Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Fricassee

Well, it's been a fabulous week of welcoming new readers to the blog. I'm glad to know that some of you have not hesitated to email me with your questions! Do check the sidebar for explanations of our "major events," since I think I've got everything covered. (If I don't, I'm absolutely certain that someone will let me know.)

I've also added a "Hall of Fame" for all our past Secret Agents. So those of you who want to dig around to see what you've missed can now do so with greater ease.

As for future Secret Agent contests: March, April, and May are lined up and ready to go. I'm going to be fine-tuning the guidelines and rules, so keep an eye out. The response was so big-n-fast this month that I'm going to have to tighten my approach to submissions, to be sure.

I'm planning on taking the month of June off from Secret Agents; we'll resume our schedule in July.

Best news of all? I've had my first request from an agent to be our Secret Agent! The word's getting out, folks -- y'all are as awesome as I've always said you were.

So. Keep writing. Keep editing. Keep hanging out here. Good things are bound to happen!

You all know my week had a lousy start (Remember the horrible rejection-of-full? It was followed by a rejection-of-partial later the same day. Seriously.). I'm over it, which is something that has to happen quickly in the life of an aspiring author. Very quickly, as a matter of fact.

There isn't a writerly lithium to level the ups and downs of the journey. So tell me -- how do you personally do it? How do you keep your downs from paralyzing you, and your ups from trapping you in ineffectual delusion?

Share your methods of survival. Your words may touch someone's life just when they need it the most.

And for a little extra fun, take a peek at Colleen Lindsay's Query Haiku Contest. It's amazing how creative people can get with seventeen syllables.

Happy weekend!


  1. Sorry about the rejections this week, Authoress. But it is amazing, is it not, that after those first few heart-stopping, demoralizing, 'man, what was I thinking?' rejections, they become part of the norm - the routine - of being a writer. Doesn't mean that my heart doesn't beat faster when I get a request for a partial. And my ego deflates briefly when a "No, thanks." comes through the mail. (On those days, I just pour an extra glass of wine) But, I continue on.

    The Haiku Contest is amazing. And congrats on the Secret Agent request - I'm curious as to who it is.

    Have a great weekend.


  2. Sorry, Authoress, about your rejections. Like so many of your followers, I know how it feels.

    I deal with rejections on my ms several ways. I post them for my online writer's group to see. They're very supportive and can relate. And they're there for me when I do rewrites/edits based on agents' suggestions. Fortunately I recently received some very insightful comments from one agent, so hopefully my new partial, which is currently out with another agent, will lead to a request for a full. Fingers crossed.

    When I send out the requested ms, I'm optimistic but also realistic. It's like I almost expect to be rejected, so it doesn't bother me so much when it happens. I'm just thrilled when I get a request. Means my query and sample pages can't be too bad, right? And I've learned it really is subjective.

    Also, I spent eight years as a drug rep (the ethical kind). That's eight years of rejections...some of which were quite brutal that left me in tears (I was 7 months pregnant at the time...very hormonal). It was the perfect training for being a writer.

    Have a great weekend. Hopefully you'll get some great news soon on your ms.

  3. Re rejections: while I feel bad, sad, dejected, etc., my subconscious usually arranges to remind me that having one (or two--bummer, Authoress!)product rejected by one person doesn't actually destroy my creativity :-) It demonstrates by taking me off to bake or sew or garden or write a fabulous email to someone who needs fabulous at the moment.

    Your Secret Agent Contest has been a real help, too! Really gets across that this is a subjective business, so one response on one day isn't the Ultimate Decision.

    Re 'success': an experience with a publisher brought home the wisdom of "be careful what you wish for," so I try to keep it all in balance.

    A glass of wine or chocolate-covered cashews helps too! And hey, if we survive, if we keep writing, we win, right?

  4. I, too, have received a rejection this week (it was, to be fair, a personalized email from the agent I queried but was otherwise fairly standard) and the immediate high of seeing the email, restrained, of course, by past experience, was followed by the immediate low of the 'no' before balancing out to a more even-level.

    Does, however, make me wish I had a better query letter as this one doesn't seem to be working.

    So, I guess the main feeling I have after the rejection, as I have when I finally 'give up' on trying to market a book, is 'back to ye olde drawing board (or, in my case, MS Word)'

    Thank you for a most excellent site and I am looking forward to finally feeling up to entering your wonderful contests starting Monday!

  5. I only send out 10 queries at a time, but I also keep a running list of "next on my list" Agents who match my project. That way, the very moment I get a rejection, I send out to the next person on my list.

    How do I deal with rejection?

    1. I keep myself in the game... keep hope on the horizon.

    2. I remind myself how many BESTSELLEROMGSOGREAT books out there that I absolutely hated and didn't connect with at all. An agent reject doesn't mean I didn't write well. It means that the agent didn't connect. And I want an agent who really loves my story.

    (As a caveat: every manuscript needs work, and I continue to work on and edit my manuscript as I'm submitting.)

