What does it mean for an author to be on submission? In a word, angst. Being "on submission" means your agent has pitched your manuscript to editors at publishing houses. As the author, literally the only thing you have to do is wait. And you know what? It's balls. I have no idea when I will get an offer. It could be tomorrow, next month, or next year. I get updates from my agent about rejections, so toward the end of the month, if I haven't heard anything, I know it's only going to be bad news. Meanwhile, a bunch of super big-name publishing houses have my MS in their hands, and I'm sitting here imagining them reading it, and freaking out. Did they read it already? Did they reject it already? Is it still in a pile to be read? Submissions is both better and worse than querying. Querying, when you're soliciting agents to represent you, is generally a first foray into the professional world. At that point, you have no idea if what you've written

Writing is Hard

If you ever feel frustrated with your writing, like everything is horrible and your book is stupid and everything you write is bad, allow me to leave you with a little tidbit. Everyone feels this way sometimes (or all the time). A friend mentioned to me, "I just wrote the worst line ever written in fiction." To which I replied, "No, you didn't." That very day, I had edited a chapter that, in the first draft, I got so frustrated I ended it thusly: “It’s all right,” she whispered. She hugged her arms around him, and the chilling tingle of her touch was an unexpected comfort. He hugged her back. And then everyone died, the end.

Old Sci-Fi Movie Drinking Game

Science fiction has been pushing the boundaries of human imagination for over a hundred years, always presenting us with "what if?" and "imagine!" Even when our scientific awareness of the universe could barely tell up from down, writers toyed with what technology might be able to do and what life on other planets might mean. While this is wonderful and commendable, it's also, a lot of the time, hilarious. The golden age of science fiction produced a lot of very silly movies. They were ahead of their time, but looking back, cinematography has advanced as much as scientific knowledge. Once upon a time, my husband and I gathered a few classic movies, including Forbidden Planet and The Day The Earth Stood Still. They proved so wonderfully, lovably ridiculous, thus was born the Old Sci-Fi Movie Drinking Game. Here are the rules. Drink when you see... Random shots of the space ship Blatant sexism, including but not limited to: girl gets hysterical; girl is u

Why does it always take so much longer than I expect?

If you noticed the dearth of blog posts through July, I can offer my explanation. Namely, I went underground, avoided literally everything, and tried to finish a book. And for more than four weeks in a row, I was absolutely certain, "I'll finish it this week !" It mystifies me how these things take so much longer than intended. Near the end of June, I had about 80% of the novel rewritten for a major revision, and just ("just") needed to tie together the climax. This involved two converging POVs and 5 major character arcs, but I had a plan, I swear! I typed out my plan and it seemed sound. Then every day, I'd get a few thousand words farther and realize, wait, that plan doesn't work. So I'd spend a day sorting out a new plan. Inch forward, and throw it out the next day. Repeat. Something very frustrating about writing full-time is that it doesn't bend to my will the way my previously academic career would. In school, lectures took a certain

Recent Reads: American Gods

I finally read American Gods. It's oft talked about, referenced, and used as an example, and it was high time I got my butt through those 465 pages of pure Neil Gaiman bizarro genius. Mostly, when people discuss this book, they sit strongly on one side of the fence or the other: they love it or they hate it. I hate how often and sweepingly that you-love-it-or-you-hate-it statement is made, but in this case, it's so true, I really mean it. In the beginning, I was pretty skeptical--it's weird, it's slow, it's confusing. But with the whole novel under my belt now, I can firmly say I'm in the "love it" camp. It's still definitely freaking weird. But when has anything written by Neil Gaiman not been freaking weird? It's weird in a completely brilliant way. I was also worried about the pacing; critics complain how it's a meander without plot, and I generally hate that kind of book. I was afraid with my tiny, commercial-genre-fiction attention

People Not Taking Writing Seriously, Part 2: Non-writers

I'm very fortunate that the non-writers in my life take me and my work seriously (for the most part). Many are not so lucky. If you have a writer friend, here are some gentle reminders... Writing is hard work. - I don't know why writing isn't given the same respect as say, practicing to be a concert pianist or a gourmet chef, but it does require just as much practice, training, understanding of theory, and hours of hard work. It's not as simple as sitting down and transcribing your thoughts onto the page. It's a complicated craft, and a single sentence can represent years of studying theory and wordsmithing. We need community, critique, lots of books to read, and if possible, events and mentors IRL. If you know someone who is working on a novel, respect how much time and dedication it requires. Writing takes a long time. - Similarly, but a slightly different point: a novel takes a long time to write, especially if it's your first. Practiced writers take mo