The Tarnished Ring

It came in the night, sneaking into my mail box like a virus trying to convince me it was really a cute video of a dolphin–and since I know dolphins are all a bunch of thrill-kill rapists, I won’t ever look at that mail . . . but I had to look at this one.

It was a message from Harper Voyager.

I knew what it was going to say the moment I saw it in my inbox.  There was nothing in the title that made me believe I was going to find a pot of gold inside.  So rather than play the guessing game, I opened it–and within was the rejection.  They’d read my novel, or at least looked it over, and decided it didn’t feel right for the Harper Voyager list, so thank you for the submission, and wish you well on your career.

As I told the two people I know the best right after I received this good news, I’d expected this.  Forty-five thousand manuscripts shows up in the HY inbox, and they were choosing a dozen, or perhaps a little more, so the odds of getting that brass ring were incredibly high.  I didn’t get it, so the world has come to an end–right?

The hell with that noise.

George Clooney is quoted as saying, “The only failure is not to try,” and that’s all the truth you need to know.  I wrote, I edited, I polished, and I sent the damn thing in.  It came back with a big “X” on the sucker, but it was marked.  The try was there, and Yoda can eat a flaming bag of cat poop for all I care, because o say you either do it or don’t is bullshit.  You have to go for it, to take a chance, and if you don’t, then nothing was accomplished.  You ain’t gonna win every time, and it does no good to bitch about how hard it is to, you know, write these damn things, and then clean them up and send them out.

So, the story is still mine; I don’t have to worry about an editor going, “Okay, there’s way too much lesbian stuff going on in this story, can you do something about that?” and throwing out an answer along the lines of, “I’m thinking orgy.”  No, it’s up to me to decide where Her Demonic Majesty is going, so I should start with the deciding, right?

What’s next then?  First comes the ebook formatting.  Then comes the cover–one that, I hope, does not land me on Bad Romances Tumblr, home of Objectified Scotsman Thursdays!  This means I want something that doesn’t suck, got it?  Once that’s all done, then up to Smashwords to take it place alongside the forced dragon breeding porn, then over to Amazon and get it uploaded for the Kindle.  Then promote, and do the interview things on different blogs, then I don’t know what, followed by profit!

Really, though:  that’s the plan.  Finish Suggestive Amusements, then get Her Demonic Majesty ready for self publication.  After that’s finished, then get Replacements ready for self publication as well, because why not have two stories up and ready to go?  And then . . .

You only win if you try.

Ninety Days Hath September

It’s time, more or less.  If my calculations are correct, ninety-six days have passed since I submitted my novel, Her Demonic Majesty, to The Great Harper Voyager Cattlecall.  Every day I have scanned my inbox looking for an email from Harper Voyager, sending me congratulations that out of all the submissions fired off in the first twelve days of October, mine was worthy of publication.

Alas, no such thing happen.  It is safe to say that my novel has not been among the lucky to make the cut—

That doesn’t make it, or me, a failure.

Allow me to explain.

Writing seems to be a lot of “doing”.  If you want to make a story, you have to do the writing.  If you want to finish the story, you have to keep doing the writing, day after day.  If you want to get it published, you have to do the editing, and do the submission package.  If you want to self publish, you gotta do the cover, and you gotta do the special editing that ebooks need, and you gotta do the upload and get it out on all the different ebook sellers.

It’s a lot of doing.

This is something that people who have already played this game, the writing game, know.  They’ve been here, they’d happily danced in the moonlight, and they’ve shuffled their feet through fallen leaves of disappointment.  They understand this game, they know the insides and outs . . .

If there is one thing they know, it’s that you are not a failure if you are trying to make your goals become real.  If you are hard honing your skills, developing your craft, then you are not the failure people will make you out as—and trust me, they will.

I’ve one rejection; I’ve may have another (what is this?  Read on . . .).  Both are for the same novel.  Does this make me a failure?

Are you kidding?

See, I’ve done my work.  I’ve went from A to Z, and filled in all the points between.  I’m put my package together, and I’ve sent it off with my fingers crossed.  I’ve done of the “dos”, and someone looked at it and gave it thumbs down—

But they looked at it.

