Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Partially Rejected~Tales from the Ledge

Well, I wasn't expecting to be back here so soon. Another rainy Tuesday in the City of Brotherly love. Yes, another one. I am beginning to wonder if my episodes on the ledge have some kind of cosmic connection to the weather.

Any who. I got a partial request some months back, as some of you may recall. Then those dang contest results came in, some rejections, and a critique. I withdrew my submission and I re-worked my MS. The agent was extremely gracious and kind. I re-submitted believing my MS the best it could be.

Time had since passed and no word from the very lovely agent. I worked even further on my story. Went to the NJRW conference, got business cards, worked on pitches, you know the deal.

In the back of my mind this partial nagged at me. My bat-senses told me she was prolly going to pass. The submission I gave in was already outdated. I'd changed the opening again. Nothing major but enough, IMO. I have submissions from the Conference I am waiting on, so I am hopeful.

This past weekend my laptop went on the fritz. I was forced to live without it literally attached to my lap. The hubby said it was nice to have me back in the real world. And it was. Sunday comes and we dive into our ritual- Boardwalk Empire and Dexter.

Homicidal Bliss I tell ya!

My phone beeps. DOH! I get email on there. Instinct has me checking it. My breath holds. It's the email from her, the partial.

I look up at the TV. Things aren't boding well for Steve Buscemi on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Somebody tried to whack him! Ugh. Not good.

An ironic sense of foreboding anyone?

Email open. No turning back now.  

And its the I regret I have to pass email. But it's the why that has me reserving a spot on the ledge right then and there. Dang, I should have waited until Dexter was on to open this! At least there'd be some sense of redemption or hope! (Yes, Dexter gives hope. Homicidal but hope nonetheless.)

She said it was really an enjoyable read but not a fresh enough premise. That's partially good right? Enjoyable but unsellable?????

But wait, all the other guys have said the opposite. The premise really intrigued while my execution lacked. I'll give them an execution...breathe, Charli. Sorry. Back to my rant.

Yeah, yeah, the business is subjective-yada- but I am really at a loss. I want to make my story marketable. I do. But what is marketable?

I commiserate with JAWS and we check out the NYT Bestsellers lists. Lots of action packed thrillers on there. I noted a Nora Roberts, a Nicky Sparks, historical fiction and some literary.

Yeah, I guess a family saga about love and loss on the Jersey Shore isn't so marketable. If you look at the NYT list.

But in my head, of course, I think my premise is fresh. The Jersey Shore is a hot location right now. It's a culturally diverse cast of characters. Yeah, it's about childhood sweethearts finding each other. Not new at all. But my main characters find each other as both their marriages have ended and she is preggers. There's lots of family drama in the mix. In my head I haven't seen anything like this recently. Hmmm, but, we are talking about being in my head. Not exactly a standard of normalcy.
I stew over where my MS keeps ending up. Above, in cyber trash. And in my head all I hear is Oscar the Grouch laughing at me, and sing songing how tasty my heap of garbage is. "Oh I love your trash!" Stupid PBS. Whatever.
I'm going to keep believing in my story and even think about that second WIP. Either way, I am stuck with these characters. The next MS is the second book in the series.

I wait to hear back from the other submissions I have out there. I am not going to jump the gun and tweak my story yet again. Not until I get more feedback anyway. Besides, I got JAWS to deal with.


  1. Hey, Charli. Sorry about the R. With the whole "this business is subjective" thing, you have to keep in mind that is really IS subjective. So while for one agent, the premise isn't unique enough, that doesn't mean it isn't for everyone. Clearly, if the other rejections you've gotten have cited execution problems but loved the premise, then I think that you have to ignore this rejection. Pretend it doesn't exist. You can't go and change something to suit this one agent.

    As to whether you should work on the 2nd in the series, I'd caution you against that. I won't say absolutely don't do it, no matter what. But I've learned the hard way that if you've got a series and the first doesn't sell, you may have wasted a lot of time and effort writing the 2nd, 3rd, etc. in the series. Choose another idea, something unrelated to your first MS, and go with it. It may be the foot in the door towards selling your first and then the series. You never know. But whatever you decide to do, you should definitely be writing something while you're doing the whole query and wait thing.

  2. Hang in there, Charli, there is always tomorrow. Blah, blah blah, LOL, Easier said than done, I know, but I think Catherine offered some good sound advice ... Love ya, girlie!!!

  3. Thanks Sheri!

    Catherine, hope all is well with you! Thanks for you insight and pep talk. I know how subjective it is, I do. It's all this conflicting feedback that gives me heartburn. When you want to strengthen your story, how do you proceed? I won't change my MS based on one opinion. If some more come in, we shall see. I'm not ready to give up on her yet.

    The series...they are all stand alone but connect, obviously. This 2nd one can really be the first. It's taken on a life of its own. My muse is stuck between these two stories. I had no intention to start the 2nd they way I did but at the rate I am going, time-wise, it can be the first.

    Either way, I haven't written anything new in a while. Bad, Charli, bad.

  4. Hey Tammy! Where in the blazes have you been! YOU should be hollerin' at me. You warned me about changing it too much to suit others.

    Where are Noah and Shelly? I miss those characters.

  5. Don't worry about it. Shake if off, work on your next story. You're good enough you're getting requests. That in itself means you're at a certain level.
    Good job!

  6. Aw, C, that stinks. Sorry to hear it. Take a day to wallow and then get back up on the horse.

  7. Charli,

    My thoughts are with you.

