Bad News Poetry Contest!

Whew, it’s been a grim week here on the blog, hasn’t it? All this talk about difficult conversations between authors and agents. I think it’s time to let you put your own spin on all of this. (And hopefully add some humor to the situation.)

So I was thinking we should have a contest. How about you write a poem that captures one of this week’s difficult conversations…or any other icky bad news writers have to deal with. (Rejection letters, anyone?) I happen to like haiku. Limericks too. Of course you could write a sonnet if you prefer.

Are you ready? Got your pencil sharpened? Let’s write some Bad News Poetry.

Here’s the contest:

→ Write a poem having something to do with the hard parts of publishing.
→ Submit your entry in the comments to THIS post.
→ ONE entry per person. NO revisions or resubmissions allowed.
→ Deadline is this SUNDAY, May 22nd, 11:59pm ET.
→ WordServe clients can enter but are not eligible to win.
→ I’ll announce finalists and a winner sometime next week.
→ The winner gets… their name made famous here on my blog! Okay, plus they can choose either a $20 Amazon gift card (that’s twenty .99 downloads!) OR an evaluation of a query, book proposal, or fifteen pages of a novel performed by moi.
Come on, all you closet poets. Show us your stuff!

© 2011 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

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  • Travis

    >Places among the shelves

    Places among the shelves,
    Red pages near the trash.
    Keep your unread beauty:
    Shed no insight upon my weak heart.
    My rejection is here
    In a place of blankness.
    Not your latest post
    Nor your form reply
    Will lead me to you.
    My thoughts are here
    In a place of blankness.
    Here I stay and wait.

  • Anonymous

    >There once was an author named you
    Who left me unsure what to do.
    Your writing's atrocious,
    Your manner's ferocious
    But your "Jersey Shore" story is true.

  • Samantha H. Weiner

    >Dear Samantha

    Dear Samantha

    Dear Samantha, we
    regret to inform you that
    we cannot use this

    at this time because
    one of our agents took a
    bite out of your work

    apparently your
    work was about pie making,
    and he ate the words

    off the page. They were
    quite tasty, especially
    the As and the Us.

    Feel free to send us
    more of your work, but please do
    not send anything

    that can be eaten.
    We are sorry. Sincerely,
    John M. Publisher.

    ~Samantha H. Weiner

  • Nathan

    >Sometime ago I saw a man
    with downcast head and frame,
    I sat nearby, and asked his name,
    and he just did the same.
    “How strange,” thought I.
    “I could have sworn…”
    but carried on my way,
    until again in one week’s time
    he came at close of day.
    Again in tears, with moans and sobs
    (A most pathetic sight)
    he said, “Rejected everywhere!”
    I felt a sudden fright.
    For all the world, his face was mine! My query in his hand!
    My face in tears, my sorry state,
    induced by each demand
    to “Carry on, and best of luck,
    the fit just isn’t right.”

    I think I’ll pass the Bar instead
    (and change for something light).

  • Dayspring

    >Apparently most of Emily Dickinson's poems can be sung to 'The Yellow Rose of Texas', so I've followed suit.

    I e-mailed forty agents
    And eventually
    Thirteen of their assistants
    Sent e-mails back to me

    Twelve were form rejections
    But one requested more
    I sent it and for fourteen weeks
    I waited by the door.

    So then this agent called me
    And said 'I've had a look
    I'd like to represent you
    But please rewrite your book.

    'Your Twitter is appalling,
    And if you want my two cents
    Your wardrobe and your hair
    Could use reworking, no offense.'

    Things picked up for a while
    She tried to sell my stuff
    I'd rewritten and rewritten
    But not rewritten enough

    She said 'I've done my best here-
    Let's throw the towel in.'
    Sad, but then to top it all
    …My poem didn't win.

    :(

  • Julee J. Adams

    >Abject depression
    From your rejection.
    What's an author to do?
    It's not what you need.
    Did you even read?
    My heart and head are blue.

    So I'll wallpaper my bathroom
    With what doesn't belong in a classroom
    Since it was a form letter you sent.

