One bad rejection…

Doesn’t spoil the whole bunch.

rejectionI usually receive rejections that are quite nice. “We really liked it, but…” or “Please submit again…”

I asked someone more experienced than I and was told that these are usually genuine and the editor, whether or not your work was accepted, liked the work.

I have been told that it didn’t quite fit their needs or that there was some disagreement between editors, which I again take as reasonably good rejects.

Once in awhile I get a rejection which makes me wonder what story they actually read.

I submitted to one journal who called for the topic of Deception, “Friends, Lovers, and Liars.” It’s a story about a woman who even deceives herself as she she comments on other’s deceptions. I thought it was spot on. The editor, however, did not and wrote, “I’m not sure why you submitted this. This doesn’t at all fit our call…” He wen ton to make me believe that I had triggered something.

The story is about a woman who has an affair. I have a feeling, the story struck a nerve. Ouch. Sorry. (The story has been published twice since then. – You can find it here.)

I recently received another long and involved rejection, although I don’t think because it acted as a trigger.  But the rejection was nearly as long as the story. (haha – I’m exaggerating, of course.)  But it stated things like “promises and doesn’t deliver,” “narrative too thin.”

Again, I wondered – had this editor read MY story? Or did he/she confuse it with another.  This has happened once before.

I received a rejection – thanks, but no thanks, and then another the next day: “Thanks for submitting, we love it and would like to publish it!

If this happened face to face, I would nod and smile. I do something similar through email – “Great, thanks!”

Someone asked me if I respond to negative rejections with commentary. I don’t usually. I think I have once, but the editor was so nice about it. He gave me commentary, and then still asked me to submit again! Him, I thanked.

If these were feedback type of rejections, I might thank them. But I feel that they are not. It’s someone who is feeling his/her power and thinks they know everything.

I don’t respond to people like that.  There is always to say no nicely. There is always away to give someone feedback – even negative – and be nice about it. Edit

psych cover for kdp

ors should be experts on that.

By the way – that story with the “too thin narrative” was accepted to a number of journals within a week of sending it out. I’d barely gotten to sending out the withdraw notices when a number of others had sent acceptances – my apologies to those journals. I’ll do it the same day from now on!

That story, too, appears in my latest book of short stories – How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party.

One negative rejection should not upset a writer. They are to be expected. Do not let it take away all the nice rejections and don’t let it come near your brilliant acceptances!

 

No One Likes a Braggart…

This was texted to me recently; however, it was about the southern California weather. But the sentence struck a cord.

I was brought up not to brag, not to boast, crow, or grandstand. Therefore, when I’ve won an achievement, accomplished a goal, I didn’t even know how to act when congratulated.

At some point, in college, I read a quote that stated – If you don’t toot your own horn, who will?

So began the long, arduous process of learning to reveal my accomplishments without blustering.

Sometimes, I may shift into a swagger, but mostly I try to announce my triumphs with pride.

Recently someone said to me, “aren’t you lucky?” upon hearing of my success. And I said – it’s hard work. That’s the truth. Perhaps there’s a bit of fortuitousness involved, but fortune does not favor the unprepared.

So I say – work hard and shout success from the rooftops!

The Anxiety of Non-Influence

cover life of clouds

I had this image in my head of a father telling his little girls stories to teach them lessons. The stories were about clouds and he sang them in an old fashioned, rhythmic way.

The little girls have images in their heads, familiar sounds from far away and long ago.

But Daddy’s not there. The songs are gone. And a piece of the girls got lost somewhere.

This is what I think of when I think of Life of Clouds.

But the story really has a lot to do with anxiety. So many of our young people experience anxiety and depression – and these girls are suffering.

There’s hope though. Somewhere, there’s always hope.

When they believe it’s about you….

cover of west endI’ve written so many stories from first person point of view. At first, I was nervous because people did ask – is that real? is that you? and even contacted me and said – I know that’s about you.

So, it does make a person nervous about what they write and publish.

