I was recently notified that my short story collection, Consuming the Body, is a top twenty finalist for the 2017 Snake Nation Press Serena Kennedy McDonald Award. A similar compilation of stories made the finalist list in 2016, so I am both encouraged and excited at the possibilities of this collection finally finding its true home.
I was so excited to learn I received Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train's Short Story for New Writers Fall 2016 Contest for my submission called "Driving to Redemption." I hope to find a wonderful journal to publish this story soon.
I'm thrilled to share the good news of the past weeks...
I've been selected as a juried poet to read at the Houston Poetry Festival October 9-11, 2015. I'll be reading Sunday, October 11th at 2:00, but be sure to catch the rest of the festival as well. It's all free and open to the public. The festival readings will be held at the Willow Street Pump Station of the University of Houston – Downtown at 811 North San Jacinto.
My first chapbook, Last to Leave, will be published by Jane's Boy Press in October. Here's what the lovely Georgia Popoff had to say:
"In Last to Leave, Christie Grimes two-steps through the heat and seasoning of Texas and embraces rural northern New York in poems that sweat and chuckle, question and speak of resolve. These poems are familiar with salsa and barrooms, classrooms, and warm kitchens. These are rites of passage painted in language lush with flavor and craft."
Georgia A. Popoff
Author of Psalter: The Agnostic’s Book of Common Curiosities
Stay tuned for news about my book launch, the spring release of my full length poetry collection, Finding Fruit Among Thorns, and more.
Invest in chocolate. Lots of it.
Find a reliable partner, friend, coach. Someone to keep you from slipping into deep depression when you revise 300 pages for the 8th time. Make sure you have an emergency number where you can reach them.
Find someone to back them up when you can’t reach them. When the agent with the perfect call for submissions lists your style and type of book and then responds to your query in five minutes that it isn’t what she’s looking for, make sure that your hotline support has twenty minutes to spare.
Drink something. Coffee is fine. Or tea. Or liquor. Water is for wussies.
But drink water too. You need to stay hydrated.
Listen to your mom on shit like that. But don’t send her the book no matter how many times she asks for it. Tell her to wait for publication.
Send the book back out after you revise it again. NO ONE IS GOING TO COME KNOCK ON YOUR DOOR AND ASK FOR IT! You are not Harper Lee. Besides, you don’t want to be in that pressure cooker either.
Let the published novelists encourage you and recommend you and bite your tongue when they post how rejection was so valuable for them as an emerging writer.
Embrace that label when it comes with a contest and prize. Reject it when you want to.
Keep sending to contests and journals. Surely some agents read those.
Find time to write. Even when you think you suck. Even when you hate it. Even when you are scared. Even when….. Yes. Then too.
Remember you are much more sane when you are writing. Call up those hotlines and have them remind you of that too.
The only cure is to write and submit.
The only cure is to write and submit.
The only cure is to write and submit.
Careful. You don’t want to sound like Jack Torrance from the Shining there.
Remember the good stuff. How it feels to rock a scene, unlock a character, find an ending, to print those pages. Read your books. Celebrate your work. Keep at it.
Yes. Keep at it.
I have at least 12 writing quotes over my writing desk at any given time. Today, if I count some favorite fortune cookie sayings and horoscope predictions as well, it's nearing 20. Some are from friends. Some are from famous writers. Many are clipped out or on post-its. Here is a sampling of what keeps me writing.
"Isak Dinesen said she wrote a little every day, without hope and without despair."
"There's an old saying. When there is no wind, row. I row every day. It's not about page count. It's about simply rowing."
"Writing: shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart--your stories, visions, memories, songs, your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it's why you were born."
What's your writing inspiration?
You may have noticed that a lot of writers hang out with other writers. This isn’t because all writers are drunks, though there are some great ones, nor that only writers are fun and creative people, not by a long shot. But, it can help when a writer is going through a period of rejection and needs someone to talk to about it. Because other writers get it. They get the rejection, the fear, the angst, the periods of not writing and complaining, or writing and complaining, or the shoulders you need when well-intentioned friends and family might say something that cuts to the quick. If you’re wondering why your writer friends get testy when talking about their writing, here are some insights:
Writing and getting published are two different things.
Say this a few times. Please. They are both tough and they are completely separate entities. Let’s talk about why.
What’s all the writing about?
It’s those things that we willingly subject ourselves to on a daily (when it’s good) or weekly or monthly basis (when it’s not). Sometimes we have to. Sometimes we like to. Often, it’s what we know how to do or something that we have come to. We are usually insecure about our writing. This is because we all do it differently and get different results. It’s sort of like cooking. Sometimes we don’t feel like it, but then we get it done and we think, that was such a good idea. I really needed that. We might cook things that you would never eat. We might cook things you’ve never heard of. And, most people don’t care or mind about that. But, there’s sometimes a part of us that wants to cook for others. We might have started out with dinner parties or have gotten together and shared a dish. Maybe someone liked it or didn’t. Maybe we got some encouragement or feedback. But it unlocked something for us. And, from that point on, we were cooking a bit all the time. Reading recipes, trying to learn from other cooks, and a little part of us hoping someday we will get to be a chef.