    And go back to revising
    My work and reprising
    The rejection on my blog where I vent.

  • Kimberly

    >The Prodigal

    I give birth and bleed ink
    The nights are long
    And sleepless
    She grows from the words
    scratched in moonlight.

    She leaves home
    Looking for love
    And money
    She finds none and returns
    home once more.

    I let her in
    We begin again
    And again
    Until she is a better version
    of her former self.

  • KAWyle

    >OK, here's a haiku:

    But the book exists!
    Should it wander like a ghost?
    Will it haunt you, too?

  • Lance Albury

    >My words may seem on the surface extreme
    But the message is true overall

    Your book's more or less a quarter success
    So please try your hand at baseball

  • Wendy Paine Miller

    >There once was a women’s fiction writer from Nantucket…

    I’ll stop there.

    I know I’ll have a blast reading these. Fun way to wrap up a hard week!

    ~ Wendy

  • lori

    >On Writing

    You write because you must.
    You write because you can,
    and, hey,
    let’s face it.
    There is no other plan.
    And, if your words weren’t given
    for all the world to see,
    you’d still write with abandon.
    Yes, you’d still write
    fervently.
    ‘Cause words they pile high inside,
    and no matter how hard you try
    to be a teacher, a preacher,
    (some ‘regular’ thing)
    those words won’t stop pinging
    like a pinball in your head.
    And, it’s okay along the way
    if people stare when you declare
    yourself a ‘writer’
    because those words will keep spilling right out
    even if you shout for them to stay.
    That’s the writer’s way.
    So, go ahead and say my story’s weak
    and repeat the writer’s life is
    replete with the mundane,
    insane,
    day-to-day only a fool
    would fall for.
    I have no other way
    than to spin my web of words
    again and again
    and again.

  • Susie M Finkbeiner

    >There once was a writer named Sooze
    Whose fashion style was BAD news.
    Her agent would scream,
    "Your head shot's a bad dream!
    You're giving me nothing but blues!"

  • Vicki Moss

    >Three book series
    branding and queries
    what's a writer to do?
    Change my hat
    Blog and Tweet
    put on another shoe.
    Revise, rewrite
    wait to freak
    my story really stunk?
    I get a grip
    open the fridge
    to help me out of my funk.
    Revise, rewrite
    gain a few pounds
    while pounding computer keys,
    at last it's done
    was this really fun?
    You bet!
    But now I have four knees.

  • David A. Todd

    >You Want it Straight?

    "I hate to have to say it, but here goes:
    Your novel's not as good as it must be.
    The dialog is stiff; the action slow;
    and cardboard characters are what I see.
    If my suggestions count for anything,
    you need to cut ten thousand words or more.
    A plot twist halfway through will bring some zing,
    and maybe add a little blood and gore."

    "I what? No way! It's perfect as it is.
    I know my audience; I know myself.
    But then, will my career become mere fizz?
    I really want my books on a bookstore shelf.
    To work or walk? It's not a hard decision.
    This time next week you should get my revision."

  • Tana Adams

    >Bookstore, bookstore in the mall
    How I wonder how to get my novel inside
    Up upon the food court so high
    Like a library in the sky
    Bookstore, bookstore in the mall
    How I wonder how to get my novel inside.

    ;)

  • Heidi J Johns

    >On Difficult Conversations

    I.

    I’m just a dog
    Waiting by a phone.
    Needing a few tweaks.
    An edit.
    A wrinkle adjustment.

    I know this hurts me,
    More than it hurts you.
    But in the end,
    I’m just a dog
    Waiting by a phone.

    II.

    Lemonade. Lemonade.
    It’s sweet. It’s good.
    It’s refreshing.

    Lemonade. Lemonade.
    Some stops. No buys.
    No requesting.

    Lemonade. Lemonade.
    I’m done? We’re done?
    Arrgh. Depressing.

    III.

    Excuse

    me?

    I have just

    2

    tiny

    hardly-even-worth-mentioning

    words:

    Image Consultant.

    (Oh, and

    Sorry.)

    IV.

    What do I do? What do I do?
    The agent loves my book?

