Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My first post for a new year

The Insecure Writer's Support Group was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Recently, I won a 25-page critique from writer and blogger Shelley Batt. You can find her blog HERE.

I decided to send off 25-pages of my third book in the sci-fi series that I'm writing. It's the sequel to Oculus and is called Caledfwlch. You can read the first chapter of Caledfwlch at this LINK. I decided to post it AFTER I got the critique back from Shelley. Why didn't I post it before? Well, I've been feeling very insecure.

See, I'm not young anymore. I'm 41 and I visit tons of blogs where everyone is writing things, writers are celebrating their agents, and people are doing the happy dance about huge publishing contracts. So it really doesn't take much for me to think I just suck, or that I'm a failure. I'm 41 and I write some stories that a few people have read and seem to like. But it pales in comparison to the Harper Teen titans of YA who have legions of fans posting 20000+ reviews, book deals, movie deals, a gorgeous husband, three blond kids (all YA writers "seem" to be Aryan), and where every post seems to ooze magic hearts, unicorns, and happiness. And they don't even have a weight problem either. In all the pictures they put up, they're all skinny and drinking hot cocoa and boarding airplanes headed for B.E.A. or getting pics with their hubs from Disneyland.

Then I look at their age: 23. And I think...holy sh*t.

My reaction isn't jealousy. It's despair that I've tried all my life to accomplish something notable but just come up short. I made it to Disneyland to see the fireworks when I was 38. Yeah...parents never took me: dad always said he couldn't afford it. So yeah...that pretty much sums up my life. A dude that finally got it together enough that he could take himself to Disneyland by the time he was 38. Loser, right? I know I know...there are homeless people in every city and people in Ethiopia that got it worse off than me, but yeah...aside from those people, I'm not exactly the cream of the crop. Far from it actually.

I've always wanted to write. I've got stories clogging up my hard drive, I post free things on websites just to find readers, and I wrote short stories when I was a teenager. At 23, I still didn't know who I was as a person (that took quite a while to sort out), and there are girls who (at 23) have $500,000 dollars in their bank accounts. For reals? For writing YA dystopians. Seriously. And don't even mention the thousands of graduates from prestigious Ivy League schools and places like Stanford and Berkely. Yeah...just don't go there.

At first, I didn't want to send pages to Shelley for a critique. But I was like...what the hell...if she hates it then it doesn't matter. This is the response I got:

Wow, you are truly a gifted writer. I started reading your pages and didn't want to stop. I was a bit worried about reading them, at first, because of the speculative fiction aspect. I didn't really know what that meant and wondered if I could actually be able to help you. After reading your pages, I realized you really didn't need my help and wow, I loved it and I really want to read it from the beginning of the series.  
I did make a few comments here and there but I kept getting sucked into your story and really forgot to comment. So where there's gaps realize it's awesome. Thank you for letting me read your pages and also for helping me with my critique giveaway. You've been very kind, and I appreciate it. 

The letter totally made my day. I was like "Zomgah, I'm a real writer!" And of course, the first thing that pops into my mind AFTER I realize someone loved my pages was this:

Am I going to get a rejection letter from Harper Voyager? Am I? Am I? What will I do if I don't get one? For those that don't know, Harper Voyager is part of the Big Five with authors like George R.R. Martin in their stable.

A little background==> Back in October, Harper Voyager who's a huge publisher of fantasy fiction put out an open call for manuscripts in the fantasy genre from authors that are "unagented." And yes, I had one that was completely done sitting on the hard drive. Query typed, synopsis already edited, etc. I just never had even bothered to send it out. It's complete at 87,000 words (and it's PG-13 guys--yeah I wrote an epic fantasy that mommies can read, and it has a man/woman romance in it [and the Defense of Marriage Act people rejoice everywhere while eating their Chick Fil-A sandwiches]). So when I read this and read that the open period was only for 14-days...I emailed my entry off on the first day. Not too eager right?

And I've been waiting and doin' my writer thang and my blogger thang...

Because I mostly fail at everything, I just expect Harper Voyager to reject my manuscript here in January (when they say they'll notify all 4500 people that entered). I plan on doing the cover art myself and then publishing it under Patrick's Planet 99 publishing imprint that he created. But after reading Shelley's critique...I'm wondering...what if they don't reject me? Is it possible that I'm a real writer? Is it possible someone at Harper Voyager's slush pile might actually like my first 1000 words? And what if they do? What if they say "We'll sign Mike...give him a call?"