    3. I work on my next project... whether it's book 2 in a series or a standalone.. I keep working. Because if this book never sells, I want something ready and waiting in the wings. It would also be nice to say, "Well, I'm half done with the second book, if you want to look at pages from that too."

  6. Blerg on those R letters, and many congratulations on the agent request! You've got something very special going on.

  7. My personal philosophy: said agent wasn't the right agent for me.

    Yes, there's a moment of depression. Then, I get back up off the floor - where I collapsed after drinking the three bottles of wind during that brief moment of depression - and send off the next query letter. My wine bill has increased since I started the query process, btw. Kidding.

    I seriously believe that the 'right' agent for me is out there, somewhere (is that Fieval I hear singing in the background), and that I will find that agent one of these days.

    For me, writing is an incredible journey that I relish. I'm not going to stop writing just because I've received some rejections.

  8. I read the rejection, I put it in my file and I move on. Because, like I think someone else mentioned, it's not personal! It's just that that particular agent didn't like my book. It didn't resonate with them.

    And you know, if I can't handle that, what am I going to do when that book is published and I get a "non"-review from a reader who didn't love it either and gets really brutal about it?


    I think not! I'll just keep going. :)

  9. I have only found one remedy for the rejection blues: send it out again. If it's been everywhere, then send something else out.

    They say the best treatment for heartbreak is falling in love again. I think something like that is true for rejection.

  10. Scott - may I suggest you take up the hobby of making your own wine? It really cuts down on the cost and you feel less guilty drinking copious amounts when rejections fill your inbox!


  11. Sorry about the rejection, Authoress.

    Just remember . . . each no brings you one step closer to a yes.

  12. Ben and Jerry's never hurt, either.

  13. I feel for you too, Authoress, I hate rejections too. I usually have a hissy fit and tell my hubby not to speak to me for a few hours, then I go and sit at my computer and start re writing the whole manuscript because I'm Obsessive Compulsive.

    Oh, I usually eat chocolate too. I hide my Malteezers under my keyboard 'cause I don't want to share them with anyone. They just fit under the legs of the keyboard, and when my hubby comes into my little office and asks what I'm eating, I tell him my tongue.

  14. Sorry about the rejections. That is really tough no matter what.

    I think it's really important for authors to have a rich, full life outside of writing. Maintain strong relationships with your spouse/significant other, children and friends. Cultivate hobbies that have nothing to do with writing (for me it's photography). Keep your body healthy by exercising regularly and eating well. I think if you have a well-rounded life you can weather setbacks, because you have something to fall back on. Your entire ego and beingness shouldn't revolve around whether or not you get published.

  15. I picture the moment when the rejecting agent sees my published blockbuster at Barnes & Noble and desperately wishes that he/she had been smart enough to snap it up. If I'm really depressed, said agent also writes me a rather abject email begging me to reconsider him/her, and I laugh rather cruelly in his/her face (not easy over the internet but my imagination can handle it).

    Okay, It may be childish, but it makes me feel better. And then I think really hard if there's any way to improve my novel. And there usually is.
    Hang in there!

  16. I cure the blues by going shoe shopping on e-bay. Sometimes, like now with spring coming, and all those really cute sandals and ballet flats, I wish I had even more rejections!


  17. I'm really looking forward to the summer SA contests. I'm hoping to have something for you then. I've been lurking, not participating as much as usual, but it's been a fun ride!

    *cookies and encouragement*

    I know you're going to tell us soon you have an agent!

    And how do I keep my energy up? Er... this is bad... I tend to forget projects once they're sent out. Rejections come as a but of a surprise, I've moved on and I'm working on something else (all short stories right now). Acceptance is an even bigger surprise!

    For novels, I've found that I usually have one project I gravitate too. I love the characters, I love the voice, I'm passionate about seeing this piece completed and cleaned. For me that makes all the difference in the world. I'll make time to work on a project I love. And I know I'll be able to query it better than a novel that I only felt so-so about.

    One of the hard things about being an author is admitting that not every idea is perfect. Or that you aren't good enough to write every novel that comes to mind. I have some pot-boilers that I just can't write yet. The idea isn't solid enough, or I simply don't have the skills necessary to make the plot work. I spent almost 9 months last year bashing my head against a story I wasn't ready to write. It was frustrating. I knew what I wanted, but I still don't know how to present it correctly.

    Shoving it under the bed to age is probably the best thing I ever did.

  18. Awesome news, Authoress. I'm relatively new to your blog but I like what I've seen so far, especially this contests. I'm close to finishing up a novel - in the editing stages and plan on getting it in for one of the Secret Agent contests. It's VERY good motivation, thanks for doing it!