The harsh truth is, there are a lot of people sitting on various Facebook groups going on about finding people to sprint with so they can get their five hundred or seven hundred, or even a thousand words in for the night, and then they’re off doing whatever the hell else it is they’re doing.  And a year later they’ll sitting around bitching about how no one realizes what a great writer they are, and if they could find someone to sprint with, they could finish this novel they’ve been working on for the last year . . .

That’s failure.  That’s someone waiting for opportunity to not only knock, but to escort them to the limo and drive them to the salon for a mani-pedi and hair styling before taking them shopping for the dress they’re going to wear to their book signing.

It’s all fantasy fulfillment, thinking that if the right person sees their novel, they’re going to be The Next Big Thing.

About a week ago I posted a quote by Dwayne Johnson.  Say what you will about him, but the guy pretty made himself after coming very close to hitting bottom.  There was another quote I saw attributed to him, one that I will say many people I know should take to heart.  It’s simple in its pronouncement:


Hey, stop saying, “I Wish”, and start saying, “I Will”.


Wishing works in many an interest story:  I know, I’ve written a few.  But in real life there are no jinn who are going to make your life easy.  There are no magic coins to give you what you want.  You wanna publish, you need to stop wishing and start willing.

There is a quick update here, however.  Apparently Harper Voyager had so many things sent in that they discovered it was going to be impossible for them to get notifications to everyone by 15 January.  In fact, they’re saying they’ll actually send out rejections, instead of not saying anything, which is what they’d said a while back.

This means there is still hope.  This means it’s still possible Her Demonic Majesty may be picked up.  It’s a real possibility.

The only thing I know for sure . . . I ain’t a failure.

I leave that for the wishers.



Countdown to Expectancy

Blogging, Blender, Scrivener . . . wait, that’s not right.  If only there were something I could use for my writing, then I’d get the Three B’s alliteration, and I’d have a great start to the day.

That was pretty much my yesterday.  Knocked off my blog posts–which went very well–and then editing Replacements, breezing through the penultimate chapter.  I have one more to edit, then one, maybe two, to write, and that story is a wrap. At least for the first edit.  I’ll give the story a better pass through later, and start looking at what I could do as far as a cover is concerned.  Maybe by that time I’ll have this 3D scene stuff down, and I can start working on covers.

One can only dream.

I was tripping through my author’s page the other day, and saw the milestone I placed there for Her Demonic Majesty.  Novel was submitting for consideration on 9 October, 2012.  It’s now, as I writing this, 16 December, and the time is slowly running out.  Given those thirty-one days in a couple of months, I’ve said that if by the end of 12 January, 2013, I haven’t received a reply from Harper Voyager, I’m not getting one.

Ninety Day Hath Submission; Sorry, Babe, But You Ain’t Winnin’.

You’re not suppose to think these things.  You’re suppose to think that by the end of November you’re going to wake up and find a message in your inbox saying that your novel was one of several that were picked for ebook publication–oh, and congratulations!  That’s what you’re suppose to keep thinking; that this is the time I make the big time.

I have a friend over in Second Life.  She’s a therapist, which I didn’t know until about a year ago.  Here I was in that virtual world all this time, and she’s probably analyzing me the whole time.  Not really, but it’s fun to imagine . . .

Anyway, she’s always on me about going the self-publishing route.  She tells me that the reason I’m so eager to get published by an “established house,” is that I’m looking for recognition from someone who I imagine as being a member of an elite community, and this badge will signify that I have “succeeded”.

To a certain extent, she’s right.

Let us face the fact:  just about anyone can self-publish these days.  Ten years ago stories about daughter-stepfather trysts, college girls addicted to giving their instructors–male or female–oral sex, and women being gang-fucked by werewolves would have ended up on various website catering to those particular interests; these days they end up on Smashwords and/or Amazon.

There’s nothing wrong with any of the above–hey, you should see what my first story sale was–but for some writers, it’s does make them feel as if their accomplishments are rendered small because, when they see their book appear on a list of  recommended reading, their science fiction epic is sharing space with a story about a bored housewife who’s used witchcraft to take over her son’s body because she has a fantasy about impregnating his college-aged girlfriend.

Definitely doesn’t feel the same as finding your novel on the shelf next to William Gibson.

The thing is, we need to step beyond this belief.  The real recognition comes from people who by your stories, and better yet, enjoy them.  Even if Harper Voyager were to pick up my novel, does that mean it’ll sell?  Maybe.  The HV deals indicates they’ll edit and format and put up your ebook, and give it a few shots of publicity.  None of this guaranties sales–it just pats your ego on the head and tells you that, yeah baby, you’re there.