This thing called "hope" that all of us writers go through is truly terrible. I think I'd just be better off accepting that nothing good ever happens to me.

If you have time, please go read my interview at Kay Dee Royal. She's part of my book tour and you can find the post HERE.

And please don't forget to comment on THIS POST HERE. I'm giving away a $50.00 Amazon Gift Card. I'll draw a winner when I get back from CES in mid-January.

Also as an update to my trip to the Consumer Electronics Show, I've decided not to take my laptop, because I don't want to risk it getting stolen. So I won't be blogging next week, but I'll be tweeting. I do have a cover reveal "scheduled" in blogger for Monday, but sometimes that thing doesn't work right.


  1. Congratulations on the great critique, and best of luck! And don't worry about Disneyland. I've never been there, and I know someone who's been there every year. Money doesn't grow on trees for all of us, I guess.

  2. Well before I moved to Oxford there was an aspiring writer who lived 3 houses down from where my apartment is. At one point he received a rejection that consisted entirely of, "Good God, I can’t publish this." Another publisher commented, "My chief objection is that you don't have any story to tell." If you go one county over you'll find some dilapidated office space where another aspiring author received 28 rejection letters for his first novel.
    The author from down the street was William Faulkner and those quotes refer to Sanctuary and Flags in the Dust respectively. The author one county over was John Grisham and the 28-fold rejected novel was A Time to Kill which initially sold less than 5000 copies. His second novel sold slightly better.
    Chin up bro!

  3. Michael, there are a lot of authors older than you. Don't get hung up about age. One of my favourite authors didn't publish his first novel till he was 57, then he published one every year till he died, just before Christmas.

  4. So I'm just going to throw this out there... every year now for the last three or so years, I've set the same goal to self publish the same manuscript because I haven't managed it yet.

    You are a gifted writer. And that is an awesome critique letter. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you on the Harper Voyager front.

  5. 41?!? Dude, I'm 43 and I totally get this. :D But you know, I don't worry about my age, I worry about the rest of what you just said. I don't think I would have sent anything to Harper Voyager, even if I knew about it. There's just no way. I have people tell me they enjoy my work, they can't put it down. But it's just a handful of people and sometimes I think they just don't want to hurt my feelings. lol!
    But that sort of letter would make me happy too! So, best of luck to you. But even if they do reject you. You are a real writer!

  6. Well, you did get picked up by a publisher, and that's something that a lot of people can't say, so it's not all bad.
    And I didn't make it to Disneyland until I was 42, and I didn't even pay for that trip, because I still can't afford to take my kids there.

  7. I did realise that writing was about the only thing I am reasonably good at(if you discount cooking, photography, coloring, packing stuff and mind puzzles) three years ago...
    I am still to assemble a small poetry book let alone a novel...For the record I haven't visited Disney, doubt I ever can...I haven't even visited 3/4 of my country with its heritage spots and beaches - not even the Taj Mahal as a teenager or adult.

    Life isn't that bad...from the 'glass is always half empty' mind frame, I have shifted my perspective to the "glass as something that can be filled even if it's only a drop at a time".

    You are a good writer and when I have money to spare I will be buying your books.
    Let the blondes rejoice their fat paychecks, you can rejoice on a job accomplished and well done at that.
    By the way, 100 years from now, how many of the Harpers will be remembered, not many is my humble guess?
    Our legendary writers didn't have a "big 5" backing them and yet their books sell long after their deaths.

    If JKR had given up, Harry and his friends wouldn't have enriched our lives or made magic a nice skill to have.
    So, hold on as the song goes and make the most of it.

  8. Congrats on good comments....p.s. Age is overrated, after twenty at least!

  9. I still haven't made it to Disneyland (giant mice give me the willies) so I think you're doing just fine. Some people never figure out what they want to do, so you're well ahead of the pack.


  10. Where are all these hot young authors? I must've missed them.
    Most of us are much older when we finally become authors. I was almost forty-six when my first book came out.
    You have two books published - you are a real writer and author. Whether Harper Collins calls or not, you are a real writer.
    Remember, just be the best you.
    And let me know when you want to knock Disney World off your bucket list.

