Friday, September 14, 2012

Hoping I Never Get That Confident - Or Deranged

Earlier this week I blogged about losing IT with my kids. It happens, not often, but it happens. I’m working on it. Usually it happens because I’m convinced I’m right and I’m trying to make them see, just open their eyes and SEE how their actions are affecting everyone around them. This always backfires and what we all end up SEEing is how immature their mother is.

Well this morning I was reading about the attack on Pam vanHylckama, an agent who was attacked by a disgruntled psychotically-unhinged rejected writer. At first I was horrified, re: W T Heck!? Then I was angry for her and that we live in a world where people are abused and assaulted. My third thought was, I hope I never get that confident in the divine perfection of my own prose.

Personally, every time I get a rejection I tend to think, Yeah. She’s right. And I a little bit think, Isn’t it funny how I was pretending to be a writer these past few years? Then I chill and go back and rework my manuscript a little. I also accidently… all the chocolate.

I cannot imagine being so convinced of my all-powerful writerly-ness that if someone rejected me, I would decide there was something wrong with them and I should therefore stalk them and assault them. Now I’m sure this guy is dealing with issues far more serious than inflated ego, but the thought remains, I hope I never become so in love with myself that I feel the need to unleash my inner demons.

No agent needs me to track her down and dump her satchel out all over the sidewalk. Or maybe if I were really mad, I would lecture her for an hour while she cried. No one needs to experience that. It’s best if my confidence remains safely where it is. That way, the only person who suffers is my manuscript. His name is Phil.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Almost a Rider

Mandy Hubbard spoke a couple of times to our SCBWI chapter today, her evening keynote being playfully titled “Rejection Sucks.” She makes me glad to be part of a community of writers. She was candid and shared the dirty details of what it takes to make it in this industry, even sharing actual text from rejection letters and revision requests she’s received.

What does it take to make it? It takes persistence. Insane, unswerving, willing-to-beat-your-head-against-a-brick-wall-and-beg-for-more persistence.

Sometimes that’s hard to muster. I do not like having a hobby/career that involves pouring my heart out on paper and then sending it around for people to reject or ignore. Suckage? Indeed.

But tonight I was reminded that I’m part of a collective, a sisterhood/brotherhood, a familyhood of people who are passionate about words and ideas and stories and who all experience rejection and who all hate it almost as passionately as they love writing, but they carry on anyway.

And she says it’s worth it. And I choose to believe her.

So far I’ve entered one contest, where I didn’t get past round one. I’ve sent out queries to 15 agents, been flat-out rejected or ignored 10 times, received 5 requests for full or partial manuscripts and had 4 of those rejected so far. Today I participated in a Twitter pitch frenzy and got one and a half requests from that. (One of the requests turned out to be someone who was looking for adult fiction.)

This process all makes me think of Magoo, who yesterday decided that he wanted to ride his bike with no training wheels. So after years of preparation, successes and failures, today he decided to ride and he just rode and now he’s a rider. Wednesday he was not a rider. Today – rider.

Today I am not a published author. Tomorrow – who knows? I’ll dust off my helmet and get ready for success.

This is cross-posted to

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Kind that Pays Better

In the opening credits of Castle, Nathan Fillion’s character says, “There are two kinds of folks who sit around thinking about how to kill people: psychopaths and mystery writers. I'm the kind that pays better.”

Well, I’m not so sure that being a writer pays better but I am sure that as I continue to write, I will build up quite a troubling series of search strings in my computer’s memory.
Currently, I’m searching for things like, “How much money is in a bank?” and “How to rob a bank.”
What will be next? Only time will tell. Hopefully my manuscript will be sufficient evidence to exhonerate me in a court of law.
“See, your honor? I didn’t rob that bank. I only imaginary robbed it while pretending to be a chubby 11-year-old boy."
"Okay, then. No problem."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I Am a Writer

I’m not a salesman. I think that’s what makes querying so hard. You’re selling something. You’re selling your work and you’re selling yourself. I like me. I like my work. Please, sir. Will you like me and my work too?

So I’ve got to write something fresh. Middle grade is looking good to me and I’ve got an idea and characters that I’m excited to play with. When I told Dan about the concept, he said, “That will be awesome… if you can pull it off.”

Isn’t that always the trick? Pulling off a great idea?

