February 27, 2024

Learning to Read was a Struggle


Hello, I'm a writer, and I struggle to pronounce certain words and names that I don't know.

Hello, I'm a writer, and I do not have an extensive vocabulary.

Hello, I'm a writer, and I'm a horrible speller.

Hello, I'm a writer, and learning to read was a challenge.

I've shared in the past about how I am not a vocab or spelling wiz. (See: To Be a Writer, You Don't Need...To Be a Good Speller)

I've also casually commented and told others about how I don't know how to pronounce other people's names, especially if I've never come across that name and the spelling for that name before.

Don't even get me started on the name Louis. I get tripped up on that name every time. Without fail.

I want to talk more about how I struggled to read as a kid.


In first or second grade (I don't remember which), I was pulled out of my class two to three days a week and brought to a connected room with other dejected children from nearby classrooms so that we could practice reading. Being taken out of my class with one other student, who graduated from that humiliation quickly, was mortifying. I believe this is where my shyness and anxiety began.

In that room, the other dejected children and I would "play games" meant to teach us out to sound out letters and words (even just 'ch,' 'th,' etc.). The teachers looking at me, the other students figuring it out before I did, the pressure, the stress...it made me dislike reading all the more. I eventually did well enough so that I didn't have to attend those meetings anymore, but I was not confident.

Reading filled me with anxiety.


My next reading trauma happened when I was in fourth grade. That was when reading levels were introduced to us based on how well he did on computerized testing of stories we read. My reading level was low for my grade, not below my grade level but low nonetheless. 

I would watch the girl who sat across from me read The Babysitter's Club books. She would read one a day and take a test on it and pass, racking up points and improving her reading score. I did not read The Babysitter's Club books in fourth grade. My oldest sister had those books, and she was in like eighth grade at the time. Seeing this girl read those books put me to shame.

It was safe to say I hated reading at the time. I avoided it at all costs.


In fifth grade, the struggle continued, but something happened near the end of the year, and I don't quite remember what triggered it. All of a sudden, I had wanted to improve my reading skills. I started to read every book my teacher had in her classroom. I'll be honest, though. They were easy books, not chapter books. I read them, tested on them, and went on to the next.

Now that I think about it, I think my motivation was to increase my points before summer. There might've been an incentive involved. If there was, I don't have a clue as to what it was.

Anyway, the point is that I was picking up all sorts of books with a determination I hadn't had before, and gradually I was moving up to longer, harder books. Or, at least, books more suitable for my age/grade.

I wouldn't say I was a fan of reading at that time; I wasn't yet. It was still difficult for me, but I was getting better, and that was what counted.


Then one day in sixth grade, it happened. I got an idea for a story that changed the course of my life. 

To read more about that, take a little journey to this page on my website.

When I started seriously writing, and by that, I mean not a short story but an actual novel at the age of twelve, my relationship with reading changed. The more I wrote, the more I read, until both became passions of mine.

I still may not read the sort of advanced and complicated books that some people may think adults should be reading, but now it doesn't matter what reading level I have. I can read whatever books I want to read, and I do. I read children's books (from picture books to middle grade), graphic novels/manga, young adult books, and adult books in the genres that I enjoy, usually with some sort of romantic element, unless their non-fiction. And I can avoid those books with long words that I don't know.

Now, no one can shame me for how I read or what I read.

Hello, I'm a writer, and learning to read was a challenge.

But that doesn't make me a bad writer.

It makes me human.



February 20, 2024

What Rejections Still Hurt?

 

Note: I realize the title and graphics should say ‘which’ instead of ‘what,’ but this is a “Google” search, so just go with it.


Now, these rejections aren’t for the same project, but four different works. Two of which are currently on the back-burner while I focus efforts with the other two. I will label each rejection below the image with Project One, Project Two, etc.



