Retrospection & Reflection

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In 2008, I was listening to a song that inspired me to write a novel. Writing wasn’t new to me, I had been writing since I was 14 years old, but writing a full novel and then attempting to publish it was a foreign concept to me at that point. eReaders were gaining popularity, and although I had my eye on a fat publishing contract with a Big 5 publisher (just the thought of that hubris now makes me laugh till I cry), I figured I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a digital publisher. I wrote Eternity in a frenzy, and without even bothering to write a second draft, I shipped it out to 7 publishers and two agents. I had a healthy attitude about it, I knew I wasn’t going to get acceptance letters from all of them, but I had my bet on Harlequin, at least.

Not surprisingly, I didn’t hear back from the majority. I got a rejection letter from Harlequin and I got an email from Red Rose Publishing. It was not a rejection, it was a revision request. It stated that if I made certain revisions in the next 60 days, then I can resubmit directly to them. So I did. And they excepted Eternity for publication. I was ecstatic! It was a small boutique publisher that did mostly eBooks, but if your book sold enough, it would go to print. I was also told that they didn’t do any promotion, that I had to do it all. Er, what? I didn’t have the foggiest notion how to promote myself. I had *just* finally opened a Facebook page, since I had been using MySpace to keep in touch with friends. How did I go about selling myself or my book? It didn’t matter, I’d figure it out (still haven’t, 11 years later).

RRP had a small editorial department that concentrated mostly on copyedits, even though they called them line edits. At the time, I didn’t really know the difference, I just thought, Hey if my only issue is my love of the comma and run-on sentences (that hasn’t changed, either), then I AM A FANTASTIC WRITER! I think I ended up with 3 drafts of Eternity before it went to publication, and that was probably because I was throwing artistic hissy fits when some editor would come back and tell me I needed to cut something (the only line editing that was done). Ok, I’m being melodramatic. I don’t throw hissy fits. I’m unfailingly polite, but stubborn. I just honestly thought that I knew better for my story than they did. I learned NOTHING from this process…because I was mule-headed stubborn and thought I was the best romance writer since Nora Roberts.

Which brings me to today’s blog post. I, Teresa Federici, AM NOT the best romance writer since Nora Roberts, or any other well-known romance writer. Ten years out from publication, I’ve only sold 200 copies of Eternity. 52 copies of its follow up, Magick. 78 copies of Choices.  It’s not to say they are bad books, it’s just that they aren’t the best they can be. The picture at the top of this blog, if you haven’t already read it, is a rejection letter from Entangled Publishing. Not a super-well-known house, but gaining a steady reputation. Jennifer L. Armentrout is one of their well-known authors, a writer whose work I admire greatly. In that letter, the editor lays out Eternity’s flaws, succinctly and beautifully (I can say that now). I submitted it to them two years ago, but didn’t bother to read the reply once I saw the “Decline” status on Submittable. I didn’t bother because I was wearing a mantle built of such sayings as “Their loss” and “There’s always another publisher”. No, there isn’t. Not unless I change the way I think, write, and edit.

The editor also gave me a wonderful compliment, that I am a strong writer and they were excited about the fresh take of the story. I accept that compliment with humble thanks. I read that rejection letter finally, today actually, and I’ve been pondering on it for hours. Although I love my books, I can see now that they are far from perfect. I did the books, the people who bought the books, and my gift of writing a grave disservice. I need to take not only the words of that rejection letter to heart, but the meaning as well. I’m a strong writer that needs to learn more, pay attention more, seek advice and USE it.

I also need to seek professional help. No, not a therapist, although that’s debatable. I’m talking about freelance editors. I admit it, I’m cheap. I’m a struggling author working a day job that pays my bills, but not much more. I don’t really have the budget to pay an independent editor to edit my books. I was relying on friends. I love my friends who did this for me, but it wasn’t what the books needed. I need to set aside money in order to pay for professional editing services, which will help two-fold: polishing the books to shine, and teach me what I’m doing wrong. I need to understand that the money is an investment in me, in my books, and most importantly, to the readers who DO buy the books so that they get their money’s worth!

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Magick is complete!

Back in 2009, I published my first novel, Eternity. It wasn’t the first one I ever wrote, but it was the first one I had the guts to submit to publishers. A small vanity press picked it up. I was so excited! I had the start of a trilogy and couldn’t wait to get to work on the second and third books. Magick, the second book, was started in late 2009, but life intervened. I had a few very tumultuous years, including a huge issue with my publishing house, and although I visited Magick often, and even wrote the prologue for Solstice, which is book three in the trilogy, I couldn’t devote time to my writing like I wanted to. I finished Magick in 2013  originally, but I rushed it and it was not good. I had two editors and a friend tell me to start over from the mid-point, where my writing obviously had suffered. Lots has happened since then, including me having a crushing case of writers block where I couldn’t write ANYTHING, but with a renewed resolve, I started working on Magick in earnest about two months ago.

