Do you know who Blue October is? Of course you do. Hate Me and Into the Ocean are two songs that ought to jog your memory.
But you probably don't know them in the way you might know Brittany Spears. And it's a shame. I think they're probably writing some of the best lyrics of this generation. I'm biased, what can I say =)
But beyond inspiring me to write better, there's a really awesome story behind their success. Yep. I said success. Their songs are chart toppers. They had two hits and then nadda. The record label wanted them to be more commercial but how does one make a hit happen? Add a pop beat and sing about sex or money, or a boat =) So much so that their record label cut them loose. (Talk about rejection. Yikes!)The consensus was Blue October was a sinking ship to be forgotten.
Yet, their CDs continued to sell well and their concerts sold out. At first, the experts said it was a fluke. Blue October kept doing what it does and kept selling out concerts. Eventually, the record label came back, hat in hands, and offered Blue October another contract. While pride might have interfered, the truth is, even when your successful on your own, it's a lot easier with help. Not unlike self-published writers who break out of the pack, Blue October signed with a big name record label.
Blue October is not a household name, but this hasn't affected their success at all. They make a living doing what they love and sharing their life experiences. This what I call, a lesson in awesomeness. Speaking of awesome, this is one inspiring music video. There's another great story behind it too. If your a writer, or painter, or a traveling spoon man, what I want you to take away from this is that success isn't uninform. It var
I recently wrote about the frustrations of too many almosts. Look, I'm writer. That means I'm needy external approval. I know on a rational level I have no cause to feel like I do. I've sold stuff damn it!
But there's been this fear circling. The fear is simple. What if I've peaked? What if I get stuck here?
Almostville is a kind of purgatory watered and firmly planted with doubt. I find myself questioning things like the structural choices I've made with My Father's Heart. (The first draft is finally complete.) Mostly, I'm questioning what I should work on next. This is where an agent would come in real handy. She or he could just tell me what they could sell easiest and I'd work on that. Maybe this is akin to prostitution, but I've never written stories for some higher purpose. I write because I'm compelled to tell stories and, above all else, share them.
A catchy song gets you to buy the CD and you quickly discover songs you like better, songs that never get played on the radio. The same goes for writers. A catchy story introduces people to your body of work. But I'm stuck in Almostville. I know the only way out is to write my fingers to the bone, but part of me, the masochistic part, seems to prefer self-doubt and worry.
Thanks for submitting "The Slave" for our consideration, and for your interest in LORE. While I enjoyed aspects of this tale, we are going to pass on this particular effort -- narrowly. This was good, to be sure. I hope we shall see something more from you in the future. Good luck in your ongoing endeavors.
First, I want to point out I've never posted a rejection online before. I can't say it won't every happen again, but I don't do it for a thousand reason, the biggest one being that this was a private conversation. I have the utmost respect for Rod Heather over at Lore and not just because he sent me this very nice rejection. Lore Magazine is chock full of fantastic fiction that I'd be proud to be part of. There's a reason why I put this here and posted my reviews from Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award. (Vine 1, Vine 2, Reader's Weekly.) Nor is it easy for me to put up my reviews for you to see my warts -- you'll notice I allowed my pride (footnotes in Meathead) to shoot myself in the foot. I'd been told before to delete them. But I ignored that advice and annoyed the reviewer. I'm also embarrsed by the comments about editing as well.
Moving on. I've been wanting to write about the nature of selling fiction for a while. I had hopped to have made another sale by now for one thing. I was feeling pretty high on the hog after my sale to One Buck Horror. A pro sale meant... means a lot less than you'd expect. When you haven't sold anything, when you're querying and getting nothing but rejections, your first personalized rejection is a milestone and a Pro sale the holy grail. This could be my 5oth personal rejection. I stopped counting. That doesn't mean it isn't meaningful. I really appreciate it when an editor takes the time to give me a few kind words. When I feel low, I pull them up and read through them. I let them wash over me and remind myself that it takes years and years for an overnight success-- not every writer is an overnight success. But I think you know what I mean.
So I have two pieces of advice:
Enjoy your milestones. I mean really, really enjoy them. Exalt yourself, your skill, your creativity, the genius that makes up all of you. Daydream about the big sale. Let your ego off it's leash. (Don't worry, there's a rejection around the corner that will put it back in check.) But most of all, celebrate your perseverance. Without it there would be no milestones, which all too soon they become part of the landscape.
Don't fret. Just write. I haven't sold anything in a long time and I'd be lying to say that isn't eating at me, but fretting over it isn't productive. I have to keep circulation the stories I've finished and keep writing new things. And maybe you haven't sold anything. Maybe you don't get personalized rejections yet. Don't fret. Keep writing new things and you will.
