Tuesday, December 31, 2002

So I ended the year with a bang! In today's mail, on the last day of the year, I got an acceptance and a check from On the Line magazine for my children's story, "All's Fair at Science Fairs." It was my first-ever acceptance for fiction, so it's a nice validation of my desire to write fiction, and particularly fiction for children. I had actually prayed on the way to the mailbox that there would be an acceptance in there, and when I saw my SASE in the mailbox, I assumed it was a rejection instead. Nope! I literally jumped for joy when I saw that it was an acceptance!

We were supposed to celebrate New Year's with some friends, but many of us were sick (myself, my husband, and our friends), so we stayed home. But I got a New Year's tablecloth, plates, hats, noisemakers, decorations, & serpentine, and we had sherbet punch and cookies, then counted down to the new year with the kids a bit early...about 9:30 pm. But Ryan is still up, so we may let him watch the ball drop in New York on TV in a few minutes.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

YES! My impulsive submission last week paid off! A small quarterly publication called Peeks & Valleys is buying my poem The Diet, which I actually wrote the first version of 21 or 22 years ago, when I was 13 years old! This version was almost completely rewritten, but some of the lines are the same, and I have not found any appropriate markets for it in the past (not many markets for light verse). The editor actually said if she'd gotten it a week earlier, she would have included it in the January issue, but since that issue is already out now, it may have to wait until they have space in the October 2003 issue. Fine with me! I'm just amazed to have gotten 5 acceptances this year, including one for something I only submitted around Christmas!

Saturday, December 21, 2002

OK, make that 33 submissions. I heard about a small market that might take light verse, and impulsively sent off an old poem I had never been able to find a market for (not that it was rejected a lot--I think I only found one or two places to ever submit it). It's easy to be impulsive with e-mail submissions... I know it's silly to submit something the Saturday night before Christmas, but I thought I might as well strike while the iron was hot, even if they don't get around to looking at it until the new year.

Speaking of which, I can't believe it's going to be 2003 soon! I'm excited. I don't know why, but I just like the sound of that number.
Wow, my article "Goofy About Writing" is in the new ByLine magazine I got today (Jan. 2003 issue), only 3.5 weeks after I got the acceptance letter and check! Amazing! What a nice way to end the year.

I just realized that I've gotten 4 writing acceptances this year, which has doubled the number of acceptances I've gotten since my first one 8 years ago! That is, I got 4 acceptances over 8 years' time (1994-2001) and then 4 in one year, 2002. Of course, I've submitted much more this year than I ever did before--in all, I sent off 15 contest entries this year, and 16 submissions to editors, for a total of 32 submissions representing 18 different manuscripts. In any case, it's nice to see myself making progress!

This month alone, which I thought would pretty much be a month "off" because of the holidays, I've submitted 5 manuscripts to editors and 2 to contests, plus sent off 2 others for a conference critique. I've also gotten 3 rejections & 1 acceptance, & gotten a copy of a magazine with an article by me in it. Last month, I drafted a whole novel, wrote about 12,000 words on two other novels, sent 1 story to a contest & 1 to a magazine, got an honorable mention in a short story contest, got 1 acceptance, & got another magazine with an article by me in it. It's definitely sounding like I'm a writer! So it's very fitting that I got a Snoopy "Literary Ace" ornament for my Christmas tree this year, with the year 2002 on it and Snoopy pounding away at his typewriter.

Monday, December 16, 2002

I got a letter from Welcome Home today about the humor essay I sent them 7.5 months ago (though I still haven't heard about the one from 11 months ago!). It is sort of an acceptance...though they're not very committal about it! It says, "We like it enough to consider it for publication, however at this time we cannot assure you that it will be published." They enclosed a publication agreement and said they'll probably be able to use the article within one year, and will notify me in advance before they print it. It also says they appreciate my patience as I await publication of it, but then again says, "This is not a contract to publish your article (or guaranteeing the publication)." So, we'll see!

