Workshop Transcript

  Many Thanks to Jennifer Jesseph for editing this transcript

Overcoming Disappointment

with Jessica Swaim

NOTE: This Workshop took place in January of 2000

Nate by Night books can be ordered directly from Jessica. Get information by sending an email to <>

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*** Verla has set the topic on channel #kidlit to Overcoming Disappointment Writing Workshop here tonight

KelAtHome hands Sally a can of Raid

Verla: Okay, y'all...are you READY to start?

Verla: RAID?

KelAtHome dusts off the podium

Verla: Our workshop leader tonight is Jessica Swaime...

Verla: Jessica Swaim is a former librarian who has been writing seriously (while trying to maintain a sense of humor) for nearly 20 years. After selling some magazine pieces in the '80s, she turned her attention to writing mid grade novels and experienced absolutely no sales for 14 years, until she sold a picture book last December. During the long dry spell, she learned all she ever wanted to know about battling frustration, which she is here to talk about tonight.

LadyPen: Name of the picture book, please! :)

Verla: Nate at Night is one of the most delightful stories I've read in a LONG time

Verla: I also want you to know before we begin, that I had the honor of getting to see proofs of Jessica's first picture book even before SHE did, because I was asked if I would write an endorsement for the book

MelLane: What a CUTE title!

Verla: the language in it is absolutely beautiful...

JessicaSw: thank you, Verla

Verla: it reminded me of the beauty of Winken, Blinken & Nod

LadyPen: rhyming?

JessicaSw: no rhyme

mugsy: Hello

Verla: just beautiful language that tickles your mind, lady

LadyPen: sounds wonderful!

KelAtHome: Darn. I can't read it then, Verla. I cry rivers when I read Winken, Blinken and Nod

ch: jessica--surely the long dry spell made the sale all the sweeter!

JessicaSw: ah, yes, indeed, ch

Verla: much for the introduction. Jessica is a wonderful writer and we are very fortunate to have her here leading our workshop tonight....

Verla: okay, Jessica. you are now "on"

Verla: For those who haven't attended one of our workshops are the "rules" Welcome to our weekly Kidlit Workshop. We ask that you hold all personal chit-chat until the hour is up, but Please! Free free to join in the topic currently under discussion.

JessicaSw: thanks, Verla

JessicaSw: I'll start by asking a (probably rhetorical) question.

JessicaSw: Who's ready for a new attitude for the new century?

Dani257: ME!!!

Verla: me!

JessicaSw: good!

Julia_00: yes!!

Rochell: I am.

Amishka: me too!

ponytailm: Please me!

LadyPen: New attitude! Yea!

JessicaSw: My presentation will be in three parts.

JessicaSw: First, a brief into.

JessicaSw: Second, recommended reading.

JessicaSw: Finally, we'll go around the room.

JessicaSw: And whoever wants to can let loose with your frustrations

MelLane: are we getting an attitude adjustment here?

JessicaSw: tell us how you cope and/or ask for our help in brainstorming solutions

JessicaSw: you could say that, Mel! are you up for it?

Verla: yes, mel! An attitude adjustment! Great way to phrase it!

MelLane: sure!

MelLane: attitude is 99% of the battle.

JessicaSw: while you're mulling over your various frustrations, I'll get started on the intro

JessicaSw: it took me 14 years to sell a book

JessicaSw: about a year before my book was accepted, I hit an all-time low

JessicaSw: I knew I had to change... my stinky attitude

JessicaSw: so I did some soul searching

JessicaSw: listened to a couple of motivational tapes

JessicaSw: and did some reading

Verla: that can be dangerous, jessica!

JessicaSw: somewhere along the way I made a key realization

Verla: (soul searching)

Lyra__: yes?

JessicaSw: sooo true, verla! (I'm still looking for it)

JessicaSw: writing itself never frustrated me. even when the work was going badly

JessicaSw: I loved it. what bugged me was not selling

JessicaSw: can anybody relate?

Dani257: I can

Amishka: I can

JessicaSw: i made a simple resolution

Sally: YES!

Lyra__: of course! I had a 3 year drought of no sales after a career that seemed to be taking off

ch: big time yes to the relate!

