Huge success, originally rejected of course!

This is a review of a book with a publishing backstory that should ignite the ashen hope, warm the shivering heart and revive the exhausted ego of any writer mired in the tar pit of publisher rejection. “Homer – The Ninth Life of a Blind Wonder Cat” is the triumphant follow-up to “Homer’s Odyssey”, the much-rejected “cat memoir” book that went on to be published, and saved the lives of thousands of both animals and humans, strengthened people faced with physical and mental challenges, and caused millions to fall in a love that has transformed their lives.

“Homer’s Odyssey”, the original memoir, tells the LIFE story of a tiny black blind cat named Homer. The writer, Gwen Cooper, is one of those personable writers who can involve your heart, mind and soul in a story. And as the woman who adopted Homer and loved him and gave him to the world in her books, she is indeed the one to write his story. In the follow-up, “Homer – The Ninth Life of a Blind Wonder Cat”, just released, she bravely tells the REST of his story – the story of his leaving and the worldwide wonders that resulted. It had to hurt to write it. But it was an important part of Homer’s legacy to the world. So she wrote it. In this second book she also shares the accounts of publisher response to the extraordinary original book, the sneers, jeers and cheers, and the smiles, snarls and yawns – all kindly written and completely true.

Here is my review of Gwen Cooper’s “Homer – The Ninth Life of a Blind Wonder Cat”, followed by where you can buy it and stoke the fires of your determination to publish your own gift to the world:

There has never been a cat like Homer. Thank God he was saved by a writer like Gwen. Between the two of them, he now belongs to everyone, and anyone can fall in love with him, learn courage and love and optimism and happiness and fierce loyalty and bravery and committed passion without ever feeling “talked at” or lectured or even taught. Was it initially welcomed by prospective publishers? Nope. Any aspiring writer will delight in the reasons given for rejecting a book that went out into the world to transform and save the lives of animals and people, translated into languages around the globe. Her first book was “Homer the Blind Wonder Cat.” It told his living story. But… this incredible woman had the courage to tell the story of his leaving and the worldwide impact it made. It’s amazing – the gifts Homer gave (through Gwen) by living and then by leaving. You’ll be changed, not just for the better but for the best. You’ll open – to the good that can come when you’re willing to love and then you’re willing to let go. Is it sometimes sad? It will empty your heart of tears you didn’t know you needed to cry. It is inspiring? You’ll never look at loving and living and leaving in the same way, ever again. Read the rest of the story that changed the world. Told by a writer who loved and loves a cat who was and is more than a cat. He’s everything every human should be and can be.

It won’t be available in stores, but you can find the paperback on Amazon here, and the Kindle edition here Or at

The first you-know-what letter

The good news is that I am not waiting any longer to hear from my first agent submission. The bad news is their response was a rejection. I have a great and good friend who would say the bad news is “the other good news” because it means something even better is ahead!

I catch up to her attitude only after I’ve thrashed around on the floor like an eel and cursed a few also-ran gods and mourned the hard effort I put in. This is a chance to feel affectionately superior to one who is experiencing that first rejection letter, lying there in the mail box like a hit man, ready to fire the mercy bullet into one’s hope. And you recognize this envelope because you sent it to yourself! You wrote your address, you placed the stamp, you paper-clipped it to the proposal and marketing plan and cover letter over which you labored for months. So you pick it up, you open it because you want to know if they at least took a moment to make it personal (they did), and you read it, and you wonder whether you should keep it.

This agent is actually very successful and well-recommended. His web site suggests many excellent resources and they publish regular blogs which are honest and helpful. His name is Steve Laube, and that is the name of his agency, as well. Try him! He may become your agent, and you would be fortunate if he did.

Writers want their work to be read. We can’t help it, and I’m not sure we should resist that desire (without letting it become a requirement for happiness) because it’s our part in the circle of creativity. There is a relationship between writer and reader that makes each one who they are – writer and reader. But, do readers doubt they are readers if there aren’t any writers? No. Then why do writers doubt they are writers if they don’t have readers? Isn’t it a circle?

Three agents were highly recommended to me. In the next two weeks, I’ll look into the requirements of the next agent, adjust my proposal/marketing plan and cover letter – and resubmit. Okay? Okay.

Once the proposal is mailed…

I researched and wrote my book proposal during the warm summer months at a table under the pine trees… blue skies, earth-scented breeze, the occasional car/truck ambling down the unpaved road as the driver waved amiably because in Idaho everyone waves at everyone… I wrote. And rewrote. And re-read and revised. I read the agent’s web site in detail, bought and read every book-proposal-preparing book they suggested, bought and read many books pertaining to bookselling so I could add a detailed marketing plan to my wondrous proposal… I worked harder  than I’d ever worked at any writing project in my life, including writing the book itself! I sent it to my eagle-eyed friend to proofread/edit and she made great suggestions and I included all of them. I went through the same process for the cover letter. No document in living memory ever went through so many versions as that cover letter. I chose the clear-cover presentation folder, ever-so-carefully hole-punched all the pages, and inserted them carefully into said folder. I remembered the letter-sized SASE. I drove my book proposal to the post office and placed it in a most-excellent large envelope and… mailed it. That was two weeks ago. It seems like two years.

And in those two weeks, I’ve been trying to get my mind off the ceiling and coax it into focusing on something else. Writers often talk about being afraid to send off proposals, the hardball hit to the stomach when a rejection letter arrives, the endless waiting to hear back. But finding other mental employment in that interim? Geez. I have wrested my heart away from the window and guided my feet away from unnecessary trips to the mail box, and have started polishing a script for a play I’d like to do next year. But it was hard to switch gears!

Finishing a book and sending the proposal are the two most anticlimactic things on God’s earth. They take such commitment and emotional energy, and they both end in… waiting. I realize I want a RESULT! Results are long in coming, and when they arrive, they might not be the ones I want. This is one of those times when “enjoy the journey” truly applies, because after the journey of writing, there is a long empty interim before the destination of publication comes into view. And you know what? I DID enjoy the journey! I’m proud of myself for having completed it (thus far) and I am proud of you – all of you – for doing so as well.

Evidently, being a writer takes more than writing. It takes courage.

The terror of pressing “Send” on your query letter

I follow Weaver Reborn, who is on the scary edge of contacting an agent.  In her recent post, she was so honest in her angst about sending an email query it prompted me to think of many things in my comment. If any of you benefit from her remarks and my responses, good.

WB: “Have I picked at least ONE agent that I want to send my book query to? Yes. Have I sent it out yet? No. Why not? BECAUSE I’M A BLOODY COWARD!”

Oh bollocks. You’re not a coward; you’re nervous. We all feel this way.

WB: “It’s just a few short paragraphs.”

Bollocks again. Your unsent query letter is EVERYthing, the way you’re thinking of it. But it is actually what YOU SAY it is. For example: “It’s my first agent query;” “It’s my first interaction with this agent;” “It’s an excellent chance to get some feedback so I can proceed with more confidence;” “It’s a great way to find out if this is the agent I actually want, or if there’s another who’s better.”

WB: “I’m never going to get anything accomplished if I don’t open up an email and SEND a query.”

Actually, you don’t need an agent or a publisher. You would prefer to have them. And of course you’ll get something accomplished, if you send the email or if you don’t. Nothing can stop you. You can’t do nothing; you can only do the next thing.

WB: “I keep thinking of all the bad. OMG what if I’m not good enough?”

You wouldn’t be trying if you didn’t think you were good enough. Your greatest fear, perhaps, is finding no one who agrees with you. The stories are legion of famous, successful people who were told they weren’t good enough until they either found someone who affirmed that they were, or they did it on their own terms and proved everyone wrong. Quit giving away your power, your self-estimation. And all right, what if you’re not good enough? This is the first step to getting feedback on getting good enough! You’re on a road, on a staircase. You’re not at the edge of an eternal abyss.

WB: “What if I don’t get the publisher I want?”

When you’re published and the book is selling, how much will you care that it wasn’t the publisher you originally wanted?

WB: “What if I can’t make the book marketing thing work?”

The book marketing always works. I know what you mean, reading through all these books on how to excel in the world of social media, go on library tours, find rare market niches. It’s new. It’s overwhelming. If so much didn’t depend on it, if it wasn’t so emotionally charged, how would you approach doing something you can’t do now, but know you can do if you work at it? Apply your wisdom.

WB: “What if I fail dramatically at this?”

When I give something all I’ve got and it still doesn’t work (try for a certain job, for example), I feel good about my work and my effort, and take the cue to go in another direction. It’s actually a good, informative, supportive place to be. As the sages say, within every failure are the keys to the success of the next attempt. A degree in failure has led to some lucrative post-graduate careers. And – what if you succeed dramatically at this? I notice you didn’t ask that question.

WB: “I seriously woke up after having nightmares the other night. I keep fighting with myself.”

Actually, this means you are decided. And your decision is to press “send.” There would be no conflict if your decision was wait (“the book’s not ready yet) or quit (“Let’s just go back to doing this as my own personal thing” … “maybe I really should JUST self-publish…”). There would be wonderful peace, as if you had dodged a bullet. You want to press “send.” So press “send.”

WB: “In the end I’m just on my own with this one.”

Sorry – bollocks again. You have us – an army of fellow soldiers marching beside you, some a little behind you, and some in front. You have your family. You have your book. You couldn’t be LESS alone. In fact, to be alone, you’d have to pour a soft drink over your computer and leave the online world, and announce to your family that you are retiring to a mountain peak in Tibet.

WB: “I’m going to have to find the courage somewhere.”

Let’s substitute “strength” for courage, shall we? It takes strength to stall a creative endeavor in its course, just before it surges over the falls and releases all its energies: You’re doing that. You have TREMENDOUS strength. Invest it all in pushing forward. The stress and nightmares are probably coming from the discomfort of standing still when you’re just dying to move forward. So move. Let yourself move. True, it’s safer in the car wearing the seatbelt, but when you arrive at your destination… staying seat-belted in the car is claustrophobic and frustrating, sitting there restrained and gazing out the windows at all those possibilities. Unclick. Open the door. Go. Whatever happens will be better than staying in the car.

You’re not a coward. A hero is someone who feels afraid and acts anyway. Be our hero. Be your hero. Press send.

VANITY PRESSES: What they are and what they do

Pauline is amazing example of prolific writing, thorough research, well-chosen focus, perseverance and ultimately, success. A great source for aspiring writers.

Neurotic Novelist

vanity presses

Vanity presses.  This is an interesting topic I’ve come across many, many times.  I’ve talked with a lot of people about it and have had some experience encountering these types of companies.  Often times aspiring writers don’t know the difference between a real publishing house (or print on demand service) and a vanity press.  So I’m going to break it down for you.

How do I know whether it’s a vanity press? In other words, what is it?

First off, how do you know when you encounter a vanity press?  It’s pretty simple.  If the company is asking for money – and I mean a large sum, not just a few bucks to pay for an ISBN – it’s a vanity press.

A vanity press is, in short, a company that acts as a publisher but charges you (the author) a large amount of money to do this for you. …

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7 Things to Know Before Publishing Your Novel

Neurotic Novelist

photo provided by nuttakit at photo provided by nuttakit at

I’ve found that during my author interviews one of the most common questions I get asked is if I have any advice for aspiring authors.  And I do!  A lot, actually.  So I thought I’d put together a list of some things I wish I’d known before taking the leap into the publishing pool.

1. You won’t make a lot of money.

Weirdly, a lot of people assume that being an author is a get-rich-quick kind of job.  Sorry to disappoint you if you’re one of those unfortunately misinformed people, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  It’s a sad reality but it’s incredibly rare for an author to make enough money to live off of their book sales.  Sure, you hear of authors like J. K. Rowling and James Patterson making millions off their books, but they are some of the few…

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Version number three and counting

So first I was struggling with writing ANYthing for the book proposal, and now I have three! How did this happen, you ask? Well, I plunged in and used a format given in an article recommended by the agent. Getting it done was like shrugging off a bearskin coat and letting the furry mass thud to the floor. THEN, I reviewed the agent’s personal suggested outline and that morphed into yet another book proposal version. Now I’m re-referencing the agent-recommended book, “Book Proposals That $ell”, which will probably birth an even heftier version. After that, I will undertake the mind-convulsing task of blending all three together into a proposal so vast it will cause the agent’s desk to sag. The agent will steady his sliding computer with one hand and call Rent-A-Crane with the other to raise the proposal off his desk and into the shredder. He will enclose the equipment rental bill with my rejection letter. Or – I will miraculously blend all the key points in an intuitive flow so phenomenally persuasive it will catapult the agent into the CFO’s office to issue me an advance. Maybe somewhere between the two scenarios, you think?

What To Do (And Not Do) When Approaching Editors- Guest Post

Before this, I would have approached a prospective editor with chocolate. Now I know better! This is extremely information to anyone seeking editorial help/review with a manuscript, and it is also a good read if one (not to say “I”) were thinking of doing more editorial assignments. Enjoy!


Today we have a fantastic guest post by Richard Held from Held Editing Services!

Hiring an editor has its benefits. An editor can make typo and grammar corrections, eliminate passive voice, alert authors about plot holes and patchy character development, and can offer advice on character and plot development, as well as assist with fact-checking and other tasks.

Some authors, however, do not know how to approach an editor.  When these clueless scribes contact an editor, the latter often finds his/her time is wasted—and time is money for an editor, especially a full-time one.

Here is what to do—and not do—when approaching an editor.

Do: Communicate clearly.

Do you think your manuscript needs a detailed proofread to eliminate lingering typos, or do you think your document needs a light copy edit to eliminate some rough grammar?  Knowing what kind of help you need before you query will help smooth the…

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