I'm getting a little more into the holiday spirit now that I've mailed out most of the gifts I needed to mail ($22 postage for 3 packages!!) and am more than halfway done with my shopping. But I'd still be happy to wait another month before Christmas!

Friday, December 13, 2002

Magazines that accept submissions by e-mail are kind of a mixed blessing. On one hand, it's nice to be able to send something out so quickly & easily, and getting to hear back sooner in most cases. On the other hand, getting rejections within 24 hours can get old! I've submitted 5 manuscripts by e-mail this year. One was accepted, which took 8 weeks, but the other four were all rejected in less than 24 hours...one of them in a mere 19 minutes!

I am so not ready for Christmas this year. Some years, I've been almost done with shopping by December 1. This year, I've barely started or even thought about it. I wish it could be pushed back a couple of weeks! On the other hand, after Christmas is going to be awfully busy, too. I need to set up a web site by January 1, Kyle's 2nd birthday is January 14th, and I'm also vaguely hoping to finish 2 novels by the end of January, when I'm going on a writers' retreat! (It's not crucial, but it'd be nice....)

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Another sale! After a disappointing rejection earlier this week and 2 failures to place in a children's poem contest (but a nice honorable mention for a story in a fiction contest), it was great to get an acceptance and check in the mail from ByLine magazine today! It's kind of like getting 2 sales out of 1, because what ByLine bought is an article about my first sale, called "Getting Goofy about Writing," for their First $ale column. Hooray!

Thursday, November 21, 2002

I finished the rough draft of my NaNoWriMo novel, Chasing Monday, on November 17th! It's a whopping 58,466 word long. It feels a bit anti-climactic to be done, though "done" might not be the right word since it needs extensive revisions before I'd even consider it a decent draft. I also have plenty else to keep me busy, with a picture book manuscript I'm trying to do final revisions on & send out, my previously scheduled novel-in-progress I need to keep making headway on, and that chapter book (basically a short novel for about ages 7-10) that I mentioned before. But today I feel a bit sick. Kyle is sick now, too...yuck. Ryan had a similar illness earlier in the week, so I hope this will all end soon like Ryan's did.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

I got my copies of the Winter issue of Once Upon a Time today, with my humor piece When the Muse Strikes Out in it. Looks like the editor didn't change a word, either, though she did take out a couple of commas and dashes. I know I use too many dashes, anyway!

I also wrote 3,300+ words on my NaNoWriMo novel while the kids were in Mother's Day Out today. Hooray for Mother's Day Out! (Or Mother's Day In, as the case may be....)

Sunday, November 10, 2002

Wow. I wrote around 7,000 words yesterday (3,500 of them in the car on my PDA, while on a road trip...) & am up to nearly 29,000 words in my NaNoWriMo novel! I'm stunned that I did that in 9 days! And today I came up with yet a new idea, probably for an early chapter book. I wrote 300-400 words of it in the car on the way to church and then on the way to lunch. Ryan, my 4-year-old, saw me writing (on a small yellow notepad) when we got to the restaurant, and asked if I was writing a book. I said yes, and he wanted me to read it to him. I knew it would fly right over his head, but he was so insistent that I did. And as I predicted, he just looked confused. ;-) It was all about chewing gum, and he barely even knows what that is! But it is interesting that he just assumes I'm writing books! He also writes them himself. He wrote one called Shapes this past week, which he wants us to mail to his best friend.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

I just read this quote in someone else's NaNoWriMo sig line...

"You can't build a plot out of jokes. You need tragic relief." —Terry Pratchett

That is great for me to remember for my beet novel, which quite honestly started as a joke and has worked its way into a novel-in-progress that I hope has some real emotions. Meanwhile, my NaNoWriMo novel (13,881 words so far!) probably needs the opposite, and more traditional advice--some sort of humor or joy to break up the angst.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

I mailed out four manuscripts today! That brings me up to 23 submissions (including many contest entries) for the year, and I still have another picture book manuscript to send out this year. I also have another idea for a humor article, though I'm not sure if I'll write it soon or not. I probably want to get the picture book done first. I also got a letter from Once Upon A Time today, saying that my humor piece When the Muse Strikes (Out) will run in their next issue, to be mailed out next week.

