she just won't die. The story revolves around the immortal narrator's inability to cope with her loss, lamenting all the times she should have stepped in to save her mortal's life. Each chapter gives insight to the development of their life together; when she comes home to find a him standing before her, her trying to kill him, their first kiss, the time he arrives after being attacked, up to the 'accident' that claims his life, and then her living in the Godforsaken world without him. The lack of names plays into the ending of Confessions of an Immortal Heart, because without him she's lost her identity.

Then...Igniting a Firestarter...
Deals with different covens and things like that, so I feel like a geek again. But it's cool because it's relate-able to real people, and people I've met every day....just exaggerated :) (I'm not posting this query letter because it doesn't quite rock yet).

2) It's hard to sum up your (my) entire novel in like 2 seconds and make it sound like it's the best thing since sliced bread. I've noticed if I talk too long people's eyes start to glaze over and I try to talk faster to say "But oh no!! They're in love, and it's an awesome story!!" Firstly, it is an awesome story (or so I think). Secondly, I need to get to the point already.

Outside of that...
I need to start preparing for the PNWA conference (which...I got my card in the mail yesterday confirming the fact I am a member :) ). But, there will be rapid fire rounds (I have 3 minutes to talk about either novel)...and I need to talk fast and coherently.

Even at first a query letter is hard because I'm too involved with the sub plots and while I think they're important the person reading about them...may not.

The writing life is hard....:)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On Bravery

I'm a coward. I don't like confrontation, I don't like to say things I know I'll get ostracized for. Submissions kill me because I have to develop thick skin so the rejections don't hurt. And they don't anymore, thankfully.

Yet--I've had a request for a full manuscript. Which I am minutes away from submitting right now. Minutes. And I'm terrified. It's over 200 pages, and I have the urge to edit AGAIN but that would probably take another month...I'm trying to tell myself I trust my writing. I trust the people who edited for me. I'm trying to remind myself to breathe, be confident, believe in my story. After all, it's a love story. I'm a romantic. I love this story. It should work, right? The agent should love it, right?

But I am so scared. This novel is different because the main characters don't have names. It's constantly, "Me" or "I" or "him" or "he". No Wes, Pat, Chris, Laura, Elizabeth. What if the agent doesn't like it?

I'm constantly telling myself right now the "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take". This could be my shot. This could be everything I've ever wanted. It's so hard to breathe. I'm channeling Eminem saying, "So here I go, it's my shot, feet fail me not. This may be the only opportunity I got."

Breathe and push send. Breathe and push send.
Or....breathe and push post. Which is what I'll do now. Thanks for allowing me to share my anxiety.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Best Birthday Eve, Ever

I am very excited :)
Today, after a very intense meeting up north, I came home to have another intense conversation about the direction(s) my life could head and how much I've grown in the last year or two. I checked my e-mail, which is rare to do since I work on a computer for eight hours a day, and usually just want to be away from technology....but I opened my e-mail to find more rejections and then...

Thanks so much for submitting. (Great, another rejection). Your query intrigues me, (Okay, but it's still not my thing, blah blah blah, rip off the band-aid already) so I’d love to take a look at your full manuscript (Wait...what???). I re-read this line a couple times while saying out loud on my sister's bed, "Oh my God, Oh my God...."

Please send it via Microsoft Word attachment at your earliest convenience. (And then I start screaming)

I look forward to hearing from you. (And screaming more. Followed rapidly by jumping up and down, clobbering my dog and telling him I love him, and choking on my lean pocket dinner, and screaming and trying to find a place where my cell phone gets signal).

From this point, I ran in figure eights in my road, and called most everyone in my phone, while jumping and becoming aware that while I box every other day, I am still vastly out of shape....only one or two people actually answered, but that's okay. 

This has been the best birthday eve, EVER. 

Reality check real fast:
I am super excited. Beyond words flattered and excited. At the same time I've been watching agent's statistics and am well aware that while this is a step in the right direction, there is a HUGE chance I will still be rejected. Nonetheless, I am SOOOOOO happy tonight. Reality can sink in Wednesday. I think I'll enjoy my birthday tomorrow :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Books, Books, Books

I am a nerd. I love books. I have lists upon lists of which books I want to read, and which books I stare at every time I go to Target and just can't afford. Typically though, I don't buy new books (unless I get a B&N gift card), instead I go to Goodwill, or some other thrift store and get more bang for my buck.

There is a literacy program down here (Outer Banks of North Carolina) that has a book sale twice a year. And I mean sales. Usually I spent close to $50 on books. Yesterday, I spent $27. I got well over 50 books. 20 of them were hardcover. I bought books for myself, and my sister, and Patrick. I looked for books for Mike, but it's rare I'm able to find them (I don't read geek...which is what he craves).

