All Was Quiet on the Home Front

December 23, 2014 at 12:02 pm (The Snowy Barrens trilogy, writing) (, , , , , , )

xmas5How many times have you sent a question out into the universe and actually expected to get an answer? Usually such questions are more an act of despair, not really anticipating a response. But then sometimes life will surprise you.

I hadn’t written anything in over a week, and I did not submit the last three stories I had considered submitting. Why? This year has been a struggle to maintain motivation. I had failed to make any of the progress I had been hoping for and suffered some serious setbacks. My publisher’s managing editor had encountered some delightful success with his own writing (go him!) and his financial manager spouse had met some serious family troubles that left her wanting to cut back on her workload (my sympathies), so they decided to focus on his work and release the majority of their authors.

My novels are now all in limbo, with the exception of my Snowy Barrens Trilogy. Most are just sitting on the shelf. Two are still with my old publisher but I’m expecting them to come down eventually. The others are mostly unavailable, many of them waiting on a release in writing, and a couple of them sitting with a Canadian publisher for review (they have been there for about a year.) It feels like everything has just stalled out. And it is not very encouraging.

I did have a few short story acceptances this year, but the pickings were slim. One of my stories also got picked up for a theatrical reading for Halloween, a new one for me. But mostly, I was looking at a handful of stories put on hold and then turned down by pro-rate venues (I did appreciate the “maybe”s and the feedback I did get was useful) and a big bag full o’ rejections. My creative process is fueled by feedback, preferably positive, and this year I was facing a drought.
To top it all off, I had failed at my new year’s resolution. My aspiration to get a pro-rate sale this year died with the rejection letter this month from the last pro-rate venue that still had one of my stories on hold – the one I considered my best shot. I was starting to believe the universe was trying to tell me something because my hard work seemed to be yielding little in the way of returns. There’s a saying in accounting about throwing good money after bad. The same thought could be applied to effort, especially when you find yourself moving backwards. Was all of this worth my time?

It doesn’t help that I’m not very good at marketing myself. I try, but I’m not a natural salesperson. I lack the gift of schmooze. That can make or break you in the publishing industry.

I figured I’d step back from writing until I had shaken this off. Either I’d come back to it fresh and ready to start writing just for fun again, or I’d move on to something else. I stopped blogging, wrote my last couple of short stories for a spell, and threw the question out there into the cosmos. “Is this worth it? Give me a sign?”

I’ve lived my life as sort of a cosmic joke, and this situation proved no different, because the cosmos’s answer got filtered right into my e-mail junk folder twelve days before my chance to succeed at my resolution would come to an end. Call it what you want – the powers that be…fate…coincidence or just dumb luck. Call it a good thing that I check my junk mail folder on a regular basis. Anyway, rather than finding my first pro rate sale, it found me.

There it was, mixed in with the spam about pills that could improve the size of my manhood and princes from Nigeria needing help to access their inheritance: an e-mail from a big publisher wanting to buy one of my stories, and a reprint at that.  I hadn’t even submitted anything to them.

I answered back right away. The e-mail had already been sitting there for three days. The going price they were offering was pro rate. So now it is just a matter of settling out the contract and providing them with the extra bits they need for promotional purposes (photo, bio, etc.).

If any of you were wondering why my blog had gone quiet, now you know. It won’t be quiet anyxmas1 longer. Right now I want to sing (and do a series of happy dances.) I’ll have a Christmas treat for you coming up and some links to share.

Happy holidays, and I hope you have your own reasons to happy dance as well.

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