(This is a mirror site of my webpage karenjcarlisle.com)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Of Rewrites, Rethinks and Personal Firsts

This week has been full of hard work,  angst-ridden decisions and conflicting emotions. Earlier this month, a friend of mine posted me information on an opening for unsolicited submissions (rare)  for children’s picture book manuscripts (even rarer). Though there are now a few publishers who have a monthly submission process.

I was stoked – and rigid with fear  at the same time. I had two stories (‘under 600 words preferred’) suitable for the ‘children’s picture book’ genre.  A little tweaking and minor rewrites (as I had written these several months ago) and they were ready for e-mail submission. Almost.

I did not have to write a full submission letter. The publisher just wanted a ‘paragraph about yourself’.  It took me almost a week to write that one paragraph. As a writer, I want to make myself sound interesting and my story exciting – but at the same time, I do not want to sound like a twat.

I asked my husband to “describe me.” He was no help. I asked my friends for a ideas – what sort of thing would a reader (or in this case, a publisher) want to know about me?  In the end my friend Mark had a great line – which I… borrowed. (with permission, of course. Thanks Mark!)

So the following were submitted:
  •  My Cat is an Alien - one child’s scientific explanation to prove her cat is an alien
  • If I Were a Dragon - A young boy’s fantasy about being a dragon – maybe he should be careful what he wishes for? 
  • email cover letter with
  • a paragraph about myself, adapted from my bio:
    Karen Carlisle is a part-time optometrist who has worked with children for over 10 years. She lives in Adelaide with her husband, her daughter and her ancient Devon Rex cat. She loves fantasy fiction, gardening, historical re-creation and steampunk, and can often be found plotting fantastical, piratic or airship adventures with her daughter. Karen has always loved chocolate and rarely refuses a cup of tea.  She is not keen on South Australian summers.
This one paragraph has made me rethink many things – how I want to present myself, as a writer, to the world. (This also lead to some culling and rewrites on my website.) I had thought writing that paragraph bio had been difficult.  Ha! The hardest part was pushing that send button. With that one little movement of the index finger, decades of self-doubt, confidence issues and the fear of rejection all surface and jostle to be heard once more.

This was a first for me – the first time ever I have submitted anything to a publisher. Somehow I managed to avoid sending a query letter or a submission letter and have to find an agent first. (Thank goodness for unsolicited submissions – a beneficial side effect of e-books, I believe.) If I had not done so many short story competitions last year, I may not have had the courage to hit that send button.

I am not holding my breath for a call back or reply. In reality, writers get a significant amount of rejections before any acceptance. Statistically, I am doing well with my one short-listing in 2013. I have cleared a space on my wall to pin up my rejection slips. Each time I look at them, I will not think of failure. I will remember my perseverance in finishing each story and the courage it took to send it in – rejection or no, I am in that 5-10% that have made it that far.  That is a good thing.

Manuscript Word Progress:

Total Words:  
At 1st draft only:
Revised Words: 

Of Rewrites, Rethinks and Personal Firsts

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