Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Another book give-away

Laura Lofgreen,one of my blogging friends, just did an interview with me that is up on her blog:

I think all of my followers should read it, because I can actually be insightful and witty when given questions I can write out and then revise. In real life, not so much. In real life, I can never think of the word I want and half of my sentences end with the phrase, " . . . you know, that, um, thing . . .(insert wild hand gesture to emphasize my point)"

So in order to entice you to read the interview, I'll give away a book (I'll let you choose which)to one person who leaves a comment on my blog about something they learned about me on Laura's blog. (No fair asking for My Double Life though, because I don't have copies of it yet.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

And the winners are . . .

After my husband read my rejection contest blog, he stared at the screen and said, "Wow, those stories are really depressing."

Exactly. Welcome to my life. And yet at the same time I think we all have the right to congratulate ourselves, ladies--and you too Ms., I mean, Mr. Jensen. We're tough. We take this and keep trying. Really, you all deserve good things in life for pursuing your love of writing. I wish I could send you all books and boxes of chocolates and warm hugs.

The mighty Random Oracle over at chose Noble Standing as the winner, but I'm also going to send a book to Danyelle Ferguson, who showed us that getting a bad publisher is worse than getting no publisher at all--be careful when you accept a contract. Don't be so eager to see your book published that you accept a bad contract. It isn't worth it.

I have a friend who writes romances and was so excited to get a contract for her first book and the one dollar royalty she would make off of each book--until after she signed the contract and found out that the publisher's average print run for their books was about a hundred books. Yep, then she realized she'd make about a hundred dollars for all of her work. How much do you suppose that is an hour?

I'm also sending a book to Tiffany Dominguez. 72 queries and 4 requests for fulls on a book that already has an interested editor? There but for the grace of George Nicholson at Sterling Lord, go I.

So winners, send me your snail mail address at jrallisonfans at yahoo dot com so I can send out the books.

And I'll be giving away another book at my next blog, so be sure to try, try, try again!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rejection Contest

My daughter worked at Putnam going through the slush pile a few summers back. She told people her official job title was: Dream Crusher.

A lot of agents could also put this on their business cards.

During my recent agent-quest, I only got one form rejection--which would seem pretty good until you realize that I had a manuscript an editor wanted (The sequel for My Fair Godmother) which was in need of a contract. In my query letters, I mentioned this fact. It's the equivalent of telling agents: Hey, you get guaranteed payment for signing me as a client.

I still got rejected. Heck, I still got agents that didn't even bother to reply with a polite, "No Thanks."

But due to the last post, I've heard a lot from other writers about their rejections. My favorite is from a very talented author who had an agent email her a form rejection while he was simultaneously watching Avatar. (She knew because she was following him on twitter.) That's got to make you feel special. The agent considered your life work during the slow parts of a movie. (If only the author had thrown in a kick-butt, anorexic looking, blue alien, she might have gotten farther with her manuscript.)

In my book, How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend, rejection letters play a pivotal part in the plot. (This is why authors are sick; we take our traumatic moments and put them in books to make money off of them.) So leave a comment telling me your worst rejection moment and the random number generator will choose who gets a free copy of the book.

See, sometimes rejection pays off.

Monday, February 08, 2010

The writer and self-esteem

Since My Double Life is coming out in three months, I've written a lot of emails to my editor, Tim, AKA the bow-tied one, about marketing stuff. (I want to hold some sort of celebrity look-alike contest, but more about that later.)

The bow-tied one didn't answer my emails for like, two months straight.

I admit right off that I'm a worrier. When I was first married, I had to have many talks with my husband about unexpectedly coming home late from work. My imagination kicked in at twenty minutes. By thirty minutes, I was planning his tearful funeral and trying to figure out how I would rebuild my shattered life. You just can't do that to a woman for very many days in the week.

Thank goodness for cell phones. Now I can call him when he's late. He doesn't pick up, but at least this way I can stop worrying about any demise that would also involve the vaporization of his cell phone.

I was okay at first when I didn't hear from Tim. I just figured he didn't want to talk marketing. But about the time that second month rolled around I started creating scenarios. Putnam was dropping me. He'd been fired. He was mad at me. He had cancer. The whole company was dissolving.

He finally called. I told him about my dropping me-fired-mad-cancer-company dissolving thoughts. "You shouldn't worry me like that," I told him. "Writers have vivid imaginations."

"Yeah," he said. "Vivid imaginations and low self-esteems. It's a deadly combination."

"Low self-esteem?" I repeated a bit aghast. "Nobody has ever told me I have low self-esteem."

"Well, they're not going to say it to your face," he said.

Apparently they wouldn't, but he would. This is just one more editorial service the bow-tied one offers.

I've thought about that conversation a lot lately. I don't think I have low self-esteem. Sure, I know I'm far from perfect. I could do a blog of all my faults. Heck, I could do a blog of all the things I've lost lately, and it would be a hefty list. (My Garmin, my car keys, my temper, the time.)

But that's one of the nice things about being a writer. I don't beat myself up over, say, being terminally disorganized. I just tell myself: I'm an artist. We're supposed to be different.

In general, I'm pretty happy with myself and life. I'll tell you my secret. I try not to concentrate on my achievements (which I think would depress anybody). Instead I aim for a clean conscience. It's amazing how awful I feel when I know I've done something wrong. I can't feel good about myself until I've at least tried to set it right. But when my conscience is clean, I like myself.

So I really wondered about Tim's comment about self-esteem. Did I have a poor self-esteem and I just didn't know it? Did everybody out there think a lot more of themselves than I did, and I'd just never noticed? Why was he so sure I had low self-esteem?

Then I left my old agent and went out into the harsh, cold cyber world to find a new one. Suddenly the writers and low self-esteem comment made sense. We're a bunch of people who pour our hearts into creating a story that we love. We not only do our utmost to create a nearly living breathing thing (at least it lives and breathes for us) but we quite literally put a slice of our mind and soul out there for people to judge.

And so many people find our best lacking. So many people find our souls not even worthy of their time.

What normal person could go through that repeatedly and not feel the pangs of a stabbed ego? Ditto for those revision comments that editors throw around like confetti at a Mardi Gras parade.

A normal person wouldn't subject themselves to this sort of treatment. Which leads me to believe that writers don't have low self-esteems. We're the ones with high self-esteems or we would have fled this business at the first rejection letter. Or the twelfth. Or the fiftieth. And certainly by that 1,000 revision comment. (My Double Life had 1,200)

Thankfully, I wasn't agentless for long. But to all of you in the trenches: hang in there, and hang on to those self-esteems. You're going to need them later.