Verla: me me me~

JessicaSw: to let go of all the external stuff I couldn't control

KelAtHome: That had to be tough, Jessica

JessicaSw: and instead to concentrate on the work itself, quality and quantity

JessicaSw: oh, it's ongoing work, Kel!

KelAtHome: Explain quantity, please

JessicaSw: production goals, like write X no. of books a year

KelAtHome: oh. gotcha. thanks

JessicaSw: or butt in chair, an hour a day, whatever works

JessicaSw: by the way, that same principle of letting go of what we can't control

also works well with relationships and career junk

Dani257: My biggest problem. Getting the butt in the chair

JessicaSw: external stuff being ego-related garbage

JessicaSw: such as i'm not as good a writer as so and so

KelAtHome: External stuff like other people's opinions, right? namely, editors opinions in your case

JessicaSw: I got a lousy critique

Verla: Hey, that sounds like exactly what I did before I sold my first book, Jessica! I made a commitment...not to "sell" anything, but to WRITE EVERY DAY and to SUBMIT what I wrote. That was the year I finally started selling.

JessicaSw: I'm tired of waiting to hear from editors

JessicaSw: exactly, kel!!

ch: writers have egos? :-)

JessicaSw: yes, Verla, it worked for you too then

JessicaSw: the external stuff bugs us all but I'm suggesting that if you can release it

Hen: sounds very zen-like to me

mugsy: I'm liking this theory

JessicaSw: you will free up a lot of time and energy for your work

JessicaSw: oh, great point, Hen, on the zen (hey, a rhyme)

JessicaSw: you're getting ahead of me, hen!

LadyPen: and I'll bet your true voice shines through!

--> katrapp_ hooray! You made it. Welcome!

JessicaSw: Now I have four books to recommend

mugsy: Sort of a "Be the Book" kind of thing LOL

JessicaSw: in hopes they will help you think more positively

JessicaSw: about your life and your work

JessicaSw: LOL, mugsy

JessicaSw: first is Simple Abundance: A daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach

JessicaSw: anybody read it?

LadyPen: Aah-great book!

mab: yes, it's great!

okadee: Yes

Verla: nope...but it sounds good

Sally: yes

JessicaSw: tell us what you got from it, mab

Julia_00: Yep.

LadyPen: It reads like fresh air.

JessicaSw: nice endorsement, Lady

KelAtHome: mmm, sounds heavenly, LP

mab: to find your "authentic" self from simple things

JessicaSw: there's a brief entry for each day of the year-- yes, mab--

Julia_00: It makes you be nice to yourself

JessicaSw: with daily rituals to help us take time for reflection in our lives

KelAtHome: How so, Julia?

Verla: Hmmm. Sounds like the "cards for women" I have. Each card has a positive thought on it.

Julia_00: It reminds you that nobody in your life is happy until YOU are!

KelAtHome: Oh, excellent point!

Hen: Is this book about writing or just general stuff about life?

JessicaSw: not writing related, Hen

JessicaSw: bear with me while I go spiritual for a minute

Verla: Ah..I was right

Hen: cool!

Verla: no problem, Jessica

JessicaSw: if you keep a gratitude journal, as Sarah suggests. Write down five things for which you are grateful each day. I guarantee it will change your life

MelLane: I LIKE spiritual!

JessicaSw: especially if you are a negative thinker

Verla: hmmm. A gratitude journal, eh?

JessicaSw: it will help every aspect of your life, including writing

KelAtHome: Do they have to be 5 different things each day?

JessicaSw: i don't think so

JessicaSw: And on Oprah people in the audience have stood up and told how it

changed their lives some made career changes. All sorts of stuff happened.

Hen: positive affirmations

JessicaSw: yes, Hen, you said it better than I did

Julia_00: My son and I do this for our nightly prayer -- we thank God for 5 things each day.

JessicaSw: it causes you to focus on what's right with your life instead of wrong

JessicaSw: it helps you get in touch with what you value, if you don't already know

Verla: excellent advice!

MelLane: I like that idea, Julia.

LadyPen: It teaches you to develop appreciation for the tiniest of things in life.

JessicaSw: and it forces you to live in the moment

KelAtHome: Sounds like a wonderful way to start and end the day

JessicaSw: as you mentally note things to be grateful for each day

Sally: I received 3 copies for Christmas. Do you think someone was trying to tell me something!!!!