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  12. You're an awesome writer. I'm not just saying that to pat you on the head and make you feel better. Come on, Mike. Really. If we were having coffee this morning, I'd want to slug you for not seeing your ability to draw readers into a story. You have a beautiful use of language.

    As for the age thing, I keep reminding myself that this is the PERFECT time for me to focus on writing. I don't have children at home. My husband is mature and has his own interests to leave me with time to write.

  13. Mike, you are an amazing writer. Keeping my fingers crossed that you get signed!

  14. I agree - you're an amazingly talented writer. The line in parens is proof of that - hilarious and so true.

    I haven't been to Disneyland either - it's too expensive.

  15. I'm glad Shelley wrote that to you. I understand your insecurity, though. We all have them, but it's important to push through the fears.

  16. I hear ya Michael! I'm 43 and I am with a small pub, not with a Titan. But you know what? I am doing what I love. It's my bliss and there is no paycheck better than that.

    Keep writing...young man. :)

  17. That's awesome that she loved your story, Mike! You are a talented writer. Even if Harper Voyager turns you down, we still think you're great.

  18. The yo-yo of doubt continues no matter how many books we produce. Just don't lose faith in yourself. And don't worry where others are in life. Yours is the one that matters.

  19. I pretty much live in the constant belief that everything i send out will be rejected. Then, it's not as big a deal when it is, OR, when it's a full or something else, it's even more exciting!
    If it makes you feel any better, i'm 32, not skinny, single and though i'm white, i have a mixed race extended family. But yeah, no 6 figure book deal for me (yet...? So parents think anyway)

  20. You are a great writer/ storyteller. This post proves it. It drew me in and held me until the last word. Don't use age as a comparative measure of success

  21. Don't get hung up on the age thing. You have different and broader experience than the Harper Teen successes do, so offer up what you have and enjoy the fun.

    Oh and BTW, being skinny isn't all that exciting. :-)

  22. "This thing called "hope" that all of us writers go through is truly terrible. I think I'd just be better off accepting that nothing good ever happens to me."

    Amen to that, brother. I've been feeling exactly that way for probably...I dunno, five years? It feels like forever. You get to a point where you're like, "Well, screw this sideways; why waste my time writing when there's, like, YouTube and junk?"

    Here's why: I liken writing to sex. (Leave it to me.) I write because, for me, it's invigorating (like sex), it's engrossing (like sex), and it makes me feel sexy as hell (like...well, you get the point). I plan on self-publishing my romance novel in 2013 (it's got sex in it, quelle surprise). I'm just gonna do it and enjoy the process. Whatever comes of it, I'll at least have gone on this marvelous journey, knowing I *did* something, something magical that many can never even come close to achieving.

    And I'll second Fairview's comment above, that you shouldn't "...use age as a comparative measure of success." We should compare ourselves to ourselves only. Have we done our best? Have we made full use of our talents? Did we strive? Did we work carefully, honing our skills along the way? Those are the questions we should ask ourselves and, if we don't like our answers, we know what to do about that, don't we?

    Finally, I won't recite a litany of writers/actors/singers, etc., whose work ain't nothin' special but who were seen as viable commercial commodities and that's the only reason they're household names. Who gives a flying buttress? We know our own worth and that's what fundamentally matters. (Though gushing praise is gratefully appreciated.) :-D

  23. I will take this moment to paste an excerpt of the first email I sent you back in May.

    Pretty much just wanted to say "Hi, you seem cool." You know, before I read your book. When I do it the other way around, I get all weird and incapable of normal communication.

    That would be because once I've read someone's book, if it's particularly good I will then become intimidated of that person. That's why the first six months I "knew" Alex I was incredibly awkward (as much as you can even tell that on the internet.) And I just wanna say that had I not emailed with you and at least had some kind of conversation (albeit brief) before reading Slipstream there's no way I would even be able to say any of this right now because I'd be all "omg he wrote that effing amazeballs book and is obviously too cool for me to say this to."

    That was rambly, but I think the point comes across, probably.

  24. I didn't see Disneyland until I was in my thirties and took my kids there. Pfft...I wasn't that impressed with Disney. Cedar Point is better. As for those 23 year olds you speak of, I would bet they knew someone. And very few of us get lucky, do we? Keep in mind there are plenty of unhappy rich people. We're not perfect and money can't make us perfect.

