Thursday, November 29, 2007

Open Door Dilemma

For those in the writing world, particularly the romance genre, whether your loves scenes are behind closed doors or not means a great deal about how you're perceived as an author. There are certain names we associate with steamy romances, and can expect nothing to be held back when it comes to the bedroom (or boardroom, or pool house, or airplane restroom (which I could never understand seeing as there's barely room for one person to do what they're SUPPOSED to be doing in there, let alone two people having sex)) antics of the characters. Others build up the sexual tension to the point just before the deed then "close the door" and let the reader use her imagination. There are pluses to that, I assure you ; ) Still others are "sweet" and don't have the characters even get to the bedroom door.

OK, so where am I going with this? Well, in my current WIP (which I'd rather not divulge details on at the moment), I have to decide if I want the door open or closed. The question of whether they'll be in the bedroom has already been answered. But just how far do I take it? My other stories are more closed door, and if not closed, less detailed. Not "steamy" scenes, just brought to a simmer. Lately, however, I've been more inclined to have things spelled out.

Am I responding to the current trend of sexier books? Not consciously, I don't think. When romances began showing a lot more skin (I know I'm behind the times here, so bear with me) I got nervous about my stories because I wasn't writing or even considering including more graphic sex. Sure, there was romance, but I always stopped short of the act. I closed the door.

Now? My current characters aren't just inclined to leave the door open but to kick it in, sell tickets, and include certain members of the audience (if you consider the reader as the audience, it isn't a bad thing really). Where the hell did these people come from???? I know, I know. My head. Which, if you want to know the truth, makes me a tad nervous. How long have these folks been lurking there? I'm no prude, and I've read my share of erotic stories, but in the past the idea of WRITING them hasn't been me. Well, I guess it's me now. Or part of me at least.

So do I or don't I? I know it's difficult for anyone but my crit partners who have read the current story to answer that. And chances are they're the only one's who'll read this anyway : ) My head tells me to follow my characters and the needs of the story, but I can go either way, really. And do I want to be this kind of writer? If I can do it well, then I might give it a shot. Maybe this is what I need to put out there to get published. I don't know. But I live in a very small, mostly conservative town (perhaps I need to consider a pseudonym...), and I'd like my mother to be able to read my stories without feeling funny. She's not into the steamier stuff. I don't think....Um, Mom? Never mind, I don't really want to know.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Acknowledge and Move On

Dear Fellow Aspiring Writers;

Thanks for taking a break from the head-against-wall banging to visit. As someone in the same unpublished boat, I can completely understand your frustration at trying to get your work out there. I've been at this for more than a few years, longer than some and not as long as others, but believe me when I say I get where you're coming from in regards to submitting and the responses received.

It's the responses to responses I'm going to address here. You know what I mean. Whether we get the Five Minute Rejection (Did you even read my email???), the Eight Month or More Wait That May Be a Good Thing But is Finally a Rejection, or the No Response Assume It's a Rejection Rejection, I beseech you, F.A.W., to not--let me repeat that--NOT respond to the editor or agent to whom you submitted.

It's very unprofessional and makes you look bad. Agents and editors are in the business of requesting books they think will sell. They understand you've put blood, sweat and tears into your baby, but so have a gazillion others. As frustrating as a form rejection is, as unhelpful as you may see it (I know what you're thinking: "If they'd only tell me WHY the story didn't work, I could fix it!" It's not that simple and most in the publishing business don't have time to explain why their gut says no.), this is the way the writing life usually works. Deal with it. Rant to your friends, your dog, your teddy bear, or what have you, but don't fire off an angry email or letter calling the agent/editor names or questioning his judgement or parentage. Just don't.

I'll admit, I've responded to the rejection on a full manuscript with a "thanks for the advice" note ONLY when the person I submitted to sent me a decently long letter telling my why she ultimately rejected it. I didn't rant about how she was wrong, or beg her to reconsider if I promised to revise to her liking. No. I merely said I appreciated the detail of her reasons and acknowledged that few in her position were kind enough to take the time to do so. I wasn't being a kiss-ass, I was sincere. Also, I figure if I ever want to resubmit another project at a later date, I'd rather be remembered as the writer who wrote a short note than the one who went off the deep end.

Why am I so passionate about this? No, not to put myself on the good side of agents and editors (it's not like gobs of them will be seeing this), but for my own selfish reasons. You see, I'm almost always in a state of waiting for a response on some project or another, and one agent has plainly stated that they will not respond to equeries (my preferred method these days) because of the number of negative responses they've gotten in the past. So, if you submit to this agent, they only respond if they are going to request a partial or full. I can't blame this person--no one wants to open their inbox to a bunch of whiny responses to rejections--but now I have to wonder if this agent is rejecting my work or merely taking a while to respond. And everyone KNOWS how WELL writers take waiting.

It's oh, so frustrating for those of us who are mature enough to take the blows, dust ourselves off and get back up and write, to have to suffer the consequences of a writer or two or a dozen who just can't take "no" for what it is. It's not personal, people, it's business. Acknowledge (in your own private, personal world, not to the rejecter) and move on to the next person on your submission list, or on to your next project. Threaten to quit. I think about doing just that when too many downs hit me all at once.

It's not an easy thing, this writer's life, and the rest of us would appreciate it if you didn't make it any harder.

Thanks. Now get back to work.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Spam Spam Spam Spam

I love spam.

The canned kind is a guilty pleasure I rarely allow myself to have. Fried up with a couple of eggs on toast and topped with ketchup, it reminds me of my dad, who loved the stuff. What beats the artery-clogging goodness of fried eggs and pork product? Nothing, I tell you.

But it's the other kind of spam, the stuff I find in my email inbox, that I'm talking about today.

I love that kind of spam too, but for a different reason. It makes me chuckle. Most of my email is received at a Yahoo! address. Yahoo! is pretty good about filtering, so most spam is sent to my bulk folder and easily deleted. In fact, I receive very little spam at my Yahoo! address, and am grateful. And just because I say I love it doesn't mean I want more of it. Really. I get enough as it is, thank you very much.

The gobs of spam that land in my website inbox cracks me up. How, in the name of all that's good and right in the world, would ANYONE think responding to these solicitations was a good idea? And what lists have I ended up on? Let me assure you, I never open the emails that are sent, but merely reading the subject lines is enough to see my life is woefully lacking.

If I were to answer the spam I get, I'd have the latest software and pharmaceutical products at incredibly low prices, a personal loan at the best possible rate available on the planet, the ability to purchase medication to enlarge my pen!s (yes, the ! to replace the "i" is common, to fool the filters, I assume) (I have yet to receive spam telling me how I, a female, can get my own pen!s, but I'm sure that's just a matter of time) so my women will be happy with the hours upon hours (huh?!?!?!? ever hear of chaffing, people?) of sex we could have. And if I don't have my own woman, there are apparently scores of girls waiting on certain sites for me to choose from.

Lucky, lucky me.

Like the canned spam, computer-generated spam can clog things up. Annoying? Yes. Heart-burn inducing? Sometimes. But if you're careful, it's not going to kill you.

Hey, is it lunchtime yet?