Dani257: I do that at nightly prayers, but just one special thing each night

mugsy: sally LOL

MelLane: LOL, Sally!

JessicaSw: Sally, I got it for Christmas a couple of years ago too

LadyPen: Pass 'em out, Sally! LOL

KelAtHome: hehehe, Sally

JessicaSw: it will help with your writing, it will help with your life

Verla: LOL Sally! Now you have two wonderful gifts to give to special people in your life.

JessicaSw: because you can't write if you're miserable, right?

KelAtHome: Right, Jessica!

Verla: Oh,, man....I am, Jessica! (miserable if I can't write)

JessicaSw: my second recommendation goes even deeper into the spiritual realm

Amishka: You can write miserably Jessica

KelAtHome: But what if what you're writing is making you miserable?

Hen: I recently attended a seminar which mentioned "mind mapping"

katrapp_: kel. then change what you are writing

katrapp_: or take a class

JessicaSw: i'll let you fight that one out :-)

JessicaSw: great suggestion, kel

KelAtHome puts on her boxing gloves

JessicaSw: sometimes a change is called for

Verla: hey, NO FIGHTING in the chat room

Verla puts on her referee hat...

JessicaSw: back to your corners, please!

Amishka: Not during a workshop anyway

JessicaSw: second book is Manifest Your Destiny

JessicaSw: subtitle The Nine Spiritual Principles for Getting Everything You Want

by Wayne Dyer

JessicaSw: how's that for an intriguing subtitle?

MelLane: hmmmmm

Hen: making positive affirmations before you sleep at night (so your subconcious works on them)

mugsy: I know that author

KelAtHome: If we can eventually go back to this question...What is mind mapping, Hen?

Hen: It's setting goals before you sleep at night so you can work on them while you're asleep

LadyPen: Oooh, a PBS regular!

Hen: wonderful book by Dyer!

JessicaSw: yes, what is mind mapping, Hen?

MelLane: Is that book Christian?

JessicaSw: tell us what you got from Dyer's book, Hen

JessicaSw: Mel, I'm not sure how to answer that

JessicaSw: it's definitely not religious orthodoxy

JessicaSw: Dyer discusses the concept of infinite patience (don't we wish!!)

and detaching from outcome

KelAtHome: I get the feeling when you're referring to "spiritual" the "spirit" part can be interchangable with "soul, right?

LadyPen: Isn't mindmapping thinking in 'idea bubbles'--networking and brainstorming from a central thought?

JessicaSw: it has helped me so much to try to learn not to expect

KelAtHome: Thanks, Hen

JessicaSw: anything! just do the work and shut up

Hen: ie. visuallizing yourself at a book signing ...

JessicaSw: yes, Hen

JessicaSw: Right before I sold my book I dreamed I was doing a book signing. The first dream like that I'd EVER had

JessicaSw: how about you, Verla?

Verla: I rarely dreamt, Jessica.

Hen: it's very powerful stuff but you have to believe!

JessicaSw: yes, and you know you believe when your dreams tell you so

JessicaSw: Dyer says that if you align your energy with the energy of the universe

JessicaSw: success will come to you. the catch is

Sammeow: One of the problems w/"not expecting" is teaching others "not to expect too."

Lyra__: I have done visualization and while logically I can't see how it works, it seems to work

JessicaSw: that it will come on the universe's timetable, not your own

JessicaSw: you probably just don't remember, verla!

Verla: that was back when I was having severe sleep apnea problems...

JessicaSw: lyra, I agree, it doesn't seem logical

Verla: and was waking up about 59 times per hour

JessicaSw: so you got more writing done, Verla!

Verla: so I rarely got into rem sleep, jessica

Verla: lol yep

mugsy: olympic athletes use visulization

Lyra__: I still visualize success while I am waking up in the morning

JessicaSw: yes, mental rehearsal

JessicaSw: I know some of this sounds like of airy fairy to some of you

KelAtHome: The only time I used visualization and it worked was to induce my labor

JessicaSw: but try it before you knock it, please

Lyra__: It was hard to visualize at first, but I trained myself

JessicaSw: next book, Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

JessicaSw: Zen for Hen!

Lyra__: I used to imagine myself walking into a workshop I was teaching carrying a box of my books -- and that's happened

KelAtHome: I like the sound of that one, Jessica

Julia_00: I visualize myself answering the question "Why did you decide to write this book?"