The zany adventures of a Great Dane/Bloodhound mix in Ohio takes on a life of its own when he digs up a zombie in the woods. Meathead is a typical dog, loyal, friendly, innocently mischievous, and his owner, 40-something Einstein Angleton (still living with his mother), knows this well. The novel is uniquely narrated in Meathead’s voice as he chats with other woodland creatures and struggles to be a good dog to his human, a race he holds little respect for. The plot kicks in when Angleton finds a camera during a recent walk through the forest with Meathead, who digs at a smelly patch of dirt that has a hand coming out of it. Once developed, the camera’s pictures reveal the misshapen face of a man -- a recently-turned zombie named Hubert Pines who winds up on Meathead’s porch looking for sympathetic conversation and ends up befriending the pooch. Before long, things get crazy as Meathead outwits the local trainer (a.k.a. “Dog Nazi”) to help Hubert stay hidden and find him a stash of Zoloft while vying for the love of Anita, a female zombie bent on biting Einstein, all before his body falls apart completely. The author supplies a plethora of goofily-named characters, fart jokes, and footnotes that steadily become more distracting than cutely informative once Meathead’s voice becomes firmly established. Yet it’s the perspective of this plucky pet that contributes most to the novel’s allure, charm, and G-rated entertainment potential. A spirited, refreshing addition to the recent influx of zombie stories.
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
I really like your style. It's so comfortable, honest and witty. It's mesmerizing. Even though this is from the viewpoint of a dog, it's strangely easy to relate to and understand as a human, and it's just downright fun to read. I particularly thought that you did an excellent job of capturing a dog's point of view but still giving it enough personality to make it into something quirky and fun.
What aspect needs the most work?
Hmm..hard to say. There are so many good things going on here that I couldn't really pick out many negatives. The only thing that comes to mind is that this doesn't seem to have much market potential. As much as I hate to say it, this would be a tough sell to a publisher since it's so off-the-beaten-path. What is your overall opinion of this excerpt? You know, if there are flaws in here, they are seriously masked by the quirks of the main character and the pure personality that shines through in every sentence. As a long-time reader (and, not publisher, so I am somewhat of a "lay" person here), I really enjoyed this. It's something so different and refreshing that draws you in with its silliness and makes you want to read more.
I really don't have any criticism (except that I want to keep reading, this was so fun!). I'd just beware of selling this to a New York publisher. In fact, the pitch probably would get you tossed off many NY desks simply because your story is told through the eyes of a dog instead of a person.
This is a very tough sell (and really, don't rule out self-publishing).
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
The characters are very well done. The dog talks but still seems realistic. The human characters also are very believable. What aspect needs the most work? There are a few mistakes here and there that a good editor could fix. Grammar is very important in a young adult book since it is giving them an example of how to write.
What is your overall opinion of this excerpt? It is interesting. It is not the best book I have read but it is quite readable and moves along nicely. Writing from the viewpoint of an animal is a bit different from the usual and this is a fair example of this sort of novel.
Today was a good day. I've come to believe that we probably spend at least half our lives battling our bad habits. But I up early, had a good breakfast, wrote for about two hours and went for a long walk. I even had a healthy lunch and dinner. This may not seem much of a challenge, in and of itself, but I used to know this girl. We weren't close friends but more than just co-workers. Anyway, she loved vegetables. Loved them to death. For her a salad was ambrosia. For me, ambrosia comes in the form of a Quarter Pounder, well any hamburger... make that anything fried. Consequently, I'm always at war with myself when it comes to eating.
Because I'd done lots of healthy things today and it had not been war to do them, I went to work happy. Because I love my job, I left work even happier. I work in what Koreans call a villa. Villa's can get quite tall, up to six or seven stories. It really seems to mean anything that is not a house and not an apartment building, though most have apartments in them. The build I work in is old which means the exterior is coated with red, clay shingles and we must use space heaters in the winter.
But summer is on it's way. We had to turn on the air con-- this is what air conditioning is called all over Asia. However, by the time I stepped out into the kind of night that always recalls to me those muggy summer nights spent fishing, or at the fair grounds, or just sitting around a camp fire. There was a bite in the air though, enough to need a jacket, but it was humid enough at the same time to make a jacket uncomfortable. I've only experience this kind of night in Korea and I suppose it's like will one day recall my days here.
Earphones in , MP3 set to my "work out" play list, I strode toward my apartment, entertaining catching the bus and going for a second walk down by the river or hopping on the subway and going to Hauendae or Gwanali for a night walk on the beach. The air smelled clean and slightly electric like ozone.
And then I saw the man. From a distance-- I have no depth perception so distance is very difficult for me-- he looked to be in the road. He also looked like he could be a rock. There is construction going on in the area and the way people walked passed him gave me hope that it was just that. But as I drew closer my eyes were better able to define the spaces and then I was there, MP3 blaring in my ears, looking at the man lying in the road. He had fives and tens spread around him from passerby who had felt bad enough to pay for the guilt and kept on going. My happiness dissipated. My good day was not stolen by this event. It's just I don't keep going when I see someone who is hurt or might need help. In America I would ask him what was wrong and if there was any I could call. I would call 911 if he was too disorientated to answer.