Project One

I just got this rejection on 2/13/2024. When I found this agency/agent, I thought, this could go well. This could get me a partial or full request. I submitted. An hour later, a reply came. Keep in mind it was after 8:00pm. Usually such a quick turnaround means a rejection, but I was hopeful that just once a quick response was enthusiasm. Then came the disappointment, which only worsened as I continued to read the rejection.

Often, the same form rejections are sent to every writer, even when you think it has a personal touch. I had just received one that said my work had ‘merit,’ then a look at QueryTracker revealed that that particular agent says that to everyone she rejects.

Now, this one had the personal touch, actually stating that they loved the concept and my voice. Then came, “I don’t feel it’s quite what I’m looking for at this time.” No other words can be more infuriating. Looking at the agency’s website, my story was in the realm, but, yes, different.

Here’s why that’s so frustrating. Agents and publishers want what’s popular.

For example: romantasy is huge right now and a big want thanks to Sarah J. Maas. So if your work is, say, paranormal romance set in a world somewhat similar to ours but is different from other PNRs, then you’re shit outta luck. 

But the thing is, before Sarah J. Maas (romantasy) or Twilight (vampires) or Harry Potter (witches & wizards), nothing else had been like them. They set the path. They created the trend and the demand. So while sticking with the trend is profitable for agents and publishers, finding the next big thing would be EVEN MORE profitable. 

So that not “quite what I’m looking for at this time,” well, one day it may very well be. 🤷‍♀️


UPDATE: Now, here’s what’s interesting…I submitted Project Two (a contemporary romance) the very next day on 2/15 (and around the same time) to see if the same thing would happen, and I still haven’t heard back. Does that mean this submission is getting more attention? Only the agent knows.

UPDATE 2/22: Received the exact same rejection for Project Two. 😂 



Project Two

“…has promise but is too similar to an existing client’s work.” Ouch. I really wonder what aspects of my story were “too similar.” I tried to research which book/client the agent might’ve been referring to, but I couldn’t locate one, so it might not have been published at the time or reading the blurbs for the books I found did not help because none of them sounded similar to me.



Project Two

I submitted to this agent because she is the agent for an author I admire. While it was nice to hear my query was well-written and showed my “mastery of the genre,” because I’ve always questioned whether or not my queries/synopses are good, it was what followed that gutted me. Yes, there is some darkness. The characters were abused as kids, which can be a hard stop for many, but it sets up the story and their connection. It’s important to the story.

I figure their background is exactly why I’m getting rejections. Either because it’s a bit too grim or because I’m not diving into the romance immediately. It’s romantic-suspense, inspired by a popular book published in the 80s, which took the same route with showing the characters when they were younger before jumping ahead. I guess when you’ve already made a name for yourself, you can get away with it.



Project Two

“Didn’t quite feel connected to the characters as I had hoped.” Possibly because the opening chapters center around them being young? I stand behind setting this story up that way, though. Flashbacks or info dumps would not be the answer.



Project One

This isn’t a rejection, but I did get one later. A little context: I submitted to a well-known publisher. Months later, I got a detailed rejection pointing out things to work on. This is rare. I then went to my critique partner and made significant changes. I was given the opportunity to resubmit after a specific amount of time passed. I resubmitted. I waited and waited. This update came in my inbox requesting additional time to look over my submission. Surely a good thing. I consented to their request for more time. And I waited and waited. After a RIDICULOUS amount of time, I got a form rejection. No explanation as to why , unlike last time, and after they’d reviewed it for so long. Since then, my critique partner and I have taken another look. I made a few more changes and truly feel it’s how it should be and is as good as I can make it without an agent/editor/publisher.