KelAtHome: Oooh, good one, Julia

JessicaSw: and what do you dream of answering, Julia?

Lyra__: now I visualize myself being at ALA or BEA signing books with a huge line of fans (g)

Julia_00: Makes me think long and hard, Kel!

JessicaSw: Mel, I won't go into religion here, but I think he emphasizes the importance of writing what you love(or what you hate)

Amishka: Isn't a universal time table Gods time table?

JessicaSw: Ami, I think the two are compatible

LadyPen: But isn't a universal time table God's time table?

MelLane: Thank you, Kel. :o)

JessicaSw: correction, I mean out of the deepest feelings you have

KelAtHome: The most powerful piece I've ever written was about something I hated, Dani

MelLane: But I know it's important to dream, and to reach out for your goals.

JessicaSw: he admonishes writers to "look to your zest, see to your gusto"

His three cardinal rules are: work, relaxation, don't think "There is no failure unless one stops"

JessicaSw: There's a quote to tattoo on your forehead, LOL

NOTE: LOL=Laughs out loud

KelAtHome: Just to make sure, are all these books still available and in print?

JessicaSw: yes, Kel!

JessicaSw: another wonderful quote from Zen

KelAtHome: thanks (just checking)

JessicaSw: "We never sit anything out. We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out"

LadyPen: It sounds strange, but the 'not thinking' part is actually the point of focused energy.

KelAtHome: Oh wow.

JessicaSw: hey, you're really "getting this", Lady!

JessicaSw: my final recommendation is a book featuring our very own

Verla and Linda Joy

JessicaSw: called You Can Make it Big Writing Books, by Jeff Herman

Verla jumps up and bows low

JessicaSw: anybody read this one?

KelAtHome drum roll

Verla: I did I did!

KelAtHome: LOL, V!

JessicaSw: others?

Verla: And I LOVE all the wonderful comments from all the authors!

LadyPen: I saw a doc. that reported on brainwave changes leading up to the point of focus! I learned that once we stop thinking, our energy is more focused than ever on the task at-hand.

Verla: 60 authors!

KelAtHome: I bet Linda Joy has too :-P

JessicaSw: sounds very zen, lady!

JessicaSw: the writers in this book stress the importance of learning the craft and

(surprise) never giving up

mugsy: verla does amazon have that book?

Verla: yes, it does, mugsy

JessicaSw: consider rejections as a rite of passage, not an end

JessicaSw: should I repeat that one? :-)

Lyra__: I have that book!

mugsy: thank you! buying it

Rochell: I have Zen and the Art of Writing. Wonderful book.

KelAtHome: I'm looking forward to my first rejection (it will make me feel validated in the writing world, as odd as that sounds)

JessicaSw: glad you think so, Rochell

JessicaSw: It's the best writing book I've ever read

mugsy: Yep I have myself looking forward to a rejection too

JessicaSw: and very helpful with Life too

JessicaSw: here's a quote from that book by Audrey Schulman

JessicaSw: "When I go through a difficult time in my life, the pain is just pain if I am not writing. If I am writing, then at least I am learning about life"

Lyra__: I like that one, Jessica -- I feel I'm always learning!

JessicaSw: aren't we all, Lyra!

ch: LOL Lyra--me too.

JessicaSw: any questions or comments before we start griping?

Lyra__: And sometimes it's extra fun to "learn" by seeing events through your eyes PLUS a character you're working on

JessicaSw: good point, Lyra

KelAtHome: Just a quick thank you in case I have to leave suddenly for some wonderful quotes and great tips on books, Jessica

Verla: I'm happiest when I'm writing

JessicaSw: glad you're here, Kel

Lyra__: I am empty when I'm not writing

JessicaSw: Verla, don't you think that in itself is an important realization?

mugsy: Me too Verla!

JessicaSw: and don't ever let anybody steal your joy!

Verla: yes...

KelAtHome: Odd that you put it that way, Lyra. I "empty" myself *by* writing

Verla: and they do try to, jessica! (Steal the joy of writing from you)

Lyra__: The writing is satisfaction, creating life with words

hopah: it charges my batteries

Rochell: Nothing excites me more than seeing the words come out of me and onto a computer screen.

