Wednesday, November 27, 2013


   by Kathy Cannon Wiechman

If you have followed this blog, you know that I have been writing since I was a child. I loved it then. I love it still.

In one recent post, called THE SPIDER, I talked about persistence and vowed to never give up. I have never been tempted to give up writing because I write for the love of it. However, I have often threatened to give up submitting my work. Rejection hurts!

I rarely mention how many years I have been submitting, because I feel it makes me sound like such a failure. Would someone say, “If she hasn’t been published in all that time, she must not be very good.”? Today I confess. Earlier this year I marked 39 years since I first submitted a novel manuscript to an editor. 39 years of submitting and 39 years of the pain of rejection. But I refused to give up. And after all, I love to write.

I received some consolation. A few of my poems were published, and I won prizes with some of my short stories. And many of you have read my blog posts and left encouraging comments. But a novel contract remained out of reach.

Until now!

Last week, Calkins Creek (American history imprint of Highlights/Boyds Mills Press) offered me a contract on Novel #11, titled LIKE A RIVER. It was worth the wait! A novel I wrote for young readers will finally be available to be read by them. It’s what I dreamed of for almost 40 years. I’m still pinching myself.

I’ll keep you posted here on LIKE A RIVER’s progress toward publication. I hope you all will read it when it launches.

But when I begin the next novel and the one after that, it will be for the love of it. After all, that’s the real reason I write.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

E-mail submissions

by Kim Van Sickler

So I've started floating e-mail submissions into Agentland again. And I feel like I'm wasting precious time reformatting my text.

It's not that it's all that time-consuming per submittal, but it's wasted time because I have to reformat for every submittal, so it adds up.

And it's tedious.

Does anyone else have issues with their e-mail wreaking havoc on the text you cut and paste into the e-mail body?

I use Gmail. Maybe that's the problem. But the problems are different depending on which computer I use. That really confuses me. When I cut and paste text into the body of my e-mail from my desktop, all of my italicized words return to normal type and I lose my double-spacing. Used to be I could eliminate formatting problems by sending from my laptop. But just recently, whenever I paste into Gmail on my laptop, I've encountered a new wrinkle. The text automatically switches to Very Large and I have to highlight and switch the text size, but the glitch has already wreaked havoc with my contact information in the upper left corner of my query letter, due to my phone number bleeding onto the next line. I have to play around with getting my contact information to line up again. I manipulate it until it looks how it should, except that I know I probably didn't get it right for the recipient. (I know because once I reformatted this way and sent the e-mail to me and my phone number was on the middle of the page.) I'm pretty sure that since nothing's changed in how I handle this bug that I haven't fixed my problem. What I see on my screen isn't really what's happened to my text.
Very large print on my laptop throws my phone number on to the next line, and my realigning attempts may not be working.

My desktop eliminates all of my double spacing and italics.
But I don't know what else to do to ensure it stays put. So I'm pretty sure I'm sending out unaligned query letters from my laptop.

How do I handle this dilemna? If I'm allowed to send sample pages as an attachment, I send from my desktop and re-italicize everything. If sample pages have to be stuck in the body of the e-mail I send from my laptop since that is the only way I can maintain my double-spacing, and hope the recipient doesn't notice the unaligned phone number in the query.

I don't know what else to do. Any suggestions?

Do you have any issues with your e-mail formatting?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ode to a slam poet and a folk-rock icon

by Rich Wallace

Had two opportunities this week to reflect on the power of words from genres I don’t happen to write in. At a coffee-house open mic that’s dominated by young folk singers and rockers, a slam poet stood up toward the end, walked to the front of the space, and went right into a lengthy spoken-word/rant about the decades-long decline of MTV. He followed it with a moving piece about his gruff old father-in-law.

A couple of nights later we drove down to the Berkshires for a show by iconic Canadian Gordon Lightfoot. Fifty years after his first songs were released, he’s still in fine form. He was among a small handful of singers whose lyrics I actually listened to (and tried to figure out) when I first started paying attention to the radio back in high school. I listened to lots of music with my friends, but most of it just washed over me in a flood of Led Zeppelin or the Velvet Underground. At home, listening to quieter stuff like Gordon Lightfoot or Harry Chapin forced me into introspection. I needed both things at that point – unconscious release and focused inward thinking. Guess which style had the bigger influence?
Gordon Lightfoot
I read very few books in high school, but I read the liner notes of many dozen album covers. Seeing words in print solidified them for me. Even after hearing songs like "If You Could Read My Mind" a hundred times on the radio, the internalization of a line like And if you read between the lines, you'll know that I'm just tryin' to understand wasn’t complete until I read it.

Some nights when I have trouble writing, I just go to YouTube and seek out songs I love but haven’t heard in a while. It invariably inspires me and gets me ready to write. I have no musical ability myself, but it’s funny that music, especially the lyrics, always helps me in writing prose.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Today's post is part of the

by Kathy Cannon Wiechman

One day last summer when I walked out to my front porch to water my flowers, I walked through a spider web—a sticky, cling-to-my-face spider web. I knocked down the entire web.

The next day, it was back. This time the sun caught on its threads and I saw it before I walked into it. Again, I knocked it down.

Day after day, it happened again. And day after day, I knocked it down. I knew to get rid of it once and for all, I had to catch the culprit. Yes, I know that spiders kill harmful insects. And yes, I read CHARLOTTE’S WEB. But this was no Charlotte, and I was getting annoyed.

I wound the web around a stick, spider and all, and relocated it away from my yard.

I no longer walk through a spider web to water my flowers (which have finished out their season now). I don’t know if the spider spins its webs in my neighbor’s yard. But that spider was a lesson in persistence for me. It kept spinning webs even though it had to spin a new one every day. It never gave up.

As a writer, I have to persist as well. After each rejection, I have to go over my work, fix what can be fixed and try again. Sometimes I have to start all over from the beginning. But I’m a writer. I keep spinning those stories and shaping those words. I’ll never give up.