Sometimes I think I’ll reinvent myself as a storyteller, gathering strangers around a campfire and telling them all the stories that are traffic-jamming in my head.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Today It Sucks

It’s easy to be the next great undiscovered author when you’re sitting home alone with your manuscript. Your characters love you. You made them. Your mom and your former editor and a couple of other Beta readers love your manuscript. You think – this is going to be my breakout novel. Should I go with a veteran agent or find someone fresh and young who’s looking for their big break in the industry? Because this could surely be their big break as well.

And then you start sending it out and you realize that the road to publication is far longer and more difficult than the road to a manuscript ever thought about being.
Writing has got to be the most emo thing I’ve ever done besides bearing and raising children. You’re in love and then you’re disappointed. You’re euphoric and then you’re shattered. It’s enough to turn a healthy brain bi-polar.

This week I’ve been stalking my email inbox waiting to hear back about a contest I entered. 200 writers were accepted into the contest, essentially at random. Hundreds of hopefuls didn’t make it in because their internet speeds were too slow to upload their information in the first 30 seconds the contest was open to submissions.
And I’ve watched on Twitter as writer after writer has been chosen. There are 40 spots in the next round. So, the top 20% move on. I felt good about my query, and like nearly every other writer in the contest, I had no doubt I’d make it. After all, if I can’t be chosen as one of the top 40 in a group of 200, how will I be chosen out of thousands in a cold submission to an agent by email?

One agent I currently have my eye on said she accepts 1-10 new clients per year. She receives over 50 queries per day. So I have a 1-10 in 15000 chance of her choosing to represent me. The 1-in-5 odds of this contest seemed promising.

So, like a 20-something girl headed out to a singles mixer in an outfit she spent half her paycheck on, I put myself out there again. And I went home alone.

Maybe it should be comforting that many of the writers chosen for the contest appear to have a history with the judges. Among the winners, there were judges’ critique partners, online friends, people whose partial or full manuscripts the judges have already read. But it doesn’t. If my content were strong enough, I would have managed to rise to the top 40 entrants. That’s a lot of winners, my friends, far from an impossible nut to crack.

And the judges’ picks overlapped quite a bit. Some entrants were picked by multiple judges and some that were picked by only one judge had other judges saying, “Yeah, I had her on my short list too.” So there appears to be somewhat of a consensus about what is good and what is not.

When setbacks like this happen, successful authors seem to always use it as motivation to work harder and go stronger. Maybe I’ll get there, but today I’m just gonna let it sting and suck for a while.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dark Bird - Query

Most of you know I've been hard at work for the last year, finishing a novel. The first question everyone asks is - When does it come out? And the answer is - After I get an agent, do a bunch of rewrites, sell it to a publisher, do a bunch of rewrites and go through a rigorous editing and production process.

Currently I'm working to find representation and today that process includes posting my query and first page as part of an online contest to get my work in front of some impressive literary agents. So, for everyone who's asked for more details about the book, here goes:

Title: Dark Bird

Genre: YA Fantasy

Word Count: 70,000 words


Neen Sinclair’s obsession with super hero Dark Bird has gotten her into trouble more than twice, but she’s always been able to roundhouse kick her way out of it. Always, that is, until her little sister Mae decides to offer herself up as chum in the fight against evil. In trying to protect everyone else, Neen has inadvertently led her sister into danger.

So, when she’s offered a spot on a dive team at a wealthy Seattle high school, Neen leaves Dark Bird and her vigilante lifestyle behind in an attempt to set a different kind of example. Concentrating on her sport, she will become Neen the straight A student, Neen the championship diver with a billion college scholarship offers, Neen who leaves crime-fighting to the professionals and no longer has a chair with her name on it in the principal’s office.

However, cross-training at an off-the-grid martial arts studio, Neen ends up entangled with Hayden, an unpredictable and easy-on-the-eyes teen crime fighter who embodies everything she’s trying to run away from. Diving competition takes a back seat as a psychopath with a Robin Hood complex starts terrorizing her classmates’ wealthy families, and she can’t resist taking a stand.

As Hayden and Neen train and work together, she finds herself pulled further and further from her mysterious roots. But can they succeed at taking down their nemesis without the help of Dark Bird, a hero whose connections to Neen go far deeper than anyone realizes?