Lyra__: and if I write something I think if good, I can't wait to share it with trusted friends

JessicaSw: so does this mean you're all so upbeat that you have no frustrations to share?

mugsy: Do you feel happy at the keyboard actually doing the work though??

JessicaSw: yes, mugsy, I do!

MelLane: I love controlling situations/scenes/characters to make them come out the way I want! (g)

Note: g=grin

JessicaSw: The real work for me is not at the keyboard

KelAtHome: My biggest frustration is not enough time lately

Verla: that's one of my first (and biggest) gripes! Family that nags at you until you feel guilty for writing.

Lyra__: I can't be frustrated today -- not when my book hit Amazon and has great sales figures already

JessicaSw: but in my head way before I get to the keyboard

JessicaSw: LOL, Lyra, we'll skip you for the gripe session

Verla: so that the joy of the writing is "tainted"

JessicaSw: and congrats by the way, Lyra

Lyra__: Well, I can gripe about not hearing from editors -- even when I work with them

Rochell: I am happy when I am typing. I am unhappy when the typing stops because I can't think of what to write next.

Julia_00: I'm having trouble finishing a novel--all the work with slim chance of publication. o keep going?

mugsy: hmmm I don't---I feel like I am going thru torture but feel good after i do it and don't feel good if I don't have anything cooking so to speak

mab: what book, Lyra?

Verla: LOL That's a gripe a lot of writers would kill to have, lyra!

ponytailm: I guess my biggest 'downer' is waiting to hear from editors. I can handle the rejection - but does it have to take so long

KelAtHome: I dream of having that same problem Lyra <vbg>

NOTE vbg= very big grin

Amishka: Hey Verla you sound like you live in my house

Lyra__: I often tease that typing is my music ... the keyboard my instrument

Julia_00: How to ignore the odds and not get discourgaed?

tem: The waiting is the worst.

JessicaSw: yes, the waiting is torture

JessicaSw: but, as "they" say, best to get going on a new project

Dani257: A gripe I have is people telling me to write adult books.

KelAtHome: I've learned a great trick for the waiting stuff...forget you sent anything in

Verla: (Well, we ARE twins, aren't we ami?)

Verla: I HATE waiting! And it seems that's all I ever do

KelAtHome: Which is really easy if you have a memory like mine <g>

JessicaSw: it's hard to make waiting fun

JessicaSw: but it's a lot more bearable when you have lots of work out there

Amishka: I start writing another book while I wait

JessicaSw: there you go, Ami

KelAtHome: But that doesn't work if you come into a chat room on a regular basis and have a certain somebady asking you if any news has come yet

Verla: yep. My next book...the one coming out next fall, sold in 1994. Six years from purchase to publication.

Sally: My current frustration is that I had to stop writing for a few months and now i feel as if I have to start all over again. And WHERE to start?

KelAtHome gives Deetie a pointed look

Amishka: Then you sort of forget the book you're waiting on

Verla: OH, YES, Jessica! It's MUCH easier to wait when you have lots "out there"

JessicaSw: I think some of us tend to think that once we sell a book we won't be as frustrated

mugsy: Verla that seems almost criminalthat's tooo long!!

Verla: Yep. It's sure been a long wait, mugsy

Dani257: Yeah, but I'm a s-l-o-w writer. The dry spells are too frequent

hopah: I stop trying to write and just read read read when I get stuck

JessicaSw: but there's always new things to be frustrated about

Amishka: will we ever sell another one?

mugsy: jessica what good news LOL

KelAtHome: Good advice, hopah

hopah: going on a long boring drive also helps me -

Verla: I write very slowly, too, Dani. My solution is to be working on two or three books at once at all times...

MelLane: Dani, write in a manner/way that's comfortable for you.

mugsy: Verla if it were a baby it would be in kindergarten !!

JessicaSw: One thing I did when I was frustrated was try a picture book

And it sold! I'd been writing mid grades.

hopah: if I am the driver on a long drive, I write out loud and only stop to put it on paper when it's too good to forget.

Verla: then...even though it takes me a couple of years to finish one...I can have one being completed each year. :-)

JessicaSw: So sometimes making a change has amazing results. We get stuck in a rut and don't know it. Has anyone else had good results from trying something new?

LadyPen: who is your pub, Jessica?

