It’s here! The first of three short stories that have been acquired for publication, all in 2015. This month is Women in Horror Month. Sirens Call eZine’s issue this month features my story “SHUTTERED.”
Alex, another of the writers, laughed out loud and said, “I wished I’d had a camera to capture your face just then.”
Apparently I looked as horrified as I felt. Let this be a lesson to me to actually read stuff and not just go into happy-dance mode.
Then there was about 24 hours of gnashing of teeth, and had a flogging switch, I likely would have subjected myself to some self-pain, just so that I had physical wounds to go with the lamenting in my heart, while we all waited for the PW reviews to be posted.
The full reviews were not bad. In fact, they were pretty good. The points they made on where I need improvement, I can totally see and will definitely do. I would link them to you, but it’s not shareable, because it’s connected to my private createspace account. Bottom line, they enjoyed the book and seemed to give me some credibility to calling myself a writer.
Then today I learned that my entirean excerpt of the manuscript* (typos and grammatical errors included) is available for a free download and up for review by Joe Q. Public.
Cue perusing Amazon for that self-flogging switch…
Yet, I thought on it further. I know to be a writer is to be bold and to be vulnerable. Normally it’s between me and an agent, or editor, or another writer. Rarely, save the stuff I post on my blog here, has someone opened up my work for public comment. I give props all the time to folks who put their work out there. It’s hard to do. Entering ABNA meant I would be putting my work, myself, out there. I made some progress (we all have to wait until June 13 to see if I make the next round). That’s something. I’ll take it.
After some thought, I calmed myself down (no self-flagellation necessary), and decided that it might be a good growth experience for me as a writer.
*Edit: So, I learned later that it’s not the entire manuscript, but rather an excerpt. Somehow, my Kindle app pulled up my entire manuscript for me (maybe from a former Google Docs download? I don’t know), but just an excerpt for several others that contacted me and said they had done it. Sorry about the confusion.
My write life went through a whole lot of ups and downs this past week.
First thing Monday morning, there was a rejection hiding in my email.
On the up side, that evening, I got to meet Jeff VanderMeer, one of the writers and editors I greatly admire. I got to hear him read from his new release, Annihilation, which I was cruising through until I hit a dip and upside down part in the aforementioned rollercoaster ride that is my writing life. I should probably finish soon, will re-read, as is my habit, and provide a review. It’s the least I can do to make sure Mr. VanderMeer is supported, as any great author/editor should, especially given that he signed three of his books for me that evening. Plus he did his signing at one of my favorite book stores ever – Elliott Bay Books in Seattle.
Then I got a rejection the next morning.
I countered Wednesday by taking a class with Cat Rambo on submissions. I learned I’m doing things right – at least according to her. She has decades as a successful writer, so I trust she’s leading me down the right path. She also gave me many more ideas to up the ante in my submission algorithm.
Following the class, an email came in with not so good news. I had a contract declined. The declination reason was fully in my blame court due to my lack of clarity in the initial meeting with the client. This sometimes happens when you’re trying to do too much. Even though I proffered some other free work to the prospect, the sting was already felt. My bad, entirely. I’m confident as a writer and editor, but sometimes my business sense is not on point. Lesson learned. Here the roller coaster went way low and I was kicking myself endlessly for this dumb mistake.
The next morning, there was yet another rejection waiting for me. Thursday was very unproductive. I did lots of “business” stuff to support my writing life, but little writing or editing. I ended up watching a lot of television and the movie MELANCHOLIA, which fit my mood perfectly.
Then, I was offered another contract for editing – a novel manuscript – but when I read the first five pages of the work – I had to refuse. Even if I charged my top rate, which is still cheap by going-rate standards, the work would be so intense that it would take longer than it should, making it not worth my time.
This is the first time I’ve refused work. I hated to do it, especially given that I had that other contract declined. I need all the work I can handle and then some, at least until I start getting paid more often for the writing side of my freelance life. My editing rate is lower than the typical standard, because I’m still building my business. So, I work six days a week, sometimes seven. Refusing work seemed to go against my DNA coding. But, this manuscript was not ready for prime-time, folks.
