Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"Wild Onions" in Referential Magazine

Hey, folks. Just a quick note to say, check out the Spring 2016 edition of Referential Magazine. Among other fine pieces, it includes my poem, "Wild Onions."

Friday, March 18, 2016

Find the Humor: A Guest Post by Memoirist Pamela Jane

As always, I'm pleased to host guest authors. Pamela Jane has written this guest post as part of a blog tour to promote her new memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story. She is also the author of over twenty-five children's books. Like all writers, she has more than a passing familiarity with the dreaded rejection letter.   

Find the Humor: A New and Winning Perspective on Rejection
by Pamela Jane

There is nothing fun or funny about being rejected. It’s mean and hurtful. But, as writers, we often glimpse the irony or absurdity in a rejection, like the time I had twelve picture book manuscripts rejected in one hour, by telephone. That's an average of one rejection every five minutes-- an all-time record! Pretty soon we find we’re writing a funny stories about being rejected which helps us get back on our feet, and keep writing.

Following are a few lighthearted rejection stories to keep you writing in spite of rejections – and one indispensable piece of advice.

Children’s author Elvira Woodruff writes, “I remember one rejection I got had me so depressed I felt so unlucky at that moment that I threw up my hands and swore I would never write again. I will get a job at McDonald's, I told myself, before I would write another sentence. Then I calmed down and thought about the waitress jobs I'd had in the past and realized that if I worked at McDonalds there would be so many opportunities for good characters I'd meet to write about, but I'd be too tired at the end of a shift to do any writing. I also realized how fat I'd be smelling those French fries and not being able to resist them. After the drama of dealing with a fresh rejection you do calm down and that's when you accept that you are writer, whether an editor thinks your stuff is any good or not. I also think when you show up to your rejected manuscript in the hopes of reworking it to sell it, you should give yourself a little reward. I have been working on a rejected manuscript all week. I think some French fries are in order.”

Mary-Kate Mackey, author of the upcoming book Write Better Right Now (Career Press), points out, “For freelancers, at least you get rejected in your jammies. I came from Hollywood where you could spend half a day preparing and getting to an audition and the only word you hear is, ‘Next!’”

On a more serious note, Mary-Kate advises, “When you get rejected at one level, don't go lower. Aim higher. When I started out as a garden writer, I queried my local newspaper. They laughed at me and told me they had garden writers all over the ground. So I queried a regional, Sunset, the Magazine of Western Living. They gave me my first job. And I went on to write for them for years.”  

I’ve discovered the truth of Mary-Kate’s advice for myself. When I was trying to break into children’s publishing, a famous writing teacher commented on a Christmas story I had written about a doll who wants to be in The Nutcracker ballet. 

“If you want to get published,” she said, “don’t write fantasy, don’t write seasonal books, and for heaven’s sake, don’t write about dolls!” 

Because of her advice I decided to send my manuscript to an obscure publisher who might not realize that seasonal doll fantasies were unmarketable. 

“Don’t be silly,” my friend, Debbie, told me. “Send you story to a major publisher first.”  

I did, but only to prove she was wrong. As it turned out, I was wrong, and Houghton Mifflin published my first book, Noelle of the Nutcracker, illustrated by Jan Brett. 

I have a section in my children’s website on “funniest rejections.” My favorite funny rejection came from my daughter, who was five at the time. She walked into my office holding a piece of paper. “Look, Mommy, I can read!” she said proudly. “Dear Pamela,” she began, sounding out the words, “I am sorry to say I cannot evaluate any new manuscripts for the next six months.”  

However you decide to make sense of rejection, the most important thing is to keep your manuscripts out. Remember rejections are just paving stones leading to an acceptance waiting for you just around the corner.

About Pamela Jane

Pamela Jane has published over twenty-five children's books with Houghton Mifflin, Atheneum, Simon & Schuster, Penguin-Putnam, and Harper. Her books include Noelle of the Nutcracker, illustrated by Jan Brett; Little Goblins Ten, illustrated by NY Times best-selling illustrator, Jane Manning; and Little Elfie One (Harper 2015). Pride and Prejudice and Kitties: A Cat Lover's Romp Through Jane Austen's Classic (Skyhorse) was featured in The Wall Street Journal, BBC America, The Huffington Post, The New York Times Sunday Book review, and The Daily Dot, and has just come out in paperback. Pamela Jane has published short stories and essays with The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Antigonish Review, and Literary Mama. Pamela Jane is a writer and editor for womensmemoirs.com

Connect with Pamela
Follow her on Twitter @memoircoaching or @austencats

An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story

It is 1965, the era of love, light—and revolution. While the romantic narrator imagines a bucolic future in an old country house with children running through the dappled sunlight, her husband plots to organize a revolution and fight a guerrilla war in the Catskills.

Their fantasies are on a collision course. 

The clash of visions turns into an inner war of identities when the author embraces radical feminism; she and her husband are comrades in revolution but combatants in marriage; she is a woman warrior who spends her days sewing long silk dresses reminiscent of a Henry James novel. One half of her isn't speaking to the other half.  

And then, just when it seems that things cannot possibly get more explosive, her wilderness cabin burns down and Pamela finds herself left with only the clothes on her back.  

From her vividly evoked existential childhood ("the only way I would know for sure that I existed was if others—lots of others—acknowledged it") to writing her first children's book on a sugar high during a glucose tolerance test, Pamela Jane takes the reader along on a highly entertaining personal, political, and psychological adventure.

Be sure to check out the book's trailer and Pamela Jane's memoir website
Links to Purchase
Open Book Press
Other Works by Pamela Jane
Children's Books
Pride and Prejudice and Kitties

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to leave comments or questions for Pamela below.

If you like this post, be sure to check out my other guest authors. If you're an author interested in doing a guest post or promotion, hit me up: laurenscharhag@gmail.com.