Posts Tagged ‘publication process’

Productive Waiting

Monday, February 13th, 2017

I jokingly posted on Twitter yesterday that so much of writing is waiting, so someone should teach a class on Productive Waiting. I got enough “likes” that I assume my post touched a chord, so today I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on how to be productive while waiting.

This topic is big for me right now, because I’ve got a novel out on submission. Every time the phone rings or an email pops up in my inbox, my heart goes into overdrive. It would be tempting just to sit all day, staring at my phone, waiting to hear news from my agent, but if I did that, I’d go insane.

The key to enduring an agonizing wait is to find ways to distract yourself. The stock advice once you’ve finished a writing project is to start the next book, but what if you don’t yet have a new book in the pipeline? There are other things you can do to assure that your waiting time is productive.

Here are some things I do while I’m waiting:

1. Take a break. Yes, it’s counter to the traditional wisdom of “butt in chair,” but sometimes after the completion of a major project, your mind – and body- need a rest. This is the time to fill the well: go someplace you’ve never visited, spend time with friends you’ve neglected, indulge in some much-needed self-care.

2. Connect. Write a blog post or comment on other writer’s blogs. Post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and interact with others on your social media site of choice. Participate in a writing-related online chat.

3. Write for fun. Put “product” aside and focus on process. Find a writing prompt online (I particularly enjoy the daily prompts at or in a craft book. Let yourself go and see what happens.

4. Brainstorm ideas. If you don’t have your next book mapped out, this is a good time to start collecting ideas. Give your imagination free reign. Use newspaper headlines, overheard conversations, or your responses to writing prompts (see above) to inspire you. Try resurrecting an old idea and combining it with a new idea to create something surprising.

5. Read. Prime your pump by reading. Read craft books, books in your genre, books outside your genre. Read poetry, read newspapers and magazines, read blogs.

6. Research. Pick a topic that interests you and research it. Start online, but move on to the library and then to hands-on experiences. You never know: your research might show up in your next book.

These are just a few of the ways that you can make your wait time productive, even if you’re not ready to start your next book. I’d love to chat longer, but I hear my phone ringing….

What do you do to distract yourself while you wait?

End of an Era

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

For those of you who have been following my writing career – or lack thereof –  I’ll soon have news for you. I can’t tell you exactly what’s happening yet, but know that it’s something that I’ve hoped for and worked toward for the past three and a half years. It will be cause for celebration, but it will also mean I’ll have to get my butt in gear and GET BACK TO WORK!

Not that I haven’t been working. I’ve just finished the second draft of a novel, and I’ve done multiple rewrites of another one. I’ve written guest blog posts, done critiques, and even toyed with my steamy romance novella. But I’ve been doing all that at a leisurely pace, on my own time.

Now that I’ll soon be plunging back in to the world of deadlines and pressure to produce, I’m thinking of these last final weeks of writerly freedom as the end of an era. I’ve missed the excitement of publishing, but I will always be grateful that I had these few years to explore, play, and fall in love with writing all over again.

I’m grateful that, during this time, I’ve developed some habits that should serve me well when I return to a more hectic pace. I have a writing schedule, and I stick to it, letting nothing short of a true emergency get in the way. I set goals and complete them, even though no one is looking over my shoulder, urging me to get things done. And I hold myself to the highest standards, not declaring a piece of writing finished until I feel that it is absolutely the best I know how to make it.

Now that my writing practice has become such an important part of me that I can’t imagine life without it, I look forward to the next chapter with a little anxiety, a lot of excitement, and the readiness to roll up my sleeves and go for it!


How do you know when no is “no”?

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

I’ve been submitting my latest YA manuscript to agents. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in the submissions game, and things have changed since then. It used to be that, even if the agent hated your work, she would send you a form rejection letter (which later became a form rejection email). We writers hated those things. They were so impersonal, and they gave you no feedback that you could use to improve your writing.

These days, it would be heaven to see a form rejection – or a rejection of any kind – in my inbox. (Actually, what I’d REALLY love to see is an acceptance letter, but that’s beside the point.) At least with a form rejection you had closure. But now that so many agents simply don’t respond if they’re not interested, you’re left wondering whether your submission got lost in the shuffle or the agent simply hasn’t had time to read it or if it’s really, truly a “no.”

I’m not going to rant, here, and my object is not to blame. I know agents are busy. I understand that their inboxes are overflowing and that they read on nights and weekends, struggling to stay on top of the workload. They’re simply doing what they have to do to survive, and I respect that. The question is, how do writers adjust to this new reality?

I always seem to use dating and relationships as metaphors for the writing and publishing process, and I’m going to do it again. You know when you go out on a first date with a guy that you seem to have a lot in common with, and you sense some sparks? You don’t want to be that girl who checks your phone every few minutes the next day to see if he’s texted or called, but you do. A day goes by, and then another, and you tell yourself that he’s busy, or maybe he’s just giving you a little space. A week goes by, and he still hasn’t contacted you, and the slowly truth dawns: this relationship you thought had so much potential isn’t going to happen. But somewhere in the back of your mind, you can’t help holding out hope.