  19. I've missed your blog! PC crashed, life got crazy, but just wanted to give you a quick wave.

    :) Terri

  20. Rejections aren't all bad. The ones that are totally impersonal are ... totally impersonal, and therefore to do with the editor or the house, not with the writer. The ones that come after seeing all or part of your work have got your name into somebody's head, which is good for later. The ones that come with editorial comments are better, because they either suggest changes to consider or that this editor needs approached in a different way or with different material. If a rejection catches me at a bad moment, I stamp my foot and get some sympathy from Husband-man, and take inordinate pleasure in knowing the right answers when I watch the evening's episode of "Cash Cab."

  21. Anytime a rejection barges its rude way into my inbox, I skim it, register it, then spend a few moments looking over past positive emails (which I flagged for easy finding.)

    Glad to say I have a sweet little cache of them now. Spending a few moments basking in their tiny glories helps to replace the endorphins killed off by the rejection (who didn't deserve me, anyway. ;^)

    Even on fulls that were rejected-- I remember the happy dances I did when they were first requested, and sometimes looking at one of those notes is all I need for a turnover.

    (imoitify--sounds like something my Coney Island dad would say.)

  22. Just found your site this week via Kristin Nelson's blog and have really enjoyed reading the entries from the last secret agent contest. Thanks for a great site!

  23. COOL about more SA's coming our way. I truly enjoy snooping on them, and it's always fun (and educational) to participate in them too<:

    Sorry about the rejection... lousy that. :[

    The way I get through it all is simply thanking the Maker for my day job, and I remind myself that it isn't personal. A lot of it is just... business.

    I do know it's really easy to get REALLY sensitive when something keeps 'failing' on you for no other reason except it just didn't appeal to the editor (I'm coming from the short story side of things, though I'm about to start shopping novels around). :[

    I did do a haiku query over on Colleen's blog - though it really looks blah compared to everyone else's. It was a lot of fun reading - can't wait until Monday morning to see the top ten she picks. I won't be on there, but I don't care. :p

  24. Hrm... I do a variety of things to get over rejection. Mainly, though, I make time to watch a musical movie. It can be anything from Grease to Wizard of Oz to Disney movies. I think they help. :)

    On a separate note: I'm currently watching Grease because it's Sunday and I can. It slightly disturbs me that it is being mainly sponsored by High School Musical 3. o-O

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  26. Hello all! I am new here and so far I am impressed. I am also new at the whole publishing thing. I have an almost finished novel that I want to try to publish. Looks like you all have some great advice/experience, and also seems like a good place to vent. So looking forward to all of the rejection letters and the whole darn process. :-) I would love to submit something tomorrow, but I have to teach a morning class and I probably won't be able to. I will try though.

  27. Authoress,

    As a new reader to your blog, I first have to say thanks for doing this whole thing, especially with the Secret Agent contests.

    While I'm sorry to hear about the rejections, (and who's going to say "Glad to hear soemone stomped on your dreams!!!"?), I have to say that a rejection after a request for a partial or a full ms was more encouraging for me than just a flat rejection without the request.

    It meant, to me, that my work had gotten the agent's attention. even if it was rejected afterwards, I kapt in mind that I wasn't being rejected out of hand. I guess I take my victories where I can find them.

    So, instead of saying so much "Sorry about the rejectons" I'll toss out a "Congrats on the request for your manuscript!". You got thier attention, so now it's just a matter of getting the right person's attention.

  28. re:rejection. It always hurts. Always. I deal with it by listening to my special rejection song-Tear Me Down. It is from Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The first line is "I am the new Berlin Wall baby, just try to tear me down." The storyline from the movie is enough to cheer me up. Compared to the mutilated, transgender East German lead, my life is good. Even with the rejction.

  29. My 1# thing to do when I get a rejection in to call my best friend. She is my sounding wall for all things good and bad in my venture into authorship. Trust me when I say she's heard it all.

    But the one good thing that she really does to help me out of a rejection funk is tell me "That agent is an idiot! They don't know what you are missing. You will make it big one day and they will be groveling in your wake..."
    I say "I what can I do to make the story better so I can bear witness to the agent groveling." :D

    Seriously I think every writer needs that one...or sometimes two...people who will show you their confidence in your talent and that you do indeed have the ability to accomplish your dream no matter what that agent said.

    That's how I get past the rejections.

  30. So tell me -- how do you personally do it? How do you keep your downs from paralyzing you, and your ups from trapping you in ineffectual delusion?
    The ups are easier--I can ask friends to hit me over the head if I start getting delusional :P and I'm also very self-critical so... it rarely (if ever) has been a problem yet. ;)

    As for downs, well. A treat usually helps, and occasionally whining/ranting for said friends. I'm rarely bothered anymore by form rejections, unless I'm having a bad day. I keep in mind that there are 1837363 reasons they said no, and it could be as simple as they just filled the issue and aren't buying ahead to they hated it to the editor prefers stories that have pinky zombie bunnies as narrators. ;)

    You can't take it personally and obsess over it. They said no. Accept it (:P) and move on to the next market for that story.

    Believe you'll make it. And don't give up. Take time to nurse the sting of rejection if you feel you need to, and then get back out there and keep trying. Quitting never got you published.