  25. I don't think you suck at all. I've really been enjoying Slipstream. You are an amazing writer. Don't stop.

    I'm older than you. We can't compare ourselves to others. It does us no good. Some get those lucky breaks earlier. If we keep at it, ours may come, too. If we don't, it won't.

    Happy New Year!

  26. Well, this is a big milestone year for me. I'll turn fifty in May and I'm still not published. Still not sure I can even write a decent novel, but I'm not worried about those twenty-three year olds. I'm on my own journey. And if I never get published I'm okay with that too. I love writing and I love my current trilogy, so I'm good.

  27. @L.G.: Money definitely does not grow on trees. Wise words lady Keltner.

    @Brad: Thank you, my friend. I love Faulkner...haven't read much John Grisham. How's Oxford?

    @Denise: Thanks for the anecdote. For the most part, I don't let age bother me. But some youngin's just get such huge deals it's kind of shocking.

    @M.J.: LOL *Hugs. This is the year when I get to read your book! I just knows it.

    @Mel: I loved your book! I hope a sequel is in the works. I finished yours in a matter of hours.

    @Andrew: That's interesting, especially since you live in Cali and it's basically a day's drive away. My publisher isn't glamorous though. I get the feeling that they publish just about anyone with a pulse.

    @Rekha: Thank you for the kind words. You really made me smile today.

    @Tammy: hahahah

    @moody: I'm starting to not feel half bad because of all the ppl who haven't made it to Disney. However, you are in England. That's a huge difference than the kind of trip I'd make.

    @Alex: You probably don't network with the hot young authors much because they don't reciprocate. You follow them and they don't follow you (at all). It's a one-way street with them because, let's face it, they have huge publishing contracts and think they are famous. Maybe they are in the publishing world.

    @Brinda: Thank you, Brinda. I'm clearing my schedule to read your sequel in the Whispering Woods. I'll be getting to it soon.

    @Misha: *Hugs. Thank you so much.

    @Tonja: lol you like my parens eh? Yeah, I'm good for a laugh or two.

    @Miranda: I was so surprised to get those words from Shelley too. I literally groaned in sending out my 25-pages thinking...she's gonna hate it cause it's third person and not YA.

    @Elizabeth: Yeah. I'm doing what I love too. I just got some fan mail today from one of the things I pubbed and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

    @Matthew: Thank you, sir. I should draw a picture of your main character Lee and send it to you.

    @L.Diane: Great advice.

    @Falen: LOL It's like we're writing soul mates LOL

    @Fairview: Thank you :) I appreciate the vote of confidence.

    @cleemckenzie: I won your book! I can't wait to get it in the mail. And um...skinny means a lot in the gay community I tell you what.

    @Mina: I love your sexual anecdote. I sent you an email.

    @Callie: Squee! You are so awesome, Callie. When you get a pic of yourself standing next to Mr. Tyson I wanna see it! I know it's gonna happen.

    @Cindy: What's Cedar Point? You and I are very down-to-earth LOL. We write similar stories (at least our protags have similar types of things they desire in their lives), we both write sci-fi, we both write in third person. It's so weird!

    @Mary: Thank you for the kind compliment on my book.

    @Luanne: I would never have guessed you were fifty. But we'll keep plugging along together.

  28. I took so much time off from blogger the last couple months - and the last two weeks totally disappeared - that I've missed you blog tour. Oops; I'll catch up on at least those couple posts you mentioned.

    You're doing awesome Mike. I promised my kids I'd take them to Disney land when I get my first advance from a big 5 publisher. LOL, they may be waiting a long time for that one. I hope you get accepted with Harper. That would be a great new years gift :)


  29. Oh, Michael. Your friends are legion. And I love the letter Shelley wrote. So true. So very, very true.

  30. Of for God's sakes, Michael, of course your a real writer and a damn fine one! So the rave review you received from wise Shelley is only to be expected. As for the young blonde success stories out there -- I know it's tough, but try to ignore them because what they write is irrelevant to what you write. BTW, Tolstoy always regretted that he wasn't younger and more handsome. Like posterity gives a rat's ass how he looked after he wrote War and Peace!

    My fingers and toes are crossed in hope you'll get accepted by Harper -- not that I have any trust in big publishers, but only because I trust in your writing. And don't despair about your age. You're a young 'un compared to me.