But if a book sees the light of day, and yet is never read, does that mean it was really published?

Talk to me in a few weeks and maybe I’ll have this figured out by then.


Voyages Among the Dreamscapes

It is done.  Her Demonic Majesty went out to Harper Voyager last night, about 8:15 PM.  Now all that remains is the wait.  Harper Voyager states that if you haven’t heard anything after ninety days, then you didn’t get the brass ring.  So, I figure, if nothing has come through by 5 January, 2013, then the novel was not deemed fit for their ebook section.

No matter.  Should that happen, I’ll send it out again–or self publish.  Who can say?  I can.  Ultimately, I decide what happens.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed, though.

With everything that’s happened over the last few weeks, I have suffered from a singular lack of sleep.  Yesterday I took a two-and-a-half hour nap after returning from breakfast.  Last night I went to bed about 11 PM, and didn’t crawl out of bed until a little after eight in the morning.  That’s nine hours of sleep, plus the nap, and that’s more sleep than I’ve had in a long time.

During the night I had some really vivid dreams–vivid enough that it almost felt like they bordered on lucid.  It isn’t often I get that deep into my REM, but last night it actually felt as if I was directing myself in several instances.

It was a bit strange as well, but then, those are my dreams.  If they weren’t strange, they wouldn’t be mine, would they?

First off, I was seeing everything from point of view.  It was as if I was there, and not looking over my shoulder, or seeing this from a third-person perspective.  Second, this was a Cassidy dream.  I know this because ever so often curly red hair would fall into my line of sight, and I’d need to brush it away.  And lastly:  I was a mutant.  I know this because I was told several times I was.  Though I didn’t seem to have any cool X-Men like powers, unless I could do something like throw sparkles and dress like a fashion victim–which would mean my name was Jubilee, not Cassidy.

Everything seemed to take place in a Crapsack World.  Everything exude an air of extended entropy; things were shabby and run down.  Everyday items looked as if they were makeshift and ready to fall apart.  Trash was in the streets, and every building looked run down.  All we needed were hookers on every corner and constant rain, and the environment would have been complete.

For some reason I was looking for an item for someone.  I found what I was looking for:  a TARDIS model.  Seriously.  That constituted a huge part of the dream.  I went from building to building searching for a present, and that present happened to be a TARDIS model.  I finally found one among a very cluttered dump that reminded me of an antique store where I once worked.  The model wasn’t that great, either, but I found it, and I took it–without paying, I believe.  Hard to say.

One last thing:  I ran into someone who told me that everyone in the world, save mutants, had disappeared for thirty days, and we now had the run of the joint.  Also, I needed to spend those thirty days finding my soul mate.  Yep, not only was the world reduced to a million or so mutants, but my soul mate was out there, and I needed to find them.

I know where some of that was coming from–an idea I have for a story.  Not to go into details, but it’s one I’ve thought about off and on for a few weeks, and I’m wondering what to do with it–besides write.  I’ll get around to that eventually.  For now, it’s just an idea.

As for the soul mate . . . well, one can never tell, right?  I might turn a corner and find them tomorrow.

Or they could already be here–


Quick Time on the Slow

Today is the day I start getting serious.  Today it the day I get my package together for Harper Voyager.  It’ll be a little scary, but not daunting.

If anything, it’s going to be interesting, because it’s going to be a bit like a race at Darlington.

Allow me to explain:

Darlington Raceway is a 1.7 mile track in South Carolina.  At one time it was meant to be a smaller version of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but because someone refused to sell land upon which a minnow pond sat, the track ended up looking a big egg.  The original raceway was flat, though there was embankments along the turns which were meant to prevent drivers from crashing if they entered a turn too fast.  It wasn’t long before someone figures out that if they drove on the embankments, they could go faster than the people on the flat turns, and it wasn’t long before the embankments became the turns.

Darlington has a reputation for tearing up cars.  The surface is rough, and eats away tires quickly.  The turns are very narrow, and they don’t allow for mistakes.  Cars tend to slide a great deal in the turns, which is a lot of fun when you’re going 140 mph.  And the moment you lose concentration, you’re up in the wall.