It harkened me back to the fervor that has been happening over in Chuck Wendig’s world with his post regarding improving the reputation of self-publishing by not putting out, well – crap. Herr Wendig is a huge supporter of indie publishing, I believe. He’s a hybrid writer himself, successfully straddling both author-publishing and traditionally publishing chasm. And it is a chasm. Do both worlds put out trash? Yes – I’m always quick to tell you stories about the errors I’ve found in big-name author’s books; however, those instances are story-worthy simply because it happens less frequently. Is the scale heavier on the indie publishing side? It is. When Wendig says there is a self-publishing shit volcano out there and it’s a problem, I can’t disagree. The manuscript I refused to work with until, at least, the writer did another revision is only one such example.
Listen, all you self-publishing people: hire an editor. Every author I’ve worked with (and they are mostly in the author-publishing realm) are just floored when I return a manuscript to them with the errors I find – both mechanical and craft-wise. Some of these are manuscripts that the author has revised multiple times.
Yet, it’s amazing to me that so many writers do not know how to do proper punctuation. Many novelists are so caught up in their own world that they forget the reader doesn’t know what you know as the writer. Then there’s continuity errors, foreshadowing that is never fulfilled…and on and on. Recognize, at bare minimum, that we are human and make mistakes. Editors help ensure your mistake-ratio is harder to calculate.
Therefore, every manuscript needs a seasoned editor’s eye, regardless of frequency of revision. Especially, if the only other people you’ve had read it are your family and friends. The final product after they’ve paid me (or another professional editor) to do editing? A stronger sell in the market that is just inundated – near a million books a year between traditional publishing and self-publishing. You want something strong to stick out from the shit volcano, my darling fellow writers. If you have a good story, it won’t matter how it’s published. People will be drawn to it.
There’s been many other blog posts, outside of Wendig’s, recently by both traditionally published, as well as, indie-published writers who say, self publishing is an option. As creative word smiths we are in an incredible time with heavy opportunity to get our work out there. We should take advantage of it, but do so only after you’ve invested the time into properly vetting your work. It’s simple, the reason why: if you don’t put a good product out there, no one is going to take you seriously. Your best friend might be a good beta reader for you and tell you, “Hey, that’s a great story.” But can you trust them to be objective? Can you trust your entire creative reputation on a best friend or spouse wanting to encourage you? Some folks have the rare relationship, where, yes, you can. But that’s the exception, not the rule.
Self publishing does not mean self-editing. That’s a horrendously bad idea. One of the reasons I haven’t self-published yet is because I don’t currently have the dough to shell out for a professional editor. I won’t self publish until I do. You want to add to the argument that self-publishing is less-than? Put out a manuscript that hasn’t been professionally edited. Be an example for the Big 5 (or six or three…whatever) and other indie-publishing naysayers as to why their format of traditional publishing is the only way to go. Personally, my goal is to be a hybrid author: one who is traditionally published and one who does author-publishing, as well. I won’t limit myself. But you bet your bootie I’m going to do it right. I won’t be an example for how to do it unprofessionally.
Thank you, Tommia– author of Tommia’s Tablet – for the nomination of the One Lovely Blog award.
The rules for One Lovely Blog Award are very straightforward: thank the blogger who nominated you and link the post to their page, and then state 7 random facts about yourself and nominate those you feel are deserving of the award.
I know Tommia in real life. She is in my writing group SnoValley Writes! She also knows when my life needs a creative push and checks out my favorite fanfic from the library for me to read, or gives me a new book mark, or some other trinket or generous gift. She is a giver in this world. The world needs more Tommia’s. Oh, and she’s a damn fine writer.
Seven random facts about moi?
I see the dragonfly, wolf, cougar, octopus, and raven as my totem animals.
I once had an IV of caffeine. True story.
I have survived tornadoes, hurricanes, a volcanic eruption, earthquake, and Black Friday shopping.
There are bookshelves in every room of my home except the kids’ bathroom.
I was born near the Great Lakes, live now near a river and close to the Pacific Ocean, am a Water sign (Scorpio), but don’t really like to be IN the water. I like to be by it, but not in it; I’ve nearly drown several times in my life.
I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was 8 years old.