    IMHO, Catherine's advice is very sound. Even if books in a series can stand alone, hold off on writing any other books in the series until you have sold the one that you have. Work on another idea. If you sell the one that you have in the series, you'll have time and incentive to whip up a second, but if not, you won't have wasted precious time and energy.

    But that aside, remember it isn't a rejection, but what you do with it, that makes you a success.

    Best, Madeline

  8. that sucks balls charli! ... since i've never had any real rejection in this business, and no real words of wisdom to offer, I'll just say.... You are a ray of sunshine on an otherwise cloud day

  9. D'Ann, yes it was a partial and I am proud of that. Thanks for the reminder.

    Brenda, on the horse already!

    Madeline, totally taking it all in. Stewing over another project. Not easy since this cast of characters has been in my head forever. But I do have something I can dust off...I know it's not a total rejection. The agent did enjoy the read and that made me smile.

    Kris, total ball suckage. Total. Me, sunshine. Aww thanks! :)

  10. As to the connected stand-alones, that's what my first MS was the beginning of. It was intended to be a series of 7. Not until I had 2.5 written, and had exhausted all agent possibilities for #1, did I come to the conclusion that it was pointless to keep writing that series. They were practice. They taught me how to write. They helped me find my voice. I took my best idea for the rest of the series, put entirely new characters in it, and figured out where it would lead. It turned into the MS that helped me to get an agent.

    So the question for you now is how long are you going to keep trying to make that first MS better, or is it time to set it aside and try something different? Is it better to keep finding things to change and revise on that MS? Or is it better to see what other stories you have within you? Only you can answer that question. But I can tell you from personal experience, I tried to "fix" my first MS for almost a year, even while working on the second MS. I don't know that it is fixable. It just isn't strong enough, and it isn't a good representation of me as a writer today. With each MS I've written, my writing has improved by leaps and bounds. I'm sure all the effort you've put into perfecting your first MS will pay off in the next one you write.

    But you have to write the next one.

  11. Catherine, I am waiting to hear back on the submissions. Right now I am helping my crit partner with her BETA. While reading that I may toy with the 2nd in the series. I am giving myself until spring with them.

    Thanks for the advice and for sharing your personal journey. How about being a guest blogger to tell us all about it???

  12. I'm popping in from hiatus to comment, so I'm not really here...I'm just *sort* of here. And I'm going to give what will likely amount to bad advice, but nonetheless, here it is:

    Write what demands to be written. Period. Don't...don't...don't worry about what's selling...don't worry about marketability. Why? Because really good writing precedes itself and is unaware of its influence (in connection to time). Trends and the industry change so often and so rapidly, that you cannot base your career on them. Your foundation as a writer, in my opinion, is what your career will ultimately be built on anyway. There are all sorts of formulas, tips, tricks, insider-sure-to-get-you-a-publisher bits of advice, but in the end, the only sustainable thing...is you.

    I've read, more than a few places, really good solid advice about time management that involves shelving books. I've listened to fantastic talks on how to kick-start a career as an author. All of it is sound. All of it makes perfect business sense.

    All of it makes my insides feel like those last few noodles at the bottom of a Cup-o-Ramen. Soggy, dispairing, and bloated. OK, maybe not the bloated part, but you get my drift. There's no passion in it.

    I know, I know...my god is she waxing poetic here? No, but I'm saying that being caught in the snare of success and its pursuit can, and has, fowled many a writer's creativity.

    Bottom line: Write the story that demands, DEMANDS, to be written, regardless of how others respond to it, how agents reject or accept it, or how the market will view it, because the story itself is ALL that matters in the end.

    If it doesn't demand anything of you, if it truly is practice, then by all means, shelve the series and move on. But, I suspect, that this is not the case and that this story has you by the hypothetical balls. I think you've been viewing the work as "broken" because of the rejections you've gotten on it. Chances are, your first instincts with the narrative were dead on.

    I've been there. I just washed the shirt. So, there's my bit of unsolicited advice. :)

  13. Thanks for that advice! I have been stewing over all the changes I've made to my first few chaps of late and I agree. I jumped and changed and it's never fully sat right with me. It is the story, this story that got me writing. I am not giving up yet. Nope. Not at all.

    Helping AJ, waiting for submission responses to come in, then I will re-evaluate the changes. :)

  14. Ouch, the R! It's sooooo painful. *hugs*

    I stopped querying 10 months ago because I was SO sick of it. I learned a lot about myself and about how to improve my skills in the meantime. Then I "won" an agent critique. Got another "r." (I use lower case b/c she wasn't really requesting anything, it was something I won in a contest, lol!) But I still got the "r." Even after ALL THAT WORK!!!!

    Devastating. I wanted to quit.

    BUT, a super duper awesome writer friend (and agented soon to be published author) offered to read my pages. She had good feedback for me. She kept me from trashing the whole writing thing.

    Long story short: I deleted the MS (my 6th one, my BESTEST one yet), but I didn't quit. I figured out the NEXT piece I needed to work on--plot. So I'm rewriting. Same characters, same world, same positives, but I'm adding the next layer.

    Each time I get somewhere, I see I have another mountain to traverse. But something keeps me going.

    Something keeps YOU going too. Hang on to that. ;)

  15. Breanne's advice is sound, and what I've been telling you. All the advice out there does nothing but take us away from time that ought to be spent writing. There is nothing broken about your tale, lass. It simply hasn't founds its hole yet!

  16. "It simply hasn't found its hole yet!"

    Hee hee hee. That's what HE said! ROTFLMAO!

  17. LB, you know what I am talking about! How courageous of you to shelve and start again.

    Lots keep me going, especially fellow aspiring writers! Thanks for commenting. :)