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book deal

Weekly Wrap: Some Fabulous News

by Susan Henderson on January 18, 2008

It’s been absolutely killing me not to share this news. But I’m going to have the amazing Lance Reynald do the honors. I am so very happy for him, you have no idea! Here’s Lance…

This week’s wrap seems such a hard one to start. It feels as though it’s such a long one coming, but it really isn’t. Still, I find myself floundering around looking for some point of origin for the crazy fortuitous journey to begin.

It certainly isn’t a secret around the Park that I really love our craft. In all it’s wild and crazy forms. Everything from some of the classics to the craziest and most random of the bloggers. I find inspiration, insight and some spark within most of it.

A few years ago I started tinkering around in Bloggsville. It gave me a place to explore my writing and get some feedback here and there from what I found to be a compassionate and understanding audience. Initially hidden behind a series of quirky screen names and odd profile photos I overcame a certain timid nature and used the medium to find my voice. The worlds of Journalspace, Blogger and a few others I can’t remember and long ago deleted acted as an incubator for the style of writing I find has become recognizable as my own.

Now, a mild digression moment here. When I started all of this wild blogging the literary world didn’t yet understand the medium or what role it might play. All the writerly magazines dismissed it as a waste of time. I even had a few friends that we’re writers tell me not to invest my time and skills into something that wasn’t the actual “ work”. As though they all adhered to this unwritten rule that they were a breed apart from the common blogger; the writing done in the medium something less than their efforts. This view is still a riddle to me. It’s all words and audience somewhere isn’t it?

And then came MySpace.

Now, this is where the naysayers should pay a bit of attention. Back when I still had fewer than 50 friends over at MySpace my roll call included a collective of memoirists, a major imprint, a handful of talented writers, literary organizations and of course, Jenna Jameson.

They all said serious literature would never catch on in Bloggsville.

Hmm? (how serious are we talking.)

In April of 2006 I added my most valuable friend to that MySpace page. A friend that would help me find a novel in the random blogposts. A friend that would offer unwaivering support to an idea, a dream. A friend that would connect me to some of the most talented writers working with the craft today. The friend that would quickly move from a shared love of thunderstorms to having the affectionate nickname of “the wondertwin”.

It was the wondertwin that saw the very first copy of Pop Salvation. She gave me the push to take it from a few insane blogposts that left my readers mute into a novel length debut.

Certainly, there are a few people in my life that made the growth of the novel possible. But, Susan Henderson is the one that I’d credit with actually pushing me to limits of my own potential with this one. She’s the support that resulted in the book’s completion. That support isn’t just about our friendship, it’s about a passion for our craft. A friendship born in Bloggsville, with a steady foundation here on this page you’re visiting.

[USED TO BE A COOL PICTURE OF A POP SALVATION CAMPBELL’S SOUP CAN, BUT IT’S GONE NOW.]
Click here to “friend” Pop Salvation. Cool mock-up courtesy of iamthatguy.

Looks a bit like serious work to me.

Crazy journey for two years work, huh?

Where does it all go from here?

Well…

Working with friendships, taking chances here and there, taking heed some of the conventional wisdom and doing it my way anyway? Admittedly, I am a bit of a workhorse, and not a patient one at that. Susan can vouch for me there. She saw the first copy of Pop in early October and my worries about what it would do followed soon thereafter. We’re always our own worst critics though.

I don’t have the typical story with this one. I can’t tell you the tale of swimming in the slush pile and having a wall of rejection letters. I queried three agents informally via e-mail and sent along the first 40 pages. I didn’t hear back from a single one of them. Doubtful any of them have seen a single word. No contact is certainly no rejection. One thing I learned about my patience over the past few months; no form rejection letter means they haven’t even found the time to look at you.

I relied on friendship and the strength of my work here at the park to get my foot in a door. I’ve learned that there is a certain code, or compassion, among writers.

When we can, we help one another.

I’ve had a lot of help in the past two years.