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Now, tonight, it’s done. It was a hard birth, painful where Eternity was painless, but well worth it, I think. I have sent it off to my editor, and I think she’ll be pleased. I knew I was back in the groove when the book took me to places all on it’s own, like an old friend guiding me gently by the hand. I had an outline but the book and it’s characters said, “Screw that outline, we’re taking you on a ride” and they did. That’s such a satisfying feeling after being without it for so long. Next step, editing. Then I’m entering Magick into the Amazon Kindle Scout contest to see if I can get a contract with Amazon. It’s not much different than self-publishing through them, except I get an advance and better promotion! Wish me luck, and I’ll keep you posted!

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This is so true…

Progress…

Sent off three chapters today, so that’s exciting 🙂 I admit, this one is going slowly, probably because it’s a transition book. I’ve never written a transition story before, so I haven’t *quite* gotten down the nuances and the flow of it. Plus, I want to make sure that it’s the best that I can write, and not just put out sub-standard fair, which the last manuscript WAS.

I just wanted to drop a line, give ya’ll updates, let you know that I’m still plugging away at Magick! Oh, there is so much more I know I wanted to say, but I totally forgot what it was. Something wise and motivational, but for the life of me, I can’t recall it. Oh, the vagaries of getting older!

 

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Whew!

Bad news- Magick won’t be released on December 17th unless my editor can work miracles. After a month of strep-throat, bronchitis, Thanksgiving, and an upper-respiratory infection that wouldn’t go away (the whole frickin house was sick…), I managed to squeek through the last 10K words on Magick, but it is going to take heavy revisions. I followed that old addage of “it doesn’t matter what you write, just write”. Eh, that’s a double-edged sword. I don’t really like where the story went, but as we all know, characters and flow have a way of taking on a life of their own. I will have to see what my editor says.

walking-dead-internment-zombieWhat my house looked like after a month of illness

Good news- Magick is finished- at least until the red pen comes back. I’m hoping it will only be delayed a month (fingers crossed!). In the meantime, I’m starting to read it today so I can try to anticipate what my editor comes back with and be pro-active! As much as anyone can be pro-active through a Nyquil hangover. Anyway, I digress. I have a month of light work ahead of me, so that’s plenty of time to get Magick polished and off for publishing. Then it’s on to Solstice, Harley and Damien’s story, and that’s going to be a doosie! Stayed tuned for updates! And maybe some little tidbits 🙂

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It all began…(spoilers)

So, I had my vampire, but I needed his mate. What kind of woman would attract a vampire? Quirky ingenue? Brunette bombshell? Nah, not my girl. I wanted a brainy, independent loner who was absorbed by her career. A woman who had no need for male companionship.  A woman consumed by finding an answer.

Gareth was already working on XP in my mind, so I thought to myself that this was the best way to bring them together. Through research. But why was Anna searching so hard for a cure for XP? Because her mother had XP and died from it. And then other tragic things happened. I don’t want to give it all away…

Anna is young, she’s self-sufficient, but she is essentially a hermit. She has no friends, by her own choice, she doesn’t have long-lasting relationships, and she never opens herself up to experiences. She loves the lab, loves the research, and loves the act of discovery, although she has no desire for the spotlight.

She’s pretty much isolated herself, so the thing that breaks her out of that shell had to be pretty amazing. Especially since she wasn’t looking to move out of her comfort zone. To me, only love and instant attraction can burst that bubble!

I hope you enjoy Gareth and Anna’s story, because they are wonderful people to get to know! More on the rest of the trilogy later…

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Buy Eternity by following the link below!

http://amzn.to/12wpQR1

Author Interview with Loren Kleinman!

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Here with me today is Loren Kleinman, a young, American-born poet with roots in New Jersey. Her poetry explores the results of love and loss, and how both themes affect an individual’s internal and external voice.  She has a B.A. in English Literature from Drew University and an M.A. in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Sussex (UK). Her poetry has appeared in literary journals such as Nimrod, Journal of New Jersey Poets, Resurgence (UK), HerCircleEzine and Aesthetica Annual. She was the recipient of the Spire Press Poetry Prize (2003), was a 2000 and 2003 Pushcart Prize nominee, and was a 2003 Nimrod/Pablo Neruda Prize finalist for poetry.

 

In 2003, Spire Press (NYC) published her first collection of poetry Flamenco Sketches, which explored the relationship between love and jazz. Kleinman judged the literary entries for the book Alt-History: New Writing from Brighton published by QueenSpark Books (UK). She was also a contributing editor/writer for the Cancer Dancer by Patricia San Pedro. Kleinman is also a columnist for IndieReader.com (IR) where she interviews NYT bestselling indie authors. Many of those interviews in IR reappeared in USA Today and the Huffington Post.

