Monday, November 06, 2006


Humans like praise.

Writers are human.

Ergo . . .

Praise is a rare commodity for a writer. That's why I had a wonderful day last week when I received praise from someone I've never met. My parents are serving a mission in Nairobi, Kenya and their next-door neighbors are also American missionaries. My parents have copies of some of my writing. They loaned my Tudory alternate-history book to the woman who lived next door. And then she proceeded to write me an e-mail about how she read it in two days and hated having to stop to eat and sleep and work and what an amazing book I'd written and how much she loved the characters and how she cried through the last twenty pages . . . well, is there anything better calculated to win a writer's heart? Okay, if her e-mail had ended with, "I just happen to know a senior editor at Viking or Random House and could I please send this book to so-and-so", that would have been perfect, but I've managed to go this long without finding a single person with publishing connections so it's no great surprise.

I wrote back to her today, and I don't think she'd mind if I share part of it.

"You have no idea how wonderful your email was for me. Praise is few and far between in the writing/publishing business--and so far, praise from the publishing side has not gone beyond "I liked such and such part but it's not quite right for us" or "Here's what you could improve and I'd like to see other writing from you". No one falling over themselves to offer me six figure contracts yet.Still, the kind words make it possible to forget the others: the form letter rejections, the agent who said of this book, "I love the idea but wasn't enthused about the writing" (How's that for a knife to the heart?), or the other agent who said, "It's not historical fiction. Historical fiction is whatmight have happened." (Yes, I thought, this is what might have happened if Anne Boleyn's son had been born! She didn't see it that way.)
So you can see how gratefully I accept any kind words that come my way. I'm not a quitter, fortunately, so this book is still making its slow way through the unfriendly world, as well as some short stories that can't seem to find a home and the early chapters of another book. And I just keep writing. Since I've been a much happier wife and mother in the three years since I began writing, I figure I'll just write until I die and than maybe someone will want to publish it when I'm dead."

Of course, if anyone out there wants to publishing a living author, I'm available.

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