I asked one of those friend’s what his advice was regarding how to send my little book out into the world. His response to my worries about the conventional wisdom,

“what’s to lose… at worst you’ll get a form letter back.”

Being ever the rule breaker and anarchist at heart, that was just the push I needed to do exactly what I wanted to do. Was that sneaking in the back door or just a bit of luck on the DIY approach I apply to most of my life? Who knows? It worked.

Pop Salvation ended up exactly where I wanted it. The imprint my gut told me would be the best home for it. Getting it there was through hard work, determination and the friendships built right here in the Park.

So, to all of you and especially to the Wondertwin, Thank You. I wouldn’t have done it without such a great bunch of friends and such a lovely playground.

Now, I’m off to bust out some edits and get this beast on the shelf for you kids in a year or so. I can’t wait to see what it all looks like then!

All my best and all my heart.

Follow that dream, you can get it!

xo. LR

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Thank you to this week’s guest, Monica Drake, and to everyone who linked to LitPark this week: Rachel Fershleiser at Smith Magazine, M.J. Rose, Reading Writing Living, Kimberly M. Wetherell, A.J. Davis, Anthony S. Policastro, Janet Reid at FinePrint Literary Management, the Amici Forever forum, Charles Shaughnessy, Word Junkie, and Simply Wait.

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Weekly Wrap: Our Signs

by Susan Henderson on March 23, 2007

Monday, when I announced it was my birthday week, I never ever imagined I might get a book deal as a birthday present. I can’t share all the details just yet, but I did accept an offer on my novel the other night. The offer came out of the blue and I’m still stunned and overwhelmed and beyond grateful. For my friends who’ve been trying so hard in this business and waiting for luck to happen, I wish this same feeling for you because there’s nothing like the sense of validation that the stories you’ve needed to tell and the hard work and sacrifices you’ve made to tell those stories mattered.

I promise I’ll give you details very soon, but I will drop a hint about who’s taking my book. If you live in NYC, this is the building where my people work.

*

If you’re a LitPark regular, I know you’ve been missing Lance Reynald who’s been on hiatus from his monthly Reynald’s Rap. But today he’s going to do the honors and give the weekly wrap. Take it away, wondertwin:

When semantics won’t do.

This week in Litpark has been both difficult and inspiring. I have been greatly touched, comforted and influenced by the sharing I have seen from all of you.

Grief is very fresh with me right now. I lost my father to a heart attack on February 19th. Just a month ago, and I am just beginning to feel my own skin and see through the fog and numbness of the loss. I know that what I feel as some hope and future returning to my world is but the beginning of living with the sadness I still feel.

Grief is certainly not new to me. I’ve known loss before. At different points of my life. I lost my best friend to an overdose at the age of nineteen, a lover to suicide at twenty-three, my mother to cancer at thirty-two. Each time the experience was different, and each time I emerged feeling fundamentally changed. I am thirty-six years old and face the world knowing that four beings that have formed the capacity of my heart have left this world. A challenging notion, a sadness to live with.

I talk to them all often. Lately it seems daily. I wonder if they are together, I like to think that they are. I like to believe that they watch together, giving strength to one another’s hopes and dreams for me and watching out for the hopes and dreams I have for myself.

My Father’s passing dealt me the most fatal blow of grief I’ve ever felt. The greatest darkness and worst despair. Robin is very true in her comment that the loss of your parents brings you into the world of being an adult. I realized that I’d passed through a door, now fully accountable with no one left to answer to. I also realized there was no one left to call. Yes, I have my friends and loved ones. But, a parent is who you call for a certain acceptance, to share good news or to get advice when you need that sharing with someone that has invested a life in doing the best they know how to do for you. A relationship you are born into, not one you have made at all, not like the others.

The loss disrupted my balance, changed my world. I felt suicidal everyday for the first few weeks. I was certain I would never write again. But, more than anything I just wanted to get my Dad on the phone, ask him what I should do. Left with the dream that I know every grieving child is left with, the proverbial one more day.

