Tag Archives: The Normal School

My Week as an Author: the Many Ups and Downs

18 Jun

If you follow my Facebook page, then you’ve seen the events that I am about to talk about, and you saw them happen to me in real-time. (What can I say? Facebook is my go-to place to speak to you all live.) But if you don’t follow my Facebook page:

1. You missed out on all of the crazy events that happened this week.

2. You should be following my Facebook page. (I post entertaining stories, things that make you laugh, and the occasional interview. I even give away prizes, like guest blog post opportunities. I promise.)

So today I am sharing all of the crazy events that happened to me this week and how they affected me. Some were fantastic and others took my little ego down a notch. Why am I sharing this? Because readers are often sending me questions about what it is like to be an author. In fact, ever since I posted The Pros and Cons of Being An Author, one of the main questions I get asked is what my life is like and how I’ve dealt with ups and downs. And this week is a perfect example of how hectic, crazy, lovely, and insanely exciting it can be to be an author. (Did I mention soul-crushing and absolutely uplifting as well?)

Hopefully, these ups and downs that I went through will give insight to those who are curious about my author life and authors in general, but remember: no matter what, you must stay positive and believe in yourself. You’re following your dream after all.

The events are listed in the order that they happened:

I received a rejection for my poetry collection:

That’s right. I get rejected, too. Just because you’ve been published before, even in the same genre, does not mean you’ll be accepted everywhere you go. In fact, I’ve been rejected dozens of times, especially before I got November Snow published in 2007. A few months ago one of my favorite literary magazines – The Normal School – opened up their submissions for their fifth annual poetry competition. My collection didn’t make it. If I had to be completely honest, this is the second time I’ve been rejected by them. (The first time was a nonfiction piece.) But I am definitely going to keep trying! Even though every rejection hurts a little, you have to find the strength to fight back. One of my goals is to beat my fear of publishing nonfiction, so I’m working on getting at least one essay published within the next two years. Having a goal helps me accept rejection as the next step toward acceptance. That might seem backwards, but – to me – having a goal reminds me that I haven’t given up and how I won’t give up. It keeps me focused, and it prevents me from dwelling. When one door closes, it helps you move onto trying to open the next door in the hallway of life. In fact, on this exact same day, a door opened to me:

I received an acceptance letter for my short story:

On the same day I received a rejection, I received an acceptance. A few hours passed between the two, but I was glad I remained positive because I was able to be fully excited about this moment instead of allowing the rejection to taint my positive moment. The short story is slated for release in August of this year, but that’s all I can say for now.

I hit 20,000 words in Death Before Daylight

I mention this for many reasons, but here’s the main reason. It wasn’t a letter I received. It was a result of my hard work. If I allow myself to get distracted by the rejection, I might not have met this goal. It might have set me back a few days. Is that really worth it? I don’t think so. Staying focused on achieving the next step of my future publication is vital to enjoying my writing career. I’m not saying that a writer can’t take a day or two off to feel sad, but writers have to get back up again. For me, I don’t enjoy taking days off. It makes me feel like I’m letting disappointment control me, and I don’t want disappointment to control me. I want my dream to guide me. So I dove right back into Death Before Daylight the second I had some time off of work, and I met a goal I’ve been dying to meet. Plus, I thought fans of The Timely Death Trilogy would enjoy some news. If you’re on my Facebook, you also saw this little teaser:

booknews

I received my final edits for Take Me Tomorrow:

If you haven’t realized this, we are SUPER behind in meeting the publication deadline, so I’ve been biting my nails off. I practically don’t have any right now, but receiving the edits releaved all of that stress – which means that I had a moment feeling a little ridiculous for being so nervous about the edits in the first place. They were going to come no matter what. Worse case scenario, the publication date gets pushed back a little bit, and that’s not a tragedy at all. It’s still coming out after all. I wanted to share this because it shows how a negative focus can disrupt the overall positive experience of getting a novel published. Don’t be like me. Enjoy these moments fully because – when it’s all over and done with – you’re going to have your novel in your hands, and you’re going to want to look back and forward with a smile on your face. You’re working hard! Enjoy that work.

Amtrak Residency program sent me a rejection notice

I’m sure you’re probably starting to realize how often I apply to different events as a writer. Sure, I’m focused on my novels, but I’m also focused on gaining more from different experiences. I applied for this a few months ago. Basically, Amtrak allowed writers to apply to travel on their trains for free as they blogged about their travels. I love traveling. I love writing. It was perfect for me. But – alas – I am not perfect for Amtrak, and that’s okay. Applying isn’t about being a perfect writer for everyone. Being a writer isn’t about being perfect at all. It’s about loving all the adventures that open up to you. I can always apply next year, apply to other programs, and travel on my own. A rejection doesn’t stop me. Only I stop myself. It’s safe to say that I’m not stopping anytime soon. Or ever. (Probably never. Scratch that. I’m never going to give up. Ever.)

A radio show contacted me for an interview in July

Literally – two hours passed from receiving my Amtrak rejection to receiving the most delightful call of my week. A popular author radio show contacted me, and they want to interview me. Can you say, “EEEEEEEE!”? I know. I actually had to hold back from screaming out in delight over the phone. We’re already working out the details, and they’re recording the show in July, but that’s all I can say for now. (More news to come soon!) But this is another instance of how important it is to remain positive. After all, you can’t be crying to your cat about your rejection when a radio host calls you with an offer. That would be awkward.

from Pinterest

from Pinterest

In the end:

As you can see – negative things can happen, but positive ones can follow them within minutes, and it’s important to stay positive so you can receive that positive energy. (Did that sound hippy enough for you? If not, picture me throwing up a peace sign. I also have a flower in my hair. It is pink.)