JessicaSw: Portunus Publishing, LadyPen, small, in Carmel, CA

NOTE: this publisher closed down right after publishing Nate by Night. It no longer exists. Nate by Night books can be ordered directly from Jessica. Get information by sending an email to <>

KelAtHome: So, Jessica, during that 14 year dry spell did you even get any "bites" or no interest whatsoever?

Julia_00: Jess, have you had more luck with your MGs now?

JessicaSw: Kel, I got a number of encouraging letters from editors and did some rewrites. I lived on some of those letters for years!

mugsy: I am attempting my first PB now

Note: PB = picture book

KelAtHome: Well, at least there was some hope shining through

JessicaSw: read them over and over until they were faded and water spotted from reading them in the bathtub, LOL

KelAtHome: LOL!

JessicaSw: I felt I was getting close

Amishka: LOL

LadyPen: LOL

Verla: I started with a YA novel, Jessica. I'm still struggling with it 11 years later...but now I've got 7 picture books under contract

Note: YA= young adult

JessicaSw: but darn it, close for 14 years??

LadyPen: Do you have an agent working for you?

JessicaSw: oh, yes, Verla, that legendary YA novel, hehee

KelAtHome: I didn't know you wrote YA, V

Rochell: Jessica, I've been writing short stories for years with no sales. I decided to write a poem.

JessicaSw: So Verla, what would you say to someone who asked you why you want to write a YA when you're so successful with picture books?

Hen: My crit group helps - puts some pressure on me.

JessicaSw: good for you, Rochell. any response yet?

Rochell: I wrote a couple. They sold.

hopah: My something new this week --I wrote a wicked picture book for fun and shared it with a friend

mugsy: Hen I just joined one that's good to know

KelAtHome: Hey now, V! Trying is my only claim to the writing world right now! <g>

Note: g=grin

JessicaSw: terrific, hopah!

LadyPen: For those of you who have agents, does that remove the worry and negativity from your thoughts?

Verla: not really, lady. I still get just as many rejects as I did without an agent....only I don't have to worry about where to send the manuscripts

JessicaSw: and wasn't it fun?

MelLane: It's a GOOD book, she just hasn't worked on it steadily. (verla's YA)

JessicaSw: trying is everything, Kel

JessicaSw: rejection slips mean you are trying

Rochell: I have over ten poetry sales, but no short stories yet.

KelAtHome: Wow, Rochell, I didn't know you were that prolific!

Amishka: Hen that's how I got through the first draft of my wip. I had people pressuring me to finish it

Verla: LOL Because I HAVE to write this story, Jessica. And somehow, a story revolving around a rape and AIDS just doesn't seem right for the picture book set.

JessicaSw: no, please, Verla, don't make it into a pb, LOL

hopah: it wasn't really wicked but over the top -- now my assignment is to tame it but it was fun!

JessicaSw: Rejections are only a step in the process. After all, nobody ever sold a book without getting rejections first. Did they??

MelLane: P. D. James -- but that's another story. (g)

MelLane: SHE sold without a SINGLE rejection!

mugsy: She who?

MelLane: P. D. James, mugsy.

Dani257: Didn't Paula Danzinger, too?

NOTE: Yes, Paula Danziger also sold without a single rejection.

JessicaSw: rochell, I'm in awe of anyone who can sell poetry

Lyra__: I am doing something new and doing a pic book

JessicaSw: i submitted a new pb to my publisher

Rochell: They were sold to small horror magazines. I sold five to a single magazine.

JessicaSw: and they haven't even read it yet, after more than 3 months

JessicaSw: so that's what being "published" gets you, LOL

hopah: question --how long should I wait before sending a follow up letter on a ms I sent to two places?

LadyPen: thanks, Kel: Do you have an agent, Jessica?

JessicaSw: no, Lady, I slush pile it

Lyra__: I still get rejects with an agent -- just quicker

JessicaSw: of course, bear in mind, Lady, it did take me 14 years

mugsy: thanks mel thought it was someone in here wanted to get some luck from them LOL

JessicaSw: hopah, what wait time do the publishers state?

LadyPen: Lyra, do you feel removed from the worry and frustration by having an agent?