Some books I got:
2-Eat. Pray. Love.
The Hours
White Oleander
The Guardian (Nick Sparks)
Marley and Me (for Laura)
Lots, and lots more.
There was an excellent deal that was:
Get a paper bag. Fill it with paper back books. The entire bag was $5.
Next up, I filled a box of hardcovers. They were supposed to be $2 each. They were $1 instead.
I will take a picture of my swag soon. And I will hopefully be starting a book club soon.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Baby Wins

I don't think people give themselves enough credit for the things they do. In example...if you've written a novel, YOU'VE WRITTEN A FREAKING NOVEL. If you've written something, and someone says they like it, they probably do. Take the compliment. Give yourself some credit.

I'm saying this because I found out yesterday, that Suzie Townsend picked a winner for Invincible Summer, and the 100 word story contest. And I was that winner. I haven't won any other competitions (yet). Still, I was unGodly excited to read, "and the winner is...Lynn(e)". It's five easy, simple words. But it's my name. More importantly, it's my writing.

I drove to my sister's work (because my cell phone had stopped working), and ran into her office to tell her. I was excited, and I should be. When I tell people, I keep saying, "It's not that big of a deal." But it's still my writing. And I should be proud of it, even if it's a small competition. It's a baby step in the grand path I'm trying to travel. Things like this are what I'm waiting for.

Moral of this blog: Be proud of the little steps you make along the way.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Agent Feedback!

This is my OMG
I am soooo excited right now. The lovely agents over at FinePrint Lit are offering a chance to have your first page (250 words) of your novel dissected. I sent both of my novels' first pages. I'm very, very excited to hear back from them as most rejections are form letters, and I'd like to know if I'm losing people on my first page.

Here's the link if you'd like to send yours their way!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Writer's Block

And the curse has struck again. Maybe it's because I've been editing my life away. Maybe it's because I have a lot to say and I'm struggling to find the words to find them. I'm not sure what it is...but I am officially blocked. (I will soon be investing in clove cigarettes and standing on my head.)

Some submissions to be aware of:
April 18--Copper Nickel
April 31--Glimmer Train (subject of FAMILY)
May 1--A Cappella Zoo

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Editing Phase

The rejection letters are rolling in. Some amazingly awesome rejections...some average. But the fact is, they're still rejections, and they're probably my fault. So how to remedy this? Oh, right. Edit. Edit. Edit. 

The biggest thing I need to work on is my hook. My "What is your novel about"? I'm finding that each time someone asks me what my novels are about, my answer changes. How does it change? It gets stronger. The problem I'm running into as the writer, is that I know my stories inside and out. I can almost tell you on which page these people interact, what they say...etc. But on the smaller scale of things, these interactions don't matter and won't hold up in a query letter.

So, I've been having to take a step back. What makes my story interesting? Why would other people want to read it? And finally, what is my story about? I'm going to continually ask myself these questions until I'm in Seattle actually meeting with people at the PNWA conference (or Orlando and the LitDay adventure!!).

Outside of query editing, I've finished my second round of Igniting a Firestarter. It is now 215 pages, and just above 61,000 words. Last night I also resubmitted Confessions of an Immortal Heart which meant more editing for that novel (still around 73,000 words). I'm also excited because I've picked up more readers for both pitch alone. 

If you read my interviews with myself, I ask "What are your novels about?" I used to HATE that question. Now, I look forward to it because it puts me on the spot, and I need to say something quickly to whoever asks so they don't lose interest. I feel like this will help with speed pitching to agents, or even regular pitching. 

I cannot wait for Orlando and Seattle. Cannot. Wait.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Follow Up About James Frey

Some blog posts ago, I wrote about James Frey and his literary impact, and how much I respect his writing ability. Thus far, I have still only read A Million Little Pieces, but there is news.

Rebecca Rasmussen (who wrote The Bird Sisters which comes out April 12th!!!) had a guest blog about Literary Citizenship. I took the advice, found James' e-mail address and copied my blog post and sent it to him. Well I recieved an e-mail back saying that James would sign my book for me!!!! So, this last Wednesday I mailed out my book and am patiently awaiting its arrival back in my life.

On a side note, if you read A Million Little Pieces, he references the Tao quite frequently. I also got that book today at a thrift shop. Woot! I love books.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Best Rejection

This is my "I just got rejected' face
I've gotten a lot of rejection letters in my day. I've given myself the 15 Minute Window (which has now become more like the 5 minute window because they no longer hurt) and carried on. Yesterday, I didn't even need the window. I was completely excited over a rejection letter...over THIS rejection letter:

Dear Ms. Schmidt:

Thank you so much for querying me and giving me the opportunity to consider both CONFESSIONS OF AN IMMORTAL HEART and IGNITING A FIRESTARTER.  At this point, I'm primarily looking for books geared toward an adult market and I wouldn't be a good match for YA projects such as yours, even though they may have crossover appeal.  

I wish you the best of luck and much success with your writing career.

