Ouch, Two Rejections in 25 Minutes

Ok, the second one stung a little more, because I had higher hopes. Email queries sure can speed things up.

Here they are in full:

#1: Dear Nicole,
 
Thank you for your recent e-mail and for reading my blog, I appreciate it.  I regret to say that I don’t feel that I’m the most appropriate agent for your work.
 
However, opinions vary considerably in this business, and I wish you the best of luck in your search for representation.
 
Best wishes,

(the actual agent)

#2 Dear Nicole,

Thank you for submitting your query to —-. While your proposal shows merit, I’m afraid it’s not right for us. As I’m sure you know, this is a very subjective business, and no doubt another agent will feel differently. Best of luck in your writing career.

(assistant)

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Yay, My First Agent Rejection!

What’s that? you might be saying, You’re happy?

Well I am, in a way. It was a long shot—I didn’t think this agent (TA) would be interested, but on the other hand TA might have been, claiming a broad range of tastes. So I didn’t want to rule it out, when there was a possibility. Plus, just like the mere act of handing my manuscript over to readers magically gave me a little more objectivity, the rejection did too.

For a moment there, I could see my query through TA’s eyes: a little too girly, a little too downtrodden kid. (Or I could just be projecting.) And that’s ok, because in some ways my story is about that, and I want an agent and an editor who has that indefinable connection to my work. The same way I’ll inevitably pick up the same books in the library or bookstore again and again, because the title or the art on the cover gives me that connection.

And I’ll admit to two more ulterior motives here. Like pulling a band-aid off fast, I wanted to get it over with. And TA is known for responding quickly. Quicker than you would believe: according to gmail, 1 minute. I wanted to see if TA really was as quick as claimed. Impressively so, while claiming on his/her blog to actually read everything she/he responds to.

Oh wait, there’s one more: it’s a badge of honor. You can’t be rejected unless you send your work out. And I have. I finished the book. I revised until I was sick of it and then I revised it some more. I listened to my readers and made some more changes. I worked on the synopsis until I really was sick of it. And then I started sending it out. I’ve already made it further than 80% of would-be writers. This rejection is just one tiny step on the path to success.

So there it is. My first rejection. It hurt, but it also feels great.

Simultaneous Submissions to Agents?

I had to double check my research now that I’m sending my YA ms out to editors and agents, since the books I have on my shelf only seemed to address this question for editors.

Maria Schneider, formerly of Writer’s Digest, seems to be everywhere on the web answering this question. She’s in favor, and hosted a post by Brad Thor (The Last Patriot), who is too.

Anne Mini,  author of A Family Darkly: Love, Loss, and the Final Passions of Philip K. Dick, says:

What no agency will EVER leave off any of its expressions of preference, however, is mention of a policy forbidding simultaneous querying, the practice of sending out queries to more than one agent at a time. Some do have policies against simultaneous submissions, where more than one agent is reading requested materials at the same time, but believe me, the agencies that want an exclusive peek tend to be VERY up front about it.

So if you have checked to ascertain that the agent of your dreams — or at least the next on your list — does not have an exclusivity policy, you should assume that s/he doesn’t. End of story. Trust me, if an agent who does prefer an exclusive peek doesn’t want other agents seeing it, s/he will let you know.

I can see I’ll be going back to her blog often as she has scads of well-written, thought-out and in-depth advice.

And finally Writing for Children and Teens: A Crash Course (How to Write, Revise, and Publish a Kid’s or Teen Book with Children’s Book Publishers), by Cynthea Liu, gives a definitive yes. This book was published in 2008, in spite of the cover that seems to shout “1970s!”

Google Books version
Barnes & Noble version

WRITEOUS CHICKS® Intro Seminar NYC

From the marvelous Jennifer Garam, Founder, Writeous Chicks Writing for Women
 
In this seminar you will:
Gain an introduction to Writeous Chicks & Jennifer’s creativity techniques
Get a sampling of 6-week class Celebrate Your Voice! (and celebrate your SELF while you’re at it)
Participate in fun & freeing exercises
Mix & mingle with other fabulous women
WRITE, in a supportive, nurturing, & celebratory environment
This seminar is designed for women at ALL LEVELS with their writing practice – from brand-new beginners to experienced pros.  All that matters is that you have a passion for writing & a desire to write!
 
