Monday, April 6, 2015

Rejected by Publishers Weekly! Hooray!

Or: How to properly read a rejection letter.
Dear Ginny,
Thanks for submitting your BookLife project (Zinovy's Journey) to be considered for a Publishers Weekly review. Despite the strength of your project, our editors have decided not to send it out for review.
We hope you won't be discouraged by this, and that you'll continue to take advantage of BookLife's articles, how-tos and self-evaluations to help make your project a success. We also hope you'll submit future projects for Publishers Weekly review consideration as well.


I love this letter!  I'm delighted with it!  Encouraged, even.

Here are three reasons:

1.  I got a response! 

Booklife is the Indie publishing review branch of PublishersWeekly, so it's a big thing that I've gotten any kind of attention from them at all. According to their website, they receive over a thousand books a month for review. Wow!  That's a lot.  Yet they've responded to this one.

Oh, all right, they probably respond to them all.  They pay somebody to send these e-mails.  But still, they've written to me, and they've even called me by my first name.  How sweet is that?  It's almost like we're friends!

2.  I got a compliment! 

"Despite the strength of your project. . ." 

What a great beginning for a rejection!  My project is strong. I mean, I knew that, right?  But it's good to have my expert opinion affirmed, by Publishers Weekly, no less. 

They noticed.  They took the trouble to point out to me that they noticed. They said something good about "the project."

3.  I got encouragement!

"We hope you won't be discouraged by this," they say.  They want me to "continue to take advantage of BookLife's articles, how-tos and self-evaluations. . ."

Of course, they want my "business." They don't want me to go away mad. But I can't help but read a bit of regret in this sentence. In fact, with very little imagination, I can convince myself that the person who rejected my manuscript was wishing they didn't have to. 

And, even more encouraging, they "hope [I'll] submit future projects for Publishers Weekly review consideration as well."  How about that! They're asking me to add more clutter to their pile of submissions.  As if 1000 is not enough for one month!

No matter that I don't have any more projects to submit. This is it. This is the one I have to promote for now, and though Publishers Weekly won't be reviewing it, others will.  Others have, in fact, reviewed this "project." Readers have said good things about the story, and readers are, after all, my target market.

So how do I look at this rejection letter?  With great optimism.  Zinovy's Journey may not be at the top of Publishers Weekly's list, but that doesn't mean it's not on other lists.  As long as the story is on someone's reading list, I'm satisfied. 

There's more than one way to read a rejection letter.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Looking for a Great Escape Read? Check This One Out

Some scenes in this book contain violence, strong language, and religious ideas.

Zinovy Efimovich KoZlov is a self-made man who’s spent the last thirty years climbing the ladder of Russian military success, one rung at a time. An FSB veteran, Air Force fighter pilot, member of the elite Special Security Service, and now a cosmonaut on the global regime’s new International Space Station, he should be at the peak of his career. But Zinovy has enemies whose political power extends into space, and those enemies are determined to kill him.

Then the earth is destroyed in a nuclear holocaust and everything changes.


Gripping! Absorbing!  
Glynda Francis, pre-pub reviewer

Excellent! Excellent! I have trouble putting it down.  
Ruth Oltmann

I absolutely love it. It is such a unique story, very well written and fun to read. It was so different from anything else I have read.  
Sue Shope   

Zinovy's Journey offers a little bit of just about everything: action, intrigue, suspense, a spacewalk, relationships, revenge, philosophy, end times, a whole new world, and surprises at every turn.
Janet Sketchley, author of Heaven's Prey and Secrets and Lies

Millennium Journeys Press
ISBN 978-0-9877520-0-0


GINNY JAQUES is a high school teacher, a technical editor and a writer. She lives with her husband, Dennis, in British Columbia, Canada. Ginny and Dennis have three married children and eight grandchildren.  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

"It Was a Dark and Stormy Night"**

I've been meaning to do a post about first lines of novels for a while now.  I had successfully procrastinated until today, when, while browsing through my Facebook messages--one of the methods of writing-procrastinating that normally works well for me--I ran across an intriguing challenge by one of my Facebook "friends."