An Awesome Agent

Now, you may be asking...why was I so excited about this? Because most rejection letters look like this:

Dear Writer (notice in the rejection above, she addressed ME):

Thank you for your inquiry. We are sorry that we cannot invite you to submit your work (The agent above actually said what my works were that I had submitted) or offer to represent you (She also gave me a very valid reason as to why my work wasn't appropriate for her). Moreover, we apologize that we cannot respond in a more personal manner. (Exactly).

We wish you the best of luck elsewhere.

An Agent

However, while those things completely ROCK that the first agent's why it was the best rejection I've gotten--Because the agent went through and even said, "...even though they may have crossover appeal..." Why is this awesome? Because my query letter suggested that my novel might crossover. She reiterated my words back to me, letting me know that she had fully read my query letter.

So to recap:
Agent 1 addressed me as me; not author, writer, sir, ma'am, anything else. They used the titles of my novels.They gave me a reason as to why she was passing (she doesn't represent YA. Which I knew, but I figured I'd try :) ). The agent used something from my query letter. 
This personalization completely made my evening yesterday, even though it was a rejection. 

Status: Still Submitting. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Reading Anxiety

As a writer, I think my biggest fear (aside from fear of the dark, fear of black widow spiders, fear of clowns...etc) is having new people say, "Hey, can I read what you've written?"

My first instinct is to think "YES!!! A NEW PROOF READER!", and I get really excited... Until I print something off, or go to click the "Send" button through e-mail. It's all fun and games until that point. Right then, I feel crippling anxiety take over, "Oh, God, what if they don't like it?" "What if they find out I'm not as good as I think I am?" Then there's always the fear of, "What if they try to steal my ideas?" (Which has actually happened. I wrote my friend a poem, and he stole a line from it and put it into his story WITHOUT asking. And then proceeded to say "I thought we wrote that together". Yea. No.)

When I send these materials, I find myself constantly apologizing and saying things like, "Let me know if there's anything you don't like." This is (in reality) a good thing to say, I want to edit, I want my work to be more readable to others. But at the same time, I end the e-mail with, "You may not like this...but".

Now--put this in perspective for literary agents or literary magazines. The query and cover letters are supposed to say "This is what my novel/piece is about..." and "I am strong and confident with my work." You're not supposed to apologize. You're not supposed to allow yourself the weakness you feel. You're supposed to expect that they'll love your writing and want to print soon as possible.

Maybe I get more anxious with people I know reading my work (especially Creative there are some stories people who know me, just shouldn't know). Maybe I'm afraid of what they'll say about it...Thankfully, most everyone who has read what I've written is constructive with their criticism and willing to read the re-write. They're not afraid to say "This is weak, this is lacking, I am not engaged with your narrator". Some also say, "This line is awesome. I totally know what you mean."

The writing world is terrifying to me. But just as I mentioned being constantly afraid of speaking in public in this blog, I fight through my fear. Every. Day. I. Can. It can only make me a better writer.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Almost Moon

This is my copy of the book...
and my lovely sheet spread
Last night, I finally finished reading The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold. I've never read anything from her before...I've seen The Lovely Bones, and Laura read and talked about Lucky (as well as The Lovely Bones), but this was my first.

I have what I consider a Two Trial Read with each author I encounter (unless, of course, they rock my world the first time, then I'm usually a fan right off the bat). But if I don't like them, I'm willing to read another novel by them because I want them to redeem their writing (and thank goodness because now I own a lot of Sarah Dessen. I also didn't like the Traveling Pants series (I read one book) but Ann Bradshares', The Last Summer (Of You and Me) made me die inside a little bit and then I told my friends to read it). feelings on The Almost Moon are mixed...and I feel like I'll have to give Sebold another try..because this book just did. not. hook. me. But I'm one of those people who will keep reading until the end and see if it ever gets better/more interesting. me, it didn't.

This book perplexes me because the writing in it was awesome and I definitely saw strength in it....but in everything the narrator was saying, I just didn't care. I didn't connect with her, I didn't connect with the plot was just there, in front of me, dragging me along when I just wanted it to end. I started this book November 21, 2010 (thank you GoodReads for telling me this).....and I just finished it last night. 4 Months. 4 Effing Months to read that book.

I am NOT a slow reader. Once, I read three 200+ pages in a day. Granted, I've been writing and editing a lot which takes up most of my time....but this book just....ugh...was like watching a silent, black and white movie where people just stood still. The only part that got interesting was the last three pages, and then...I didn't like the ending, either....

Anyways....I feel like this is too mean. I hear Lucky and The Lovely Bones are better, and I am looking forward to reading them...But I don't think I would recommend this book to anyone, though I'd love to discuss it with others.

There was one part that I liked; the narrator and her friend were talking after her mother's body was discovered and her friend asked if she could hug her. She said something along the lines of, "I radiate that permission needs to be granted for physical contact" (paraphrasing)...and I really liked that line, but that was about it.

What I learned for my own writing: Keep the reader interested. Don't drag them through the mud.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...