Lyra__: Lady--having an agent makes me feel like I have a partner in this biz and does ease some of the anxiety

hopah: They say 3-4 months, it's almost 6. I got the reply postcard from HC saying they were swamped but getting to it -- 3 months ago!

LadyPen: good point

Lyra__: but I still get anxious a lot and push myself to try new things and produce regularly

JessicaSw: you could send them a SAS postcard, hopah

Note: SAS = self addressed stamped

MelLane: Those with agents -- does it free up MORE writing time? Because that's what I NEED!

LadyPen: but you feel like someone else is out there pulling for you, don't you, Lyra?

Lyra__: I never did spend that much time submitting -- just a few hours here and there

Verla: I think it does for me, mel.

JessicaSw: ah ha, Mel, you've hit on my no. 1 frustration, not enough writing time!

Lyra__: And for researching markets, I still do that

LadyPen: Lyra, you research and then share with your agent?

MelLane: Those who know me can tell you -- it's my NUMBER ONE frustration, too, Jessica!

Lyra__: Lady--I did with my previous agent, but haven't had my new one very long yet

Verla: I used to spend many MANY hours pouring over the market guidebooks...searching for just the right publishers...then sending for their catalogs and reading them..then spending hours preparing cover letters and sending them...

JessicaSw: Mel, that bit about get up at 4 a.m. and write just doesn't work for me

I can't even find the kitchen at 4 a.m.

Lyra__: I just up around 6 or 8 am and write (g)

MelLane: Me either, Jessica!

LadyPen: V, you then share your findings with your agent and she investigates further?

JessicaSw: oh you morning people disgust me!

Verla: Now I just send the completed manuscripts to my agent and she does the rest for me

MelLane: I seem to only be able to write when there's a holiday, or LATE at night.

Julia_00: LOL, Jessica. I'm a night owl myself.

JessicaSw: tem, any frustrations you care to share?

Verla: that was before I had an agent, lady

Verla: now I leave it to her

Lyra__: My agent (same as Verla's) DID ask me if there were publishers I wanted to submit to specificially

tem: Jess: Rewrites, recently.

MelLane: Give me a holiday -- I'll churn out 5,000 words a day.

Amishka: Jessica I couldn't even find the floor at 4 am let alone the kitchen

LadyPen: Aaah, so the agent gives you that needed space to write, doesn't she?!

tem: I've done six drafts of the same story.

Verla: mine does, lady.

LadyPen: There's a good reason to have one!

tem: The editor wants another.

JessicaSw: interesting point is that one person's dream is another's frustration

Verla: and my agent doesn't believe in "editing"

Lyra__: Verla--your agent doesn't believe in editing? What do you mean?

LadyPen: Explain, V.

Verla: she told me once that editors edit, writers write, and she takes care of the business end for me

LadyPen: Understood!

Lyra__: It's definitely easier if you don't have a day job -- I know I'm lucky

Julia_00: MLK Day's coming up, Mel. :-)

tem: I'm ready to move on to another book already!

JessicaSw: for instance, tem, many people would die for a personal letter from an editor

hopah: tem -- is it getting better?

JessicaSw: but you're agonizing over your requested rewrite

tem: hopah: I think it is, but I'm stimied on the next draft.

JessicaSw: what's really frustrating is when you work your heart out on a requested rewrite

tem: Lately I have been working more on other things and putting off the one that the editor wants to see again.

hopah: can you go backwards -- start at the end point (what the ed. wants) and figure out how to get there that way?

Amishka: Another point on personal letters from editors, sometimes they can be confusing

JessicaSw: and then the editor doesn't buy it

Verla: my agent won't tell me to "fix" stuff in my manuscripts before they go to an editor. She either says, "I love it! Let's send it out!" or she says, "I don't think that will sell right now. Let's retire it.'

JessicaSw: yes, ami, I think so too

JessicaSw: Sometimes they just aren't specific enough. I once got a letter from an editor about my mid grade and she said it lacked depth and substance. I'm thinking hmm, what does that mean?

LadyPen: That means she's REALLY in touch with the market and the houses, VLyra__: Ah V--I heard that "retire it" suggestion (sigh)

JessicaSw: it's definitely not good, LOL, but what specifically should I do to fix it

Verla: ah, have hit on a sore spot with me! That business about rewriting and then the editor doesn't buy the story...

