Saturday, 30 June 2012

Little favour, pretty please with a cherry on top?

My PhotoSo how can I NOT support my cousin's new blog? Are you a gamer? Do you love to read science fiction and fantasy? Well, I think you'll find Damien one of the most passionate about the genre. Please please do me a favour and welcome him to the blogosphere and click that follow button. Pretty please with a cherry on top? I'll buy you and ice cream ... ;o)

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Think about it ...

"Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes." ~Stephen King, On Writing

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Afraid to get an agent ...

So, I KNOW, my work is not quite fit for the commercial market. But despite it being classified as 'literary', I do believe I can hook my readers into thinking that's it's not really. I can tell a story. I know how to keep the suspense going, even though the suspense is hanging from emotional threads, rather than action threads.

I think if I worked hard enough to get an agent, that I would eventually get one. Especially with my latest work in progress, MUTED. But I know, from my attempts re my last two novels, that I gave up after not getting anywhere with my "priority list". For some reason, I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm a "Small Press" magnet. I'm happy being published by a small press. I don't need that six-figure deal to feel successful. And the pros behind these presses "get" me. And are passionate enough to get my work out there the best it can be.

But there's a certain someone in my life who keeps insisting that I need an agent. She's convinced that there's an agent out there who will be as passionate about my work as she is, and as the Small Press pros are, and as some of my readers evidently are. And after her constant pushing to get me to promise that I will seek an agent for MUTED, and not give up, I started to wonder why I'm so hesitant about it.

I've come to realize that I'm SHIT SCARED.

Why? Because I'm worried that I'll get that passionate agent, and they won't ever be able to sell it in this whacked publishing climate of today because of its "literaryness" and that the book will be in limbo for years on end, and then I'll end up having to publish it with a small press anyway. I HATE BEING IN LIMBO. And I predict that if I score that agent, that I will be in a perpetual state of frustration. It will mess with my head.

On the other hand, I could get that agent, and score an awesome deal with Penguin, or something, yeah? But, of course ... I can't bring myself to be that optimistic ...

Thoughts? What are your agent fears?

Monday, 25 June 2012

When a rejection is not necessarily a "real" rejection.

demotivational poster REJECTIONI spent the weekend sending acceptance/rejection emails for Vine Leaves Literary Journal. (We haven't quite finished responding to everyone yet so if you submitted don't get your knickers in a knot.) We had around 250 subs this time. It was a monster job for two people to read them all. But so wonderful to see how much talent is out there. And wonderful to see our cherished project grow and gain more exposure.

Back in the day when I was an aspiring writer and sending my stuff to magazines so frequently that I'd get at least one rejection a day, I'd be devastated by every single one. As the years went by the sting got smaller. And now that I co-run a journal myself, a rejection doesn't sting AT ALL. Because now I know that a rejection isn't always a "real" rejection, and a form rejection doesn't mean that we "don't care", "hated your work", "didn't bother even reading the whole thing". (BTW, we ALWAYS read the whole thing even if the beginning doesn't hook us. Sometimes things aren't what they seem until you reach the end.)

How so?

Let's start with the form rejection:

Dawn and I take pride in offering basic feedback on submissions that don't make the cut. And we have promised ourselves, that if we can't manage to offer feedback to at least a third of the rejections, then it's not worth doing this journal. There's nothing worse than not knowing why you were rejected. We get that. And we will maintain that practice no matter how much time it sucks up. BUT. Sometimes there really is just nothing to say. Sometimes, we have to prioritize whose work needs feedback more than others. Sometimes we didn't "feel" it, or "get" it enough to comment adequately. Sometimes, a form rejection just has to happen, otherwise we'd be responding with an essay's worth of feedback that we just don't have time for, so we opt to not give any. Half-arsed feedback doesn't cut it. Form rejection does not = bad. Form rejection just means, most of the time, that it did not resonate with us. But that does not mean no-one else will. Submit your work somewhere else.

Next up, the "not real rejection":

These always include a bit of feedback from us. There are usually a LOT of great pieces that we have to say no to, because the amount of near-perfect subs is high. If that wasn't the case, we'd edit the less-than-perfect subs to our liking, and ask the author if they accept the changes. And if they do, then we publish it. Sometimes we do this anyway if we love the concept of a piece, but the execution leaves little to be desired. If you get a rejection with feedback, it means it's not a "real" rejection. It means we liked your work enough to put in the effort to help you make it better, to let you know it's good, that it's worthy of publishing. It means we'd like to see you submit again, to keep submitting elsewhere, to not give up, because you have talent and potential, and us not wanting this particular piece really doesn't mean anything other than, "we don't have enough space, and we just had to choose."