The was one driver who used to have a great deal of success at Darlington.  His advice, which he passed along to other drivers, was this:  “In order to go fast here, you have to slow down.”  His logic was this:  most drivers will find the quickest speed through a turn, then hammer the accelerator on the straits, then brake and find the quickest speed through the next turn.  And so on.  This is hard on a car:  it wears down the brakes, because you have to drop thirty to forty mile per hour going into the turns, then get that back on the straights.

But there was another way.  Slow down, find a comfortable speed for both the straights and the turns, use the slower speed to hug the bottom of the turn–which is the quickest way around–and keep doing that.  Less wear and tear on the car and driver, because did I mention this was a five hundred mile race?  And that an average lap was about forty seconds?  Do the math:  you’re in a hot car, on a track named, “The Lady in Black,” and you can only win if you’re in one piece at the end.

So day is a matter of finding the rhythm to get through what I need to do.  Story over seventy thousand words?  Check.  Favorite scene?  Got that, check.  Short synopsis?  Sorta got one, so check.  Published before?  Check.  Query letter?  Have part of one, just need to look over a few sites for more tips, and polish it up.  Check.

Convert novel to Word or RTF format?  Easy to do in Scrivener.  Check.

Novel ready to go?  You know it.

I won’t rush today.  I’ll take my time, look everything over, and get it all together today.  I might not hit that submit button until late in the afternoon, or even the evening, but I will click that sucker.

Find the right speed, and hang on.

A lot of times, that’s all you need to get to the checker flag in one piece.

Coda on the Coda

We have come to the point where there is nothing left but to wrap up my package, and send it off with best wishes.

About 9:15 PM last night, I made the last change to Her Demonic Majesty.  I saved the manuscript, then copied it off to my external hard drive where I keep a whole lot of things.  I was finished, done, complete.  The novel is in about as good a form as it’s ever going to get, and now comes the fun part.

Tonight I’ll get into the Harper Voyager site and look at their submission requirements, then begin the process of putting my package together.  I could even do that today at lunch, just to get an idea about what to collect after I have dinner.

But I think, tonight, the package will be together.  Maybe it’ll even go out tonight.  One will need to watch my author’s page on Facebook to see that.  Or just wait until tomorrow here, and I’ll talk about how it feels to click a button, knowing your hopes and dreams are riding on that one on-click event.  (That’s programmer talk, in case you were wondering.)

I mentioned to someone last night that this edit really showed me the importance of doing a few pass-throughs on a story.  I’d found things wrong the first couple of times through, but this time I really read the story; saw the words and listened to the story.  I actually read it this time, and saw where things didn’t make sense, or sounded clumsy.  I caught very few spelling mistakes; maybe a couple of dozen in all.  I found one instance where I found a comma instead of a period.  I also discovered maybe eight instances where I’d used the same word twice in a row.

Now it’s all behind me . . . there is nothing but hope ahead.

As we get deeper into the Witching Month, I’ll have more time to work on my four-part Halloween story (approved by witches, like the one to the right, everywhere), and finally get around to setting up my NaNo Novel.  I thought on it a little yesterday, and I realized I need to change locals.  Not that it’s a problem; in fact, I think it’ll fit in well if I write the story so that it’s open enough that I could do another with the same characters later.

Get through November, and then . . . then is the good question.

Do I go back to editing, and get a few more stories ready to go out?  Or do I start on something new, something that I can get out there quickly.  I’m already considering taking one of my works and going the self-publishing route once more, just to see if I can generate some interest.

Ah, so many decisions.  So many things I could do, but which is the right one?

As one of my characters is fond of saying, “A vision of the future is nothing more than that:  a vision.  It may happen, it may not.  What you must realize, though, is you have no way of knowing if your actions will take you towards that vision, or move you away.  You can never know the journey; you can only see a possible destination.”

I see the destinations.  I only need to make the journey.

Half Way Up the Pole

That long race to the end of the Harper Voyager finish feels like it’s almost there–but not quite.

This weekend was, in terms of writing, very long.  Did a lot of editing; a lot of editing.  Only six chapters in Her Demonic Majesty were put under my watchful eye, but when we look at the total wordage, we’re talking about twenty-four thousand words.

That is some cranking, my friends.

I’m half-way through the novel.  Most the of short chapters are out of the way, and there are some monsters left.  I’ve got one that’s about eighty-four hundred words, and that’s going to take most of whatever free time I have to get it into shape.