    What do I do? What do I do?
    It needs another look?

    What do I do? What do I do?
    Only a quarter of it is great?

    What do I do? What do I do?
    You’ll support me while you wait?

    *smiles. hits delete button. begins revisions*

  • Rona Go

    >You have once touched
    The heart of a numb soul

    You made a song
    Out of the crumbled dreams
    The soul had
    You made her whole again

    Now, you’d be lowered
    Down to your grave
    And solitude

    The soul knew
    What you wished for

    She, too, wanted the same thing…

    But you, yourself can tell
    How your majesty
    Was left unmoved, unexplored

    Down to your deathbed
    There’s no solace
    Only turmoil
    Which would constantly
    Thunder in your head
    Like wrathful gods

    But the soul and you
    Would be like inextricable coils

    Nothing will ever keep you away
    From each other
    And although you
    Can’t be together
    You’d never ever be apart…

    When you died
    She ceased to live along with you
    For you and the soul are one

    A creator of life
    Beauty
    Art
    Poetry

    And in your deathbed
    There’s a desperate wish
    That it may just be
    An ephemeral cessation

    I whispered the same wish to
    The gods too.

    That an agent will finally fall in love with you…

  • Rosemary Gemmell

    >A hopeful young writer with book,
    Asked new agent to take a quick look.
    She bit all her nails
    While writing more tales,
    Hoping this time she'd managed to hook!

  • Rowenna

    >My fingers curl in ugly hooks
    They’ve been too long typing wannabe books
    And while the summer passes and winter begins
    My page is still marked with all manner of sins
    Passive voice, characters
    Not quite alive
    Started with weather
    And didn’t quite drive
    The story to climax, the conflict to pain
    Why did I ever write novels again?

    And I wade through the mire
    Of revision’s long night
    I emerge in the morning
    Bruised but all right
    And pack the whole thing to a partner to critique
    Hitting the button marked “send” feeling terribly meek.
    The answer comes swiftly, assured in the craft:
    “Good writing, good try! For a first draft!”

  • Amber Skye

    >The plot is pointless.
    And the writing is banal.
    Wish you success though!

  • Jeffrey Beesler

    >Queries gone awry,
    Slush pile reaches the sky
    letter writers cry.

  • Glynis

    >No thank you,
    thank you no,
    We enjoyed the giggle,
    Now off you go.

  • Tara Tyler

    >Agent Theorem

    The probability
    Of selection
    By an agent
    Is a relatively simple
    Mathematical
    Equation
    Derived by the ratio
    Of the number
    Of queries sent
    To the number
    Of rejections
    Subtracted from
    The result of
    The process of
    Elimination
    As it approaches
    The limit of
    One yes!

  • Laila Knight

    >Dear friendly agent, I've found you at last.
    It took only two years of busting my ass.

    My query was nonsense, choppy at best,
    something that "Query Shark" could clearly attest.

    Please don't be offended that I speak from the heart.
    Now that I have you, this is only the start.

    I promise to follow your expert advice,
    and care for my hair so I'm not struck with lice.

    I'll pinch my cheeks red and keep bleaching my smile.
    I'll wear lipstick to bed and fluff my do for a while.

    I'll work on revisions from dusk until dawn
    and discard silly pages that cause you to yawn.

    Only you can decipher the words in my head.
    It's no big secret; I just want to be read.

    As I strive for perfection will a quill in my hand,
    with you at my side I will travel the land.

    If everything fails and you give me the shaft,
    We can remain friends. I'll still make you laugh.

  • immotusfactura

    >First time around the block.

    This venture is so foreign,
    I am an author virgin.
    Only one book to my name.
    I'm a little lost in this game.

    My heart can't take the suspense
    of the querying process!
    Sometimes it seems easier
    to give up and be bitter,

    But I won't! I can't! I'll hope
    that they'll think I'm not a joke.
    "Author needs good home." It says,
    the sign I've hung round my head.