  31. So... you wrote a novel Chick-Fil-A moms can read. Are they they 23-year-old moms with the three Aryan kids? This was such a heartfelt post, yet you have these bits that make me laugh.

    Believe in you. Don't put a # on it. Some people have it together at 23 and fizzle out. Others stay the distance. Others find their way in their 40s. I'm feeling insecure right there with you.

    And I've never been to DisneyWorld.

  32. I'm 36 and I often feel the same that you feel. But, you are a good writer and what I know is, don't waste anymore time with self-doubt and just keep writing!

  33. Hey buddy, I'm 41 what ya saying? :) Yep, I can totally ride that roller-coaster with you. Although, I grew up an hour from Disney World and ended up working there later, the rest of it I get.
    Congrats on those amazing comments. I've read your first book, so I know you deserve them.
    I write YA post-apocalyptic and I think fans of the genre are a myth. LOL

  34. That's an impressive response. I continue to look at YA authors making it big and tell myself, if they can, then so can I. Sometimes hope and persistence is all you have. maybe if I dye my hair blonde, then that will give me the edge I'm missing. Haha. I guess I'll just keep writing. Happy New Year!

  35. My hubby is 41 and he has similar days of feeling down on what he's accomplished. Basically, instead of working his way toward retirement and freedom since his first group of children are about to start entering college, he's about to start the process over (I'm due with a little girl any day) instead of concentrating on himself and his own dreams, which he kind of skipped over when he started a family right out of college. So now, with financial obligations and a job that's not anywhere near his dream job, he'll be slogging along for another 18years :) I think it's finding those small things in life that make you happy along the journey, whatever that journey is....

    And the fact that you submitted to Harper Voyager is AWESOME and should be celebrated. Hoping you get the best news possible from them!

  36. Congratulations on the fantastic critique. I'm in the same place as you. 40 and not jealous of the younger people seeing so much success, but depressed that I've failed. Your writing is incredible. Your ideas, wow, amazing and original. Good luck with Harper Voyager. They'd be lucky to have you.

  37. You're comparing yourself to the wrong people. If you're going to compare, look at all of us who don't have books published and who don't get dozens of comments on their blogs.

    It's all a matter of perspective. Things are going good for you. You just need to realize that.

    And as for Disneyland--that place is expensive!

  38. Sometimes, I think that's all it takes... one person genuinely acknowledging all your hard work by saying something like that.

    You'll get there, Michael ;)

    ...and I hope (one day) I will too ;)

    Happy 2013!!!

  39. So you're saying because I'm blonde with one eye that's almost blue, I'm going to make it? Sweet. :P

    In all seriousness, I've learned that you can't compare yourself to others. You will always feel like crap. You can only compare yourself to yourself (which someone above also said).

    Ooh, I think I'm more excited to hear what Harper Voyager has to say than getting back my results from my Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute audition. @_@

    P.S. Referring to Chick-Fil-A. The other day I was eating at the one in our mall with some of my friends after we had gone jeans shopping. (I know I shouldn't, but it's so good. I've been eating there less. I'm trying, I swear!) We were just sitting there, enjoying our food, when the man at the table behind us started talking about gays. To his three young daughters. Very loudly. It was so awkward and I was getting so upset. We were all just very happy our friend Nick wasn't there as he is bisexual...very obviously...

  40. Buck up. I have the same insecurities as you but I'm 58. :)

    Awesome critique!

  41. Congratulations on the critique! That's really cool.

    I think everyone worries about not being good enough or that they haven't achieved things at the right time.

    Good luck with your submission to Harper Voyager!

  42. I've read your first book, Michael, and have your second in my Kindle pile. You are a talented writer.
    I think lots of great writers don't get noticed or picked up by the 'big' publishers.
    And 41 isn't that old. You have so much time to write so many more books. cheering for you all the way.

  43. Hey Michael! Happy New Year! Your post made me sad because I think you're too hard on yourself. It took me awhile to figure this out...often times, what we speak, write, come to pass in our lives, so I'm sending some positive vibes across the web to you. And if it makes you feel better, I write YA, but I've never been to Disneyland,lol! 2013 is going to be your year. Just let Shelly's review set the tone for the next 12 months to come. Hugs to you! :)

  44. Michael...

    PLEASE ... no talent? YOU ARE KIDDING? RIGHT? PLEASE... again!