Project Three

While it’s nice to hear an acquisition editor thought I’m a wonderful writer and liked the overall concept, it was the sadness in the story after the passing of two characters that landed me a rejection, with Hallmark Publishing, which is no longer operating (so a blessing in disguise?). Now, I’ve seen Hallmark movies with a bit of sadness. At the time, there was even a new movie out on one of their channels that began with the characters’ father’s funeral. I thought the warmth, lightheartedness, laughter, love, and holiday spirit in my story would’ve been enough to make up for that. Guess not. But (another blessing, although it’s still unrepresented) I ended up rewriting the story to fit a different holiday and to fix what another agent said. (See rejection below.)



Project Three

This rejection came after the previous one. She gave me good feedback on adding more character development in the beginning for the main characters and the characters who pass away. I planned to submit the revisions to her, but she closed to submissions by the time I was ready, and she hasn’t reopened since 2020!



Project Four

Here we have another rejection from the agent who sent the previous rejection, but this time for a middle grade book. Again, she offered excellent feedback. I made those few changes to the opening chapters. It was super easy and made me wonder why she couldn’t have taken it on and worked with me on those minor issues afterward. Once more, I have not been able to resubmit because she’s still closed, and I’ve been checking every so often…for four years now.


Rejections suck. If you are seeking traditional publishing, they’ll happen. It sucks even more when you see other authors get partial/full requests or finally sign, and you keep getting things like this.

Now, this post is not an opportunity for anyone to downgrade traditional publishing or writers who seek it. I am not considering self-publishing these books for multiple reason. That’s my decision. Maybe one day that’ll change, but it hasn’t yet.


QUESTION: What (query) rejections have hurt you? We’re in this together!



February 13, 2024

Let's Talk Taylor Swift

 

Now, I could contribute to the debates going on that are revolving around Taylor Swift and the fact that she's supportive of her boyfriend (who also supports her), attending each of his games and the Superbowl (for which he's voiced gratitude that she comes to each one), and how some people (mainly men but also women) are annoyed with that and very possibly setting bad examples for their daughters/nieces/granddaughters with the things they are saying and demonstrating in regard to Taylor Swift.

But I'm not going to. Others have done that so much better than I could. And, hell, let's face it...that opening probably contributed to the debate and made it clear which side I'm on with all that anyway.

This post has a different purpose, though, and it doesn't matter if you like her music or even her. Maybe you took Kanye's side in that whole mess. Maybe you like Katy Perry more. Maybe you didn't like that she dated certain celebrities (i.e. Loki). Maybe you don't like her politics or her support for the LGBTQIA+ community. Maybe you dislike her bangs, her size, her fame, her music. Maybe you hate it how the cameras pan to her every time her boyfriend makes a touchdown.

Again, none of that matters, so forget it. Put it to the side.



I will add that I'm not a super fan of Taylor Swift. I could never pass as a Swiftie.

I wouldn't even necessarily call myself a fan. That's not to say I dislike her for any reason. I enjoy a lot of her songs. I made a Taylor Swift playlist on my personal Spotify account (I just hardly listen to it).

I love her Folklore album, which is an album that truly demonstrates her songwriting skills. I even recently watched her documentary Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessons on Disney+.  I used to pen song lyrics (without music), and one day, if one of my songs is sung by a professional singer, that'd be dream come true, so I enjoyed the documentary. I liked hearing the inspiration behind the songs, and her performance of each showed her vocal talent. My favorite song on the album is "My Tears Ricochet."



I've even watched her documentary Miss Americana more times than I could actually tell you.

(Just like Gaga: Five Foot Two...Lady Gaga's documentary leading up to her iconic Superbowl performance that I will argue is THE BEST Superbowl performance of all time. And, yes, you could totally call me a super fan of Lady Gaga.)

Why have I watched Miss Americana so much? Because movies and documentaries about singers inspire me as a creator. 

So, now that all of that is out of the way, let me finally get to the point of this post...how Taylor Swift has inspired me as a writer.

It's probably not how you think, either, meaning her music.

Nope, it's decisions and steps she's taken in her business, and in her personal life.


1. ​In 2015, I was watching The View when they started to discuss Taylor Swift as a topic and how she'd purchased specific domain names in her name that could be used for adult websites. This was an incredible move on her part to protect her name, her image, and herself.

