Random Reads

Malinda Lo on avoiding the exotic in her book Huntress, while basing the culture firmly outside the too-often-default medieval Europe. Great food for thought for writers who are attempting this. Made me think about the exotic-ization I’ve read in some books recently, as well as those that have managed to avoid it. Plus I missed about half of the cultural references myself while reading Huntress, so it was fun to see what was in there.

KT Literary translates her responses to authors when she declines their partials. Really nice insight for anyone who has scratched their head on a rejection and thought, “But what exactly does that mean?” and “What is she saying I should fix?”

The best explanation of the difference between mileposts and goals for writers that I’ve seen, plus a splash of humor about not letting the whole thing drive you crazy, by Tobias Buckell: Writers and Pellets. I hadn’t heard of or read his blog before, but I’ll be checking it out.

Agent Mary Kole looks at first lines. I’m posting this here because I’ve been thinking about this comment since I read it at the end of August: “Some of my favorite first lines are the ones that plant the kernel of a question in a reader’s head.” It inspired me to fool around writing first lines and looking at ones I’ve written in the past to see which ones have a question in them.

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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)

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.