  • T.M. Lunsford

    >Woosh woosh (Doors Closing!)
    Hoonk Hoonk! (Beep Beep Beep!)
    Shuffle, Click, Shuffle, Click
    Agent? No! Agent? Must have!
    Chaos tries to win
    Contradictions scream through the tendrils of cyberspace
    Where to turn?
    ….
    Here, let me help! You’ll never make it!
    Oi! Watch it you idiot!
    ‘scuse me, Pardon me
    Which way to publication?
    Just keep swimming!

    Self-publication?
    Jumping off a cliff
    Do you need help, love?
    I’ll have an e-book, please!
    There’s no business like our business
    Life goes on, and on, and on

    Forget work. Forget worry. Forget whatever.
    Being one, being there, being part of it,
    Here in the Eye of the Storm, the chaos of the business disappears.

    Just write your story
    Do your best and hope
    Hope that Lady Luck and talent smile on you today

  • Judy Croome

    >Here's my haiku called:

    "Rejection Blues"

    Another letter
    Brings no tears and fears, for I
    Am broken no more.

    Judy, South Africa

  • The Desert Rocks

    >The Publisher’s Door

    Are you squinting?
    If you could see through that keyhole…
    Look at it, burnished bronzed, worn from wear
    Try again.
    Perhaps kneel closer, your breath against the door…
    Old chipped paint, your nose against the handle
    Cold. You blink and wonder what is on the other side.
    Knocking. Knocking to no avail.
    Now you grasp the handle and stand up.
    Rattling the entire entry in its frame,
    Shaking it. Maybe you use your fist and pound with all your strength.
    What do you want it to be like on the other side?
    Does it matter?
    You kick the door and curse but you can’t give up.
    Now you have splinters in your fingers and the curiosity has built into rage.
    Do you want out?
    Or in?
    Has your perspective narrowed in your quest?
    If you had the key in your pocket…
    Would it make a difference?

  • Marji Clubine

    >Timid, Blind, Reeling
    Trusting God to lead the way
    My perfect Agent!

  • Devona McAdams

    >Title-Dear Agent
    Dear agent I know you can see
    Your next client should surely be me
    My query was clever and I swear to endeavor to show and not tell with each key
    Dear agent there can be no way
    You would term that line a cliche'
    And my use of adverbs is clearly absurd if you're being quite honest this day?
    Back to my keyboard I go
    For your feedback is stellar I know
    My work will be halted instead of exalted but crafting for service is slow

  • Maril Hazlett

    >I have burned waaay too much of my lunch break reading this :) how in the world are you going to choose a winner?

    I've also been laughing too hard to make the syllable/ beat count work out on my limerick. But even if I could, it wouldn't begin to compete with the genius on display here. yay everybody!

  • Anonymous

    >Why the LONG face,
    FELLOW?

    I just received
    a rejection letter.

    My agent said
    I need to do better.

    Apparently,
    my WORDS aren't WORTH
    publishing.

  • Margaret

    >Sorry — the poem by Anonymous is mine.

  • Kelly

    >There once was a starry-eyed author
    Who put his new baby on proffer.
    He sent a short query
    But his eyes grew quite teary
    When the response came and said, "Please don't bother."

  • Sharon A. Lavy

    >Amazing Writing

    She never fails to amaze.
    Her words flow like silk on the page
    and catch my breath away
    in wonder and in awe.

    Whence comes this foreboding then?
    After reading three chapters in?
    Angst grows page by page and
    pain penetrates my jaw.

    My stomach cramps halfway through.
    I push myself to continue.
    I finish, and I know
    that this book is no go.

    Alas the timing's wrong
    and I know what I'll have to say.
    This genres not your song
    not your brand of today.

    How can I tell her this news
    without breaking her heart in two?
    I can't sell it, that's true
    what's an agent to do?

    I promised to guide her career
    and she's strayed too far from the path.
    I just have to tell her
    this manuscript won't do.

    I call. Tell her what I need.
    Can you write another I plead?
    Because I value our
    growing relationship.

    She can't answer right away.
    First she cries, and then sighs until
    her voice returns. I'll try
    she says to me. I will.

    She never fails to amaze.
    Her words flow like silk on the page
    and catch my breath away
    in wonder and in awe.