    First of all, YOU are just BEGINNING your life. 41 is HARDLY old...

    AND all those lovely 23 year olds with mega bucks, just might not have them for long...

    I WAS ONE of those fortunate people who "Had it ALL" in my late teens and twenties. I traveled the globe, hobnobbed with fashion's elite, and had more money than I knew what to do with .... SO what did I do? I spent it... LIKE CRAZY.

    I was VERY FOOLISH. Most young adults are. I hope for their sake, they were smarter than me.

    BY my early thirties, I left the industry and six months later I was crippled with arthritis. My world crumbled. I LOST EVERYTHING. It took me almost a decade to GET MY LIFE back. Which put me at the age you are right now...

    Starting over at 41 is NOT easy. Especially when you spent almost twenty years of your life making money on your looks. Once I realized I could fall back on my old college education to support myself, I entered the interior design world. IT was a TOUGH battle, but I did well .... and then again I was hit in 2008 when, my clients bailed on me because of the economy. I had to start all over again and that is when I found writing. FOUR years and still unpublished. But thats okay. I learned so much and In Time ... it will be my turn.

    YOUR TIME IS NOW.... You have two published books. NOTHIG to be depressed about!

    I only shared this with you because even if you get it all in your twenties, it DOESN"T mean your life is perfect and always will be. LIFE is VERY unpredictable. That's what makes it interesting.

    BE PROUD of your accomplishments... BE PROUD of your TALENT. YOU'VE GOT IT ALL!

  45. Hi Michael,

    What an informative and yes, heartfelt posting by your good self. A profound way to start the year, young dude! :)

    When I was ten years old, I sent a play I had written off to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. I was so hoping to win the grand prize of a six transistor radio! They never replied. I dabbled in a lot of writing when I was young and then mundane jobs got in the way.

    Yet now and actually inspired on by my mental illness, the passion for writing returned in my mid fifties. I'm now 59 and desperately hanging on to that age :)

    And my good friend, you are a gifted writer who not only encourages and shares your sincerity, you inspire and for that I'm grateful. Keep believing in yourself and be rightfully proud.

    A peaceful and joyous New Year.


  46. It looks like 2013 is starting off for you with a bang. I couldn't be happier. I think that you're writing what you are supposed to write and I have confidence that you'll make it as a successful writer.

  47. Congrats on the critique!!! And even without it, I would say in big bold letters
    YOU ARE A REAL WRITER! yes, I know that's terribly rude shouting language, but hopefully it helps that I mean it and it's positive.
    Believe in yourself. :-)

  48. Awe, Michael! *hugs* You really are a real writer and don't ever forget it. And please don't call yourself a loser. Do you know how many times you've inspired me or helped drag me from my own sludge of insecurity? You're an awesome blogger and you have tons of friends who love you. Plus, you can write one mean story.

    I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you!

  49. Michael, you ARE a writer. And you're more than that. You're a GIFTED writer. I think you're inspiring--and I look up to you. You're different, and you know who you are. And that's something that a lot of people never get.

    Though I do relate to this post-- it's SO interesting how different each of our journeys are. I get jealous of how young and amazing people are on their writing journey. I didn't start until I was 28, but I wouldn't change it for anything--everything I learned when I was uber young I get to put into my writing now.

    Loved Shelley's note. She's so spot on. And you know so many people look at you and feel the same way. ;D

  50. That is awesome feedback, and as writers we easily forget how great our writing really is. Keep believing in yourself, and I have my fingers crossed for your submission with Harper Voyager:)

  51. Hi, I followed you home from Laura Eno's blog which probably makes me a stalker of sorts.
    Congratulations on receiving SUCH a positive critique. Wow, and wow again.

    And, anyone who has put the hard work into writing and editing their work is not a failure. No way, no how. Unrecognised, possibly unrewarded, but not a failure.

