Monthly Archives: June 2013

Worthy of Rejection

Last week, I received another rejection letter, only this one was different from the others. This was the infamous praise-rejection. It read something like this: “Dear Kendra, I really enjoyed your MS. I especially liked your character and world-building. But this publishing house hasn’t had much success with this type of MS in the past, so we’re going to have to pass.”

I’ve collected a lot of these over the years, but I was really happy when I read this one. You see, there is a hierarchy of rejection letters, and an author has to climb through the ranks as they advance in their craft. First is the form rejection every writer becomes familiar with, the one that says: “Thank you for your submission. We do not feel it is right for us at this time.” Apparently, at this point, you don’t even warrant an original composition. If you get this one, consider it a badge of honor – you are a writer worthy of rejection – but don’t dwell on it. Keep writing, keep revising, and keep submitting.

Then there is the critique rejection which sounds a little like this: “Hey, I like your premise, but why don’t you try this, this, and this.” Wow, you’re moving up in the world. Don’t take this lightly. It means someone liked your work enough to sit down and write about how to make it better. Congratulations, now you have to decide whether you agree with their critique or not. If you do, go to town on those revisions, wait six months, and then send it again. Be sure to mention you took their advice to heart. There’s nothing wrong with a little pandering.

And that brings us to the praise rejection. Not only have they taken the time to write you a lengthy letter, but they also have a lot to say about it – mostly good things with some critique thrown in. But in the end they just can’t use it. A bit of a bummer but how can you stay upset with all those ringing endorsements just above the “but?”

So I’m feeling pretty good about this one. It means an expert thinks I’m close, and he’s given me a couple things to work on in the meantime.

What do y’all think? Am I missing any other kinds of rejection letters? What do you do when you get them?

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Under the Coffee Table

So, I’ve always said I started writing when I was fourteen because that’s when I started Blue Fire, my mammoth 160,000 word epic/young adult/sword and sorcery fantasy novel/catastrophe. But while going through some boxes after a recent move, I discovered proof that I was an official storyteller long before that.

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Yes, that is my first novel. The Mice in the Toy Factory. Dear God, I wish I was kidding. I wrote this in Singapore when I was ten and some nice librarian helped me put it together and provided lovely plastic binding. Look, it’s even got a copyright. So you can’t steal this masterpiece.

DSC_3336It has some of the classic blunders of a first novel, like starting the story in the wrong place, an overly developed sense of melodrama, bad self-drawn artwork, and excessive lamination. But it also has some redeeming qualities. Even in fifth grade I had a good grasp on complex sentences and story structure. My opinion of what readers should consider funny was a little off, but hey, I was ten.

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Yeah, it should be a coffee table book. It’s the right size, the right amount of shiny. Well, maybe an under the coffee table book. Way under.

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A Table All Our Own

Sir Thomas

Sir Thomas the Hesitant and the Table of Less Valued Knights by Liam Perrin

Usually, I do my own brief synopsis of the book I’m about to review, but I really don’t think I can introduce it better than Liam Perrin did himself. So, here’s a piece of the preface from Sir Thomas the Hesitant and the Table of Less Valued Knights.

“Know that there were three kinds of tables there. The first was the Round Table. King Arthur was companion and lord of this one. The second table was called the Table of Errant Companions, those who went seeking adventure and waited to become companions of the Round Table. Those of the third table were those who never left court and did not go on quests or in search of adventures either because of illness or because they had not enough courage. These knights were called the less valued knights.”

Liam Perrin wrote a guest post over at Bookworm Blues for Sarah’s Special Needs in Strange Worlds series and the premise of his book intrigued me. Knights of lesser value? I am so there. I’ll admit I was hoping Perrin would concentrate more on the illness or the less courageous aspect of these knights. But in the book the less valued knights are placed at their table due to lack of skill or connections, not because of disability or cowardice. So already, I was a little disappointed.

Also, for how fast a read this was, it started slower than a 100 year old Galapagos tortoise. For instance, I’m a completionist, yet I had a hard time getting through the preface, the forward, and the introduction. If you need a preface, a forward, and an introduction before you even get to the first chapter, you’re starting your story in the wrong place. And that’s forgetting that once I got through all three thinly disguised prologues, I still wasn’t interested in the story until page 50. I especially wasn’t a fan of the four pages of backstory about the rock that fell from the bridge Thomas passed on his way to Camelot.

However, everything after page 50 was gold. After page 50, the brief forays into third person omniscient to explain an inanimate object’s feelings actually worked and were a hilarious addition to the story. The Sword of Remarkable Stench was my favorite character in the book, I loved Perrin’s portrayal of Arthur, and the less valued knights might not have been what I was expecting but they were an extraordinarily fun bunch of misfits to get to know.

Also, I fell in love with the idea of a group of knights who were there, not to be flashy or go on quests, but to help Camelot run smoothly. They were there to serve and protect and support. Exactly what a knight should do first and foremost, I think. And I loved the connection Thomas made about Christ being a kind of lesser valued knight, since he taught love and service.

So in the end, I liked it. Perrin made me laugh a lot and that’s a big point in my book. It wasn’t about what I thought it would be about. There were no disabled characters or themes about weakness or injury or heroism. But it was about ordinary people becoming heroes because the day needs saving. And that’s kind of the same thing, isn’t it? Unlikely heroes come from everywhere. I’ll definitely be reading this to my kids someday, though I might skip the three prologues.

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Detour

Today we’re taking a small detour over to Bookworm Blues where I’m a guest author. I loved Sarah’s Special Needs in Strange Worlds series last year and was really excited to see it revisited. She hosted some great new voices this year and some old favorites. Take a stroll back through the month because the whole series is really worth it. And be sure to come back here next week when I’ll be reviewing Sir Thomas the Hesitant and the Table of Less Valued Knights by Liam Perrin, another guest in Sarah’s series.

A Different Kind of Hero

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