Date:  Wednesday, October 14th, 2009
Time:  6:45pm-9:45pm
Place:  A convenient Midtown Manhattan location, close to the A/C/E trains
Contact:  Jennifer Garam ● (917) 509-7564 ● jeng@writeouschicks.comRegistration Fee:  Only $25!
 
Space is limited, sign up today!
 
What Students Have To Say About Writeous Chicks Classes & Workshops…
 
“Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  This class has been amazing!  It was everything I expected and so much more.  The goals I had coming into class have all been met – it pushed my limits, forced me to delve in further and made me more comfortable sharing my thoughts and feelings.  I am grateful for what it has opened up in me…All of the assignments are fun, exciting, unique and juicy!  Absolutely fabulous!”
     -Julie, 33, Event Planner
 
“First of all, thank you Jen for creating this writing workshop.  It felt so great to just be free and moving and alive and writing without any censors… or naysayer voices telling me I have no time…it empowers me to be around women who are on the path of self-knowledge, self-growth, self-praise….willing to let go of the negative to pursue their dreams.” 
   -Sara, 30+, Investor Relations
 
“Jennifer Garam is inspirational, she opens the door to the path of creativity and boundless opportunity.  Her writing is her own voice she holds nothing back, as her student it created a safe and open space for me to delve deeper into my own life.  She is true, authentic, loving, and one of the greatest writing instructors I will ever have.”
   -Rachel, 22, Operations Assistant
 
“I love your workshops.  You really attract a great group of women, and I love the personal growth context in them as well.  I’ve come to the right place to learn.”
     -Cat
 
“I just had the most wonderful experience on Saturday…It’s not only a freeing, creative process but a wonderful bonding experience as well…And of course…thank you so much for all the wonderful things you did, taught, and helped to create!  I’m still energized.”
     -Karen
 
“Things are crazy good with me.  I feel such a shift since “removing obstacles.”  The work you do is soooooooo empowering!”
   -Robyn Myhr, Holistic Health Coach
 
BIO
Jennifer Garam graduated summa cum laude from Boston College with a degree in English and Theatre. She has studied writing at the Northwestern University Summer Writers’ Conference, Sarah Lawrence Playwriting Conference, and Ensemble Studio Theatre, and acting at The Neighborhood Playhouse and The Barrow Group. Three of Jennifer’s one-act plays have been selected for The Samuel French Festival. In addition to readings at The Lark Play Development Center, The Belt Theatre, and the Time Inc. Author Connection Reading Series, she has performed her solo material at the Drama Desk Award-Winning Barrow Group Theatre. Jennifer’s celebrity music articles have appeared in Interview magazine. She writes the blog “One Writeous Chick” at http://www.writeouschicks.wordpress.com/, and her writing has also appeared on DailyOm.com, DivineCaroline.com, the blog “Hip Slope Mama,” Health.com, and The Huffington Post.  As the founder of WRITEOUS CHICKS®, she teaches writing workshops for women with an emphasis on personal growth, self-care, and having fun!  Jennifer has been practicing yoga for 11 years, and infuses her passion for spirituality in all her teachings.

Copyright © 2006-09 by Jennifer Garam

Reimagined Fairy Tales

I love reimagined fairy tales. I don’t know why, I just do. It might have something to do with the thrill of the almost-familiar going in a new direction, one that’s usually more exciting for our sensibilities in this day and age. After all, what modern day Cinderella is contented with just Prince Charming? Most of us want dream careers, dream lives and yeah, the dream significant other. Or maybe it’s because they conform to the archetypal story: the hero or heroine’s quest, which somehow resonates with our need for stories at our deepest levels. Whatever the reason, here’s what I’ve been reading lately.