Now, you might think there are lots of ways to enjoy cooking without being a chef. This is very true. It’s true of people who even go to culinary school. But, if you start mentioning to people that you went to school for culinary arts, or that you spend your free time cooking, they might start to wonder when you’re going to get a job in it.
You might start out working in a diner, then move on to a larger place or someplace with a bit more flair; you might help out with catering here and there and start teaching some others some of your tricks.
And you might keep dreaming of landing that head chef position at a prestigious restaurant or starting up your own place.
Now we’re getting much closer to the publishing discussion.
So, here’s the thing. That all takes a really long time. Sometime it never happens at all. It also takes an enormous amount of time and effort to constantly put your work out for others to sample. Maybe you’d find a mentor who could help you with networking. Maybe you would meet someone who could help you finance your dream.
Maybe if you were a writer, you could find an agent, then a publisher, then one day see your book in print.
What probably wouldn’t help is learning the recipe for a friend’s blueberry muffins. Yes, I’m referring to the “you should write my story” line.
We have ideas. We have lots and lots of ideas and stories. We are overflowing. If you want to write a story, we can probably help you get started. But, we do not have the time nor inclination to write your story.
Okay – enough with the cooking. You get the idea.
So here’s what we’ve been doing holing up in our offices, trailers, caves, coffee tables.
Writing, staring at the wall and thinking, worrying, writing some more.
Editing our previous work, worrying why it wasn’t good enough for the 25 places we submitted it to. Think for a second the last time 25 people rejected you for something. If it was a job, you might think you were in the wrong field. This is typical for writers. We do worry we should quit. But 25 rejections are nothing. 100 are maybe a nudge towards revision. We have to weather that if we want to have a chance.
Reading. Reading some more. Reading debut authors – those people you’ve never heard of – we buy and read those books. We read established authors too. We read widely. Then we read obscure little journals that cost $15 each. We read the tiny stories and poems. We think about how they work. We share them with others. Then we send our work to those places that we like the most.
Researching. Research agents and journals and publishing houses – not the big ones like you’ve heard of on the news, the tiny imprints or start-ups. We try to support them. They are often our best chance of publishing in today’s market.
Contacting agents. Yes, we are calling in networking or sending cold-call emails to the slush pile, after having carefully crafted letters to these over-worked, blurry-eyed agents who often try to be kind.
Then we wait. Oh yeah, those 25 rejections we got? Those took 3 months. Agents or independent presses might take 6 or 8 months to respond.
This is all after we’ve drafted a story eight times. Or twenty times. Or written a 350-page novel and reworked it for two years, sending it through beta readers and friends, asking for constructive criticism, then having to deal with the parts that aren’t working or don’t communicate our vision. All of these things are really hard. They are. But we like parts of it. And, we really like parts of the writing and the reading. We think we’re going to like the publishing parts. If we happen to get a story or poem out there, it feels really, really good.
Self-publishing is a choice that people make for a variety of reasons. Some people self-publish really strong, articulate, and compelling books. Self-publishing is a different system than traditional publication, and it is up to the author to make that decision. However, if writers are going through all the steps above, they have likely decided not to self-publish. Maybe they feel that traditional publishing has more respect, maybe they feel as if they want to earn the scouting badge of publication, or maybe they need it for a job or other reason. Regardless, those two avenues of publication are not viewed the same in the corporate and publishing worlds. A suggestion for self-publishing is often not a helpful one.
So, when we’ve been writing and revising a book for three years and sending it out to agents for more than six months and it seems long enough that it should have been published already and you say so, forgive us if we cry, order a beer, or launch into a tirade. It seems long to us too. It is long. It is part of the process. We don’t know when it will end.
What do we do? We go back to writing. We read some more. We hope we are getting better. We start over. We still call ourselves writers. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t read anything I’ve written or if I haven’t made money by my writing. I am still a writer. I am still here. I am still going.
Cheers to Litbridge for setting up a great website of resources. Find information on literary magazines, writing programs, and so much more! http://www.litbridge.com/
Need to know the word count range for your novel?
What do literary agents want? Hear it from the source! http://manuscriptwishlist.com/
Want to know more about screenwriting or novel writing?
Below are some of my favorite writer websites. (Check back often. More to come over the next few weeks! In the meantime, here are some interviews, fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and essays to make your days beautiful.)
Download the podcasts from Owen Egerton's talks and interviews here:http://kut.org/topic/write-owen-egerton
Find great exercises and interviews by Michael Noll here: http://readtowritestories.com/about-2/
Find wonderful poetry exercises by Carlton Fisher here:http://www.carltondfisher.com/
Go look for the giant squid and find beauty and humor with Matthew Gavin Frank here: http://matthewgfrank.com/blog/
Writer Kristen Rouse gives you the words and information you've been missing - from national news to military questions to political views: http://trueboots.com/
Writer Leigh Comacho Rourks tells it like it is:http://lcrourks.com/
I'm a writer, professor, native Texan, NNY transplant, Parrothead and Peacemaker, traveler, Binder, and always on the quest for great chocolate, beer, and laughs. I started this as a way to group upcoming calendars, submission deadlines, and contests in a way that worked for me. Then it spread to other things that were more fun than the calendar. Kind of like buying books. Some things cannot be contained.