I just wanted to tell you that I like your stuff…

I have found an online retailer whose clothing is very much my style.  I’ve already added 10 pieces to my wardrobe from their store, and I will probably end up getting more eventually.   (Give me five more sentences and you’ll know why this is related to writing.)

The other day I was poking around on their website and discovered that they love to get feedback.  As it happens, I love to give feedback, especially when I like something this much.

You can guess where this story is going, but I don’t know if you will predict the end.  🙂

I wrote a long email to their customer service department, telling them how I discovered them in the first place while trying desperately to find khaki work pants (which is a great story on its own) and then gushing about their stuff.   I got an automated reply back, which said they’d address any concerns promptly, and “[I]f you are just sharing your thoughts or suggestions we appreciate them and will take care to forward them to the right teams.”

I figured that was the end of the story.

Today I got an email from their “Real Women” department.  They like to feature stories from their customers on their email ads, and they might use mine!  They asked me for a picture (which shouldn’t be hard to do) and said if they use it, they will give me a $100 gift card.  How cool is that?

I knew they were accepting submissions, but that’s not why I sent the email.  I just wanted to tell them that I like their stuff.  🙂


Writing Rest Area

I frequently drive across Iowa on trips between my current home state of South Dakota and the state of my birth, Illinois.  (In fact, most of the drive is Iowa, and it crosses the entire state.)

While the drive tends to be long and tedious, there are some good things about crossing Iowa.  Unlike many of the other long drives I’ve taken in my life, there are no “dead air” zones where the radio fails me.  There are lots of good places to stop, including a visit with friends in Des Moines.  The Iowa Department of Transportation has also made an effort to take care of drivers in the state.  There are lots of rest areas available, and fifteen of them have been renovated and themed.  There’s a Lewis and Clark rest area, an agriculture rest area, and a very cool wind energy rest area.  On this trip I discovered what they call the “Iowa” rest area, which is writing themed.

There’s a huge sculpture of a fountain pen nib in front of the building.  There are names of novelists, poets, and playwrights from Iowa displayed throughout the building, with a large wraparound LED screen near the ceiling with constantly scrolling quotes.  Even the picnic shelters are themed, with quotes cut into metal at the back of each.

For someone who writes, it’s an inspirational place to pause.  I took the time to walk around and read several of the shelter quotes.  It was a really neat find, and it will be a planned stop on future trips.  The next time I drive through without animals in my car, I might even take a few moments to write with inspiration all around me.

Want to know where to find it?  It’s on Interstate 80, eastbound, near Tiffin, Iowa.  🙂

An Overnight Adventure

In my family, the word “adventure” is used to describe a situation that doesn’t go exactly according to plan.  If we get lost going somewhere new, “It’s an adventure.”  If a plane is delayed and schedules have to be rearranged, “It’s an adventure.”

Last night, I had an adventure, as my mom called it when it happened.  I was driving back to South Dakota from visiting my family and got caught in the big snow storm in Iowa.  After spending nearly 4 hours traveling 5 miles (most of the time was spent in park with the car shut off), I got to sleep on the floor in the breakfast room at a Super 8.  Sharing that space were 15 strangers and a dog.  Thanks goodness my animals weren’t with me!

It wasn’t an adventure I’d like to repeat.  I only got a few hours of sleep, and there’s nothing quite like wearing the same clothes for 26 hours.  (A shower was high on the priority list when I did make it home, right after taking care of my bird and putting away perishable food.)  It wasn’t the most stressful sleeping arrangement I’ve had – that would probably be the downpour and cold front in a tent in the Chisos Mountains – but it also wasn’t restful.

To top it all off, I started getting sick Saturday night (a possible sinus infection) and sleeping on the floor with earplugs in made all the junk in my sinuses drain into my ear.  Pain was part of the reason for the lack of sleep.

I made it home this morning, though, and have showered and taken a nap.  I’m heading to the acute care clinic shortly to address my sickness, and I have tasty goodies leftover from the bridal shower (why I went home in the first place) to eat.  In case you hadn’t guessed, I’ll be heading to bed early tonight.  🙂

Aren’t adventures fun?