We feel really sad when we have to reject good work. But that's just how it goes. So next time you get a rejection from someone, try to think of the person behind the screen. And I bet there is a lot more thought behind "it's not right for us" than you think.

Have you ever thought about the person behind the screen when receiving a rejection? Or do you immediately get mad and snap your pencil?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Thank you for getting divorced?

My biological father and his wife are coming to visit this Friday, so we're off to Ithaca for a bit of relaxing in the sun. Jealous? Me too. I want to be there now!

But that's not what this post is about.

I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if my parents had stayed together and I never had the opportunity to be brought up by my (Greek) step father. I most certainly wouldn't be living in Greece, that's for sure. I wonder whether I would have even visited this country at all. I'm sure I would have been a musician, because my father was one too. But would I have become a writer? I'm not too sure about that one. Because when I first moved to Greece, I had a lot of time on my hands, for various reasons I won't get into now, and I wrote my first novel (I threw it away, but it was good practice). I have always loved to write, but hadn't really thought seriously about being an author until then.

I also wonder what job I would be doing now. Being in Greece gave me my first editing job opportunity in the English Language Teaching industry. Now, I definitely wouldn't have got a job like that in an English-speaking country, would I? You know, I could go on and on about the stuff I never would have done, if I hadn't moved to Greece. And if my parents hadn't got divorced, I can't imagine why I would have even come here.

So do I owe it all to their divorce? Ha! What a thought: "Thank you mum, and dad, for not loving each other enough to stay together. I wouldn't be where I am today without your relationship failure." :o)

How about you? What things in your life might be completely different if it weren't for the actions of others?

*Thank you to Jim Murdoch for posting about FABRIC today!

**Enter this easy-peasy logline contest to win a query critique from Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest, and other great prizes!

***I'm taking a ten-day hiatus while my father is here. So I'll see you all again on June 25th!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Want to win a query critique from Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest, and a one-year subscription to Then keep reading ...

To celebrate the beginning of summer, Vine Leaves Literary Journal is offering you the opportunity to win  free critiques from publishing experts and a one-year subscription to! All you have to do is email the logline of your novel (any genre, and no longer than two sentences), and the three best will be chosen. Winners will be announced in Vine Leaves Literary Journal Issue #03, out on Friday, July 6.

Here’s what you’ll receive:

First Prize
  • A query critique by Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest.
  • A free one-year subscription to
  • A detailed vignette, short story, script, or poem critique (800 words max) by me and Dawn Ius, the editors of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, with follow-up guidance via email. (Plus inclusion in Issue #04 of the magazine if the changes suggested are implemented and well-done.)
Second Prize
Third Prize
  • A detailed vignette, short story, script, or poem critique (800 words max) by me and Dawn Ius, the editors of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, with follow-up guidance via email. (Plus inclusion in Issue #04 of the magazine if the changes suggested are implemented and well-done.)

How to enter:
subject line: logline contest June 2012
details needed:
  • your name
  • title of project
  • genre of project
  • your logline

Contest ends June 30. Spread the word!

PS: thank you to Talli Roland, Sheri Larsen, and Tracy Blowers for promoting FABRIC last Friday and today! :)

Thursday, 7 June 2012

It is my GREAT honor today to be the first to host Alyse Carlson (aka Hart Johnson) on her first blog tour!!!

Facing the Flaws

Jessica has the dubious honor of being my first. That is to say she's my first host for my book blog tour and the first victim of an experiment of mine. (we'll see if it lasts)

The experiment currently has an N of 1 (a statement proving to all of you I'm a geek). But my GOAL is to find the common ground... something about the writing or blog content of the blog owner and apply THAT to the book I'm trying to promote.

Now I'm positive if Jessica and I met in person, we would have a TON of common ground. We seem to see life (and in particular, relationships) in similar ways. But because of divergent skills, she's gone CLASSY with that base and I've gone a little SILLY (or if serious, then YOUNG). She writes literary fiction and poetry. I write cozy mystery and YA (or conspiracy stuff).

But I think our common ground is in characterization. I've read String Bridge, with its wonderful, flawed but very real heroine, and it got me thinking... my main character is flawed and likeable anyway, too. So that is what I'm going with.

Cam Harris is a thirty-something public relations professional whose job is to share her two favorite things with the world: gardening and Roanoke, Virginia. As a PR pro, there is a single almighty priority. Damage control. That is behind her primary flaws.

See, Cam is a spin doctor of sorts and this has given her a fast and loose relationship with the truth. It's not that she out and out lies. She just tells everything in the prettiest way possible. And this leaks into her personal life, as well as her professional. Most of what she says has been filtered through a rose-colored lens.

Cam might also be a bit of a control freak. Because something tightly controlled doesn't spin off in an unexpected direction. And worst of all, Cam is a lightweight, and so chooses really tasteless light beer.

