Youngblood Blog

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Nobody’s Perfect — ESPECIALLY Me

GUESTBLOG FEATURE: Stacy Gail, Author

When I first asked STACY GAIL to write a guest blog, I thought she would throw a triple Salchow or a double lutz (she coaches skaters for a living) and say she was wa-a-ay too busy. She is, when all is said and done, a prolific writer: one of the hugely motivated, daily disciplined and Muse-directed kind I so often describe here …and try to be… when Rite R. Bloch isn’t handcuffing me to the desk. While Stacy has been writing on envelopes, sketch pads, diaries and looseleaf notebooks since childhood, she has remarkably only recently joined the e-brigade, the FB-peeps, the tweet-twitterers. That in itself is astounding, given her background (and by that I don’t mean hours on the ice). Though that probably contributed. 😛

Ancestor Zane Grey (1872-1939) with his horse, Juan Carlos

She is the massively talented descendant of author/screenwriter Harold Bell Wright — who in turn is descended from the Wright Brothers. Bell Wright (1872-1944) was famous not only for his Americana, but for becoming — in hard times — the first American novelist to make $1million, purely from writing fiction. Stacy, who started writing full-length novels and novellas at age 14, also has the ultimate best-seller king, Zane Grey (1872-1939), in her ancestral genetic strain. So I do believe it won’t be long before EVERYbody will have read Stacy’s best-sellers, and her name will be on everyone’s lips. She has, to boot, a massively funny turn-of-phrase and her blog posts are the ones I turn to when I need to start my day with a laugh!

One of her delights in describing her efforts at establishing territory in the daunting world of publishing is:

“Too bad this isn’t the animal kingdom. If it were, all I’d have to do is pee in a corner or two and that would be that. We humans, though, are a bit more complicated (not to mention, hygienic), so that means it’s time to put on my big-girl pants and be aggressive in getting my name out there. Name-recognition is an absolute MUST”
Stacy Gail, Author

She has recently been signed by Samhain Publishing and I do believe this is only the start of bigger things. But I’ll let her tell you, herself.

Nobody’s Perfect – ESPECIALLY Me

Stacy in her corner: waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting literary world

Thank you Marian, for allowing me to guest blog, and hello to all of Marian’s fabulous readers!

When Marian suggested I share what a brand-spanking-new author goes through on the way to publishing their very first book, I had to laugh (and yes, I said spanking. I’ll be saying a lot of things you might not approve of; sorry). While I had been planning something like a “blooper post” for my own blog, I figured no one would believe my many, many, MANY screw-ups. But since she asked…

First off, I’d like to point out I DID get some things right. *throws confetti*

For instance, before I dug up a plot bunny to write about, I got on the internet to see what small presses I could submit to without too much agony. Two fabulous resources no writer should be without -– Preditors and Editors and Absolute Write. They’re the closest thing I know of to the Publishing Police. If there’s a bad-guy publisher out there wanting to have their wicked way with some naïve n00b, these two sites are on them like white on rice.

Another thing I did right — I researched the publishing houses I liked. As a romance writer, I’ve been knocking on Harlequin’s door until my hand resembles a bloody stump. So I wised up, readjusted my sights and went shopping for a smaller, reputable publishing house that was still big enough to do both ebooks and print. Once I found that -– Samhain Publishing, Ltd — I wanted to see if what they said about themselves was true, and that I could find their imprint in the big chain stores of Borders, Barnes and Noble and Books a Million. Sure enough, there they were, right next to NYT best-selling authors Jaci Burton and Ilona Andrews. Come to find out, Jaci Burton started out at Samhain, and Ilona Andrews just published a short story with them a few weeks ago. Cool.

Secure in the knowledge Samhain was what all the websites were saying it was, I finally looked at Samhain’s website itself.

That’s when things began to go a little weird.

One of Stacy's protegées-on-ice: national figure skater Cathy Janssen. If you were a publisher, wouldn't you want this world in your cover art?

Don’t get me wrong – Samhain is AWESOME. I’m the one who began to get a terminal case of the stupids. On October 1st of last year, I read their submission guidelines for the first time. I had never seen an electronic submission before, nor had I ever attached anything via email (don’t judge me, I’m a figure skating coach who does split jumps and flying camels for a living! I may be in great shape but I’m a total babe-in-the-woods when it comes to Teh Interwebs :P). I was getting a little panicky as I read what seemed like incomprehensible techno-babble when I saw something called “Special Call –- Just Romance Springtime Anthology.”

What could this be?

From time to time Samhain puts forth a special submissions call that has a specific theme (in this case a “sweet” romance placed in a springtime background. Oh, and if you’re wondering, a sweet romance is one with the emphasis on the magic of romance and no sex).