It may have been a strangely bizarre and eventful week. I practically got whiplash. But it was an important week, and it was a great week, and I am going to continue to have great weeks as long as I focus on the positive directions that open up to me.

To all authors and aspiring authors, enjoy this ride. It’s sure to be a wild one full of adventures you might never see coming.

~SAT

Publishing Tips: Nonfiction

19 May

Quick announcement: if you can produce a review before the end of May, email me at shannonathompson@aol.com for a FREE copy of Minutes Before Sunset via Smashwords! 

I’m switching it up today! I normally talk about young-adult fiction, specifically sci-fi or fantasy, but I thought I’d leave a list of nonfiction journals where you all can submit your work to. I got this list from my Nonfiction Writing I class at the University of Kansas. The reasoning I’m including journals, rather than publishers, is simple: journals give an opportunity to get your name out there if you don’t already have something published, and they have a higher acceptance rate, depending on which one you’re submitting to. However, some of these journals also accept poetry, prose, and more, so check it out, even if you don’t write nonfiction. You might get something else published!

As an extra, I’m also including my three finalized personal essays from this class, so you all can see what I learned. (If you can recall, I wrote Writing Tips: How I Handle Rejection on March 23, 2013, and I included a first draft, which is now below, rewritten and edited.)

My essays: They will open as PDF files.

  • Flashbacks: This is the edited version of the only essay I’ve shared before. It’s about my mother’s death, along with my roommate’s death, and how these moments, along with other traumatic events, have affected my views on mortality.
  • My Weeklong Marriage and the Lying Truth: I’ve mentioned my vacation to Puerto Rico quite often, and there’s a reason for that. It was one of the most important vacations in my life, and this essay is about what I learned while I was there. However, it is explicit, but I don’t want to ruin the contents either by explaining.
  • Now[here]: This particular essay is about my life on the road. As many of you know, I have moved over fifteen times, and I’ve lived in five different states. This is where my desire for creativity began and how it formed somewhere beyond the window. This essay also includes quotes from Erin Moure’s The Unmemntioable.
This is my favorite photo taken during my vacation in Puerto Rico. I'm sharing this as a part of my essay, "My Weeklong Marriage and the Lying Truth."

This is my favorite photo taken during my vacation in Puerto Rico. I’m sharing this as a part of my essay, “My Weeklong Marriage and the Lying Truth.”

Nonfiction Journals: Now. This is a list of all of the journals we discussed in my class. I will add some information, but I can’t include everything (because there is A LOT of specifics.) If you’re interested in submitting, I highly encourage everyone to continue to read over the journal before doing so. This list is simply a collection where you can begin:

  • AGNI: Poetry, essays, fiction, creative nonfiction, autobiography, memoir, cross-genre, prose, narrative, and literary fiction. Accepted Sep. 1 and May 31.
  • Brevity: Publishes well-known and emerging writers. Work must be shorter than 750 words. Reads between May and September.
  • Ecotone: all forms of literature within a transition zone between two adjacent ecological communities. Reading period between Aug. 15 and Apr. 15.
  • The Iowa Review: nonfiction, but unsolicited manuscripts are accepted during the fall semester only.
  • The Georgia Review: nonfiction, specifically subjects against a broad perspective. Reading period between Aug. 16 – May 14.
  • The Gettysburg Review: essays over literature, art, science, history, film, and contemporary thought. Reading period is between Sep. 1 and May 31.
  • The Gulf Coast: accepts fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and reviews. Reading between Sep. 1 and March 1, but there are prizes and contests.
  • The Kenyon Review: short fiction and essays up to 7,500 words, poetry, plays, excerpts from larger works, and translated poetry or prose. Reading period is Sep. 15 through Jan. 15.
  • Missouri Review: nonfiction only. No restrictions on length or topic. But they only accept online submissions for $3.
  • New Letters: essays of fiction, nonfiction, and some poems. Most essays are between 3,000 and 5,000 words. No simultaneous submissions.
  • The Normal School: nonfiction, memoir, personal essays, and creative nonfiction with contemporary styles. Most interested in whatever goes against the norm. Literary short fiction, poetry, and culinary journalism, but no unsolicited criticism. Manuscripts read between Sep. 1 to Dec. 1 & Jan. 15 to Apr. 15.
  • N + 1: Instructions say to read a couple pieces to see if your genre fits. Submit if you decide it’s applicable.
  • The Fourth Genre: contemporary and creative nonfiction. Accepted between Aug. 15 – Nov. 30.
  • Threepenny Review: includes art from many different genres, including but not limited to, fiction, nonfiction, essays, memoirs, poetry, operas, plays, books, film, and photography. Submit whenever but multiple submissions will be ignored.
  • Under the Sun: creative nonfiction (no academic articles or review essays). Very short pieces (2-3 pages.) Manuscripts read between Aug. 15 – Jan. 2.

    If you want more information, I share a lot on my Facebook page! You can also ask me anything you'd like. Join by clicking here.

    If you want more information, I share a lot on my Facebook page! You can also ask me anything you’d like. Join by clicking here.

Good luck! Let me know if any of you submit and/or get published (or have been published) in these journals. I’d love to share the links with everyone as positive examples to help others be inspired into publication 😀

~SAT

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