  • Sharon A. Lavy

    >This post is so the other comments will come to my inbox. Love reading everyone's poetry.

  • Vienne

    >I Can't Sell It as Written

    Smelt your work, writer;
    Fire away the dross. Temper prose
    With critical eye's cold water.

  • Melissa Jagears

    >Haiku for Conversation II

    Returning your book.
    I thought it would have done well.
    Good for a bird cage.

  • catherinemjohnson

    >That is so unprofessional
    You ought to visit the confessional
    Image

    How can I find the words to say
    Your work is as drab as a rainy day
    Slush Pile

  • patlaff

    >There once was wannabe novelist
    Whose writing was truly quite marvelous
    All the agents agreed:
    "You have talent indeed,
    I just don't think I can market this."

  • Lawrence J. Caldwell

    >Sakura blossoms
    Lovely words on paper once
    Grounded by a ring

  • Mrs. Skinny Con Leche’

    >The dream has been consistent,
    The ache has been persistent. 
    Words fashioned into prayers,
    Life folded into layers.
    "No, thank you at this time."
    "You must fine comb every line."
    "Cute, but not my genre of choice."
    "Where's Chapter 2?  I love your voice."
    An agent's heart I finally capture?
    And tomorrow is the rapture!

  • Becky Avella

    >The Persevering Pen

    Born a scribe and given the gift to pen,
    She dreams of painting stories with her words-
    Masterpieces that entertain, elicit laughter,
    Even tears.
    Portraits of adventure and beauty
    The medium of words pointing to the
    Master Storyteller.

    Her dream is pure while she is small
    She writes on scraps and in notebooks-
    Lists of characters with fancy names, fragments of plotlines and
    Fantasy places.
    Mere scratchings of a little girl
    The simple, innocent words revealing
    Sweet Dreams.

    Growing older, and tasting life,
    She clings to her pen but doubts her words-
    Voices from within and without, voices of truth,
    Voices of lies.
    Messages of ‘not enough’ and ‘too hard’ bombard
    The world and her fear invite her to quit before
    She Fails.

    Born a scribe and given the gift to pen,
    She writes through the fear and the failures words that-
    Sometimes fall flat, sometimes soar high, but always come from
    Her Heart.
    Running the race marked out for her she remembers
    The One who gave her the pen and calls
    Press On

    -Becky Avella

  • Katherine Hyde

    >The editor said to the writer,
    “Your prose is much wronger than righter.
    It made my dog howl,
    It made my cat yowl;
    My wife said she feared it would bite ‘er.”

  • Michelle DeRusha@Graceful

    >Agent, agent on the phone
    Am I the next writer on the throne?
    It won’t be me, I hear you say?
    What?
    It’s because my hair is so gray?!

  • Stacy Henrie

    >Queries, submissions, and such
    To dreams of publication I clutch;
    The waiting’s the worst,
    The rejections are terse;
    Queries, submissions, and such.

  • David Andrews

    >These may just seem,
    Like words on a page.
    Ink firmly pressed down,
    Yet flowing like my life.

    This may just seem,
    Like an ordinary poem.
    With not much to say,
    Yet it begins and ends with words.

    Words cut deep,
    Like a knife through melting butter.
    Words spread far too thin,
    Like not quite enough lemon icing on a cake.

    My words are carefully crafted and contained
    Like a potter creating a fine porcelain vase.
    Yet in a moment, they can shatter, into a thousand letters,
    On the cold hard stone floor of your indifference.

    My words, describe my life.
    My journey, on the road of faith.
    Tread carefully on my words,
    For you are also walking on my dreams.

    Your words,
    Describe your response.
    Your reflection, brings life,
    To my dreams.

    Some say my words are profound,
    But still they hide in this poem.
    Because you did not read them,
    Like you said you would.

    I hope this poem escapes,
    Gets set free and travels.
    For it contains words, that we can all speak.
    And commas,
    Where we can take breath.