But her flaws are balanced with loyalty, compassion, friendship, and a good sense of fun, so I still think she is a winner as an MC.

The Azalea Assault

Cam Harris loves her job as public relations manager for the Roanoke Garden Society. It allows her to combine her three loves, spinning the press, showing off her favorite town, and promoting her favorite activity. She's just achieved a huge coup by enlisting Garden Delights, the country's premiere gardening magazine, to feature the exquisite garden of RGS founder, Neil Patrick. She's even managed to enlist world-famous photographer Jean-Jacques Georges. Unfortunately, Jean-Jacques is a first-rate cad—insulting the RGS members and gardening, goosing every woman in the room, and drinking like a lush. It is hardly a surprise when he turns up dead. But when Cam's brother-in-law is accused and her sister begs her to solve the crime, that is when things really get prickly.

Alyse Carlson is the pen name for the author some of you may know as Hart Johnson. She writes books from her bathtub and when she isn't writing, does research for a large, midwest University or leads the Naked World Domination Movement (your choice).

Barnes & Noble Paperback or Nook
Amazon Paperback or Kindle

Confessions of a Watery Tart


PS: Thank you so much to Amie McCracken and Rebecca Emin for helping me promote my latest poetry collection, Fabric, today!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Giveaway for a good cause!

Poetry Pact 2011Poetry Pact 2011 by Angela Felsted
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fabulous collection of poetry. And I'm not just saying that because I'm in it. The poets in this collection came together via an online poetry group I started at the beginning of 2011 to help motivate frequent poetry writing. So not only are these wonderful poets connected by the skill to write beautiful poetry, they are connected by a strong bond, one of unconditional support and enthusiasm for each others' work. And I think this fact makes the collection an even more beautiful thing.

Oh, and how can you ignore the fact that all profits go to charity:

Not only are these poets talented, but they are selfless, generous individuals who I am beyond proud to know. Please, share, and offer your support, to those who go out of their way to give: Angela Felsted, Richard Merrill, Alaine Benard, Angie Ledbetter, Artemis Grey, Caleb Mannan, Emily Kruse, February Grace, Glynis Smy, Janice Phelps Williams, Jim Murdoch, J.R. McRae, Kerala Varma, Laurel Garver, Lydia Kang, Madeline Sharples, and Roslyn Ross.

View all my reviews

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Poetry Pact 2011 by Angela Felsted

Poetry Pact 2011

by Angela Felsted

Giveaway ends July 01, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

PS: Thank you to Amy Saia and Laurel Garver for promoting FABRIC today! :)

PPS: I know it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group today, but I kinda forgot until the last minute. So please forgive me! But I can tell you this, I'm supposed to be writing 50,000 words this month and I'm still at a mere 300. Ugh. Can I do it? I don't think so, but I'm going to keep humouring myself for a while!

Monday, 4 June 2012

I'm hungry ...

Sorry ... I couldn't resist :o)
Lot's of things on my plate this month, but it's not food:

Vine Leaves Literary Journal needs to be ready by beginning of July and we've had almost 250 submissions, this time around. That's lots of work for two people. You never know, we might need to recruit editors soon! Some stuffed vine leaves (dolmades) would be nice too ... hmmm ...

I'm participating in BuNoWriMo which is Hart Johnson's brainchild for those who find November inconvenient to do NaNoWriMo. I'm also being a rebel and using it to get a move on with MUTED instead of starting a new project. So far I'm failing miserably at 300 hundred words. But I hope to catch up! Please somebody bless my fingers with the speed to keep up with my brain ...

My Fabric blog tour is still going on quietly in the background. Didn't want to make a big deal about it, but it's still nice to get some exposure. And poetry needs it! If you feel at all inclined, please do me a favour and tweet, FB, it or just tell your friends! Thank you to Beccy, Glynis and Karen for helping me promote from last Friday to today.

Dawn and I have teamed up to write an awesome children's series (top secret!), and I've got a huge hankering to get a move on with it because it's freaking brilliant if I say so myself. Dawn also has a ton of other projects on the go, one of which I am designing a mock cover for, because I love to design them, and I love Dawn, so double win! :)

Oh yeah, and there's that day job that takes up the majority of my time. I've also got my father and his wife visiting from Australia in a couple of weeks, so will take some time off for that too.

Ack ... there's more ... I'm sure of it ... oh, yeah, getting excited about the retreat with Chuck Sambuchino this August! And also getting excited about some good news that I can't talk about yet. Hehehehe ... sorry folks!

Now ... I need some breakfast. *snaps fingers* Oi! Bring me a bowl of Special K, yeah, cereal, with sliced banana and strawberries in it, and I want the milk really cold, like on the verge of being frozen but not, ... okay ... a cup of coffee will do ...

Have a great week, all!