Saturday, February 21, 2009

When Bad News is Good News

Late last October, I received the dreaded rejection letter. I'd submitted my novella, Secrets Uncovered, to several places and it hadn't sold yet, though one editor requested to see other work from me. But, there was one house particularly interested in the work and they requested a full manuscript and the editor seemed in love with the premise. But, then, in October, I got my reply.

At first, I was devastated. It hurt. After all of the editing, revising, reworking, rewriting, I was just tapped out of energy. I knew I wouldn't abandon this book, but I decided to take a break for a while and work on other novellas in the mean time.

Recently, I'd done a reading for myself. My godmother had bought me the I Ching for Writers book and I did a reading that suggested that I should focus on revisions. It was also around the time of Mercury Retrograde, so that seemed very appropriate. But, I didn't know which book I should work on. Should I work on Secrets Uncovered again or should I totally revise my current work-in-progress (since I'd recently come to the conclusion that the new book had started in the wrong place)?

I was led to go back to Secrets Uncovered. I sent the manuscript to a few friends for a beta read and I also brainstormed advice with other writer friends. Then, I decided to go back and look at the rejection letter. I re-read it and something magical had happened. I didn't see the pain and the hurt of the rejection anymore. I saw a reply from an editor who sincerely believed in the book's potential. So much so that more than one editor had read the book and they felt the need to give me a paragraph or so of constructive feedback. And, in the end, she said something to the effect of: "Just because we did not buy the book now does not mean that we would not in the future nor does it mean that we would not look at other work submitted by you." She also told me how much she enjoyed the first half of the book and that the end was just too rushed/underdeveloped. My impression was that she wanted a much longer story to fully develop the character arc and conflict.

In my new frame of mind, I decided to show the bulk of the letter to a couple of my published friends and one told me, "This looks more like a revise and resubmit to me." My critique partner, Belle Scarlett said, "Honey, this is the best rejection letter I've ever seen!" And she works not only as a fiction writer but a script story analyst.

So, I began to look at the situation in a new light. The book was stalled, but not dead. And, I'd often fantasized about it being a novel anyway. There are all of these extra characters floating in my head who never made it into the last draft I sent to the publishers. Writing a full-length book will give me a chance to let them tell their stories, too.

In the last month or so, I decided to extend my 30K novella to 60K-90K. If it makes 60K, I'll resubmit it to the editor who was enthusiastic about the book and if it makes it to 90K, I'll go the more traditional route of looking for a print publisher and an agent.

Sometimes, bad news is really good news in disguise.

Monday, February 16, 2009

SPEW anyone?

This week, I am leading my local RWA chapter in an event called SPEW. It was once named "Book in a Week", but that was a bit ambitious for most of us, so it was renamed S.P.E.W. for Stop Procrastinating Everybody Write.

Basically, I have to lead a group of about 30 women and 2 men in creating a writing goal for the week and then give them daily motivation to make their goal. Some goals are simple (writing 30 minutes per day or writing a synopsis) and other goals are lofty (writing 40,000 words). Everyone starts at the pace that is right for them.

My goal is to write 5 character interviews or do 5 character development exercises. I did complete one character interview where my hero Jamie interviews his cousin, Langdon. Then, I turned the tables and had Langdon interview him. I thought this would be more fun than the usual author/character interview since the two men can play off one another. Afterall, who knows you better than your best friend?

I have one co-moderator and one volunteer helping to organize this madness and keep everyone on track. My SPEWers are allowed to change their goal at any point during the week, but I've threatened them with SPEW monsters if they abandon their SPEW...

But, since I'm a softie, I told them that really, this is the true SPEW monster:

We also post man candy and shoe candy during SPEW. So, the first successful participant today got this prize:

And, since I did write one character interview this morning, I also got a prize:

Every day, my co-moderator and I have a man candy theme. Today's theme is Heroic Hotties. The men who rescue us from drudgery and inspire us to be better people.

Back to cracking the whip...!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My 5 year is kicking my behind!

This year is my 5 personal year in numerology. Fives are great for change, variety, socializing, writing & communication (5 years are ruled by Mercury, which rules my sun sign, Gemini). It seems that CHANGE is the theme of this year.

Some of these changes are things I instigated--joining my local RWA board, turning my 30K novella into a full-length novel, doing the Romance Diva's mentorship program, and changing my eating habits to get back into shape. However, other changes are ones that have been thrust upon me--my company laid someone off and now I am being pushed into the new position and having to learn a lot of new tasks in a short time, my mom bought me a dog without consulting me, and there's health issue that I'm working to resolve.

So, the long and the short of it is, I'm busy. Busy. Busy. And, a little stressed. Stressed. Stressed.

I thought Five years were supposed to be fun! I'm looking forward to the FUN part.