I also went through a period of anger, with this thing that is grief. I keep company with my contemporaries, all wordsmiths. All those that know grief, in many forms. Yet, somehow we all find it impossible to put to words. I felt as though I was facing my grief with no warning whatsoever. Nothing I’d ever read or heard prepared me for a period that I’ve thought purgatory, hell on earth. We, writers, possess the skill to create entire lives and worlds making our experiences over and crafting with words, but”¦ I’d never seen words to prepare me for the feelings that this grief brought to me. I have to admit it, I felt a bit betrayed.

A couple of weeks in I got a note from another writer, a note I will always treasure. She too had lost her father, and offered these words:

…now that your father has passed over to the other side, lots of people are going to give lots of advice.

They’re going to tell you that in time everything will make sense, and that in time you will stop hurting. But this is not true – and that’s why it doesn’t help when they say it. There will never, from this day forward, be a day that is better because your father isn’t here. You will never stop missing him, this will never make sense. This will not be okay. That is the truth.

The other, bigger truth is that you will learn to manage your pain. You will learn how to take it down, as if off a shelf, and you will marvel at it, and when it’s time to go join the real world, you will be able to put back up on that shelf, where it will wait for you.

It is not a question of the pain dissolving, so much as re-arranging. You will be able to bear this. YOU WILL. But do not look to “move on.” You will always miss him. He will always miss you. I believe in a great hereafter, and I believe we will all be joined again one day. So I focus on that, and I wait too.

I hope this seems ok to say to you – from one human with a missing father to another. I don’t know why we will make it through the bizarre choreography of life, these insane turns of events – I just know that we will.

In the darkness and despair of what I was feeling, those words felt like the only true thing I’d heard in weeks. Another writer, another grieving child. A friend.

Words that spoke truth to the feelings I was having; giving me some hope that I would find a way out of my despair.

I am so very proud of all of you for having the love, courage and strength to share like you have this week. I’d also like to add that you have all managed to find the words that I thought had been missing from the world of literature just a month ago”¦ You are all the most beautifully gifted wordsmiths I’ve come across, I’m honored to share this space with you and my life is better because of you.

Wishing you all the peace and love you deserve!

Thank you-

Lance Reynald

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I know I’m not the only one here who loves Lance, but since it’s my blog, I get to say it first. Thank you for what you wrote. And thank you to Noria, Carolyn, Grant, Betsy, Jim, Shelley and Aurelio for letting us know your moms and dads just a little bit.

And here’s to all of you who shared your birthdays:

Kimberly
dennis mahagin
Carol Novack

A. S. King
Ric Marion
EminemsRevenge
Shelley Marlow
Bruce Hoppe

me (Sunday I’ll be 40 – but if you knew my friends who’ve already turned 40 and 50 and 60, you’d understand why I’m not scared of big numbers. Besides, each day is the youngest we’ll ever be again, so we might as well enjoy it, eh?)
Megan
Gayle Brandeis (Gayle, you share a birthday with my friends, Mike and Ritchie. It’s a good day to be born.)

Betsy
Carolyn Burns Bass
Brandon Hobson
Laura
Jason Boog
Mary Akers

mikel k poet
Julie Ann Shapiro
Larissa Shmailo
Kaytie
Sarah Roundell
Aida Wojcik

Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Terry Bain

Robin Slick
Kris Yankee
Malcolm Campbell

Shannon
Ronlyn Domingue
Aimee
Grant Bailie
Daryl
Jordan

Paula
Lori Oliva
Lance Reynald
n.l. belardes
Claudia Smith

Myfanwy Collins
Simon Haynes
Ellen Meister
Nicole
Anneliese
Noria
Alexi Lykissas

Avital
Nathalie
Mark Bastable
Amy Kiger-Williams

Jim
Laini Taylor
Aurelio
AmyWallen

See you Monday with some details.

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