When I read that special call, a plot bunny immediately bounded to the fore. It hopped, it danced, it frolicked its fuzzy little cottontail off, and for a moment I thought, “Oh, YEAH! I can do this!” Then I looked at the deadline. November 1st. The special call had been posted for four months. People had been working at their special call submissions for four months, polishing them up and making them perfect. It would be a waste of time to try and pull something together at that late date.

But the stupid plot bunny wouldn’t shut up. I dithered for another SEVEN DAYS (and in the interim found another Samhain special call for a cyberpunk story, which I also wanted to do… I’ll get to that). Ultimately, there was only one way to “kill the wabbit” –- I had to write the story. Now, please take note, gentle reader: it didn’t have to be this hard. True, I found the special call submission on October 1st, which was cutting it close. But no. I apparently wanted to make things SOOOO much harder, that I waited until October 8th to write the first word of a novella that was eventually entitled BEST MAN, WORST MAN.

I can honestly say I don’t remember much of that time, except for my back going out, thanks to being hunched over my laptop for hours on end. For all I know, magical manuscript elves trundled out under the cover of night while I drooled on my keyboard and finished the thing. But it DID get finished. By my brother’s birthday, October 28th, I submitted a 30K novella, BEST MAN, WORST MAN, to Samhain.

Or at least I tried.

This is where it gets embarrassing. Remember how I said I was interested in another special call for a cyberpunk novella? Well, did you know each special call is handled by a different editor? Makes sense, right? Of course it does. I, uh, first sent my submission to the wrong editor. I recognized my goof (approximately two full seconds AFTER I hit the Send button), and had to send a follow-up email to please disregard this unfortunate bout of idiocy. Then, taking a calming breath, I sent the correct email to the correct editor.

Without the attached manuscript.

At this point, I’m beyond embarrassed. I’m at the death-by-cringing stage, and for the most part I have blocked the remainder of that terrible day forever from my memory. I do remember re-re-sending it WITH the attachments, all the while giving up any hope of Samhain taking me seriously. The only thing I could console myself with was that throughout this maddening process, at least I had figured out how to turn a .docx file into a .doc file, so it wasn’t a complete waste of my time. Yay.

Then a weird thing happened. The editor in charge of the Springtime anthology project DIDN’T offer to publish my work in the anthology itself (I just found out this past week it was WAY too steamy for the “sweet” category. Who knew that having-everything-but-actual-sex in the story put it in another category??? O_o). What this editor was offering was a chance for this novella to be published as a stand-alone work.

WHEEEEEEEEE!

There was a lot to be done. I needed to get hysterical. I needed to get over being hysterical. I needed to rewrite the entire first chapter, as the editor didn’t like the opening of a car crash/groping scene (I kid you not: that’s how I opened it). And I needed to round up some volunteer beta readers (thank you Facebook, for getting me in touch with Hart Johnson, Maria Korth and Cindy Jones-Shoeman, the best beta readers around).

Oh, and one other teeny little thing. I needed to get on that cyberpunk plot bunny I’d been ignoring ever since I screwed up my original Samhain submission. You see, when I had bungled things so badly on my first submission, I had given up the idea of ever showing my face at Samhain again. This experience proved to me that editors really don’t care about you getting things absolutely, positively PERFECT the first time out of the gate.

They care about the writing.

I just wish I had realized that before I had let so many weeks go by without working on that cyberpunk special call. By the time I heard back from the editor who was interested in working with me, there was only six weeks left before the cyberpunk special call came to a close. Now that I had to rewrite the first chapter of BEST MAN, WORST MAN, I had made the unforgivable mistake of not keeping my nose to the grindstone and making sure those submissions kept flowing. Bad Stacy. Bad, bad, bad.

Eventually I did get BEST MAN, WORST MAN published with Samhain (due out Oct 25th… ironically about the same time I had a hysterical breakdown over it the year before, now that I think about it). I also submitted a project for the cyberpunk special call, and it too was accepted. This time I DID make it into the anthology, which strangely enough means this second project, ZERO FACTOR, will be published FIRST (please don’t ask me to explain how this happened. If you’ve made it this far, you now know I get confused easily). ZERO FACTOR will have an ebook release August 30th, 2011 and will have a print release some time in 2012 (I wonder if I should know that date? Hmmm…)

I’m still learning how this is supposed to go, and I’m already a nervous wreck over my release days. But with each mistake comes a lesson I’m happy to learn, just as long as I can keep writing about my plot bunnies.
©2011 Stacy Gail

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June 7, 2011 Posted by | authors, culture, fiction, novel, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments