THE FLIP SIDE OF REJECTION SLIPS

How many rejection slips can you claim to your author name? If you proudly boast none, you are either a topnotch writer who needn’t even be reading this, or you are a “wannabe published” one who is not doing the work it takes to accomplish that goal. If, on the other hand, you have a good number of rejection slips, like I do, it means you’ve been working at writing and getting published. Good for you!

Can’t bear the thought of someone rejecting your work? If that’s the case, then you’d best put your pen down, crumple up your poem, your story, or your novel, and get on with something in life other than writing. Writing involves work, and plenty of it, sometimes with little or no reward, and rejection slips are just little interruptions—or maybe more?—along the way.

While the writer’s daily trek to the mailbox (in anticipation of hearing from an editor) has evolved into a quick click in the inbox, no amount of technology can, or ever will, ease the pain and dejection of the dreaded rejection slip, regardless of its form or format. Yet, however strange it may sound, I’m proud of my folder of Sorry, we can’t use it notes, because it represents my thirty years plus of writing and submitting materials—poems, stories, essays, and the like. Despite those rejection slips, my byline appears in the host of magazines and books lining the shelves of my “published works” bookcase, and a good number of those publications came about because of my favorite, now scrapbooked, rejection slips.

From impersonal, Xeroxed rejection letters with check-marked boxes at either We have just published something similar or It does not fit our editorial needs at this time, to updated email replies such as We have not chosen your work or Sorry, I must decline…, rejection slips are not all that bad. In fact, some can be downright encouraging! Case in point: Amateur that I was, many years ago, when a sales rep from an office supply company spoke of a small, local publishing house, I was overjoyed and quickly sent my picture book manuscript their way. It was returned a week or two later with a note reading, Sorry, we don’t publish this type of work. We are a textbook publisher. However, we enjoyed your story so much that we passed it around the office so that everyone could read it. Encouraging? Yes!

Another five (handwritten) rejection slips, all from the editorial director of a children’s magazine publisher, led to the publication of 100+ poems, stories, and puzzles in those magazines over the next three years. Looking back, I’m sure that that patient editor must have sensed something she liked about my writing and, when I finally submitted a story poem she could use, she replied with This is just what we’ve been looking for! A few more poems and stories sent her way reaped praises such as Your material is just great! followed by instructions to mark my manuscript envelopes Materials Requested, to assure her getting my manuscripts directly and without delay.

Yes, I still get rejection slips, but I file them away and move on, always aware that I never know where one (or five) of them might lead.

So, how many rejection slips can you claim, and how many, if any, have been helpful and encouraging? Please Like and leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Also, please visit my website at http://loisjfunk.com for information about my books, Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present and Light for the Burning Soul, both available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook.

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FINDING MY VOICE

I didn’t find it, but my readers did! My voice, that is – not my speaking voice, but my writing voice.

I started out like most authors probably do, trying to make my writing prim and proper, according to everything I had learned in school, then found that all I have to do is write like I speak and follow it up with a great deal of editing (the most important part of any writing).

Several years ago, I purchased a book called finding your voice (how to put personality in your writing), by Les Edgerton. Although I read it faithfully from cover to cover, some of it made little sense to me at the time, maybe because my poems and children’s stories were already being published and favorably reviewed by critics other than family and friends. I was fairly confident that my style (also referred to in Edgerton’s book) was okay; however, I wondered at the thought of finding my own voice. I didn’t have a clue as to what it should sound like and doubted that I would ever find it, much less that I would know it once I did find it. So I went on writing in my already-accepted style, giving little, if any, thought to voice.

It was during the publication of my first book that my writing voice was found – not by me, but by an editor who happily remarked, “I’ve read a bit of your book [Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present] and it’s just darling. LOVE your voice!” And with further reading, she added, “After a while of reading your book, I found myself ‘listening’ for the voice. It’s hard to explain, but that’s the effect your book had on me, that you and I were sitting down somewhere, chatting. Excellent. Very engaging style.”

Every writer can only hope that his or her style and voice will be recognized and commented on by a busy but responsive editor.

For more about my books, Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present: How to Retrieve the Lost Pictures of Your Past, and Light for the Burning Soul: Sparks, Flames, and Embers, please visit my website at http://loisjfunk.com. Both books are available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook, through amazon.com and bn.com.

FINDING THE COURAGE

While writing comes fairly easy to those of us who love it, submitting a manuscript to an editor who could reject it with the flick of a pen takes courage, not to mention work and determination.

Submitting any manuscript, no matter how short or how long, takes work, time, and a certain amount of courage. Some of us are willing to do what it takes and risk rejection; others shy away from everything except wanting others to read and praise their work.

Although I started writing children’s stories during my high school years, twenty years passed before I thought seriously about “being a writer,” even though I was writing most of the time. I had kept a detailed travel diary of the years I lived in Australia, as well as a smaller one for a trip to Europe in 1964. I was also writing children’s stories, but only for my family—especially nieces and nephews—to read.

At the insistence of family and friends, I finally got up enough courage to submit five children’s poems to a religious magazine. While one poem was returned, the other four brought me a whopping $4.75. That small check gave me the courage, and the incentive, to start submitting poems to other magazines, namely Turtle, Children’s Playmate, Humpty Dumpty’s, and Jack and Jill (Benjamin Franklin Literary Society, Children’s Better Health Institute). Since then, my work has been published in a wide variety of books and magazines.

Since then, methods of submitting materials have changed drastically as well. Writers used to mail submissions by snail mail and wait for weeks to hear back from editors. Now, with email submissions so prevalent, answers come back almost immediately. But even with hundreds of publications and two books to my credit, it still takes courage to hit the Send button.

For a glimpse into my books, Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present, and Light for the Burning Soul, please visit my website as http://loisjfunk.com. I’d love to hear from you!

SHIFTING GEARS

I chuckled as I told him for the second or third time, “Remember which car you’re driving” – something he had teased me about back home every time I’d reached for the stick shift  on the console of our VW rather than the automatic shift lever in the car I was driving. Now it was his turn for confusion as he drove the Toyota Corolla we’d purchased in Australia, heading for the summer Olympics. With “windscreen” wipers and directional signals on the opposite sides of the steering column as our cars at home, he was repeatedly reaching for, and turning on, the wrong one.

These days, I liken my writing to “vehicles” called Poetry, Essays, Children’s Stories, Music, Lyrics, Books, and Blogging. Each vehicle requires a different format, a different mood, and a different length of time from start to finish, so, as I’m continually switching from one to the other, I’m constantly shifting gears. I just have to remember which vehicle I’m driving.

For a glimpse into my books, Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present, and Light for the Burning Soul, please visit my website as http://loisjfunk.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

For Immediate Release – Book Launch: Light for the Burning Soul

Light for the Burning Soul: Sparks, Flames, and Embers – by Lois J. Funk

Close on the tales of her nonfiction, how-to-memoir, Lois J. Funk launches Light for the Burning Soul: Sparks, Flames and Embers, a collection of inspirational verse and heartwarming anecdotes derived from her personal walk with God.

Manito, IL – April 26, 2015 — Light for the Burning Soul: Sparks, Flames, and Embers, is available online, at Amazon.com, and locally at The Kountry Nook, in Pekin, Illinois. Its pages offer encouragement for everyone, from the person seeking God, to the one who already knows, loves, and follows His Word. Its pages will “ignite sparks of inspiration for the wandering soul; fan flames of conviction for the soul on fire for God’s Word; and stir embers of faith where fervor is waning.”

“The Spirit of God speaks in a whisper
and is heard only by those who listen with their hearts.”

Funk is an internationally published children’s author and poet whose work has appeared in a vast array of children’s magazines and church curriculum, and in books and table magazines, since 1981. Additional works include five chapbooks of poetry; a reflective essay and several poems in Pieces of Her Mind – Women Find Their Voice in Centuries-Old Forms (2012); and a unique combination of prose and poetry in her non-fiction, how-to-memoir, Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present: How to Retrieve the Lost Pictures of Your Past (2014).

Light for the Burning Soul can be read in one sitting or a poem at a time, a day at a time. With one poem per page, the author has intentionally left a good measure of white space that encourages readers to jot down their own ideas when inspired to do so.

Meet the author and review her books, or contact her, at http://loisjfunk.com; https://loisjfunksnippets.wordpress.com; http://www.amazon.com/author/loisjfunk; and on Facebook, at Writings by Lois J. Funk.

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Running Hurdles

Six years of attending my son’s track meets made me thankful that he’d chosen to keep his feet on the ground, for sprints and relays, rather than running hurdles. Watching his fellow teammates tackle barrier after barrier kept a prayer on my lips that, win or lose, they would not stumble and that, if they did, they could still finish the race.

At the same time I was praying for those young runners, I was running hurdles of my own, in the writing field. My urge to write had been fueled years before, by the encouragement of two English teachers.

My goal throughout high school had been to become a journalist. But my father’s sudden and unexpected death, six months before graduation, destroyed my incentive for any further education. As a result, I had come to my first hurdle—the underlying thought that, without a degree of some kind, I could never write anything worthwhile; that, even if I did, it might be recognized by my own little world of family and friends, but never by the reading world beyond them.

When family and friends encouraged me to seek a publisher for my work, I gingerly climbed over that first hurdle and stumbled on, along the track that led to the next hurdle. It came in the form of a possible-but-not-probable challenge. One writer “in the know” stated that stay-at-home housewives and moms (both titles worn proudly by me) could possibly, but not probably, become successful writers. Sheer determination helped me knock down and trample that barrier with both feet. I would keep writing what I was capable of writing and tackle “success” later.

Then came the blunt realization that most editors/publishers weren’t looking for, or even reading, poetry—especially traditional rhymed and metered verse, which was my passion, and which had already flowed into my children’s stories. The only glimpse of hope came in yet another writer’s suggestion: “If you can do it well, try it.” I did, and it worked, to a degree. My traditional poetry was now getting published and winning awards, but my stories were still sitting on the sidelines. And there they stayed, until I came to my next hurdle.

This time, I read that, for various reasons, children’s stories could be harder to write and get published than any other writing. By now, I knew that both facts were absolutely true. But I was on a roll, and since I had gotten around the other hurdles, I could surely get around this one.  I just needed to find an editor who was willing to read my rhyming stories and, hopefully, find them worth publishing. That hurdle was cleared successfully when, over the next few years, the editor of the Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc. (Children’s Better Health Institute) purchased and published over eighty of my rhyming stories and poems. At the same time, another editor began accepting, and is still publishing, my inspirational children’s stories.

Several years ago, a handwriting analyst pegged me as being determined in what I wish to accomplish. Had I balked at any one of the hurdles along my writing track, I might still be wishing I could write something worthy of publication. As it is, I can peer through the glass doors of my personal library and say, “Hey! Each of those publications holds one or more of my writings!”

Of course, where there is a desire to learn, and another goal sitting on the sidelines, there will always be another hurdle to clear.

P.S. Since this reflective essay was published in Pieces of Her Mind, in 2012, I have two books of my own: Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present, published in 2014, and the soon-to-be-launched Light for the Burning Soul: Sparks, Flames, and Embers. So I’m still running hurdles; they’re just getting to be more fun.

For more about my books, please visit me at http://loisjfunk.com.

I’D RATHER BE WRITING

I’d rather be writing – a poem, or prose, or, better yet, a book of either or both. Of course, blogging IS writing, but I’d rather be working at putting a book together, which is exactly what I’ve been doing these past weeks and the reason I haven’t been blogging regularly. That’s why, if you don’t see me here for weeks at a time, it’s because I’m following my heart and working on  another book, anxious to put another “working copy” behind me. So keep an eye out for the launching of my new book, coming up shortly!

In the meantime, Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present is available (and on sale), online, in paperback, Kindle, and Nook. However, if ever Barnes & Noble says that it  is “not available in paperback,” don’t believe it. It’s only because they don’t order books until the last one has been sold, leaving a small gap of time until they re-order and re-load.

For a glimpse into my books, Snaps, Scraps & Snippets of the Past and Present, and Light for the Burning Soul, please visit my website as http://loisjfunk.com. I’d love to hear from you!