Shameless Name Dropping

Ahem:  I am a Facebook friend of Jerry Jenkins, author of the Left Behind series of books about the end of the world as we know it, which has sold a gazillion copies and made him a very rich man. 

Our friendship happened this way:  I managed to get on his "friend" list early in his Facebook career, just before he hit the cutoff mark of 1000.

Anyway, Jerry Jenkins has the distracting habit of posting a challenging question every day on Facebook that requires a response.  Most of them I manage to ignore, but this one intrigued me. 

He said:  Grab the book closest to you and share the author's name and the first line. 

He had me from the words, "first line."

Out of the first 65 comments in response to his challenge I found seven I think are great first-liners.  One is from a book I've read.  Two are from ones I haven't read yet by authors I already know and like.  And four are one-liners I wish I'd written, from books I now want to read.

How Do These Grab You?

"We only have a few hours, so listen carefully."
Rick Riordan.  The Red Pyramid  

"Jesus Christ was executed at a place so public that the sign explaining his death had to be printed in three languages, at a crossroads so well traveled that most of the people who saw him tortured were merely passing by."
Stephen Mansfield.  Killing Jesus

"My parents absolutely ruined me."

"Before He called me forth from the grave, Jesus wept."
Bodie & Brock Thoene.  When Jesus Wept
"Prayer is the divine enigma--that marvelous mystery hidden behind the cloud of God's omnipotence."

"It was mid afternoon in New Babylon, and David Hassad was frantic."
Jerry Jenkins & Tim LaHaye.  The Mark

"What if I said, 'Stop praying?'"
Francis Chan.  Crazy Love

Sigh :-(

More books to add to the stack by my bedside.  Yes, this picture is of the actual stack.  I'm pretty sure I won't get through them all before I die but I'll work my way down the pile, one by one.  It will be good for my writing-procrastination goal, at least.

What are your favorite first lines?  I'm not totally against adding to the pile.

** The title of this post is the most famous first line of all time that begins A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L'Engle

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Just Another Whiny Indie Pub Rant

It appears that the American Christian Fiction Writer's Association is jumping on the bandwagon. 

The Indie Author bandwagon, that is.

It's not surprising.  One by one,  industry moguls are moving over to the other side of the Indie publishing debate.  Self-publishing has come of age.  

One of the latest big shifts came when Jerry Jenkins, best-selling author, with Tim LaHaye, of the Left Behind Series finally "saw the light."  

Some months ago, on Facebook, I jokingly suggested to him that he review my indie-published novel in exchange for the pre-publication review I gave one of his new police thriller manuscripts.  He wrote back with a "no" to the review request (surprise, surprise), a passionate diatribe in support of traditional publishing, and a categorical relegation of all indie published books to the file 13 slush pile.  

"If your book is really good," he said, "you should find a traditional publisher."

I thanked him for his advice.  I didn't bother telling him I was foot-sore from pounding the pavement to the doors of traditional publishers, and on crutches from getting that same foot smashed by those doors, which always slammed halfway through the first sentence of my elevator pitch.  

Then, lo and behold, in March, 2013, we get a news flash.  Jerry Jenkins has started his own self publishing company.  He actually said, on Facebook, "I saw the light."  Now he's charging big bucks to help independently published authors "prove their worthiness in the market."

I wish I could say he saw the light because he saw my manuscript.  Alas, he hasn't read it yet, and I can't afford the fee he would charge me to do so. But his conversion experience is indicative of where the industry is going, and has been going for the last several years.  

So back to the ACFW.  Below are excerpts from an e-mail they sent me this morning in response to my recent cancelation of my membership in their organization.  If you're a Christian Indie author you might be interested.

Dear Ginny,

It’s great to connect with you again through email. Whether your affiliation with ACFW was long-term or short-term, please know you have been missed.

Life sometimes takes us in different directions than we expect, or even different from what we want. That may have happened to you. But sometimes it brings us back full circle. If you’re still interested in writing Christian fiction, consider joining ACFW again. ACFW continues to offer quality skill training for novelists, as well as education in the industry.