I also had a very strange dream last night--basically I dreamed an odd concept for an adult literary novel set in Victorian England. I saw the parlor or drawing room where part of it would be set, and I saw the cover of the book in great detail... It was a moody and dreamy-looking cover with the title beautiful hands in lowercase script, in a text box in the center of a dark green book jacket, with a painting (very old and crackly-looking, like the detail from a classic painting) on the top half of the cover of several women's arms and hands extended, reaching up, above the book title. Like this was a novel I was supposed to write or something. But not only can I not figure out what it was supposed to mean, but it doesn't really even appeal to me (except for the book jacket design)! I write contemporary young adult fiction, not adult literary stuff or anything set in the past. (I imagined this as a lyrical, slow-moving tome of adult literary fiction, whereas I usually write fast-paced first person stuff about teenagers today.) Very odd. I can't figure out if I should be trying to learn something from that or not! ;-)

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Woo hoo! I got my first actual writing check today!! I'm not going to cash it until I scan or photocopy it, and I am pathetic enough I'll probably frame that & put it over my desk...if I ever start using my desk. Now I have to figure out what to spend it on. It's not really even enough to go out to dinner on! (At least not with the kids.) So I can't decide whether to spend it on a small celebration dinner, or to buy some sort of keepsake with it. I did recently buy a Native American-style Storyteller figurine from eBay to replace one I got in New Mexico & can't find right now...but I doubt that should be my keepsake because I think it's an imitation and I'll replace it with my old one when I find it. OK...I just went to eBay again & bought a silver charm of Snoopy as the Literary Ace. Maybe that'll be my keepsake! And it was cheap enough I'll still have almost enough to go out to dinner, LOL.

Saturday, October 05, 2002

I signed up yesterday to participate in National Novel Writing Month. It's a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30. There's no obligation to finish & no prizes for completion...all they do is put up the names of people who got to 50,000 words and who are willing to submit their manuscripts to a word count. So, why not try it, if the fun of the deadline will motivate me to sit down & do something I want to do anyway? I do have one young adult novel in progress (or rather, in stasis!) but you are supposed to start something new for the challenge, so I plan to try to blast through a different young adult novel I have an idea for. I doubt I can do it justice in a month, and don't want to alienate my husband and kids, either, but figured I'd at least give it a try! I'll use the rest of October to finish up some short pieces I've been working on and send them out, and will switch into dedicated novel-writing mode on November 1. Looks like I've ordered a keyboard for my PDA (a lovely color Sony CliƩ I got for Christmas last year) just in time!

Monday, September 30, 2002

As much as I dreaded it, 35 has been surprisingly good to me so far. It seems to have provided the motivation I needed to actually spend a lot of energy on writing. I have never been more prolific. The most I've ever submitted, whether for publication or to contests, was 11 submissions in one year, in 2000. This year, I've already hit 19 and have at least 4 more things I plan to send out by the end of the year. (2 have been accepted, a lot were contests, and I'm still waiting to hear about quite a few.) And there are still 3 months to go!

In the past week alone, I finished a silly short story for grown-ups (probably not marketable, but I still wanted to finish it) that I started years ago--I'm not sure how many, and also a more serious story for grown-ups that I started at least ten years ago! I also drafted a story for young readers (maybe ages 6-9) that I hope to send out next week, and I'm polishing a picture book manuscript and have written some notes for a short non-fiction piece.