  • Leigh D’Ansey

    >A woman who thought she was fancy
    Endeavoured a Regent romancy
    But when she applied
    Her agent replied
    "My dear, your novel's just pantsy"

  • Kimmy

    >I send out my queries
    with hope in my heart
    and dream of the day
    I can play the part
    of a published author
    on the bestseller list.
    So I check my email,
    but my eyes start to mist.
    "No thanks, not for me."
    Oh, how the words sting.
    Then, one day, "please send more!"
    It makes my heart sing!
    Into cyberspace
    my submission goes.
    I cross everything,
    even my toes!
    My betas rejoice,
    my family supports.
    Then more rejections…
    my face contorts.
    I pick myself up
    and send out some more
    wondering why
    I pursue this chore.
    But my characters demand
    that their story be told.
    So I have no choice
    but to query till I'm old!

  • Leigh D’Ansey

    >Dayspring – it works – brilliant!

    Everyone – it's so much fun reading these :)

  • Naomi Rawlings

    >Limerick from Agent POV

    You’re story does not have a chance
    I knew it with barely a glance
    Your blogging is lame
    Your clothing's a shame
    There’s no way you’ll see an advance

    This was such a fun competition Rachelle. Thanks!

  • Naomi Rawlings

    >Crazy as I am, I wanted to do another one, even though it won't count for the competition.

    Limerick II from Agent POV

    Your agent is not a magician
    You’re wasting my time with submission
    You're tension's a mess
    The plot's in distress
    Your manuscript needs a revision

    Enjoy!

  • twittertales

    >Time for an epic!
    The market will adore me.
    “Not so much,” she said.

    Louise Curtis

  • S.E.

    >In a faraway kingdom near the Plebeian Sea,
    Angel the Agent was nice as could be.
    She read queries and proposals and picture book stories,
    And all her clients were as happy as clients could be.
    They always said thank you, they always said please,
    And they were all quite happy, quite happy indeed, to live in their kingdom near the Plebeian Sea.

    They were…until Angel the Agent issued a Decree,
    To be the Greatest Agent her Kingdom had seen.
    So Angel the Agent raised her hand
    And Angel the Agent gave a command.
    She ordered all of her clients to revise their prose,
    and then punched one of them right in the nose.

    All your stories must be revised! Angel cried.
    All of your manuscripts! All your proposals. They MUST be revised!
    I am Angel the Agent. Yes, indeed!
    I am the Greatest Agent this Kingdom has seen!
    I’m Angel the Agent! Oh wonderful me! No agent has ever been wiser than me!

    Now delete everything after page three! Angel hollered and screamed.
    And all of her clients were quite frightened, indeed.
    Then Angel the Agent frowned and said with disgust,
    That’s not enough! Change more stuff!
    Change the title and the plot!
    And make your main character a priest, not a cop!
    I’m Angel the Agent! No one’s wiser than me,
    I’m the Greatest Agent the World has seen!

    Then out from the crowd stepped a little girl named Bree.
    Excuse me,” she said, bowing down on one knee.
    But how you are treating your clients is not right.
    You are all professionals here and you should all be nice.

    How dare you speak to me that way! Angel snarled and brayed.
    But suddenly her clients were no longer afraid.
    She speaks the truth, said the little girl’s mother and father.
    And then all the people began to hoot and holler.
    Who are you to say what we must do?
    You can stay here or leave. It’s up to you!

    Now Angel the Agent had a decision to make.
    She had nowhere to go. And she wanted to stay.
    Okay, she said with sorrow and shame. “I didn’t mean to be mean. It was just a game.”
    Then all of her clients gathered together that day,
    and agreed to let Angel stay if she changed her ways.

    And today all the people still live in their Kingdom
    near the Plebeian Sea.
    And they are all quite happy, quite happy indeed.
    They always say thank you. They always say please.
    And they are all treated kindly, as all writers should be.

  • Ruth

    >it’s in the going down that one is able to rise
    tearing down to build
    shaking to add stability
    rocking to tip off the unstable foundation and give a stronger one
    life is an unequal and equal stream of ups and downs
    the ironies that seem so logical
    a puzzle pieced together sides flipped down
    when one is patient one will see the constancy of an upward movement
    toward what is the purposed end

  • BookOfHaziel

    >There was a young writer named Haziel, who it was very hard to frazzle. When she sent out her queries she had not a worry for the joy was all in the story.