Ever since then, that would pop into my head at random.

Then finally...it happened...

I was able to use that in a story (a novelette spin-off to my Secret Book Baby series). In the story, my FMC (female main character) finds out that the MMC (male main character) had bought every domain name in her name a long time ago in order to protect her. Then she ends up doing the same thing to protect him. It's an intense story, and possibly my favorite out of the spin-offs I've written (or have plans to write).


2. While watching Miss Americana the first time, I found out about the time Taylor was sexually assaulted by an ex-DJ. The man sued her for 3 million dollars, alleging wrongful termination following the incident that happened in 2013. In response, Taylor countersued him for $1.00. She won.

That stuck with me. So much so that in 2020, when I was writing my (currently unpublished) contemporary romance Let It Charm You, I used it. In the story, the MMC finds out his sister had been sexually assaulted when they were young. The man who did it had worked for the MMC's company and sues the MMC for wrongful termination. The MMC countersues for, you guessed it, $1.00.


You never know what will inspire you or make it into one of your books.

So, yeah, while I may not call myself a fan, I look up to Taylor Swift because she's damn smart and knows what she's doing. That is admirable.



January 30, 2024

Space is Hard / Writers on the Moon


Writers on the Moon is a time capsule of 125 authors' works (plus their stowaways' works) that was onboard the Peregrine Lunar Lander.

Peregrine was the first American Moon Lander to launch in 50 years! Although it didn't go as planned, we will always be a part of that bit of space history.


Peregrine Lander Timeline of Events:


January 8th, 2024, 2:18am EST:

- The United Launch Alliance's Vulcan rocket carrying the Peregrine lander launched 1/8/2024 at 2:18am from Cape Canaveral, FL.

Check out the launch here.

- After successfully separating from the rocket, Peregrine experienced an anomaly that impacted Astrobotic's ability to maintain a sun-pointing orientation.

- The team at Astrobotic executed an improvised maneuver to reorient the lander's solar array toward the Sun. All the while, the lander's battery was reaching operationally low levels.

- The maneuver to reorient the solar array toward the sun was successful, and Astrobotic's team began charging the battery.

- Astrobotic confirmed that a failure in the propulsion system caused a critical loss of propellant, meaning there would be no way to safely land on the moon. The goal was to get Peregrine as close to lunar distance as possible.


January 9th, 2024:

- However, despite the team at Astrobotic overcoming another instanced when Peregrine tilted away from the sun and had to be reoriented again, and the batteries being fully charged, it became clear there would be no moon landing.

- Astrobotic operated Peregrine as a spacecraft and was able to use all 9 the scientific payloads onboard to gather data and perform experiments, as well as prove operational capability in space.


January 12th, 2024:

- Peregrine reached lunar distance at about 238,000 miles from Earth.  The spacecraft was steadily losing fuel, though.


January 13th, 2024:

- Peregrine was on a path back to Earth.


January 14th, 2024:

- NASA and Astrobotic agreed to let Peregrine burn up during re-entry in Earth's atmosphere to protect our satellites and prevent space debris. 


January 18th, 2024, 4:40pm EST:

- Re-entry location over a remote area in the South Pacific.


And the was the end of Peregrine Lunar Lander.



The Future of Writers on the Moon:

When Peregrine burned up, the Writers on the Moon payload burned up, too, but this isn't exactly the end of Writers on the Moon. Susan Kaye Quinn, who conceived the idea, has purchased another Astrobotic's Moon Box for inclusion on another lunar lander. It's unclear at the moment if it's for the Griffin Lunar Lander that is supposed to launch this year or not.

Now, there's no knowing how this is going to go, whether the moon box will be on Griffin or even when the launch will happen. After all, this project started in 2020, with the launch anticipated for 2021, but with the pandemic and delays on the rocket and many other factors, the launch did not happen until 2024. Susan will not buy another moon box from another company, only Astrobotic, and she will continue to try to get WOTM to the moon as long as Astrobotic continues to try, which is unknown after Griffin flies.