Everything I can get my hands on by Shannon Hale this year, as she was a new discovery. My first introduction was The Book of a Thousand Days based on Maid Maleen, which I wasn’t familiar with. From her website:

When Dashti, a maid, and Lady Saren, her mistress, are shut in a tower for seven years because of Saren’s refusal to marry a man she despises, the two prepare for a very long and dark imprisonment. With Shannon Hale’s lyrical language, this little-known classic fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm is reimagined and reset in a land inspired by the Asian steppes; it is a completely unique retelling filled with adventure and romance, drama and disguise.

After that I wanted more. I read River Secrets, which is not actually a retelling of fairy tale, but the third book after The Goose Girl, which is. I enjoyed The Goose Girl, and the main character starting out kind of wimpy and clueless and eventually becoming the author of her own fate, but River Secrets is my favorite of the three (the second book is Enna Burning). I loved the main character, Razo. He was such fun, always getting into trouble and out again. The Princess Academy, also a new story, had strong female friendships and an interesting antagonist who isn’t all that she seems. Also a good twist at the end.

Who could resist Golden, A Retelling of Rapunzel by Cameron Dokey? Rapunzel is bald in her version! I also read and enjoyed Before Midnight (Cinderella) and Beauty Sleep (Sleeping Beauty) although I admit I remember Rapunzel the most.

I also re-read Deerskin by Robin McKinley. I love everything by her and have ever since I first discovered her in the 8th grade, but I was surprised because I didn’t remember how dark this story starts out. It’s based on Donkeyskin. I guess I’m a lot more sensitive to violence now than I was as a child.

In a desperate moment I read The Snow Queen by Mercedes Lackey. At one point (oh say, when the Vanyel series, Magician’s Pawn, etc. came out) I would have read anything by her, but those times are past. Her books still have heart, as in this book with the snow queen playing the part of the evil witch to keep self-centered smarty-pants from going really bad. And the central idea, that there is a magical force, called The Tradition, that forces people into recreating fairy tales is fascinating. I’m not actually recommending the book though.

Sarah Beth Durst plays with a similar concept in her books Into the Wild and Out of the Wild. All the fairy tale characters defeated the inimical Wild, which forced them to endlessly replay their stories, eyes plucked out by ravens and all. They escaped to reality and now the Wild is living under Rapunzel’s daughter’s bed. It’s a really fun whirly tour through a bunch of different fairy tales. And just now when I looked for her website I saw she’s coming out with a new book in October. Yay!

Finite Words

I volunteered at the Brooklyn Book Festival  today thanks to Marcela Landres  and sat in on a portion of Edwidge Danticat’s talk. Edwidge is a great writer, but she’s also a good speaker and has the kind of presence that makes you want to be around her. The fifteen minutes I stole to listen to her were well worth the 4 hours I put in volunteering. (Tickets were free all sessions, but I hate waiting on those lines.)

During the question and answer section, a woman in the audience asked Edwidge what she liked most about writing and what challenges she encountered. Her answer: what she likes most about writing is the writing. She said she’s not happy unless she’s writing. As for the challenges: that what you put on paper never matches what you have in your mind. Early on, Edwidge talked to one of her mentors about her frustration with a writing project. The mentor told her: Everyone has the same problem. The mind is infinite and you are attempting to capture that with the finite number of words contained in language. (More or less, I didn’t write it down.) And that you have to just keep going.

It always helps to hear it one more time: Just keep going.

Other pluses of the day: I met Paul Auster …well, he asked me where he could sit and I told him. That counts as meeting in my book. Plus my husband is going to be so jealous that I got to breathe his second-hand cigar smoke. I attended the session with Jonathan Lethem and Mary Gaitskill and learned how to pronounce his name. Lee-them not Ley-them. I ran into Teri and Matt at Horse+Dragon.

Also I got to spend the day outside, after two weeks chained to my computer and I biked there, ditto the two weeks and my computer. And I talked to people, ditto ditto.

All in all, no minuses. Definitely check it out next year.

Life

Never forget that life can only be nobly inspired and rightly lived if you take it bravely and gallantly, as a splendid adventure in which you are setting out into an unknown country, to meet many a joy, to find many a comrade, to win and lose many a battle.

Annie Besant

Equally true for the writing life.