• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:

    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!



Rejection and Underpants Part II – Kim Falconer

Author Kim Falconer

Author Kim Falconer

Seeing rejection as a step closer to publication isn’t always easy. Take for example this letter from June 1968. I don’t think the author was laughing:

. . . The whole is so dry and airless, so lacking in pace, that whatever drama and excitement the novel might have had is entirely dissipated by what does seem, a great deal of the time, to be extraneous material.. . . The Left Hand of Darkness is returned herewith.

The Left Hand of Darkness was published a year later by Ace Books and won the 1969 Nebula Award and the 1970 Hugo Award.

Dan Gutman, even though a published author at the time, had repeated rejections of his baseball/fantasy manuscript. He’s posted the history on his site and I have inserted the substitute word underpants (see Part I) to demonstrate the practice of keeping rejection light:

1st and 2nd rejection letters—ripped up in frustration.
3rd rejection – editorial comments—(your) plot seems too predictable-not a story that could succeed on our fiction list. Your underpants are too ordinary—they wouldn’t attract public attention.
4th rejection—I regret that structural flaws prevent us from making an offer. Your underpants are factory seconds.
Made minor revisions.
5th rejection—In addition to the tension level (problems) of the plot, the writing also seemed flat. The moments of excitement or sentimentality that should really grab the reader just don’t. No one is excited by your underpants.
More minor revisions.
6th rejection—I’m sorry, this still doesn’t work for me. Your underpants continue to hold no interest.
No more revisions past this point.
7th rejection –The premise of the story was very intriguing, but we felt it was overshadowed by the historical information. Your underpants do interest me. Too bad about the history.
8th rejection –(we) felt the manuscript needed too much work at this point to warrant our signing it up. Your underpants are in tatters.
9th rejection –the consensus was that the market appeal would be too narrow for us to publish it successfully. We don’t think enough people would want your underpants.

Gutman finally sent the manuscript to HarperCollins USA who made him an offer. The book was nominated for eleven state book awards and spawned nine more titles in the series.

Keeping it light, seeing rejection as a process, and enjoying the journey wherever it takes you are the ingredients that make writing bliss. Glenda Larke says it perfectly: If you aren’t loving the journey, if you ARE going to give up on the creative process after constant rejection, then you are probably in the wrong business . . . If creation is what counts and brings you joy, then you have a fulfilled life no matter what happens.

What do you think? Is it enough to write or do you need to be published? How do you respond to rejection? Can you keep it light? I’d love to hear your views.

Read Rejection and Underpants Part I

Kim Falconer’s first book, The Spell of Rosette (released in December 08), and has already been on the Dymocks top ten bestsellers list. Kim lives in Byron Bay and runs the website Falcon’s Astrology as well as a website dedicated to the Quantum Enchantment series.

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Rejection and Underpants Part 1 by Kim Falconer

Ask any writer and they will tell you that rejection is part of the job. It happens all the time. If you’re unsure why, read Jennifer Fallon’s list. Note that poor writing is only one of many possibilities. A form rejection letter stating your work does not fit our editorial needs at this time may be telling the truth. It isn’t necessarily code for you suck.

Being tough is one way to handle rejection—thick skin, take it on the chin, all that. But there is another way. Instead of seeing rejection as a sign of inadequacy, consider it a sign of progress. It’s like shopping for boots—trying on as many as possible, sending back the ones that don’t fit or look right. Rejection in this case is no fault of the art. It is simply a matter of style and finding a good match.

Becoming breezy with rejection mean moving away from defence/despair and towards hope/awareness, realizing rejection leads to success. With comments, rejection slips also offer insights into how the work might be improved. (Take note of Jennifer’s point that authors submitting over and over until they make a sale are most likely revising the manuscript between submissions.) We might say perseverance and revision bring success.

It did for Stephen King. Before he sold his first novel, he’d sent several manuscripts to Doubleday. They were all rejected. He started working on yet another, a story about a high school girl with Psi but he gave up, tossing it in the bin. His wife fished it out, begging him to finish. Eventually he submitted the manuscript to Doubleday and Carrie was published the following year.

Thinking about rejection in a positive way helps writers relax, lighten up and improve their narrative. My favourite way to shift any negative thoughts about rejection is to substitute the word manuscript with one that has no ‘charge’, one that creates no reaction. The new word allows me to see the ridiculous in rejection. Substitute underpants for manuscript and you’ll get what I mean.

‘They would have made an offer, but they didn’t like my underpants.’ ‘It’s easy for published authors; they’ve already sold their underpants.’ Or even, ‘Thank you for sending your underpants. Unfortunately they do not fit our current editor’s needs.’ In the case of Ursula Le Guin it’s more like, ‘I had to wait until they invented the genre to fit my underpants.’

Reconsider what a rejection slip means—you have written a novel! Congratulations! You are one step closer to being published! Part II will continue this theme with specific examples. Meanwhile, does anyone have a rejection story to tell? Voyager authors? Please share!

Rejection and Underpants Part II

Kim Falconer‘s underpants were accepted by Voyager some time ago, and you can find her first book, The Spell of Rosette, in all good bookshops in Australia. Kim lives in Byron Bay and is currently working on the follow up to The Spell of Rosette, Arrows of Time.