Good News for My Payload and My Mom's Payload, Though:

I gave Writers on the Moon participant, Sam Peralta, permission to include my full payload and my mom's full payload in Lunar Codex's Polaris time capsule. Which means all of our stowaways will be hitching a ride to the moon on this time capsule, too!

Originally, Susan Kaye Quinn had given permission for the ENTIRE Writers on the Moon collection to be included in the Lunar Codex back in May 2022, but she withdrew consent January 2024. I hadn't received a notification about this and ended up asking Sam Peralta about it after getting a Writers on the Moon newsletter that mentioned WOTM would not be a backed up on the Lunar Codex. Once I found out that individuals had to give him permission, I jumped on it.

So, that means that my stories and my mom's stories and our stowaways' stories will make it to the moon one way or another.


Future Attempts:

One attempt will be on the Griffin Lunar Lander with Astrobotic, for the Lunar South Pole. (The official WOTM payload may or may not be on this lander.)

A second attempt will be with Intuitive Machines Nova-C Lander, for Oceanus Procellarum.

Both launches are set for 2024, but we shall see, right?

Or, at least, I think these are the launches. 😂 I can’t get confirmation.


I fully believe that I will eventually be able to say that our stories are on the moon as the first intergalactic library.

For more details about my payload and stowaways, go here.

For more details about my mom's payload and stowaways, go here.


Now, to quote Buzz Lightyear, "To infinity and beyond!"



January 24, 2024

Oops…Best of Write with Fey 2023

 

I am late with this post. I usually compile it and post it in December of the year I’m highlighting. Well, it’s the end of January, and I am just now getting to it. Better late than never, right? 

This is my 12th year of blogging. Usually I have a plan for my blogging year about six months in advance. This year, I have no plan, aside from participating in the April Blogging from A to Z challenge. I already have those posts created. They’re very different than what you’ve seen in this space and deeply personal. Stay tuned!

So, what does it mean that I have no plan for 2024?

Well, I’ll be blogging infrequently, when I have something to blog about. Fortunately, while creating this post, I at least thought of one post idea. I’m mulling over a feature for the year that, again, will be very different and not exactly for writers, but about a writer growing up. That writer is me. They’d be personal essays, memoir style. Think in the realm of Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman. I’m just not sure if it’s something anyone would be interested in reading here. Let me know if you’d be interested or if it would be a hard pass. 

No matter what I end up doing here on my blog in 2024, to make sure you don't miss my blog posts, sign up here to get email reminders.


BEST OF WRITE WITH FEY 2023:


For Writers:

Forget To-Do Lists, It’s Time for Don’t Do Lists 

Are You Prioritizing Your Responsibilities Correctly?

It’s Okay Not to Write

The Frustrations of a Creative Life

Dear Undiscovered Writer

Disappointing Sales

How to Cleanse & Spring Clean Your Writing Space

Dear Perfectionist Writer

Dear Writer with a Problematic Story

Dear Marketing Conflicted Writer

Write What Makes You Happy

Do You Write? Then You’re a Writer!

Restrictive Writing Rules

Astrology for Character Development

Should You Keep Writing or Stop?


Depression Awareness:

Remove Trigger People

Disability and Poverty Depression

Publishing Depression


Books Recommendations:

My Romance Reading Journey

Children’s Books for Pride Month


Fun Promos:

I’m Dead / Vlog

Interview with a Killer

Flour Tortilla Pizza Recipe

Simone Rose, Medical Examiner Interview 

Witches - True or False

Tish McGinnis, Medical Examiner Interview


Personal:

Dear Mom, I Love You

My Muse Says, “Hi!”


Other:

Happy HalloRead! What I Do for Trick or Treaters