Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Fricassee

Well, we've done our smooches, and once again I thank all of you who took the time to critique!  I'll admit that I was a bit surprised that we didn't get our 30 entries.  Which means, of course, that everyone who submitted an entry was chosen by the bot.  A win for the entrants!  

And, if you haven't read my confession on Twitter or Facebook yet, I'll come clean here as well--#28 was mine.  It bothered me, you see, that our spots weren't all filled.  And then I started thinking about the poor kiss scenes in some of my older works, and I was all...hmmm.  Maybe I could just share a kiss for the fun of it.  Not because I have a pressing need for critique (the manuscript is temporarily retired), but because it's been ages since I've had a chance to "play along" in one of our critique sessions.

So I did it.  :)

This story is near and dear to me, because it's set in my favorite beach town.  Which is actually my favorite place on earth.  (Who actually admits that their favorite place on earth is in New Jersey?)  It's near and dear to Mr. A's heart, too, for the same reason.  We honeymooned here, and have been back many times since.  Mr. A was an early reader and story-advice-giver, and even today he will sometimes say, out of the blue, "I really want Divided to get out there.  I love that story."  (This from a man who does not eat books for breakfast.)

Anyway.  Josh tried.  And it just wasn't meant to be.  Sometimes it was a timing thing ("I have something similar on my list already").  Sometimes it was a complete disconnect ("I just didn't love it").  But there were, as there always are, some positive responses from editors who ultimately said no.  And those are the words that keep authors-on-sub going.

Here are my favorites:
  • I thought this story had one of the most different concepts that I have come across in a while, and I enjoyed the sci-fi aspect of the mystery surrounding Corrin and Fiona's identities. [Authoress] did a great job of fostering the reader's sympathy for Fiona, in how lost she felt about Elam's fate, and how torn she was over her relationship with Corrin/Elam. 
  • [Authoress] is a wonderful writer, with a rich imagination, and the world she has created is fascinating and original.
  • What I really like about this one is the really unique atmosphere and the sense of figuring out oneself and one’s world as a metaphor for the uncertainty of first love. There’s also this great thru-line that really spoke to me about how when you grow up, you begin to meet people who appear to be totally dissimilar from yourself but who you actually have a lot in common with. ...But as innovative as this project is—it really is so deliciously weird and different—it still struck me as very much in the paranormal camp.  (Which, of course, they weren't looking for.)
I love SO DELICIOUSLY WEIRD AND DIFFERENT best of all.  Because WHO WOULDN'T WANT THEIR WRITING DESCRIBED LIKE THIS?  Okay, maybe some people wouldn't.  But I took this particular phrase as a high compliment.

Of course, there were plenty of not-so-glowing rejections, too.  But that's all part of the process.  It's important to read the negatives to try to determine if there are any common themes, which could signify a significant problem in the manuscript.  My takeaway from this round was that there were aspects of my "other-world world" that were not clearly enough defined.  And even the tiniest bit of "Huh?" factor is always a negative when it comes to worldbuilding.

Mind you, sometimes people won't "get" your world simply because they don't get it.  Yes, that does happen.  But I think that's the exception, and not the rule.  So when I pull out this beloved story to rewrite it (yes, I'm going to do that), it's going to be with a keen eye to the worldbuilding.

It's all good, though.  Josh was amazing and supportive throughout the submission process.  He talked about my characters as though they were real people.  (Okay, he always does that.  I think all the best agents and editors probably do that.)  He never did pronounce Elam's name correctly (it's EE-lahm), but I chalked that up to his endearing New York-ness.  In short, even though it didn't pan out the way we both wanted it to, for me, at least, it was a positive part of my journey.  I'm thankful for having walked through it.

Rejection is always hard, my dear ones.  But we can't let ourselves drown in it.  Hanging onto the positives, while still maintaining a realistic viewpoint about possible weaknesses in our writing, is going to keep us moving forward.  The timing wasn't right for Divided, and it may not be right for the novel you've got on sub right now.  Or that you'll have on sub later this year.  Or next year.  But you just have to keep pressing forward.  

Best part?  The novel we've got on sub right now is so much stronger.  And if Divided had sold, I would never have written this one.  (Because Divided is a planned trilogy.)  It's really true that "all things happen for a reason".  Grab onto that, okay?  Grab, and keep writing.

See you next week!


  1. I'm a firm believer that nothing has to go in the drawer forever. We keep writing and keep getting better and if those drawer novels still strike a chord with us, then we take them out again and make them better now that we're better writers, and give it another go.

  2. Gosh darn it! I really want to read Divided!

  3. I absolutely agree with Sarah. Sometimes a book just needs to wait for the right time -- whether it's the right time in the author's life or stage of their writing career, or the right time for the market, or both. The book I'm working on now is one I wrote the first half of many years ago, and I also intend to eventually rework my first childhood attempt at a novel -- it will be an almost completely different book, but with the same characters and world, and some of the same plot elements.

    And I'm glad you shared that passage from Divided -- I also look forward to reading it someday. :)

  4. I just wanted to add that I also think "so deliciously weird and different" is a wonderful compliment -- I'd love to have someone say that about my writing!

  5. So funny. I had a novel called DIVIDED that too was rejected many years ago. Maybe it's the title.

  6. I like those rejections. I'd be honored to be called deliciously weird and different. I doubt that's going to be the phrase used to reject the book I have on sub at the moment, but maybe the next one...

  7. Thank you, many times! For owning up to the first kiss entry. For sharing the lovely-yet-heartbreaking rejections. For demonstrating the appropriate heroic response. YAY, Authoress!

  8. This was so encouraging for me!!! Keep writing. Yes yes yes. Can do.