  • Angela Mackey

    >How to Get Published
    By Angela Mackey (an unpublished author)

    Writing.
    Submitting.
    Waiting.
    Rejection.
    You need a Platform.

    Blogging.
    Reach out.
    Ask Questions.
    Twitter. Really?
    Twitter. Really!

    Community building.
    Tribe leading.
    Niche creating (but not too niche-y).
    Facebook fan page creating.
    Speaking.

    Writing.
    Submitting.
    Waiting.
    An article published.
    Celebrate.

    Writing.
    Submitting.
    Waiting.
    Rejection.
    Doesn’t meet editorial guidelines.

    Learning.
    Reading.
    Practicing.
    Critiquing.
    Speaking.

    Writing.
    Submitting.
    Waiting.
    Rejection.
    We aren’t looking for that topic.

    Platform? Yes.
    Writing.
    Submitting.
    Waiting.
    Book Deal? Maybe.

    Repeat for as many books as you want published.

  • Lynn Dickinson

    >There once was a writer from Vail,
    Whose story was… well, a big “FAIL.”
    His agent just sighed.
    “I loved it,” she lied,
    “But there’s no way that this is a sale.”

  • Bryce Daniels

    >A Correspondence

    Midnight is here, and in solitude I write
    a query to Shakespeare: Dear sir, how can I seize
    that elusive contract? I want people to cite
    my words as an author's, but I can't seem to meet
    the standards that could draw an agent's bite.
    I want this novel's journey complete!

    Verbatim reply: Mine eyes ne'er saw glory complete.
    Time shed its scythe, sundered words wrong from right,
    and tendered mine finest along Avon's dear bight.
    Though mine words have withstood the tides of seas,
    mine own personal quiet I ne'er didst meet.
    Mortal mine thoughts were, lack of morrow's true sight.

    (Why doth tongues oft lie, and so eloquently cite
    this rimer, bereft of fair verse? Mine doubt is complete
    with questions as these- Did I not mete
    out the same beauty and grace as April's sweet rite?
    Alas, it seems there is something that sees
    beyond the pendulum's travels and the critic's bite.)

    Shouldst thou thread thine pages into a noose's bight,
    forsaking thine efforts from thine reader's sight?
    I oft trod that valley and desired to seize
    the wordsmith's calm, mine own story complete
    with the tragedy of kings that I oft did write.
    Nay, mine destiny would not be, to reach such mete.

    Didst thou know mine first acts were devoured as meat
    of the "upstart crow" by Robert Greene's bite?
    Blind as the farm mare, he wouldst often then write
    condemnation for mine plays at our new Thames site.
    I oft didst ponder mine own doom as complete
    after suffering shame from those marks of low 'C's.

    So, to answer thy query. How doth thou seize
    such treasured contract? Perchance we shall meet
    with the Muses when thine life is complete,
    and seal our concordance over a heavenly bite.
    Until then, I proffer just this. Ne'er disturb, such sight
    is ransom to me. Just continue to write.

    Strange, how I can see this feast and sit down to write
    a sestina about meeting the Bard, and how this sight
    prompts me to complete my work. Byte by byte.

  • Nicole

    >"This book will not work.
    Amazingly written, but…"
    I open the drawer.

  • Anonymous

    >This is fantastic. Did you know Chip MacGregory used to have May as his bad poetry comp for his birthday? I'm impressed :)

  • Taz

    >Can't touch this
    Can't touch this
    Can't touch this
    Can't touch this

    My, my, my [manu]‘script hits me so hard
    Makes me say "Oh my Lord"
    Thank you for blessing me
    With a mind to write and two fingers hyped
    It feels good, when you know you're down
    A super fly homegirl from the Typist town
    And I'm known as such
    And this is a ‘script, uh, you can't touch

    I told you proofie ( can't touch this)
    Yeah, that's how she typin’ it and you know (can't touch this)
    Look at my screen-burned eyes, man (You can't touch this)
    Yo, let me bust the funky ‘script (can't touch this)

