Sunday, December 1, 2013

Time Stops (and The Elation of Submission Success)


Ever since I started my pursuit as a writer almost three years ago, I've been told "no" almost as much as when I was a little kid, begging for unwarranted toys or candy in a store.

Of course, it never comes across so bluntly as a simple En-Oh. It's usually something along the lines of "Thank you for sharing this with us, but unfortunately we don't believe your story is quite right for us..." Either it's something like that, or in many cases, there's no response at all. But however it's said (or not said), it all still means "No".

Now, I understand agencies and publishers aren't out to dash my dreams. I know they're extremely busy and can't respond to everything personally. I also haven't been in this game very long, and haven't been rejected nearly as much many of my other fellow aspiring authors. But simply put, being told "no", time after time, sucks.

But then someone says "yes"...

A few months ago, while I was waiting to hear back from an agency regarding my revised manuscript for Sons of Sludge (which ended up resulting in another "no") I was at a loss for how I should proceed in the meantime. I've always heard people encouraging writers to never stop writing, but I wasn't quite sure about what to write. My wife suggested that I work on some short stories while I passed the time, and the product of this endeavor was two short tales about teenagers with reject superpowers.

After I finished the first one, Time Stops, I sent it to a handful of literary journals, not expecting much more to come from it, other than the standard rejections I was so used to receiving. And while I did receive some, one particular website sent an email that had never before graced my eyes. They actually said yes. I'd just lost my submission acceptance virginity. And it felt good.

Lunch Ticket, an online literary journal from the MFA community of Antioch University Los Angeles, will be featuring Time Stops in their December issue, which can be viewed HERE. I hope you enjoy it!

And what of my other writing endeavours? While I rejoice in this small victory, my work in the world of literature (or whatever you deem my stories as) is far from over. I've submitted my other short story, The Taxidermist's Daughter, to some journals, hoping to start a winning streak after this isolated incident. I've also sent revised queries for Sons of Sludge to some agents. If nothing comes from that, there's an online novel contest next year that might prove interesting. But whatever the case, this isn't the last you will hear from Josiah Upton, the Amateur Writing Bandit!

And to all my friends and family, thank you for your support. Many of you have expressed enjoyment in my writing in the past, and now having a complete stranger say it's worthy to be read by other complete strangers only affirms your sentiments. I hope to never disappoint you!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Hello Again

Yes, I'm still alive!

Sorry for the enormous break in updates, folks, but I assure you, I have been keeping busy... by waiting. Lots and lots of waiting. Let me give you the skinny on what's been going on the past 6 months:

As you may recall, my last post described the despondency of getting rejected by an opportunity that felt like a sure thing. What I neglected to tell you, however, was that the rejecting literacy agency in question did give me glimmer of hope within said rejection. While they generally liked my original manuscript for Sons of Sludge, they turned it down because of issues they had with it's ending, but expressed interest in seeing it again, in the event that I revised it.

And so that's what I did. I took a few months to revise the manuscript, changing the ending to what I thought might assuage the agent's concerns, and resubmitted it to them. Then I waited. And waited. Surely they would end up offering me representation, right? After all the work I put in, just for them?

Well, they didn't. For whatever reason (because they really didn't give me a specific reason), they said "no" again. And this time, that glimmer of hope was AWOL in the rejection. The door is now completely shut. It's extremely aggravating, putting that much time and energy into a dead-end, but I guess that's just the way the industry works. I knew that - more or less - going into this.

And it wasn't a complete loss. I believe my revised manuscript is better than the original, and it has now taken the place as the official copy.

But now what?

Though I'm not too optimistic, and I dread the process, there's still some options to scrape up from the bottom of the literary agent barrel. I can re-query agents that turned me down before, this time offering the revised manuscript. I know it's a long shot, but it's something.

And I promise you, Sons of Sludge WILL be available to read. I suspect it will be rather soon, too, unless by some miracle an agent responds positively, which would further delay its release (ugh). But either way, just like my Undead protagonist Zaul, this story isn't finished with life yet.

While I was waiting, I also wrote a couple of short stories, for a series I am tentatively calling "16 & Strange". TIME STOPS is about a completely paralyzed boy who can freeze time once a day, and THE TAXIDERMIST'S DAUGHTER is about a girl who can experience the lives of dead animals when she lays her hand on them. I may make these little nuggets available for you to read in the near future, so check back now and then.

Also, Float is once again available for free on Amazon, for today and tomorrow only. If you've never downloaded it, or know somebody else who should, now is the perfect opportunity to support your local independent author achieve his small-scale dreams. And if you REALLY love me, and have already read Float, leave a quick review for it on Amazon. This would help me more than you can imagine.

You'll hear from me soon, friends.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Publication Woes

If only finding representation were as easy for me as for a rapper's hometown.

I know, I know... It's been almost four months since my last post, the biggest gap ever in the now one year history of this blog. I know my readers are few, and somewhere small in the back of their minds, a dying gasp of a whisper itches at them to check for an update. The itch goes unheeded. And, to be honest, I've barely thought about this blog myself. 

There are other things on my mind. Namely, the wretched process that is prying one's way into the publishing world. Hoping their polished turd of a book (or at least it feels that way sometimes) will reach beyond the realm of their friends and family. To one day see their work in print, and not because you paid someone to print it.

The first stage - writing the damn thing - I finished at the end of the year. The month of January was spent editing and polishing the aforementioned turd to the best of my ability, and letting a few family members read it. Only positive things were said.

But all that was the easy part. The next step was to find a literary agent to represent my work to a major publisher. SPOILER ALERT: I haven't.

I sent out a wave of email queries to a number of agencies, expecting either rejections, or nothing at all. But, within the first day of my search, an agent requested my first 50 pages! Needless to say I was quite excited, especially since no such luck was found after querying for months with Float. 

Then, they asked for the full manuscript. I was awestruck. Periodic feedback was very positive, and my tower of hopes kept building higher and higher. It felt like such a sure deal, that in no time negotiations would be made with a big publishing house to get Sons of Sludge on the shelves. I had the chilled bubbly on standby at all times.

But then, my tower of hopes was smeared with the very turd it was built upon, then knocked over into the mud. And more turds. The agency ended up declining my book.

And now I'm back to square one. Actually, square negative one, as I have less agents to query than when I started. It's quite depressing.

I jest when I say Sons of Sludge is a turd. I actually think it is very good, worthy of print and readership and accolades. And, though I am aware of my personal bias, I believe it to be better than some books already in print, even on some best-seller lists. But what good is that if an agent, much less a publishing company, doesn't feel the same way? I know it's all just part of the game, but sometimes playing the game sucks.

But I guess I shouldn't complain too much. I haven't been at it for too long, where other fellow authors having been searching for an agent for years. And, like them, I won't give up. Thanks for hearing me vent, and hopefully, the next time I post, it'll be that good news every budding author dreams of.