Saturday, May 2, 2009


In my own quest towards both establishing a career in and gaining deeper understanding of the publishing world, I have resolved myself to research as much of the pertinent information made available to those ends. Today, I have focussed on the wealth of information (and probably misinformation) to be obtained by simply "checking out" the offerings of my fellow "bloggers." Right now, I am only in the "compiling" stage; thus, I can neither recommend nor offer commentary on any of the sites listed below. Nevertheless, I encourage others to make use of my research efforts. Look into the information provided. Offer your honest opinions, your experiences, or even comparable information of your own!

Blogs by Individual Authors:
Tobias S. Buckell This Carribean-born writer of science fiction, short stories, and novels (such as Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, and Sly Mongoose) discusses not only issues of race and ethnicity in fiction but the business aspects of writing as well. John Scalzi This blog by the author of several books (e.g. The rough Guide to the Universe) covers numerous topics, treating them with humor or insight as the situation requires. Tess Gerritsen As both doctor and best-selling author of medical thrillers (e.g. Harvest and Life Support), Gerritsen explores a number of topics relevant to writing and publishing, such as getting over a bad review, decisions about one's characters, and necessary components of a "good" story. David Louis Edelman This author of novels such as Infoquake and MultiReal offers informative posts on self-promotion, offering new writers the benefit of learning from his experiences. Jay Lake An author of both novels (Mindspring) and more than 200 short stories, Lake writes openly about the writing process--debating, for instance, what what "works" and what doesn't as well as discussing strategies for keeping oneself on track. Blogs by Groups DeepGenre This site deals with the definitions of genre, the business of writing, issues of craft, and insights into a variety of other writing and publishing topics by a variety of authors. Writer Beware This site is by the Science Fiction Writers of America watchdog group Writer Beware, which seeks out and puts and end to writing scams by exposing fraudulent agents, highlighting bad contract language, and otherwise promoting the rights of writers. Blogs by Editors Although these blogs are not written by acquisitions editors, they are reported to provide insight into other aspects of publishing that can, to some extent, be equally valuable. Seeing, however, is believing! Deanne Hoak Written by a professional copy editor who specializes in science fiction and fantasy, this personal blog--although it covers subjects other than writing and editing--is said to offer insight into the copyediting process. Rose Fox This blog is said to offer behind-the-scenes information about the Publishers Weekly trade journal and review magazine. Fox, the magazine's science fiction/fantasy/horror reviews editor, assists authors in understanding when a review of their books might appear as well as the exact value of a "starred" review. Blogs by Literary Agents: Agency blogs, I have been told, can be very useful to writers in that they not only provide valuable advice about submissions procedures, etiquette, expectations, etc. but also give writers an idea as to what these agents in particular look for--over and above that which is specified in their official guidelines. This might prove helpful, I would think. I plan to look over a few of these sites. Please, do the same and let the rest of us know what you think! Dystel & Goderich Literary Management This agency is reported to represent everything from parenting and women's health books to literary and commercial fiction with clients including best-selling authors Cindy Adams, Jonathan Small, and David Morrell. The Knight Agency This agency specializes in romance and woman's fiction, listing best-selling authors among its clients. Book Ends Literary Agency This group represents a wide variety of clients in the fields of spirituality, self-help. business, mystery, and romance. Included among their clients are Elizabeth Joy Arnold and Sally MacKenzie. Editorial Anonymous An unnamed children's editor posts excerpts of real query letters and phone calls (changing names to "protect the ignorant") for educational purposes. Posts include insider essays targeting "what really goes on"in the publishing world, applicable to other realms of publishing besides children's books. Evil Editor This anonymous book editor's regular features include "Face Lift," in which the Evil Editor revises query letters submitted by readers, and "New Beginnings," in which authors post the first 150 words of their books, after which the Evil Editor and his "minions" provide brief continuations of the works and commentary on the opening. [Hmmmmmmm....?] Jennifer Jackson This is the personal blog of an agent with the Donald Maass Literary agency (whose clients include Jim Butcher, C.M. Chan, and Jo Ann Ferguson). Kristen Nelson Nelson is the founding agent of the Nelson Literary Agency, whose clients include authors Linnea Sinclair, Sherry Thomas, and Marianne Mancusi. Janet Reid Reid is an agent with the FinePrint Literary Management group, which specializes in crime fiction. Included on its client list are authors Jeff Somers, Richard Gilbert, and Bill Cameron. The Rejecter This blogger is an anonymous assistant at a literary agency (as well as an author) who claims to reject 95% query letters immediately, placing 5% in the "maybe" pile. Posts review basic advice as well as answering reader questions. Miss Snark Written by an anonymous literary agent, this is individual has ceased updating; however, the "snarkives" remain accessible, offering advice as well as specific answers to reader questions. Nephele Tempest This is the personal blog of one of the staff members (an agent) of the Knight Agency. Rachel Vater Vater is an agent with Folio Literary Management whose clients include best-selling authors Melissa Marr and Jeaniene Frost.