So even though I’m half-way finished, I have to place my work on the novel in the context of real life, and the time I have to do this work.

Today and Friday are “travel days,” which is to say, “I go from my home to The Undisclosed Location, so I can drag my ass off to work, the come back home when it’s over.”  Friday I’ll have a little time to do some editing, but tonight–probably not. It really just depends if I can find any time today.  Or tonight.

Not like I gotta sleep, right?  Not that I do anyway . . .

I need some time to put the submission package together, which should happen Sunday, but I’m finding that I’ll need to start working on my next story for the Storytime blog.  Four weeks starts 1 October, and I need to make the first chapter sing.  Or mumble the words if nothing else.

I’ve yet to begin my research for NaNoWriMo.  I keep saying I’m going to do it, and yet . . . nothing yet, folks.  As I did last year, I’ll probably start throwing the Scrivener project together about the second week of October, and jam, jam, jam.

Even though I’m half way to the end, my expectation that I’m going to wake up on 1 October, walk over to the computer, and kick off my package first thing that morning, is wishful thinking at best.  Between travel, work, and writing, I’m likely going to have to let the timetable slip just a bit.  Maybe a day or two, but it’s still a bit.

I know:  I have until the 14th to get it off.  I don’t want to be one of the last, I want to be in the first wave.  I want to get whatever news is coming to me as soon as possible.

The edits are good.  I’m getting a good feel during this reading, and I don’t feel like the novel is a piece of crap.  I’ve fixed what needed to be fixed, but the plot is good.  It’s all in the mechanics at the moment.

There is a lot of work ahead of me.  Don’t worry; I’ll get it.  I be a writin’ fool, you know, and I’m gonna make this chance a good one.  My odds of getting picked are as good as anyone else, and if it’s meant to be, it will.

In the mean time . . . damn, I need to do some writing, don’t I?

Scaling the Walls of the Chocolate Factory

I thought last night was going to be a complete bust for writing.  I thought I was going to crash and burn, or at the least sink into my comfy chair and doze off.

How wrong was I.

Maybe it was the pot of coffee I had at lunch that finally woke me up, but I had a light dinner, one where I had to hydrate before eating, and after an hour, I fired up Scrivener, pulled up Her Demonic Majesty, and got to work.

I read the first chapter, really read it this time.  It was good, but I found an error right off the bat.  And then another.  And a few more.  It wasn’t that it was bad, but when I found a few errors, I wondered if that was why the story was rejected.  Come off looking like an idiot in the first couple of paragraphs, you don’t give the editor a reason to go on.

Chapter One was about 3,300 words, and I probably re-edited a dozen lines, removed words that made no sense, and felt pretty good when I got to the end.  But it was only 8:30, and to quit now would be the same as saying, “I don’t really care.”  I have twenty-four chapters to edit, some small, some big, some very big.  The plan is to finish by the 26 September, then put my package together, and have it ready to submit Monday morning, 1 October.

It’s my plan, and it’s a good one.  Tonight I’ll get Chapters Two and Three out of the way, then worry about Five, Six, and Seven tomorrow.  Scrivener gives me the ability to jump around chapters, so maybe Thursday I’ll get a few of the smaller ones–the ones that are less than two thousand words–out of the way, so Saturday and Sunday I can work on a few of the bigger ones.

It’s a plan, and it’s going to be a very fast moving.  I might not finish until next Saturday, but I’ll get this sucker polished and looking very pretty.  And get my package together . . . and hope for the best.

I’ve already stated that this is a very big deal.  There are more than a few writers scrambling their butts off to dust off an old manuscript, start marking the hell out of it, writing up new material, and basically working their butts off to get something they feel is going to give them a chance at a golden ticket to the Publishing Factory–where, we hope, some crazy guy isn’t going to take us on a boat ride consisting of nightmare fuel.

It’s sort of like Mini NaNoWriMo, with lots and lots of words getting written, only this time there’s an eye on polish and keeping things coherent.  Not a lot of time to write, edit, look again, polish . . . at best, you have a month before the gates slam shut for another decade.

Me . . . I’m good with my plan.  I’m gonna be busy, but I’m in a doable window.  It will happen.  I can get over the wall, and be one of the first to fling their story at Harper Voyager.

Then I wait.  And write.

And keep looking for that golden ticket.