Rejections and the benefit of humility

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Pretty much the second my post about waiting for agent responses hit your screens last month, rejections hit my inbox. You know that saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs?” For me, it was raining No’s and Also No’s.

I took it hard – harder than I should have for someone who’s been through this before with another novel. The reason is something I’m going to confess to you even though it casts me in an unflattering light, because… I don’t know, there’s just something about you, random internet stranger, that makes me feel like I can open up to you.

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Waiting game

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Still playing the query waiting game. My thumbs have become quite good at twiddling. I could be a competitive thumb-twiddling champion.

Six weeks have passed since I sent this book’s first query. Alas, no word yet. I’m used to this from when I queried my previous novel, so I know it’s normal, but I’m extra-excited about this book, and that first agent in particular who was my tippyest-top choice. Unfortunately, I may have to consider that one a rejection. Agencies with a “no reply = no” policy are tough for authors when you can’t help wondering if your query got buried in their inbox, or worse, if it got eaten by email gremlins before it even arrived. A reply of any kind is a relief. But after six weeks, I’ve decided it’s time to send out another batch.

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Margarine

It’s been a year since Slink Chunk Press published this short story, so to honor the occasion I am reprinting it here. Enjoy!

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They say that everything is made from everything. Matter never disappears, it just becomes new matter. A cell from your skin catches a southeast breeze and eventually gets inhaled by a penguin; an atom expelled in some dinosaur dung finds its way over the eons to your pomegranate tea; a molecule from the sweat that glistened on Caesar’s temple evaporated and is now raining into your car through the window you left open.

We’re all just cosmos junk, recycled. Never ending, only changing. Ever since the universe’s first big sneeze, all that energy has been riding its waves wherever it can go, moving from one place to another. Perpetual tourists, all of us.

So then what happens if a bit of energy changes its mind? Has a change of heart on the metaphysical interstate and decides to detour over the center divider, head the opposite way?

Decides to come back?

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Happy 2017! New blogging system plus my writer bucket list

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Welcome back and happy 2017! A couple news items:

Firstly, I’ve started going by my middle name, Noel. (As in, the Christmasy pronunciation of Noel. NOT the one that rhymes with *roll* which is what my eyes do whenever someone says it like that, hehe.) My full name will still be listed on my blog and Twitter, as that is what I’ll be published as, but amongst friends and such I’d like to be called Noel. 🙂

Secondly, I’m adopting a new system for how I’ll be blogging each week of the month:

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The Selkie’s Husband

A full year ago today, I was honored to have this flash fiction published by Gingerbread House Literary Magazine. This is my personal favorite of my work, so to celebrate its anniversary I am reprinting it here. I hope you enjoy! 🙂

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Rain fell the day he went to the shore, to see the place where his wife left him. Grey weighted the clouds like sacks full of stones, sagging closer and closer to the sea. Grey upon grey, water upon water, the sea and sky took hands. The way he once took hers.

She never held his hand long. Always wrenching from his grasp, her flesh still as slippery as a seal. Sometimes she would oblige him, sit shaking like a penned animal as he made hushing noises and rubbed her knuckles with his thumbs.

Please let me love you, he would say. I’ve earned it. I found your skin.

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Fingers

One full year ago, the awesome Jersey Devil Press published this flash fiction of mine. I decided to reprint it here to celebrate the occasion. Hope you enjoy!

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The purple monkey hugs my kneecap with his armpit. Squashed into my front is the yellow dinosaur, her spinal ridges prickling my belly every time she shifts. The blue elephant’s hindquarters press against my ear, which is unpleasant, but not as much as the child’s face flattened against the glass.

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Tacka tacka tacka tacka tacka tacka

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That’s the sound of one writer editing furiously.

You may recall this kaPOWerful post from early July, declaring my mission to finish my bulky edits by the time we leave for French Polynesia. By “bulky” I meant the rewrites, the new scenes, the untangling of plot-snarls, chunky stuff like that. Scary stuff like that… Before setting my goal, I had my list of must-edits locked in a cupboard while I cowered under a table.

What was I so scared of? I thought the scope of my revisions would be too daunting to summit, that I’d realize the book was one giant mess that I could never fix. But I reminded myself that big tasks are completed one small step at a time. I also realized that by stewing in my anxiety, I was making my anxiety last longer, so if I wanted to remove that anxiety I’d have to start editing.

I’m happy to say it’s been much less painful that expected!! I’m still in the midst of it, but here was my process:

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How to frustrate a writer: “Where’s the hook?”

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Writers talk a lot about hooks-the thing in a story’s opening that grabs the reader and makes them want to continue. It’s a popular question among writing groups when critiquing a first page or scene: “Where’s the hook?”

This can be… frustrating.

The problem is that critiquers often don’t treat the term like the broad, vague thing that it is, which makes their critiques broad, vague, and unhelpful. First I’m going to explain how hooks are subjective, and then how to make your critique more beneficial to the writer.

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Did I accidentally write a YA novel?

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I’m in a pickle.

First I must clarify that I am not in an actual pickle, which is a confusion one could easily have given the kind of person I am. Maybe I have pickle costumes lying around, you don’t know. I’m unpredictable.

Now that we’ve got that de-mystifying out of the way, I’m in a pickle.

Twice now someone in my critique group has thought my second novel seems YA. (Young Adult – the category for teenage readers.) This threw me for a loop and has been bumming me out pretty hard, because while I have nothing against YA, it isn’t… me.

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The Watching Man, now up at The J. J. Outre Review

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My fifth publication is one that I’d been submitting for more than a year, so I’m BEYOND THRILLED to see it finally find a home. They really mean it when they say persistence is key!

In this creepy suspense tale, a lurker takes people-watching a bit too far and sees something he shouldn’t have seen…

Please check it out here!