I stopped by to make sure this blog hadn’t been spammed out, and in the stats it said someone searched for “having the courage to fail” and found their way here.

Interesting, because I’ve come to the conclusion that this isn’t my problem. I’m having trouble with the idea of success. Always have.

Why? Maybe it’s that standing up in front of people makes me want to puke, or having people make assumptions about me due to what I write (as if every novel is an autobiography or a political treatise) makes me cringe. I don’t want to be famous, and that’s what the rest of the writing world seems to be about. I just want to be paid and be left alone.

I need a damn good agent and a publisher who can sell my stories without me having to be around people.

First, I need to finish editing this book.


Just sent out The Test of Time query to the L. Perkins Agency (scroll down to the next post for the details on why now). If anything, at least I’ll get a bit of feedback on writing queries.


Wish me luck.

Literary agent Jennifer Jackson re: the agent/author relationship, authors making themselves and everyone else miserable over the publication process, etc …

It just seems like all the angst and negativity could be energy redirected to more positive endeavors.


You send the agent your novel. Then you send it to 20 more. If they like it they will come to you.

This is a career. A marathon. Not a sprint. You cannot base your life, ego, and self-worth on how one story is received, no matter how amazing and important it is.

So don’t screw up a perfectly good career by being labeled an unprofessional loser. If you want to be a professional writer, act like one — stop obsessing about your story and get busy on the next one.

How do you know who’s going to “make it”?

I just returned from Dragoncon this week, and while I was there, attending panels on writing and teaching my Basic and Advanced Writing Workshops, I began thinking about the “profile” of an aspiring writer who stands a good chance of “making it” into publication. Assuming, of course that the writer is creative and has a good style and can put a story together, there are other attributes that help immeasurably in succeeding these days.

If you want to write, this is a good article to read.

I was reading a thread written last year on cultural appropriation in fiction (long convoluted story how I got to this) and I ran across this excellent section on white privilege in SF/fantasy. I’ll quote it:

As a white person, I can go to a convention and assume that most of the people I see will look like me.

No one will look at me and be surprised that I like fantasy or science fiction or whatever.

No one will look at me and assume that I must be an expert on any history or mythology or country or sub-genre. They also won’t assume that I’m not.

No one will assume that I can’t speak English.

I can assume that most authors, artists, GoHs and so on will look like me.

I can assume that most professionally published SF and fantasy will be written in a way that acknowledges my view of the world, either by following it or by breaking with some specific aspect of it.

Most cover art will show people who look like me, even if the characters in the book aren’t white. But most characters, especially major characters, will be white.

I can assume that most books I pick up will have multiple characters of my race.

At the end of stories, I can be certain that many (sometimes all) of the surviving characters will be of my race.

When a book I’ve read is adapted into a movie, TV series, etc., characters portrayed as my race in the text will be played by actors of my race, probably even by an actor matching the regional type of the character if there is one.

I will have no serious difficulty finding well written books about characters of my race and/or settings and mythologies derived from the cultures and religions of people of my race.

People who see me won’t make assumptions about my level of education or probable profession.

If a character is presented as of my race, the plots surrounding him/her won’t require him/her to be of my race and, in fact, won’t generally refer to race at all.

The actions of a character of my race won’t generally be perceived as a statement about all members of my race.

Authors won’t include just one character of my race in as window dressing without having that character do something in the story other than just be white.

A villain of my race won’t be shown as evil just because of his/her race with the implication that all members of my race are like that.

I will never see a character of mixed race portrayed as less intelligent, morally degenerate or otherwise undesirable (or even more exotic) because of heritage from the white part of the ancestry.

I’m sure these are just a few things I get from being/looking “white” as a SF/fantasy fan/reader. A few more I can think of:

  • I can go to conventions in any part of the US and not be questioned as to why I’m there. I can feel confident I won’t be hassled, given a higher hotel rate, or given poor service because of my race.
  • I can act stupidly/dress stupidly/get drunk at the convention without it reflecting on my race.
  • I can go into any bookstore in America and not be questioned as to why I’m there.
  • Fan forums will most likely be filled with people of my race, and discussions will be on topics of interest to people of my race.

As a white writer of SF/fantasy:

  • I can easily find an agent of my race that takes SF and fantasy.
  • There are a multitude of authors of my race as role models, and if I need to contact another SF/fantasy author, I can easily find one of my race to speak with.
  • If/when I meet or speak with an editor, publicist, or publisher, I can be pretty sure that I’ll be speaking or meeting with an editor/publisher/publicist of my race.
  • I can be relatively sure of having my work actually placed in the proper place in a bookstore, rather than under some ‘ethnic’ area of the store with a bunch of books irrelevant to my genre.
  • It’s easy to find writers’ groups and workshops with others of my race, both online and offline.
  • When I go on a book tour, I’m sure to find booksellers of my race, no matter what city I go to.
  • If my books flop, I will never have to worry about whether my race was a factor. If my books do well, I will never be held up as an example or be considered news-worthy because of my race.
  • I can feel confident that people of other races might consider reading my books and won’t hold the fact that I’m white against me, or think my book must be inferior because of my race.

These are just a few things I can think of, using the article Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack to jog my memory (another excellent read on white privilege in general).

It’s uncomfortable to think of these things, but it’s a daily reality for a lot of people. If you’re going to write about people who are Not You, you need to know what it’s like to be different. There ya go.

Not a good combo:

The Insidious Double D’s

The example they just gave makes me think the poor guy had already signed and paid.

This is your book, yes. But you need to have some perspective. One book does not a career make. If you’re so desperate to sell that one book that you’d pay someone to ‘look at it’ (Which is not selling your book; rather, you’re giving them money to make you feel good. I’ll leave it at that.) then you’ve lost all dignity.

Get a grip, people! If you just want your name on something printed, go to For around ten bucks, you’ll have a bound book with your name on it. Shiny. (It’s great for a printed draft for a read-through when you work directly on the computer like I do.) But if you want a career, you need to approach this in a professional manner.

Write the book. Write another book. Edit the first book. Get it critiqued. No, none of this should cost you a penny. Write another book. Edit the first one again, listening to what your critiquers have said. Write another book. Let someone read through the first book, and when it’s ready, send it out to legitimate agents. Edit the second book. Rinse and repeat.

You get the picture? Career = you have more than one book to offer the world. It means, most of all, you’re getting paid.

…and then there’s agents.

This article by an agent makes a very good point: you don’t want just anyone mucking about with your livelihood. Just as you would check out someone who’s going to do brain surgery on you or deliver your baby, you should check out the qualifications of a literary agent. Why?

Well, go read the article (including the links she gives off of it) then if you still don’t understand come on back and we can talk about it.

One thing that checking up on someone you are taking on as a business partner (which is what an agent is…if you don’t win, they don’t either) is that it makes you look more professional. Approaching someone and not knowing what they prefer to work on wastes both of your time. Besides, if you find that they sell what you write, it’s much more likely that they’ll be enthusiastic about working with you. And if you love the books they have sold, you’ll be enthusiastic about working with them too.