But at some point, you’ve got to let people think what they want to think. None of it will affect you in the long run.

I had an editor refuse a fictional story because, he said, it’s memoir and ultimately we didn’t ask for your personal story.

I thought – it must be good if he thought it was me! But I didn’t bother to correct him. It was a fiction call and I’d submitted fiction. If the editor didn’t realize the “I” didn’t necessarily represent the author, but the character, he is probably not the editor I need to work with nor the journal I want to be published in.

I worried about this with West End – my first big publication. One of the big criticisms girl on train tracks.jpgfrom someone who believed they knew me thought it wasn’t a realistic portrayal of me. I had to tell him because the character was not me! While the same story convinced another person that I’d led a secret life prior to moving to California.

Possibly, one of the convincing elements of the story is the setting. The place, the west side of Cleveland, where I grew up, is real. You can trace the steps of my characters who walked the path passed the baseball field and lost themselves on the train tracks, or those who played in the abandoned buildings. The streets are still there, the houses still stand, except the one which burned to the ground – a vacant lot interrupts the landscape of the neighborhood.

West End was a passion project. It was for the kids who I’d known and those I didn’t who never made it out. But it wasn’t me. Maybe parts of me live there in the pages and parts of me live on those streets.

Ultimately, you can’t allow another person’s possible opinion of you affect your writing.

Writing with Bones

I think I read Writing Down the Bones maybe more than 20 years ago.  I do believe it’s still on my bookshelf. I keep books that have spoken to me.

writing-down-the-bones.jpgAlthough one website says it’s a good book for beginning writers, I think we might all find some inspiration in these pages.

In yoga, sometimes we go back to level one, we go back to the training. After so many years of doing it, so many teachers putting their own twists on it, so many times we’ve worked with (or around) an injury – it’s good to go back to the basics.

I see nothing wrong with doing that in writing either.

Writing Down the Bones – a book by Natalie Goldberg. This site gives you a generous sampling of the book.

I’m planning to pick it up again – see what else I can learn, what I might relearn.

Free Reads

cofffee.jpgWhat’s better than coffee?  FREE COFFEE!  Or coffee that someone else bought for you.  And that’s what happened to me the other day. I ordered my coffee and the guy said – “On me – because you’re a great teacher!”

That coffee tasted better than any coffee I’d had of late.

So – for you – free reads.

Here’s a story of mine – originally printed in Avatar: All the Beautiful People.

And here’s some freebies from other authors: 23 Free Stories

If you’re a kindle subscriber, there are many more stories!

Interruptions…

I’m going to interrupt the flow of this blog , but windex1.jpge really should talk about how we deal with interruptions to our work.

I try not to take phone calls during my work time; however, sometimes I have to. A doctor appointment, a work call – all important, can’t wait until later. At least with those, you know you won’t be on the phone long.

The other day a friend called me. I hadn’t talked to him in over a month, so I wanted to see how he was. We live in different times zone, which makes scheduling time for a chat rather challenging. I told myself, even upon answering, that I wouldn’t talk long. But we did get carried away in catching up.

Set boundaries. I finally did tell him I needed to get back to my writing. He understands. Many people don’t, so I don’t regularly say that. I do tell them I can talk to them later or that I’m in the middle of something – both of which are true.

Phone calls and text messages are easier to put on hold – put the phone in the other room or turn it off. It really is not that hard.  Having children or spouses is a whole different topic, which I’m going to talk about during another blog.

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Right now, as I said, I need to interrupt the flow of this the gold tooth.jpgblog with an announcement.

You can win my short story, The Gold Tooth! Click here. This is only for a limited time.

Long lost sisters are reunited at the reading of their mother’s will. Celeste who has cared for their mother in her declining years is awarded a small, broken music box. The force of nature, Nancy, who hasn’t been seen they were teenagers, is awarded the entire estate. Before they leave the office, Nancy is given the option to exchange the estate for the box. Nancy laughs off the incredible offer and moves into the estate. What’s discovered in the music box could cost one sister her freedom and the other her life.