Friday, February 28, 2003

Another sale! ByLine bought another of my short pieces--a humor article called "Fast Food for Thought," the strange but true tale of how fast food has inspired much of my writing!

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Lots of stuff going on this week! First, I entered a small poetry contest. Second, I got the professional critique of my novel back from the critiquer yesterday. It was so helpful! She didn't trash the novel--hooray! And nearly everything she said fit in with my personal vision for the novel, but was stuff I hadn't quite clarified for myself, & gives me great ideas of where to start revising. Of course, it appears I need to rewrite, rethink, & possibly restructure the whole novel, but I'm sure it will make the novel much stronger.

Third, I mailed my application packet for the SCBWI Work-in-Progress grant today! I figured there was nothing to lose by entering, since I have a novel that's far along in the writing & revision process, and there's no fee to apply for the grant. I'm applying for the Grant for a Contemporary Novel for Young People (or the grant for a writer without a published book). I also applied last year with a different project, and didn't win a grant, but figure it's certainly worth the trouble to apply. This year I sent the novel I just had critiqued, though I'm not as confident as I might be because I know the first chapter, which I had to send for my writing sample, is going to change as I revise further, & will probably be better later than it is now.

Fourth, I got an encouraging rejection letter today! It's probably pathetic to celebrate "good" rejections, but the letter was funny and chatty, not just one of the businesslike "not right for our list" letters I sometimes get even when the rejection is personal. It also contained a great compliment and an offer to look at a different manuscript. So now I have a lot of work to do getting the other manuscript finished & ready for eventual submission!

Monday, February 24, 2003

I was surprised to get yet another honorable mention in a ByLine fiction contest today. My adult humor story, "Falling Through the Quacks," was one of 4 stories that received Special Honorable Mentions in their general Short-Short Story contest. I hadn't told anyone I was entering it, as it's so silly that even my husband thought it should probably be reserved for my own amusement, but I'm glad someone liked it! I can't imagine finding a market for it, though, as it's a light, humorous romance of a sort, involving a dancing duck! (See? I said I write quirky stuff!)

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

The critiquer I sent my manuscript to should have it now & is supposed to work on it today...eek! Makes me a bit nervous, though I'll be glad to get the feedback. Getting it all printed out & ready to send was a bit of a nightmare, & of course I found 16 more minor changes I need to make even after I printed it, but went ahead & sent it off as it was. I am mainly looking for a "big picture" critique of it, anyway. In the meantime, I'm polishing my synopsis some more, worked a little more on the chapter book I'm now iffy about, & have been trying to write a new poem, with only moderate success. I haven't submitted anything in a couple of weeks, & have no plans to do so soon. I don't have any submission goals this year as I did last year--this time it's mainly completion goals!

I'm getting curious about who looks at this site. My site counter says I've had 17 hits this week, which isn't terribly many, but I know I was only 2 or 3 of them so I still wonder who they were... (I suspect one may have been a friend from years ago for whom I have no current contact info, so Jim, if you're reading this, e-mail me!) Some weeks there have been more like 100 hits, but in those weeks I had shared the address of the site somewhere online that I hadn't previously shared it.

Monday, February 10, 2003

What a weekend--I got about 8 hours sleep on Friday & Saturday combined. Saturday night I stayed up until 5 am! What kept me harried all weekend, and even into today, was making "minor edits" to my novel. Still not done, either--I'm now done with everything but the first chapter (for this pass), but I've got maybe 30 more outstanding issues to resolve in that one. I'm trying to hurry to get it out for critique, but am nervous to get the critique as I'm sure the critiquer will suggest major revisions. And if this has been a minor revision, I'd hate to see a major one!

Friday, February 07, 2003

Is it a good sign that I dreamed I sold a book? (Maybe not, since the other time I dreamed that, the manuscript was rejected not long after the dream!) I worry I'll never really sell a book because much of what I write is "quirky," or at least has quirky touches, & I know that turns some people off. I can't see changing that, though, because it's what I like, & avoiding it altogether would kill half the fun of writing. I've got to believe there are some other people out there with tastes similar to mine!

I've been doing what I thought would be minor line edits on my YA novel, but they've really grown! I still have hours left to do just on that, and I was horrified to find a major continuity error, where I left out an entire day. (When the protagonist got home from Sunday lunch, it was Monday night...and given the pacing up to that point, I can't just skip ahead that far with no explanation.) I wrote some transitional stuff that seems to work, but it still needs some cleaning up. When I get the whole thing ready--hopefully this weekend--I'll find someplace to print it all out on a laser printer, then I'm sending it out for critique. I worry I'll be spending big bucks to find out it's worthless, but at this point I'm too close to it to even have a clue what's working and what's not. I figure that, especially as a first-time novelist, I could really benefit from the input of an experienced critiquer.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Good news yesterday--I got my February issue of ByLine and learned that my short story "Ending Some of It" was a finalist in their annual Literary Awards. I'm not sure how many people entered, but I was at least in the top 9. Another short story, "For Better or For Worse," got an honorable mention in their New-Talent Short Story Contest. Those 2 validations of my writing definitely helped to make up for the rejection letter I received the same day.

At last week's SCBWI retreat, we were encouraged to enter the San Gabriel Writers' League Contest, as it's run by a local organization & they added a Writing for Children category this year. I planned to enter in the children's category, & also wanted to enter an adult manuscript but wasn't sure whether to enter a personal essay or a short story. My husband thought the essay was stronger, so I sent that, but when I found out about 10 minutes later that the short story was a finalist in ByLine's big contest, I rushed to enter that one, too! Considering the entry fees, I'd now have to win at least 2nd place in something just to break even....

In other news, I managed to get my YA novel synopsis down to one page, and finally submitted my humor article (mentioned 1/13) to ByLine. I also submitted a picture book manuscript to an editor. I sent the book submission in a business-sized envelope instead of the large kind I usually use, thinking that since the manuscript is so short (2 pages), it might seem less daunting than yet another big manila envelope, & therefore might get opened more quickly. Now other writers are telling me they think manuscripts should always be mailed in large envelopes. Oh well...we'll see what happens. Meanwhile, Happy Groundhog Day Eve!