GOOD NEWS: I’m up to bat (but still need to hit the homer)

(And you’ll hear the Homer going, “D’oh!!!”)

Okay, world, it’s time to spew the ol’ guts again.

A few minutes ago I got another phone call from the 212 area code. *ring ring ring Bananaphone*

It was Kensington editor Kate Duffy. She took my three chapters home and read them last night. She started out by apologizing for taking over a year to fulfill the promise to critique that they made in the charity auction, and I kept saying that I was just glad they’d made time to do it. I knew from the tentative way that she began the conversation that she wasn’t in love with the book, but that is useful information. She was quiet for a moment, so I said, “I appreciate the opportunity to get pro feedback. The only feedback I can get is from critique partners, and they’re unpublished.”

“And they’re not doing you any favors.” (She knows how to take the opening *GRIN*) “They should be telling you that this kind of novel won’t fly. I kept reading on and the talent is obvious, but it’s wasted. I hate to see that.”

She said that chick lit is dead, and that I could take that to the bank and post it on the ChickLit forum or whatever, because it’s true. She also said that LR has the chick lit voice and no plot. “You have a great character and voice, but readers need to think this is going somewhere so they can be pulled along by the plot. In other words, this could have made a good literary novel in years past, but today it’s not something that I can make money with, and I have to make money because that’s our job.”

I appreciated her candor. I told her that she had a version that was over a year old, and that I had moved the scenes around to get the overt action going sooner. She still felt that there was too little plot motion and that the market wouldn’t go for a book like this from an unknown. If your name is Grisham and you’ve already established a reader base with several best-sellers, you can put out a book about a little boy riding on the back of a turnip truck, but until then, odds are against you.

I told her that this book just wouldn’t take a plot, so I had abandoned it for the most part about a year ago and had moved on. (We already know that there’s no way to put an overt A->B->C plot thread into this one.) She was cheered by this news. “In fact,” I went on, “that book was a departure for me. My other books start out with action and are more plot-driven. I have a romantic comedy and a couple of mysteries that start out with the action. How would I go about querying you with one of them–if you’re open to the idea?”

“Tell you what. I feel guilty right now,” she said, “for making you wait. So let’s do this. Get together the best thing you’ve ever done, the greatest thing you can do right now, and polish it up. And then call me or call my assistant, and let us know it’s on the way, and drop it into the mail. We’ll wait for it and read it right away. But make it the best thing I’ve ever seen.”

She gave me her phone number, her assistant’s name and phone number, and the assurance that she’d read what I sent right away. (!!!) Repeat: *call* an editor . . . *send* the stuff. . . .

Now, to those of you who are not in publishing, this may not seem like that unusual an offer. Let me assure you (and I know that several of my regular cohorts here will second this) that THIS IS UNBELIEVABLY UNUSUAL. To be offered a chance to send your partial directly to the HEAD EDITOR of several lines, and told that they want you to call and they’ll watch for it and read it right away . . . this is unheard-of. Usually, you have to get past agents and get an agent excited about you and get past first readers, etc., etc. I repeat, it’s very rare to hear this kind of offer.

Of course I said that I would send my romantic comedy.

She said, again, “Don’t rush it, though. Run through it again and be sure it’s perfect. Because I will only feel guilty once.”

What does this mean to you, my beloved readers? Well . . . it means that I need some volunteers to read the first three chapters of this PunditShow romantic comedy, and fairly soon, and read it critically. I think it is the best thing I have (because she doesn’t do mysteries, and so I need something like one of her authors would publish). My mother said she’d read it, and I know someone else who probably will, but hey, I probably need to pay someone to read this. Because . . . it’s an actual chance.

I wasn’t really even disappointed, or truly surprised, to hear that she wasn’t interested in _Little Rituals_. I suspect that it’s a literary novel in sheep’s clothing, and that it’s not the kind of book that a majority of today’s readers would stick with as commercial fiction. It is what it is. It won’t be changed into what it ain’t, and I’ve tried.

But hey, this is the factory–we’ll make more. That’s the idea. I had already moved on. This is an unexpected opportunity made out of the failure of the other opportunity.

(Even though my mother rejoiced, yelling, “Now you can forget about that book silliness and get to work on this house!” She got the wrong baby at the hospital. Rather, she *raised* me one way and then decided she wanted something different, and it doesn’t work like that.)

Also, in the e-mail this morning was a missive from the producers of that new game show. Now they want a videotape of me talking about myself and why I would be good for the show–lasting about three minutes–and they want me to mail it to them within five days. We don’t have a camcorder (my mother-in-law just before she died gave us hers to use, but hubby couldn’t run fast enough to hand it back to sister-in-law because he said it wasn’t willed to him in the will.) Hubby says none of his friends have camcorders. This is a pretty transparent lie, but it means he doesn’t feel cozy enough with any of them to ask them to help out with this, or he doesn’t want to have to reciprocate when they want to borrow his double frammis. I’m sure that you COULD use a cellphone camera or a webcam or something to make a poor-quality video, but that won’t impress them. You have to do something that stands out and has a chance to rise to the top. Doesn’t what I just described with the novel (a fish that isn’t allowed to swim with today’s winning fish) illustrate how pointless it is to send something that won’t have a chance? Must ponder this. Don’t want to buy one and use it and then return it, as I think that would damage my karma. If my karma is finally healing a little, let’s not do anything to tip the scales back the other way. Maybe I can rent one.

As I may have mentioned, Mercury retrograde is actually fixing me up. It is silencing whatever static I have lived under for so many years. This window only opens for a short time, so I must work fast. (Could it be that the Chinese New Year is the year of the boar again, and that’s like my birth year? Are the planet Mongo and the new one, Xena or whatever they called it, having a little nookie in my house of accomplishments? Something’s going on. Magick’s afoot.)

But first, on to a LITTLE bit of real-world de-junking so the family won’t squawk when I get down to being absorbed in the polishing of that partial.


Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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