We wanted to make you aware of some recent and upcoming changes in ACFW that are tailored to meet a wider range of needs.

When ACFW first began, the organization focused solely on helping authors improve their craft with the goal of signing with a traditional publisher. Times have certainly changed! Many authors are now either publishing independently or are “hybrid” authors—involved in both independent and traditional publishing. The ACFW Executive Board agreed ACFW needs to be an organization that helps all novelists, regardless of which path they choose.

In full recognition of changes within the industry, independently published books will be allowed entry into the Carol Awards beginning in 2015.
This is a good first step.  It might be useful to some Indie authors. But it's only encouraging if you've already done, by yourself, the marketing work a traditional publisher would normally help you do.  

Read on. 

In fairness, independently published authors must also meet a certain standard to enter the Carols: a “Qualified Independent Author” status. The QIA status will require the author to show proof of a minimum of $4000 earnings within a consecutive 12-month period on one independently published Christian novel. Once the status is reached, it is permanent.

These requirements are in keeping with standards currently used within the independent publishing industry. And they are designed to level the playing field between traditionally published authors, whose path includes successfully navigating through professional channels, and independently published authors who successfully navigate the challenges of publishing on their own.

The same qualifications for the Carol Awards will apply for those wanting to list their novels on Fiction Finder: traditionally published books must be released by an ACFW recognized publisher, and independently published books must be from an author who has achieved the Qualified Independent Author status.
I'm not complaining about these stipulations.  There's still a need to screen self-published books and the ACFW needs such guidelines to maintain professional standards. If they didn't they'd be in danger of becoming bedfellows of vanity presses.  

But it's still hard for those of us who have well written books and don't know how to get them noticed in the marketplace.  It's not our manuscripts that are being screened in this case, it's our marketing success level.  

And that's fair too.  We can't expect anyone to lift us out of the promotion difficulties every author, and publisher--traditional or indie--has to deal with.  And I'm not knocking the ACFW either.  It's a great resource and support for any Christian writer, as Robin points out.   
ACFW is the place to be if you’re writing Christian fiction. Veteran writers and relative newcomers are improving their craft, understanding the needs of the market, and going on to publication and award honors.

We’d love to have you rejoin the circle and help form part of this vital community focused on fiction.

Robin Miller
ACFW Executive Director 
Next post I'll give my reply to Robin's invitation, explaining in greater detail some of the difficulties Christian indie authors face, and talking about my experiences with editors at ACFW conferences.

Friday, June 13, 2014

What Every Author Should Know About Publishing Options

Here's yet another reason to link up with Randy Ingermanson.

In his article, The Death of Self-Publishing, he's summarized all publishing options and defined publishing terms better than I've seen anywhere else.

This article contains essential information for any author thinking about publishing a book, for the first time, or the next.

No, I'm not fixated on this guy.  Although I am currently in the process of reading his latest release, Transgression.  It's a procrastination ploy. I know I should be writing instead of reading.

Does anyone else ever lose writing momentum so badly that it feels like slogging through quicksand when you try to get back on the writing path?

For months?


Friday, February 14, 2014

Seven Reasons All Serious (and Not so Serious) Writers Should Link to Randy Ingermanson

Big tip, especially for all you beginning writer/indie publishers out there!

This tip is a person.

His name is Randy Ingermanson.

Randy Ingermanson is a theoretical physicist and the award-winning author of six novels. He has taught at numerous writing conferences over the years and publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, the largest electronic magazine in the world on the craft of writing fiction, with over 32,000 readers.

I first met Randy through Camille Eide, another writer friend I'd just met in a shuttle bus on our way to my first Mt. Hermon Writers' Conference in March of 2008. 

I remember the meeting (which is more than I can say about most random events in my past) the way you remember some seemingly insignificant moment in time for no apparent reason. At the time I had no reason to think this guy would matter to me, even though Camille said good things about him and I trusted Camille's judgment.  It was just one of the kind of casual introductions you always get at writers' conferences, which is one of the best reasons for going to them.