Other things aren't going quite as well as writing, and I've been feeling sick a lot lately, but I'm so happy about the writing that it kind of trumps everything else right now.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Good news today! Guideposts for Kids is buying one of my poems! Here's the acceptance envelope I got in today's mail, minus my address:

Saturday, June 15, 2002

Well, I thought I was feeling older than my years these days, and I guess I was right. I got this in the mail this week:

(So why are all the stores trying to sell me hip huggers?! Is there an old person's store I can shop at now, that sells pants with waistlines at the actual waist...?)

Monday, May 27, 2002

One of the things that bothers me most in the whole world is the idea some people have that dark, sordid, or depressing things, especially in art/fiction/movies/etc., are somehow more "real" or "true" than light or joyous things. Nothing is more real or true than the laugh of my 16-month-old son, or the all-encompassing love and mercy of God. I doubt there is anything I can do in my lifetime to counteract this misguided hierarchy of truth or of worthiness for art, but I wish I could. I think it will be an uphill battle for me to ever be taken seriously as a writer if I keep writing light or funny things instead of desparing things. And I'm not saying I won't write despairing things, either, because I undoubtedly will...but I think they are all different parts of the truth, and all equally part of human experience. And I do hope to celebrate the glorious, which is so misunderstood or overlooked, instead of just pondering the sordid and feeling somehow more profound for it. (I don't make a lot of distinctions between "high art" or "low art," either, and I have a very egalitarian view of whose views are worth listening to...but that's another subject.)

I also bristle at the idea that authors and artists should write or create whatever they feel they "need" to, regardless of whom they hurt or alienate in the process. Maybe I'm just clueless in this area since I don't currently have any difficult or potentially hurtful stories clamoring to be told, but I have trouble believing that any one person's art is so wonderful or needed that it trumps the needs and feelings of many other flesh-and-blood people. I could be wrong, and am certainly willing to consider anything on a case-by-case basis, but I would want to take a long, hard look at my motives, my goals, and the long-term potential costs and benefits before purposefully doing something that would hurt other people. There will always be exceptions, but most of those painful books that just "had to be written" will end up on the bookstore remainder table for $1 in a year or two, and the authors will be mere footnotes in literary history...will they feel it was worth it then? (But then, I also have trouble understanding how the life of one pet snake could be worth the lives of many mice! I understand it in nature, where it's just the food chain, but not so much with pets. I know I'm a hypocrite, though, because I do seem to value cute little mice over, say, cockroaches!)

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

So I'm doing this instead of the 80 other things I should be doing. OK, maybe not 80 but at least 5, including gathering a box of giveaway clothes for the TX Paralyzed Vets, who are coming by tomorrow, doing 2 Bible study lessons I need to have done by tomorrow morning, rummaging through paper piles to find some bills I need to pay, and gathering materials I need to do our taxes. I am so exhausted. It's been a hard day with the kids, it's rainy & cold (for Texas) outside, and I had a dental emergency this week & have to get a root canal on Friday. Whee. I don't think I'll be able to eat "real" food again (things I can really bite down on) for at least a month.... Not to mention I've been trying to write a novel! Actually I'm trying to write a snyopsis of it right now so I can apply for a small grant to finish it--the application is due by March 1. But since I'm not sure exactly what's going to happen at the end yet, it's pretty hard to write a synopsis! (I know basically what happens, but not when/where/how the big showdown will occur.) I've been pretty excited about this for most of the past week, since I actually got some writing done on the novel and came up with some ideas I was really happy with, but today I heard that some publishing houses sometimes hold things for 2 to 3 years before even rejecting them! So if one place held it that long and then rejected it, then another did the same, and then another finally accepted it but 2 or 3 years to get it into print, my contemporary novel could be historical fiction by the time it was actually published! I'm already pushing 35 here, I certainly don't want to be 50 by the time I could have a book in print! If I even live that long. So I'm not feeling so great today...but maybe things will turn around tomorrow. I also did submit a couple of other bits of writing to some publications (2 that don't pay...1 that would) last week, so I have at least a bit of hope for my writing at the moment.