Collecting Rejections

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I am aiming for ten rejections this year.  (A “no response” also counts as a rejection.)

One of the two query letters currently out is overdue for a response.  I’ve sent a follow-up email, but at this point I’m going to count is as a no response.  The other that is out has another month before it counts as a rejection.

Knowing this, I’ve started looking at agencies so I can choose another one or two to send submissions.  I pulled out my little stack of agency index cards tonight and started flipping through.

What’s on my index cards?  Last time I sent queries, I had a lot of information but found that not all of it was important.  This time they have only four things besides their name: their website, how to query, their response time, and their self-reported willingness to accept new authors.  If there is something important, like “looking for women’s voices” or “specializes in fantasy” I add that, too.

Tonight I decided to pull out the online and email queries.  I started reviewing their websites to see if there is anything that pops as interesting or noteworthy.  I hope to have decided on one or two by tomorrow!

For those following along at home, Query Count 2013:
Rejections/No Response: 1    Pending: 1   Still needed: 8

Counting Rejections

Last night I put together my official list of 2013 goals.  (I don’t do resolutions.  Resolutions you break; goals you work towards.)

I knew that I wanted to have working on getting Dragon published on the goal list.  The problem is that “get Dragon published” or “get an agent” are not good goals.  To me, goals are things you can control on some level.  When I was in high school, I told friends that getting married couldn’t be a goal, because it depends on something outside of your control.  It can be something you want, but it shouldn’t be a goal.  (Having marriage and family as goals can lead to some bad decisions, but that’s neither here nor there for this blog.)

The goal that I chose with the aim of working on Dragon turned out to have another element as well.  The goal?  Ten rejections in 2013.

Yes, I did make getting rejected a goal.  (Obviously if I end up with an agent before ten rejections, I’ll consider the goal accomplished.)  It seems weird, but it turns out to have two great things about it.

First, I can’t get rejected ten times if I don’t send at least ten queries.  It’s a more interesting way to make sending queries the goal than simply saying “send ten queries,” and it makes me get those queries sent earlier in the year so I can get my rejections before 2014 gets here.

Second, it adds a new perspective on the rejections.  No one wants to get rejected, and those letters can discourage a writer from sending more queries.  Now that I’m trying to acquire ten, I can just look at a rejection as another tick mark getting me closer to that goal.

So, officially, the goal is ten rejections in 2013.  I’m waiting on my first two now.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Longest Email of Life

It’s probably not the longest email ever written or sent, but today I put together a very long email.

Why this high word count email, you ask?  It’s a query letter, and that’s what the agency requested.

It’s got my query letter, the first ten pages of Dragon, a four-paragraph synopsis, and a brief bio of me, all in the body of the email.  That’s what the submission guidelines requested, so that’s what the email includes.

One of the two agencies that I’m querying begins accepting queries again tomorrow, so I’ve put together the emails today for submission tomorrow.  It’s always interesting to read agencies’ websites; everyone has different query requirements as well as different response times and policies.

I’ll hit the send button on both emails tomorrow.  Getting some queries sent is a great start to the new year.

Wish me luck!


The Social Side of NaNo

Tonight I got an email reminder that the local kickoff event for NaNo was happening this evening.  Even though I didn’t take advantage of the social aspect of NaNo last year, I decided to give it a try.

The group was really interesting and fairly diverse (at least as far as writing is concerned).  There were a few folks who are trying this NaNo thing for the first time, and others who have participated before.  We had a couple of fantasy authors (including yours truly), a couple of Christian fiction writers, a few doing general fiction, and a couple who haven’t quite decided what they’re writing yet.  All in all, it was fun to talk stories, swap writing techniques, and get some ideas.

And, oddly enough, there was a computer programmer named Doug in the group.  (That would be the same job and name as my main character, if you haven’t heard.)

I don’t know how active I’ll be with the local group, since I’m typically not a social writer, but after tonight’s experience I might take in a write-in or two.

Only 2 more days to NaNo 2012!

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