JessicaSw: particularly painful, isn't it, Verla?

JessicaSw: so close and yet so far

tem: If you get a confusing letter, do you call the editor for clarification? JessicaSw: tem, I think it's appropriate to call

JessicaSw: I try to adopt the attitude that at least it's a better book

Lyra__: I used to rewrite A LOT for my previous agent and most of the suggestions were wonderful

JessicaSw: and I don't make changes I don't feel I can pull off with integrity

Verla: I won't EVER rewrite a story without a contract UNLESS I firmly believe that the rewrite will make the story better for ANY house/any editor when I'm done.

Lyra__: I guess now my changes will have to come from my online crit group

JessicaSw: didn't you say you had a conversation with that editor?

LadyPen: That's confident advice, V

tem: I've spoken to her three times on the phone now.

Verla: I would, tem. (contact the editor about a confusing letter)

Amishka: I had a letter from an editor suggesting changes but I wasn't sure if she actually wanted a rewrite

JessicaSw: I think feedback from crit groups can also be very confusing

LadyPen: You're asking for a commitment before the hassle.

JessicaSw: If the editor is interested enough to write the letter you figure they'll chat with you

hopah: w/ groups you have to know the people to filter their crit. comments!

JessicaSw: tem, are you getting clarification or more confused?

JessicaSw: explain what you mean, hopah

tem: I called to follow up on the letter, and was surprised at how much time she gave me on the phone. It was very helpful.

JessicaSw: good for you, tem

hopah: Some people have hot buttons -- things they always object to on a personal level

JessicaSw: After all, you are putting a lot of work into a rewrite. You need to be clear on what the weak areas are

JessicaSw: hopah, you mean some people have "a thing" they always fixate on?

LadyPen: hopah, it's also a matter of experience, too. Every writer in a group is at a different level of progress.

hopah: a thing or an area. My stuff is earthy and some people are prim

JessicaSw: I don't want to sound down on crit groups but, they don't always help

They may mean well but too much feedback can be confusing

and many people want to rewrite your story into theirs

hopah: or I wrote something about a mom being big (meaning from a baby's perspective) and 2 people (online) said "does she have to be fat?!LOL

LadyPen: they may not always appear helpful, but if they give you pause to think, I think it's a good thing.

JessicaSw: uh oh, Lady, hot button, LOL

LadyPen: I don't understand, Jessica

Verla: Lady...I have a method for sifting through crit group messages, too.... what I do is ONLY listen to suggestions that feel RIGHT for me and my book. The rest, I set aside and just save to look at again at a later date.

JessicaSw: sorry, Lady, I meant hopah, re the fat comment

mugsy: Verla that's a good plan

JessicaSw: sounds like you have a good, open attitude, Lady

tem: hopah: If one person misunderstands something in your story, others might as well. That's good feedback to have.

hopah: I'm with Verla, too!

LadyPen: V, I think that's the correct way to approach a crit group.

JessicaSw: which is what it takes to be in a crit group

Verla: oh dear! our time is UP, Jessica.

JessicaSw: bye, kat!

katrapp_: thanks bunches jessica :)

JessicaSw: May I leave you all with another quote from Zen in the Art of Writing?

Verla: But this was a GREAT workshop! And we REALLY appreciate your input, Jessica

Verla: yes, please do!

LadyPen: Jessica, thank you for a wonderful hour. It was refreshing!

mugsy: Well this was FASCINATING!!

Sammeow: Bye,Kat

JessicaSw: "Be the self I (God) signed you in your blood. Seek that. And, finding... be what no one else can be." Wise words for writing and for life don't you think?

JessicaSw: thanks for coming!

hopah: tem -- it told me I needed art notes -- but it cracked me up that they seemed turned off by a fat mom -- that's all.

tem: Cool.

Verla: Hoooray, Jessica!

Windy2u: Thanks Jessica. Very good work.

mugsy: Thank YOU Jessica

Sally: Thanks so much. The hour went too fast!

okadee: Jessi, this was a great workshop.

JessicaSw: thank YOU

Lyra__: great, Jessica! And good luck with your upcoming book!

JessicaSw: you all inspire me!

Dani257: Thanks, Jessica

Amishka: Great job Jessica

NOTE: Nate by Night books can be ordered directly from Jessica. Get information by sending an email to <>

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