  52. First, congrats on the crit and the compliment. That's awesome. You deserve it. Second, you ARE a real writer, no matter what happens or doesn't happen. You are skilled and know your craft. Third, your a whole hell of a lot younger than I am, but I totally get where you're coming from. I felt hopeless, like I didn't stand a chance in this world of young romance & YA writers. But I just kept on at it, no matter how many rejections I got. And I got a ton. But still, those mega-bucks deals, they're extraordinarily rare. And for the most part, there's not much money in publishing, not really. Only for the very lucky few. You have to do this because you love it first and foremost. I hope and pray, yes, pray, that HV accepts you, but even if they don't, it doesn't devalue what you've accomplished. I'm enjoying Slipstream and I never read speculative fiction, or even sci-fi. A good story is a good story. And often, they take time to gain any kind of momentum. This I know. And one more thing I know, you are not alone in your fears and insecurities. I've felt exactly the same thing as you. (But, man, I could never afford to give a $50 Amazon gift card away!)

  53. Wait... you wrote an epic fantasy mommies can read with man/woman romance all in accordance with the Defense of Marriage Act? You just got an awesome crit, written and published 2 spec fiction novels (which I've read and think very highly of) in addition to your other works posted on separate sites, you have an awesome blog AND you doubt yourself as a writer?! *walks over and kicks you in the shins because I'm too short to smack you in the head*. (;

    I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you with the Harper Voyager's thing, but don't ever doubt yourself as a writer. I'm not that much younger than you (36) and my writer's resume pales in comparison to yours. Head up Mike. (:

  54. michael, thats freakin awesome! no one who tries and fails and keeps trying is a loser! it just takes a little longer for them to be ready for success! you are ready! (esp if you can write outside your comfort zone!)

    heres to more success in 2013! (and i'm older than you!)

  55. Congrats on the great critique and I hope you hear positive news back from Harper Voyager. I have to say that I don't like to think of 41 as old.

    Great post :) Happy New Year!

  56. @Donna: You should take your kids before you get the advance, Donna. Kids are only kids for so long, and I think that there's a window where the magic no longer is there. When I went a few years ago, I saw and could appreciate the huge production. But there was no magic. That part of my youth was long gone. However, I know about the right age when it is around and that's from like 8-12 I think.

    @Huntress: Awh...this is a blog fest though so it drives a lot of extra traffic to the post to make it seem like I have legions of friends.

    @Helena: Thank you, Helena. Hearing you say that is a huge compliment because you are an incredible writer. Being perfectly serious. I took many of your suggestions in crafting my last book blurb because they were so good.

    @Theresa: Oh Chick-Fil-A. I have to admit, I'm curious about their sandwiches. Everyone says they are so delicious. But to answer your question...I pose one for you. Name one YA book cover that does not have an Aryan race person on the cover. Name one.

    @Clarissa: Thank you, Clarissa.

    @Ciara: Ya know, I had a feeling that we were of the same generation. I felt like we drew from the same experiences. That came across in your writing.

    @Michael: I responses are very snarky and could be construed as rude...but just like I pointed out in my comment to Theresa, name one YA book that does not have an Aryan race person on the cover. Hello? There are 7 billion people in this world but when it comes to young adults, I guess the audience is all Caucasian.

    @Jess: Oy give him a hug from me. Especially if he's attractive--hug him twice then and maybe cop a feel. Just kidding!

    @Christine: Thank you for the well wishes miss scary writer.

    @Liz: As a caveat, I did say I was doing better than most of the people in Ethiopia. I'll even extend that to Sudan and probably Somalia too...maybe even Syria.

    @1000th Monkey: You definitely will. You're so talented. I've read your work and still remember how you triumphed in Rachael's crusade.

    @Brooke: The odds are in your favor miss Brooke (blond, blue-eyed, writer of YA--have you at all looked at the covers?) Have you seen what other YA writers look like? None of them could hold a tan, even at gun point.

    @Laura: Get outta town! Really?

    @Eagle: Thank you. Maybe HV will be a big break. But knowing my luck, if I get it, it will be some cheap ass thing where they do no marketing. At that point it would be no better than self-pubbing with their name.

    @Susan: Thanks so much for reading my book!

    @Celeste: Oh sorry I made you sad, Celeste. Maybe I was feeling a bit moody. Holidays were hard this year.

    @Michael: You sir are one of the most awesome people on the internet. For the record, I want to see a picture of 20 year old you. I want to see this steaming hotness.

    @klahanie: *Hugs. Thank you so much for the great words.

    @Stephen: Hey, I bought an acrylics set. Gonna be gessoing soon...I may need to pluck your brain.