But I digress.

Randy just happened to be sauntering by as Camille and I stepped out of our transport. She greeted him, and, gracious person that she is, she introduced us. He said all the right things, and then ducked and ran, like the introverted geeky kind of a person he is. I turned away, thinking no more of the meeting, eager to enter into the conference experience at Mt. Hermon, my favorite writerly place to be.

As it turned out, I would run across this amazing man off and on for the next six years, sometimes in person at conferences, and sometimes online.  He has made an impact on my writing career, and I think you'll find him helpful too.

Here are seven reasons you'd like to be Randy's friend.  They're in descending order, except for number seven, which I think really belongs at the top of the list, but I have to put it at the bottom because it's a whimsical reason, and we writers don't put much store in whimsy, at least about the writing process, even us fiction writers, especially if we're beginners.  (Yes, I know.  That sentence could do with some editing.) Whimsy is kind of fun, and we writers can't afford to have fun.  We're too busy trying to be discovered.  We must be serious.  So here are six serious reasons (and one un-serious, dis-serious, anti-serious whimsical reason) why you should become Randy's online friend:

1)  He knows tons of stuff about the writing business.  As his bio claims, his e-magazine is the largest electronic magazine in the world on the craft of writing fiction.  And 32,000 readers can't be wrong.  (Randy would probably argue with that claim, since he's a statistics expert, among other things.)

2)  He shares what he knows clearly and simply.  He writes so clearly that the publishers of the prolific "For Dummies" series asked him to write their Writing Fiction for Dummies book, which currently ranks #8,720 on the Amazon best seller list.  When you consider that Amazon sells well over 6,000,000 books, that's a pretty high rank.  I checked my Zinovy's Journey rank, which I do now and then, just for fun, and it's a whopping #873,693, almost exactly 100 times less popular than his Dummies book.  I'm sure there's a reason for that.

 3)  He's created the Snowflake method.  It's a template for plot building.  If you're beginning a novel, or even just wanting to go with an idea you have, this tool might be useful to you.  Check it out at the link above.

4)  He answers questions on his blog.  Not every question. He's a busy guy.  But I was fortunate, again through my friend, Camille, to get into one long line-up for his advice, and what I learned helped solve a writing problem that had stumped me for months.
5) He knows about other interesting stuff too.  Because he's a science and technology geek, he sometimes analyzes wild and weird issues on topics totally unrelated to writing.  He is a truth seeker.  His research is extensive, his arguments cogent, and his thoroughness is enough to make your eyes cross. But the best thing about his writing on these often controversial topics, the thing that makes them so worth reading, is that he disagrees with his opponents with humility and respect.  What a great internet world it would be if all writers, especially Christian ones, would model this approach. 

6)  He's written some fun novels.  So here we head gently toward the less serious reasons you'll like getting to know this guy.  If you're a fiction reader, you might want to check out some of his novels.  Here's a link to the latest one,  Double Vision.  Another good read is Oxygen, which he wrote with his fellow geeky physics BFF, John Olson. 

And now, last but should be first, is the best reason to connect with Randy:

7)  He's funny.  I was very sad to hear that Sam, the plumber, like his irritating distant cousin, the Wicked Witch of the North, has apparently recently dissolved into a puddle of water on the floor.  There's a rumor he might be resurrected, or reconstituted, whichever the case may be, but for now we'll not be regaled with his exploits any more. 

Sam's demise is documented here.  I'm trying to find a link to the whole series of blog posts about Sam, Randy's infamous plumber/nemesis/friend, because they are so much fun to read, but I've gotten lost in the complex maze of internet addresses available on Randy's website and can't find a link.  

If you're afraid you might be beginning to take this writing thing a little too seriously, I recommend you check out the Sam story.  It might help you reevaluate your priorities and refocus your writing. 

Which is the whole point of this blog, after all: Your Writing.  Any of the links I've given above will help you get on with the writing task.  So check them out, connect with my friend, Randy, and enjoy.