Have fun...and feel free to add not only your own sites but those you have found helpful and/or informative as well.


Today finds me staring at a semi-filled screen struggling to identify with my characters...

First, it must be explained that this late(r)-in-life return to writing has been a difficult , often draining one for me. To give the condensed version, having spent at least fifteen of my first twenty years on this Earth avidly committing thoughts, images, and ideas to paper, I found myself--as a result of a vengeful estranged husband and a rather acrimonious parting of the ways--losing literally every single thing I had ever before written, including what I felt to be my finest offerings, written during the quiet yet fertile periods of life when I stepped outside of time (and its rather dulling restraints) briefly in order to raise my children.

The loss was crushing.

In less than an hour, nearly two decades of manuscripts, poetry, notes, character sketches, observations, journals, essays, research, impressions, and images committed to paper...

Were gone.

Devastated, I vowed never to write again.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) for me, writing is not something which one does but a part of who that person is. As such, I could no more choose not to write as I could choose to exist on the consumption helium rather than air. So, after many years of fighting against my own nature, my own urges, my insatiable hunger to return to the love affair with the written word, I began the painstaking--often crushing--process of attempting to recreate in some way the over thirty manuscripts which were lost.

It did not help matters that an automobile accident damaged the hippocampal--that which processes episodic memory
--portion of my brain, essentially detaching me from many of the experiences and impressions which shaped the works dearest to me.

So, for me this foray into a realm once familiar but, for now, overwhelmingly daunting has been a tempestuous one.

Especially on days such as today, when the realities of life leave me distinctly detached from the needs and experiences of my characters. I have found myself hopping from work-to-work (as often, during periods bereft of inspiration, I do) reaching out to in any way connect with any of those steadily developing individuals whose lives I now weave from the spiral of daily existence all around me.

And we just aren't connecting.

Hopefully, a break of sorts while I submerse myself in the often welcome tedium of research will stimulate some idea, evoke some image, click on the proverbial light bulb necessary in linking my inmost workings to those of any single one of the character's I have created...

Who daily recreate me.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Low Ebb

Today finds me wondering what on Earth I am doing.

What, essentially, am I hoping to prove? Here I am, closer to forty than thirty, tapping away a t my laptop in the misguided (many would say futile) belief that after all this time--now that my children reach tentatively towards adulthood, now that the best of my energy and inspiration are probably behind me, now that my dreams of success have taken on the dullness of disillusionment--I will somehow achieve the objectives put aside during the years spent raising children and basically paying homage to the Responsible Life. Who am I trying to kid?

Because this--to write and to somehow make an impact on others through that writing--is all I know, continue I shall...

Still, there are those days--like today--when the heart just isn't in it, when the heart simply cannot believe.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Speaking the Mind

"People do not deserve to have good writing, they are so pleased with bad."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

"You don't write because you want to say something; you write because you've got something to say."
--F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Crack-Up

"The problem is neither to write like everyone else nor to write differently. Both are relatively easy. The problem is to write like everyone else and yet to write differently."
--Oscar W. Firkins,
Oscar Firkins: Memoirs and Letters.

Ah, To Ignore the Sunshine!

Today again finds me in the library surrounded by volume upon volume of hefty reference books, all the wiser from my previous experience. During my last visit, I abbreviated my usual "isolation"ritual, removing only one of the chairs surrounding my table and keeping my books neatly organized. How silly I was being, I told myself. Surely, the supposed fixation of male library patrons on an over-thirty, Afro-Cherokee mother-of-three (teenagers, at that) with average looks and no real "draw"of which to speak (given the fact that the tendency when visiting the library or indeed any part of downtown New Haven is to dress down in a way that I would not have before even considered) was imagined. That men of questionable intention deliberately chose my table in order to stare at my chest or breathe loudly and ostentatiously in order to get my attention was ridiculous. After all, why would they?