Here I don't speak much Korean. I couldn't really help him if he really needed help. I've seen some extreme begging and this form of it, lying with part of their body out into the road seems to be a thing. Not common, exactly, but I've seen it before. .
But even with that possibility, I was reluctant to leave him lying there. He might truly be hurt. Some students were nearby, saw my concern. I was the only adult who had shown any. But just my concern prompted all three of them to try to help him. Korean children wear uniforms and high school students get off at 9pm. It was a bit after 9 so these boys were probably walking home after a grueling day of school . When the crosswalk turned, I realized I wasn't as helpless as I'd thought.
There's a bakery on the corner that I sometimes shop at. I went in. After some gesturing I got him to get up and look. He was able to communicated to me that the police would come in five minutes I lingered, watching the man and watching the boys. I've always had this inclination to protect people. I wanted the boys and the man to be safe. Finally, the boys wandered off. A few seconds later the police arrived. The man jumped to his feet, gathered his money quickly, and bolted. The police officer dashed off in pursuit leaving an empty cruiser sitting on the side of the road, caution lights flashing.
I put my earphones in and headed home. But I still felt bad. I found myself wondering what had made him so desperate to beg this way? Not only is it dangerous but in Korea you are assumed guilty first and must prove your innocence.
I've been on vacation for the past three weeks. I'm an American but I haven't been back to the states for four years. Hence the lack of posts.
I got back just shy of midnight on Wednesday. State side this would be around 11 P.M. Tuesday. Due to a combination of sleep deprivation (insomnia respects time zones not) jet lag and time differences, all of Thursday involved sleep. I tried to get up, I swear. Friday involved unpacking. Today involved lunch with Lana and her friend Daniel. This turned into debauchery at some bars. I wore a pretty black dress with pink flowers, plenty of cleavage as this is one of my assets. Both Lana and Daniel are skinnier than me but as long as the guys are comparing the ladies and not at our waistlines, the I have a leg up on the playing field. The first bar was warm up drinks and meeting up lots of people I didn't know.
Any good debauchery starts with plenty of alcohol. I 'm not a drinker-- my friends laugh at me because, as writer, my drinking habits are pitiful. I like to write with a glass of cold diet coke. Anyway, after two tequila sunrises and Jager Bomb, I ordered a round of Bacardi Rum shots. Not what you expected right? In all fairness I didn't know that Bacardi was rum.
The night was off to a good start and as we wobbled over to the Blue Monkey for more drinks and dancing. The music kind of sucked but I fixed that with a request for Pit Bull and the three of us took to the empty dance floor. I wouldn't call my friends and I trend setters but soon the floor began to fill up and this seemed to put the DJ in the mood for better song choices. Also, I soon had a handsome dance partner. By this time I was also drinking water. I don't drink often but I've discovered significant tolerance. I could have had a few more safely. Probably my family's German genetics. Even so, I've never been much more than buzzed-- why would anyone want to go home puking? Exactly.
So there we were dancing, having a good time.
"Can I come home?" Mr. Handsome asked.
"I want to stay with you tonight."
Look, I'm not coming from some place of moral conduct or religious virtue. But here's the thing about one stands. They suck. This applies to men as well as women. They almost always involved too much alcohol. Drunken sex? Oh, Baby, gotta get me some of that. (Insert eye roll.) But it's more than the guarantee of bad sex.
Are you throw away? Disposable? What about the person you're with? I'm knot talking about the act of sex, but the act of choosing how will are willing to be treated or to treat others. I have friends who have ended up dating their one-nighters, but the relationships never work. Is it no wonder when their very first social contract involved at least one person thinking the other person was disposable. Believe it or not first impression set the tone for how you're willing to be treated. Skinny, fat, short, tall. It doesn't matter. People treat you how you let them treat you. Maybe you're thinking "you don't know what I'm talking about."
The line in Apocalypse, (Midday Musings) about being punched by students in front of the teacher is not entirely fictional. I was picked on relentlessly and it took me the longest time to realize how much of it was actually a result of accepting the way I as being treated. At the time it didn't seem that way.
In case it isn't clear, I'm not really talking about one night stands-- that too, but use it as a metaphor for whatever you like and remember you are not disposable. You are valuable. You're contribution to the world, whether it be telling story, or rescuing dogs, or raising your kids. This is true of parents, spouses. friends, and strangers as well.
M.R. Jordan is a writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. Lives in South Korea with her two cats, Bear and Geumbi.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Gold in English)... then (above) and now (below).