Rejection & Resilience

The “R” word’s an ugly one. Nobody likes talking about it. But rejection is a major part of a writer’s life. There’s not a conventionally-published author alive who hasn’t experienced that sting. Nobody–not even the J.K. Rowlings out there–make it through this biz without a few scrapes.

This week, I received a rejection letter (couldn’t we bibliophiles have come up with a less brutal term for this? What’s wrong with “No Thank You Correspondence?”) from one of the literary agencies to which I’d submitted my novel.

It was actually a relatively flattering letter as far as they go. But in the end, they still said “no.” They couldn’t offer me representation. You always know this is a possibility, of course. But you hope really, reallyreally hard that this time, the answer’ll be “yes.”

Reading the rejection, Professional Lauren appreciated the speed of the agency’s response. Treasured the compliment to my writing talents. Tucked away the constructive criticism for analysis and implementation. Continue reading “Rejection & Resilience”

Look What Came in the Mail….

Yesterday brought an exciting surprise in the mail, all the way from the U.S. of A.: my new book, Insult to Injury: Violence in Spanish, Hispanic American and Latino Art & Literature.

Right there on page 94 of the anthology, starts Chapter 7… my chapter!

“Brutality, Borderlands, and Bildungsromans: Violence and Cultural Conflict in Rodolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima and Américo Paredes’s George Washington Gómez

This may call for a celebratory class of wine with my gal-pals. (You know who are are!)

(P.S.–Aren’t I spoiled? Check out the lovely Valentine’s Day roses my husband made sure I had at my day job.)

Writing: Resources & the Road Forward

First things first: an ENORMOUS (terribly belated!) thank you to everyone who voted in my poll on Twitter-style novel pitches. With your help, I went into #PitMad with enthusiasm–and I’m thrilled to report, not without result. By the close of December 1, my pitches for my 1920s historical novel had received a total of four likes–two by literary agencies, and two by independent publishing companies. I’ve since fired off all requested queries, synopses, and reading samples. Thus far, one entity has requested a full manuscript. Hooray! One entity has given the project a pass. Awww…. (This is an excellent example of how peculiar art businesses like writing are–what prompts one person to seek more will be un-alluring to the next.) Where things go from here, literally only God knows. But it’s encouraging when people out in the mystical realm of publication evidence interest in  your ideas. And despite my temptation to be discouraged by one person’s “no,” I’m also in wholehearted concurrence with The Baffled King blog: when someone requests a full manuscript after reading your sample pages, it’s essential to make a moment to celebrate that victory, even if no contract follows after. Little victories are victories nonetheless.

Baby steps, right? Continue reading “Writing: Resources & the Road Forward”

Help me, Dear Reader. You’re my Only Hope….

A writer’s best friends are her readers and her writing community. Thus, à la Princess Leia, I’m not too proud to ask for a bit of help now and again.

Frequently, I find myself amazed by the speed with which the writing world changes. When I first ventured into publishing, eBooks were a twinkle in someone’s eye. Self-publishing meant arranging for a vanity press to print (for a fee) hard and paperback copies of your book. The standard method for seeking publication was for an author to directly submit her manuscript to a publishing house. Literary agents were a nice-to-have, rather than the (with rare exception) must-have they are today if you’re pursuing traditional publication.

In little more than a decade, all this has changed.

Now it’s almost unheard of for an author to pitch his or her own “unsolicited” manuscript directly to a publishing house. Today, common practice means landing an agent who then uses her institutional knowledge and professional credibility to act as an intermediary, approaching publishers on her author’s behalf. Continue reading “Help me, Dear Reader. You’re my Only Hope….”

Coincidence & Writing Cultivation

Now that a certain conference is over, I can breathe a sigh of relief and finally, officially break the happy news I alluded to last week….

No, I haven’t scored that long lusted-after novel contract.

Nope, Foreign Service friends, we haven’t discovered that our onward assignment is to be my dream post of Dublin. Or Belfast. Or Prague.

And no, despite my pleading, husband couldn’t be coaxed into getting me a penguin for my birthday last weekend.

But yes: I can now say I have an award-winning book on my authorial résumé. Continue reading “Coincidence & Writing Cultivation”

A Week of Excitement

This has been an exciting week, both for me and for Paulette Jiles. Jiles is the author of News of the World, which I reviewed last week. Her happy occasion is this: News has just been named one of the five finalist for the National Book Award: Fiction. Job very well done, Ms. Jiles!

And here’s my cause for celebration: I just received word from the collaboration’s editor that INSULT TO INJURY: VIOLENCE IN SPANISH, HISPANIC AMERICAN & LATINO ART & LITERATURE–an anthology in which I have a chapter entitled “Brutality, Borderlands, and Bildungsromans: Violence and Cultural Conflict in Américo Parades’ George Washington Gómez and Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Última”–will be in print at the end of December.

So, yeah: a good week all around.

*Featured image property of Dixie Pixel.

“Publishers Weekly” Unfolds Cover Design

As someone interested in both books and art, I’ve always been easily seduced by a striking cover design, a beautifully executed book jacket. (I know, I know: never judge a book by its cover. I assure you–no judgment is involved! Though a tinge of envy might be….)

Book covers at their very best are eye-catching, but not randomly so. More than just a pretty face, covers that are a cut above the rest manage to capture their books’ essence, communicating at a glance a unique something that makes you choose that story from among all the others on the shelf.

I’ve long been curious about the how behind this aesthetic component of the book-making process. Continue reading ““Publishers Weekly” Unfolds Cover Design”