    @Tyrean: Thank you :)

    @Charity: Thank you Violet eyes.

    @Morgan: It's just not the same if you don't write "Red Head Out" *sigh

    @EC: Thank you for the great words! I'm totally following your blog today :)

    @Nancy: I told my work buddies about your book today and some of them are going to read it. I may have to buckle down and buy a paperback to pass around the office.

    @Elise: I did write that LOL...and not under duress. Writers (I believe) need to be willing to go where they aren't comfortable. I write a lot of gay fiction, but there's no reason why I can't write family friendly straight fiction. It expands my boundaries.

    @Tara: Awh, thank you for the kind words.

    @Cherie: Happy New Year to you too

  57. Hope is hard, I agree, and it sucks so hard when you get it all up and glowing and then it's shattered and you swear you'll never let it get up again. Rejection sucks no matter what anyone says. But I think you're awesome, and what you've accomplished so far is awesome too. I haven't been to Disneyland since I was 10. I can hardly remember it. I know people who go multiple times a year. I can't even pay my freaking rent this month. It's hard not to get bitter.

    Congrats on the critique! That should go in a place you can find it easily whenever you need a pick me up. :)

  58. "No man is a failure who has friends' It's a Wonderful Life

    Look at you 649 followers and over 50 comments on this post alone. I would say you got friends, Buddy.

    Who cares how old you are? Who cares when you started writing? What matters is that you don't stop.

    BTW just came back from DW and UO. Personally I like Disney, California better - Orlando is overwhelming, but Universal and Hogsmeade - it's like you are really there. Somebody else paid for my trip. Ha! I would never have been able to afford that.

  59. So you've been to Disney World? cool! I went to Six Flags when I was a kid and I have no good memories of it. I've never been to DW or DL and actually I've now decided I don't want to go although my daughter is trying to drag me there. I think that at my age it's kind of lost it's charm ;) And for those who have been born with a silver spoon in their mouth... I don't feel sorry for them but I don't envy them because they will never have the sweet taste of satisfaction that comes from having done something that is sheerly from your own genius and hard work. You have had a taste of that my friend and will continue to do so!

  60. Gosh your post gave me lots to think about. First, we're the same age, well I'm a year older. There are a ton of us mid-thirties to forties who are just digging our feet into the ground. I don't know if that has something to do with being kids of the baby boomers or what. I know in my case, my parents definitely didn't push me. At all. To do anything. But I always had the creative bug squirming around inside. Today's young folk, some our own offspring, are encouraged everywhere. School, parents, society. They're encouraged to live their dreams and that they can accomplish what they set their minds to. I love that about my 20 & 14 year old daughters. They're going places. They're driven. Sorry to ramble. My point is, don't let the fact that your 41 discourage you in chasing your dreams!!! It's never, ever too late.

    You had a fabulous critique. You braved sending in your ms to Harper Voyager. If it's meant to be, it'll happen. What's most important is to have faith in your writing. As I'm sure you've done, put ALL of you into your writing. Somebody, someday will recognize it and you'll be unstoppable.

    I've only been blogging about writing for two years, and over these two years, I've watched countless writers find success. Like you, I've not found jealousy, but disappointment in my own success or lack there of. I had to stop and focus on what really mattered to me. Was I going to sit and watch everyone around me reach their goals? For a while, I did, but that only brought on more unhappiness. It wasn't until I decided to publish my first picture book with an epublisher and really feel content with my decision, that interest began to trickle in with another book.

    That little bit of interest spurred my enthusiasm once again, which pushed me to polish my new book to the point where I had several interested agents. Then, it was my turn to pick.

    Don't loose hope & don't give up. Who cares that we're in our forties and still trying. Chase your dreams, Michael and along the way, celebrate the smaller accomplishments!! ~Happy New Year to you. :)

  61. Sorry I missed this when you posted it. I have the same fears - except without the publishing contract or the praise from experts.

  62. Oh, Michael, as long as you are writing, then you are a real writer. Those 23 year olds who get major publishing deals just lucked out and were in the right place at the right time with the right book.

  63. age has nothing to do with anything:) sounds like your'e on the right track so keep that hope and if they say no - it's their loss - plenty more places to try.

  64. It's amazing how much writers (and people in general) compare themselves to others even though it's a complete waste of time. All we really can do is be the best version of ourselves.