You’ve got to (re)work.

February 28, 2007

The piece I recently submitted to The Rose and Thorn was just accepted. This was a story that I wrote and re-wrote, and re-re-wrote. In some ways, it scarcely resembled the original story, but it was infinitely better for all the time I put into it.

Moral: When a story isn’t coming together, if you don’t love it…don’t trash it. Put it away, come back to it. The more inspired pieces will be salvageable, and you may be able to make a little magic out of it.

Ready, set —

February 26, 2007

Well, I got a couple more short-story acceptances over the weekend.  This was great news, and frankly, it’s the shot from the gun.  I’ve been listening for it: the sound of, “on your mark…get set…” write that novel.

And the cool thing is:  I AM ready and set.  So, here goes.

Wish me luck!

Keeping on keeping on.

February 24, 2007

I received word this week that something I submitted will be published in The Boston Literary Magazine.  I’ll post the link once it’s up.

I sent my work there as part of a new rule I have: for every rejection, I must tweak my work (if needed…usually it doesn’t…I’ve only sent the piece if I feel it’s as close to perfect as possible). Then, I make myself send the piece out to two more places.

The reason I do this is two-fold: it keeps your energy from faltering and from staying poised on the rejection.  And two, I’m learning more and more that rejections are sometimes about opinions or about unsuitability for a market:  your work will get published if it is good and you keep sending it out for review.  It will eventually resonate with someone and voila! … you get an acceptance.

Don’t you love how I make it sound easy?  It may not be, but the pretense keeps me going.

Resources for writers.

February 24, 2007

I recently sent something, a short story, to the ezine The Rose and the Thorn.  This is such a great place, not just for the quality fiction you’ll find there, but also for some very good resources on the craft of writing and other resources.  Articles there include topics such as  setting (and maintaining) writing quotas and why submissions are rejected, from an editor’s point of view.  Check out:

To sleep…perhaps to dream.

February 21, 2007

I was reading an article on “writing prompts”–things writers use to get them started when facing a blank page.  One of the major themes of prompts is essentially ‘what is your fantasy?’

It made me think of a common “fantasy” I have with some of my married (with kids) friends.

A girlfriend of mine and I can go on and on about the deliciousness of a weekend spent this way:

All alone, in a great hotel with a beautiful lobby and a well-stocked cocktail lounge (with comfortable, deep chairs).  Think the W Hotel.  Three whole days without any demands, sleeping in as long as you like on 1,000 thread-count sheets.  Lounging about all day in the hotel room, with the only thing looming ahead being the spa treatments you’ve got scheduled for the afternoon.  You can read, sleep, or watch whatever T.V. programs you want, nobody is with you, so nobody cares.  When you are hungry, you meander down to the outdoor Italian cafe that is (conveniently) a block down the street from your hotel, and order a glass of Sauvenigon Blanc or perhaps a Syrah.  Your dinner of fresh pasta tossed with sweet tomatoes and garlic arrives just as the sun is starting it’s slow descent into the ocean that is (also quite conveniently) right in front of you.

Can you tell yet that I’m enjoying writing this?   Here’s more:

The next morning, after sleeping in until 10:00 and taking a long, hot bath in the huge tub, you get in your rented little convertible for a trip to the charming downtown to do a spot of shopping.  Of course, your body has become, overnight, long and lithe, so that everything you try on fits wonderfully…okay, now I’m entering the realm of unbelievablity.

But, the fantasy is fun.  Try your own fantasy.  What would you do with a weekend and a few thousand dollars?

When the weather is good…

February 19, 2007

…there is nothing quite like San Francisco on a February day, when the sky is a bright, cerulean blue.  It’s almost as though the tall buildings in downtown are part of a movie set, so perfect they are against the backdrop of fluffy cottonball clouds.

I wax this way because I just got back from the City.  It was a gorgeous day, complete with a picnic in North Beach and warm breeze at Washington Square Park.  On the way home, the Golden Gate stood out from the sky like a bonfire.

Sometimes, like today, I am just struck with how fortunate we Bay Area folk are…with our bridges and our coffee and our museums and parks and Italian restaurants and our bay views and the music, the backroads, the artisans and the bakeries, and the farmers markets and the shows and the —

Oh, it’s a sweet, sweet place to call home.

Gearing up.

February 16, 2007

A month ago, I threw out the novel I’d been working on.

Just pushed “save” and archived it.  Maybe I’ll come back to it, maybe (probably) not.

But…I am gearing up for the new novel.  I’ve been brainstorming, making notes, outlining, revving my little engine.

It hasn’t taken me over yet, so I’m not ready to start the actual writing.  In the meantime, I’m focused on the short stories I’ve been working on.

But that novel…I hear it, faintly…it’s cooing at me.

Stay, comic Valentine, stay.

February 14, 2007

I thought and reflected, on this Saint Valentine’s day, about the nature of romance, about the commerce of the holiday, and about the special recognition of a love that presumably should be recognized all throughout the year.

For me, the best Valentine’s gift is that six years after the first red holiday that I spent with my husband (then-boyfriend), we still celebrate the day.  The notion that Valentine’s is a beginner’s holiday in the realm of love and affection seems to permeate…that my spouse and I resist this idea is the sweetest confection of all.


Rejections big and small.

February 12, 2007

What kind of rejection is worse? The anonymous, “no thanks” kind or the kind that praises your writing, but rejects it anyway?

I really don’t know.

However, I just read t his rejection from a Chinese publisher (from Louis Zufofsky’s “A“):

Most honorable Sir,

We perused your manuscript with boundless delight. And we hurry to swear by our ancestors we have never read any other that equals its mastery. Were we to publish your work, we could never presume again on our public and name to print books of a standard not up to yours. For we cannot imagine that the next ten thousand years will offer its ectype. We must therefore refuse your work that shines as it were in the sky and beg you a thousand times to pardon our fault which impairs but our own offices. — Publishers.


Writing? Show me the money!

February 10, 2007

Writers write for a large variety of reasons: a compelling drive to do so, the desire to document an experience, the challenge of putting to words something that previously only existed in the imagination.

And then there are those who write with the dream of FAME, of getting published, of making millions…of going on book tours, signing copies, all the cache that comes with celebrity.

How many copies do you think you’d need to sell in order to have a bestseller? According to some sources, the answer is much less than you might imagine. In fact, in 1996, only 11 titles total sold over a million copies in the whole year! That was over ten years ago…granted, but according to a 2006 article in Publishers Weekly, there are about 200,000 titles published every year, of which less than 1% make it to the “Bestseller Lists.”

And what is a bestseller, anyway? Well, it’s relative, depending on what list it is, in which country, etc. See for more on this.

Another great resource on the topic (pertaining directly to Canada, but applicable in the U.S. as well) is — which demonstrates how an author who sells over 10,000 copies of a book would probably make somewhere in the neighborhood of $13,750 dollars.

Bottom line? You’ve got to love writing, and be doing it for the right reasons. True, some get rich, but the odds are not playing in your favor. Love your writing, your characters, your topics…enjoy them…cherish the whole experience: it’s likely the highest pay you’re gonna get.