 

Her second collection of poetry, The Dark Cave Between My Ribs,  is due to release in 2014 (Winter Goose Publishing, 2014). She is also working on a New Adult literary romance novel, This Way to Forever, and a collection of interviews and essays that explore the vibrant community of indie authors (Publisher: IndieReader).

 

Kleinman will be presenting a two-day seminar at Sentences 5: A Conference on Writing Prose at Drew University in July 2013. Kleinman also owns and operates a small, boutique editorial firm, LK Editorial, where she edits poetry, offers social media services, and instructional design consultations.

What motivates you to write?

Connecting with readers, and at the same time connecting with myself. I think that writing is a passage that allows you to explore the relationship between our internal and external wilderness. I love being able to speak a truth, but through someone else’s lips such as in fiction, or be totally irreverent in poetry. Writing just does it for me. It’s my first love. If I had to give it up, it would be like cutting off my arm. I need it.

What are your current and future projects?

Right now I’m trying to add more pieces to my upcoming poetry collection, The Dark Cave Between My Ribs, which will be published by Winter Goose Publishing for 2014. I’m also working on a collection of essays and interviews with IndieReader.com for 2014. I’m hoping to publish my New Adult romance novel with Swift Ink by 2014 too, but if not expect it by 2015.

What authors/poets have influenced you?

This question always stumps me because there are just so many! Ok, let’s see if we can do this thing: Sylvia Plath, Francisco Goldman, Franz Wright, David Foster Wallace, John Green lately, Shakespeare, H.D., Langston Hughes, Sonia Sanchez. So many more (so many).

Describe a typical day for you:

Get up at 7, breakfast (fruit shake), full time job, and home by 6, workout, dinner, and writing for at least two hours. Repeat cycle. I’m pretty regimented. I have to be because I have to get my writing in, regardless if it’s 2 words or 2,000. I’m committed to completing my projects. And don’t get me wrong, I have fun doing it, but if I don’t write then I can get my work out there. And that’s so important to me. If you’re not writing then you’re not a writer.

If you didn’t write, what else would you do, and why?

Probably wander around aimlessly in some city, completely lost, waiting for writing to find me again. I couldn’t imagine that, not writing.  I think it’s been discovered as part of the genetic make-up, this writing gene (I think).

Where does your inspiration come from?

Everything and anything. The world is full of inspiration. I mean, let’s face it, sometimes I get burnt out and recognizing the inspiration is difficult. So that’s when I step back and take a break. Breaks are good. I think breaks facilitate the discovery of fresh and new things to write about. I always tell writers, it’

Your favorite authors? Poets?

My favorite poet, Franz Wright. I read Walking to Martha’s Vineyard, every week. I let other books in to. But I can’t help but to completely lose myself in that book, and I’m always finding new images.

How do you see yourself?

I always have difficulty with questions like these. I see myself as a writer first, and a person second. I’m very dedicated to my work, but I’m also dedicated to love in the sense that I love my family despite all of our baggage and faults, I love my friends and accept them for who they are. I try to practice love every day whether it’s loving myself, my work, or the fabulous people in my life. I see myself happy. It’s taken a long time, and sometimes I take a step backwards, but I’m only human.

What part of writing do you love? Hate?

Writing something and then looking back and saying, shit, I really screwed that up. But I also find solace in revision. It’s the part where the real work happens, but also allows you to discover your work in new ways. The discovery is important. Some people say the original draft is where it’s at, and I agree, but I also learn more from the exploration of revision.

Do you have any advice for new authors/poets?

Don’t EVER get discouraged. It’s just resistance. Don’t fall into that trap that “you’re crap,” too. Trust yourself, trust your voice, and trust the process. If you’re going to write, you’re going to have a tough hide, and not everyone is right. It took me seven years to hunker down and revise my recent collection, and when I finally got it to 90% at least 20 publishing houses and even more journals rejected me. I even got back a long letter from a publisher telling me not only that my work sucked by why it sucked. Seriously. It was at least 15 pp of why I suck at writing. I wrote back, “Thank you for your review. I appreciate your time.” Brush it off. “Next,” I tell myself. Remember, publishers take on poetry not for profit, but because they fall in love with the manuscript. It’s a labor of love. Just trust your own voice. No one ever did anything great by drawing inside the lines. At least, no one worth reading. Just sayin’.

Thanks for being here today Loren, and I wish you great success with your work!

You can find more about Loren and her work by visiting her on the interwebs!

Web: www.lorenkleinman.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorenKleinman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lorenkleinman1?ref=hl

Tumblr: http://lorenkleinman.tumblr.com/

Google +: https://plus.google.com/115052977008173883600/posts

Listen to her Poetry: http://lorenkleinman.com/listen-to-my-poetry/