First 250 Words:

We're so close now.

My heart echoes in my chest and I wonder if he can hear the drum beat of my fear. But he doesn't look up, too focused on his own careful movements. Creeping along the stone wall, I struggle to calm my breath.

I'm getting stronger and, whether real or imagined, there's a power to Dark Bird that gives me more confidence in myself. Just saying that name gives me a sense of protection, and standing here with this guy in front of me, I feel a surge of strength greater than my own.

Dark Bird is powerful. I am powerful. Tonight I make the first move, striking forward from my place in the shadows.


The wipers squeak across the surface of my windshield as I turn the key in the ignition. Screech, slam, screech, slam. They were running full tilt during yesterday's deluge but today they only serve to startle me, adding one more knot to my mounting anxiety, a gut-tugging anticipation that's left me slightly shaky all morning.

Whatever happens, after I cross the lake today, things will be different. I tell myself that I like nearly everything about different, except maybe the fact that it means things won't be entirely the same. There are things I'll miss.

I ease my car down our gravel drive, weaving to avoid the familiar potholes, only to slam down hard into a fresh one. Pavement would be nice here, Dad. But I'm sure I'll get plenty of that in Seattle.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

This is the web page of fiction writer Kat Thompson.  Like so many of my stories, it's still under construction. Please stop by my more active personal blog,

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Rejection Letters

I’ve been thinking a lot about rejection lately. I’ve been shopping my novel around to agents and they’ve been telling me, “No thank you.” I expected to be rejected repeatedly before finding someone who wanted to represent me but it doesn’t make the sting any more fun. The night of my first rejection letter, I cried for two hours, while saying to Dan, “I don’t know why I’m crying.”

But I did know why I was crying. I want everyone to like me and be excited about my work and to validate me and want to work with me. I want acceptance, not rejection.

Magoo asked me if I thought anyone would ever want to publish my book and I said, “Yes. I know they will because I will never stop trying.” Again, that determination doesn’t make repeated rejection any more fun.

I’ve been struck this week by how badly I want acceptance and I’ve been noticing this same need in my kids. They are constantly petitioning me to love them and accept them and to tell them that they are okay. These petitions come in little ways, holding my hand while we’re sitting together in church, asking me to tell them a story at bedtime, telling me a joke, or showing me the picture they drew on the bus. They're even looking for acceptance when they sass me.

How often do I give them little rejection letters by being only partially engaged in our conversations or telling them I’m too tired to walk up stairs and snuggle with them at bedtime? Too often. In every look, gesture, and use of my time when we’re together, to some degree, I am showing my kids acceptance or rejection.

It won’t be much longer that they want me to tuck them in or hold them on my lap. In a couple of years I may have to beg them to share their school work with me or tell me about the book they’re reading and I’m going to wish I was more attentive and more free with acceptance when they were begging for my approval.

We all hate rejection and after a certain amount of it, we just give up. I’m not saying I’m the wicked witch of the west to my kids but I know that I have it in me to give them more of my time and attention than I currently do.

I’m far from suggesting that you never say no to your children. Like a busy literary agent, I must say no to my kids frequently in order to teach them and to maintain order in our house. However, unlike a literary agent, I only have three children and one husband and I love all four of them. I need to think, <em>do I really need to say no to this request</em> (whether expressed verbally or not) <em>or I can make this happen to validate my child</em>?

I also need to think about how I say no. I received two rejection letters in two days last week. One was kind and validating, even as it rejected me. The other was cold and formulaic, and sounded like he hadn’t even read my stuff.

When I tell my kids no, I can be thoughtful and loving. I don’t need to always act out of instinct. I find that things go far better for everyone if I say yes unless I have a really good reason to say no, than if I say no unless they can convince me to say yes.

So, yeah. They can always use more love. I’m learning firsthand what repeated rejection feels like and I’d like to spare my family that feeling as often as I can. I’ll listen to their lame jokes with both ears and a willingness to be entertained. I’ll take an extra minute to cuddle with them, even though I’m SO busy. I’ll more frequently play trains with Wanda and do a Mario Kart race with Magoo after homework is done and sometimes I’ll even let Laylee pick all the music while we’re driving in the car.

They can get rejection at school or at work when they’re older. In my house, I choose acceptance.