Putting the ‘Wealth’ back in ‘Commonwealth’

GCCommonwealth_GamesAs the Commonwealth Games wrap up here on the Gold Coast, it’s easy to feel proud of our city. Not only did we manage to host athletes and other visitors from around the world, but we managed to do it in an atmosphere that was all at once festive and civilized. We celebrated the spirit of friendly competition between nations, and looked on in awe at the persistence that it takes to succeed. As so often when athletes gather, they modelled the values of hard work and respect.

Here’s the thing, though: why do we so often notice those values mostly in athletes?

After all, everyone must know a store manager who was promoted because he was willing to work a double shift. We all must have heard stories about an entrepreneur who kept her business solvent by promoting it online late into the night. Surgeons pull marathon shifts in theatre to keep us alive, and teachers go bleary preparing feedback to keep us educated.

Dare I say it? Writers, especially, have to push and push themselves just to get a novel into the marketplace: even a beloved bestseller. Continue reading

Are Trends Really a Novelist’s Friends?

Will hashtags help or hurt Too Much Information?

When I first decided to focus on submitting novels, I assumed that trends were my friends. With all the #MSWL listings asking for them, I tried to write using strong female voices; because they dominated Young Adult fiction, I tried to create paranormal characters. By the time I had written revision after revision, though, I found that agents were already looking for LGBQ voices instead, and that the teenage obsession with friendly monsters had given way to the Dystopias that had probably always lived inside them. In other words, writing to trends was as often harmful to my chances as it might have been helpful.

KatnissVsBella

Katniss made us forget Bella, but neither are trending now.

How do we judge, then, whether something trendy will serve to enhance an agency query or just give it a shelf life? By the time my editor, Matthew Bird, gave me the tools I needed to craft my sixth revision of Too Much Information, the novel already had plenty of trends in it. It features a teenage girl, after all, who awakens from a coma able to see that everyone around her is a ‘Bully’ or a ‘Misogynist’ or a ‘Murderer,’ just by looking in their eyes. The novel is a murder mystery, but about a super-power that Jessica feels is a curse. It has girl-power. It has wacky sidekicks. It has threats from the darkest corners of our real-life fears, and teenage protagonists learning to face them.

It was about to get a whole lot trendier, though: some say too trendy.

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Recovering Muchness: Four strategies to help walk away from rejection.

LookingGlass

Don’t look too closely…

It’s every morning, lately, that the reflection in my mirror is wrong. Not just reversed, because reflections are always reversed, but wrong: influenced, and mildly possessed. Someone slightly other than me.

I’m sure that others have lived this. Perhaps everyone has. Lewis Carroll almost certainly lived it, when he imagined a world that fractured images rather than glass, just beyond his own mirror. What did he see, that day he was so inspired? Were there really talking chess pieces and bullfrogs looking back at him, or just someone that he didn’t quite recognize? Someone not quite himself?

Did rejection by publishers change even his reflection?

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Humbled by Blogspace High

library

Who could ever ignore this guy?

With my previous post attracting exactly one visitor, my doubts about the purpose of blogging have reached overdrive. I know what publishers and agents say that the purpose is: to motivate them by making myself pre-famous (thus rendering their services moot). While it is always nice to see Tanya Cliff, having her make the only visit to one of my most heartfelt and soul-baring posts is making me feel rejected by more than just those agents. I’m feeling rejected by the process of blogging itself.

In fact, blogging is starting to remind me a lot of High School. Continue reading

The Rejection Reflex

Quit talking to the hand

How can an author help agents break the cycle of rejection?

Please comment with any advice about the querying process, especially if you have successfully enlisted an agent.

I have an idea for a new business that could be a real money-spinner. I call it ‘Literary Rejection Services, Inc.’ and I can see making a bundle from agents whose index fingers are starting to cramp.

This is not exactly a newsflash, but I had a rejection from a fairly reputable agent arrive to my inbox yesterday. The difference between this rejection and so many of the others is surprising, though; to this agent, I had never actually submitted a proposal. Is it possible that literary agents are so query-weary that they have started sending preemptive form rejections? Have their slush piles started to leak over the tops of their employer-issued gumboots?

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