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Just got word today that Cure magazine will include an essay I wrote in its Fall issue. I had submitted this piece to them back in February and after the requisite six weeks of waiting, I rechecked their guidelines and read those dreaded words, “Due to the large number of submissions we receive, we only reply to those we are interested in publishing.” Ah, silence is the new rejection. How dissatisfying to not even get a “We regret to inform you . . .” letter. So I wrote it off, assuming they weren’t interested, thinking, “Darn, that was a good one, too.”

And then a call came in today from Dallas and it was the editor-at-large saying she wanted to use my “wonderful” piece in their next issue. And actually pay me for it. (Not exactly a windfall, mind you, but it still feels good.) Not sure this magazine actually “hits the stands” as it’s focused entirely on cancer and I’ve only ever seen it in the hospital waiting rooms, but I’ll let you know when it appears.

Speaking of, another essay I told you about a few months ago was supposed to be published in the Summer issue of Caring Today magazine, but their website hasn’t been updated in ages and I haven’t heard anything from them. Funny because I already got paid for that one. Oh well.

And of course, there’s that pesky little issue of securing a literary agent. As you know, my first 16 pages are sitting with Kelly Corrigan’s agent in Los Angeles, who said four weeks ago that I was a “strong writer” and she would request more pages in up to four weeks. Now I realize that she does not have my name and contact info highlighted in her datebook, (**Don’t forget to contact Krissy by June 10!!**) so I’m just sitting tight on this one. She has lots of clients who obviously take precedence over me and I think I’ll wait a few more weeks before contacting Kelly to see what to do next. I have definitely placed all my eggs in one basket with this one and have not bothered to submit to anyone else since this opportunity arose. I am instead adding the latest round to the book so it’s ready when asked for.  Here’s a great story about how The Middle Place came to be, which makes me smile, gives me hope, and keeps me sitting on my hands.

I try not to complain too much. Really, I do. I complain to Mark and to my parents but aside from that, I really don’t complain too much. Especially, you know, considering . . . .

But I am so frustrated and discouraged by the “industry” right now that I need to vent. There seems to have been an “American Idolization” of the book publishing world. Just like in music — there was a time when all that mattered was whether you were good or not. If you had a great voice or a unique talent, that’d be enough. Now you need the looks and the big personality, the online presence and the ability to market yourself — the whole package (or you at least need to be willing to be madeover).

The book world is the same way. You can’t just have written a great book, you need connections, a platform, an online following. You need thousands of people checking your blog each day in order to prove your worth to an agent, in order to sell yourself to a publisher. Nobody is taking risks these days on some unknown, no matter how good their writing. Sarah Palin got a seven figure advance on her book. This for a woman who can’t string ten words together into a grammatically correct sentence? Oh, but she’ll sell books alright.

I love to write. I am happy to write articles in order to get my name “out there” (as long as it’s my actual words that are printed). And I’m happy to blog. I craft many more blog updates in my mind than I ever have time to post. I “write” while I’m running and swimming and laying down to sleep at night. Especially running — I’d surely benefit from some kind of a bluetooth ear-and-mouth-piece I could wear to record my thoughts because as soon as I get home, after having drafted the perfect opening lines for my query letter or a beautiful description of a life and death moment, I’m bombarded with kids needing me or a babysitter needing to be paid and shuttled home or a shower needing to be taken so I can head to some meeting. Those perfectly crafted words and phrases are left behind me in a trail around Cleveland Heights like Hansel’s bread crumbs.

So the writing I love. It’s the other stuff I could do without. Last night, I spent a good two hours reading about how to drive traffic to my blog (pathetic!). Of course, there was some brilliant advice about posting high quality content, keeping your audience interested, being consistent with your updates so people will return (really?). But then there was all this other advice about listing yourself in online blog directories (which I did) and leaving comments on other people’s blogs so their readers will track back to you (which I do) and making business cards with your blog info on them (which I’m embarassed to say I have). But it all seems so obvious, so blatant and a little obnoxious. I just want to write. 

Ah, I’m whining. (Gee, wonder where I could have picked that up? There is very little whining in my house. And only about the most important matters, like whether mommy cut the oozing cheese off one’s sandwich or whether one’s pant legs cover just enough of one’s sneakers or whether one has just the right squiggly straw for drinking one’s milk.) But I am frustrated. Every time I rewrite my query letter and send it out, I feel a great swell of hope. This will be the one. This person will actually get to my pages and read them and want more. But it doesn’t seem to happen.  Now I must admit I’ve only sent out nine queries in all these months and many writers send out tens or hundreds before landing an agent, but I was waiting until after the writers’ conference to see what new things I learned and then there was that little, oh, recurrence to deal with and then I wanted my DF article to be published so I could mention it (even though I’m now leaving it out).

Alright, enough of this. Time to find that well of strength and determination inside me. Time to RISE!  (I’m poking fun at myself, folks.) Tomorrow I will post two versions of my query letter here for you guys to read and comment on. I feel a little nervous about doing this but I guess if they’re not ready to show to you, then they’re surely not ready to be mailed to an agent. Maybe group think will help.

Onward and upward . . .

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