Thus, I settled in to get down to business only to have--lo, and behold--a very inebriated man in his fifties shove a stack of books aside to plop into the chair to the right of me at the end of the table. Now, the individual who usually "stalks" me (who will be hereafter referred to as "Chris") was seated, as usual, at the table opposite mine, outwardly buried in the drama and intrigue of his library book, as usual. All attempts by the very sympathetic security guard to dissuade his practice of sitting across from me, from literally zeroing in upon me no matter where I dared venture in order to position himself in my direct line of vision had failed. Unless or until some actual action is taken, I am told, nothing can be done. And, as he has taken the hint, no longer pressing himself at my table or work booth, I have opted to ignore his presence (much as one does the stray hair sprouting from the chin or the bus of the single fruit fly occupying an otherwise silent area) as best I can.

This individual, however, made a great production of selecting his newspaper and seating himself at a position of great advantage. Stained shirt, battered cap, reek of alcohol and all, he began to breathe deeply--even nasally at times--blatantly ogling me as he none-too-subtly attempted to capture my attention. Finally, when clearing his throat, shaking his newspaper, breathing heavily, and tapping his fingers upon the table top failed to yield the desired results, he fell asleep, upright, snoring quite cacophonously with the steady punctuation of snorts and rasps, awakening with a start every five minutes or so to stare at my chest.

Obviously, the situation was annoying; nonetheless, as I was preparing to break for the day anyway (hence the neatly stacked books which I had intended to dutifully transfer to the Reference Trolley), I found myself doing that which before, in any other place, under any other circumstances would have been unfathomable.

I put up with it.

Later, I found myself pondering this. More than once, I have been asked by those who do not live in New Haven why I--know for my intolerance for all things foolish, obnoxious, illogical, or exasperating--of all people would opt to endure things, situations, and people which I never before had. Last night, I asked myself the question, coming to the conclusion that here, where the unacceptable is routinely accepted; one grows so battle-embittered; so weary of fighting for that which should fall routinely into the rhythm of the day; of having complaints ignored, the inexcusable excused and the undeniable denied, it is far too easy to slip into that mindset of stoic resolve as a defense against having to spend a part of every day fighting some battle for some thing which one should be able to take as a given.

After all, as Elizabeth Bebesco once stated, "Endurance is a frequently a form of indecision."

One often does not wish to make the decision to act, to court complication and/or complication in order to stand up for what is right...or even that which is plainly and simply not annoying. And, as a natural result, those who would cross even the most basic lines of decency, common courtesy, and respect for others, rely upon others to--in the face of such indecision--back down, somehow affording them--those who cross the lines--a degree of power over others that they would not and could not have before known. Perhaps, additionally, this attitude of begrudging acceptance of the unacceptable has become (like some enormous but unseen social leech)tenaciously affixed to the everyday notions of modern American life. We accept the apathetic admonitions don't make waves, don't rock to boat because this is easier than deciding what needs to be done in order in the face of any unpleasant situation which arises. Maybe, furthermore, we have all forgotten that if the boat has no waves, if the boat ain't rocking, it probably ain't going anywhere.

In conclusion, I have, quite undeniably, conformed. And, the crusader in me--the tireless and undaunted defender of life, liberty, and the need for common sense--has apparently taken a beating here as a stranger in a strange land. Yet, rest assured, I have begun the day with renewed diligence, an awakened sense that the simple luxuries of peace, dignity, and self esteem are well worth the battle. I have put on my armor, set my jaw with steely resolve, and narrowed my eyes in wordless menace...

For after all,

If one does not stand up for the simplest rights or issues in life, what future is there for human dignity as a whole.

So, if tomorrow, anyone reads in the news the story of the struggling and disgruntled Connecticut writer who was carried off in handcuff having inexplicably beaten some male library patron fiercely about the head and shoulders with a fifteen-pound Second Edition Unabridged version of the Random House Dictionary of the English Language, fiberglass pedestal and all, just know that I, like Popeye the Sailor, "have had all I can stands...I can't stands no more"!