I was always one of those girls who politely waited, who hung on until the last flicker of hope died out. But the new world of publishing demands a different mindset. Agents have adopted the no-response protocol as a way to preserve their time, energy, and sanity; I’ve decided that I have to put my own needs front and center, too. In order to achieve my goal of finding representation, I have to keep dating, keep putting my work out there. If a particular agent hasn’t responded within a reasonable amount of time, I need to cross her off my list and move on.

That’s not to say that I won’t keep a secret candle burning for that special connection I thought I’d sensed, for that dream of a call out of the blue eight months or even a year down the road.

But I won’t count on it.

How do you deal with the “no response means no” policy? How has it impacted you?

Writing Resolutions for 2014

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions. I know from my experience as a Pilates instructor that promises to lose 10 pounds by January 31st or to, more vaguely, “get in shape” are all too easily derailed. This year, though, I came up with these writing resolutions, some specific, some global, that I hope will help make 2014 a productive and creative year.

1. I will stay positive, hopeful, and optimistic about my future work getting published. The fact that my agent, the fabulous Chris Richman of Upstart Crow Literary, left the business this spring made 2013 a tough year for me. But I’m determined to keep forging ahead and hoping for great things in the future.

2. I will continue to identify myself as an author. Since I haven’t published a book since 2011, I sometimes feel like I no longer belong in the “Published Authors’ Club.” But then I remind myself that I now have 8 published works out there, not including magazine stories and articles and website content. I think that earns me a lifetime membership!

3. l will remain open to alternative ways of bringing my work to readers. There’s no denying it: the publishing world is changing. What does that mean for me? I’m not sure, but I’m going to stay open to the new models that are being created.

4. I will be open to trying different genres of writing. For the past few years I’ve focused exclusively on writing YA novels. I want to continue with that, but I’ve also recently finished the first draft of a romance novella. Who knows what other kinds of works might surface this year?

5. I will be open to trying new writing processes. My modified NaNoWriMo experiment this November opened my eyes to the fact that maybe slow and methodical isn’t the only way to write. I plan to try lots of different writing methods and techniques in the coming year.

6. I will revise Novel #3 and resubmit to at least 12 agents. See Resolution #1 above.

7. I will revise my romance novella with the potential goal of self-publishing it as an e-book. See Resolutions #3 and #4 above.

8. I will read through my first draft of Novel #4 and decide whether it’s worth revising. This is the novel I completed at top speed during November. I think it’s a mess, but now that I’ve put it aside for a month, I’m willing to take a look and see if there are any gems hidden in the swamp.

9. I will be on the lookout for ideas for novel #5. I always like to stay a step ahead of myself. That way, if a prospective agent asks me, “What are you planning to write next?” I’ll have an answer.

10. I will remain joyfully committed to my writing practice. ‘Nuff said.

What are your writing resolutions for 2014?


True perseverance

Monday, August 26th, 2013

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to persevere. I think that writers are encouraged to see perseverance as a linear thing, kind of like climbing to the top of a mountain. We’re constantly told that if you attend workshops, join critique groups, practice your craft, suffer through a series of rejections, attend conferences, practice some more, submit and get rejected a few more times, that finally, finally, you will arrive at the top of the mountain. You will be a published author.

View from Stan's Overlook on Rattlesnake Mountain, near North Bend, WA

View from Stan’s Overlook on Rattlesnake Mountain, near North Bend, WA

No one talks much about what will happen after that. It’s just assumed that from there you’ll go on to conquer a series of peaks: your second book, your third, maybe even a movie deal. That persevering won’t just earn you a single published book, but a writing career.

But I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes you do everything you were supposed to, and you make it to the top of the mountain, but then something happens. Maybe there’s a freak snowstorm or an equipment malfunction, or maybe you simply lose your way. Somehow, you slide back down that mountain and end up in the same valley where you started, facing the long, hard climb all over again.

I now know that this when true perseverance begins. It takes more fortitude than most people have to make the ascent once, but facing it a second time? That, my friends, is not for the faint-hearted.

As you’ve probably guessed, as well as gleaned from my earlier posts, this is the situation in which I currently find myself. And one thing this whole experience has taught me is that it’s not how you feel that counts, it’s what you do. Do I sometimes feel like it’s hopeless and I should just give up? You bet. Do I sometimes just want to forget that I ever started on this writing journey in the first place? Absolutely.

But here’s what I do: I stick to my writing schedule. At the appointed time, I power up my laptop, open up my latest document, and write. Even when it’s hard, even when it seems pointless. I post on my Facebook author page, and I keep up with my social media connections. I do this partly just to keep myself from falling apart, but mostly because no matter where I am on the journey, I’m still a writer. And writers write.

And someday, I know, I’m going to make it back to the top of that mountain.