    Fresh new lines, submit
    You gotta like that, now you know you wanna hope
    So move, outta your seat
    And get a tough agent to catch this query
    While it's sending, hold on
    Pump a little bit and let 'em know you’re pushing on
    Like that, like that
    Cold on a mission so call them back
    Let 'em know, that you're too much
    And this is a ‘script, uh, you can't touch

    Yo, I told you (can't touch this)
    Why you standing there, man? (can't touch this)
    Yo, start the ‘puter, publishin’s in, writer! (can't touch this)

    Give me a call, or email
    They make me sweat, when I’m waitin’ on 'em
    Now, they know
    You talking about the writer, you talking about a show
    That's show, not tell
    Writers are sweating so pass them a wipe
    Or a book, to learn
    What's it gonna take in the book world to burn
    The tweets? Legit
    Either work hard or you might as well quit

    That's word because you know…

    Can't touch this
    Can't touch this
    Break it down!

    Go with the trend, it is said
    That if you can't regale to this then you probably are dead
    So stop pleading from your knees
    Bust a few words, run your fingers o’er your keys
    This is it, for a pubishin’ find
    Edit like this and you're gonna get signed
    Move, slide your mouse
    Just for a minute she gonna grouse, grouse, grouse

    Yeah… (can't touch this)
    Look, typo (can't touch this)
    You better get hype, writer, because you know (can't touch this)
    Start the ‘puter, edit’s back in (can't touch this)

    Break it down! Stop, Agent time!
    Can't touch this
    Can't touch this
    Can't touch this

    Break it down! (Nice pants, Writer) Stop, Agent time!

    Every time you see me
    The book signin’s just so hype
    Thought I’d never get here but my agent set it right
    Now why would I ever stop doing this?
    With others making queries that just don't hit
    I've toured around the towns, from east to the west
    It's "Writer, go Agent, Go Writer, go Agent"
    And the rest can persevere

    Can't touch this
    Can't touch this
    Can't touch this
    Can't touch this

  • Jackie

    >Heartfelt haiku:

    Sorry
    my list is full,
    with people more lucky than you

  • JoAnn

    >THE WRONG WORDS

    Blank monitor taunts
    Sighing writer touches keys
    Hits delete again

  • Patrick Neylan

    >My ex calls in tears
    Her novel has been rejected
    Sympathy
    Is tempered by schadenfreude
    And by the knowledge that my own novel
    Unwritten but for broken drafts
    Is now more successful than hers
    For it has not been rejected

    My ex calls in tears
    Her novel has been reviewed
    Savagely
    Under soothing words I quietly exult
    That no one will call my novel
    Pretentious, sophomoric or artless
    In the Sunday Times
    For it has not been reviewed

    My ex calls in tears
    Her novel is not a bestseller
    Yet.
    Amazon rank 36,570
    My novel acquires a new character:
    The failed and chastened novelist
    Who returns to her ex-boyfriend
    For he will one day write a bestseller

  • Ane Mulligan

    >Ode to Rules

    There once was a rule called passive
    That I knew would give me gas if
    I was made to admit
    My violations of it
    For sure were bordering massive.

    The next on my list was head-hopping
    Without the bother of stopping.
    Can't I ever write bouts
    Of a heroine's doubts
    Without the POV lopping?

    Oy, they say my WIP has no tension
    To give it strength and dimension.
    Should I just toss it out?
    Or throw in a lout
    And pray for reader retention?

    Now dialogue has its own set
    Of rules taught by authors who get
    Paid when they break them
    While I slave in mayhem
    Of killing off words that are pet.

    The adverb's in need of affection
    Not writers' disdain or defection.
    Lavishly embrace them
    Don't angrily erase them
    And wait for your CP's objections

    Rejections will come via email
    Or brought to your mailbox by snail
    For they twang your last nerve
    And rob you of joie de verve
    While you pound on your keyboard and wail.

    So wordsmith, you're advised to take heed
    Are these rules important? Indeed!
    If first you will learn them
    Then known, you finesse them
    The line to a book deal you'll lead.

  • Shara-Rae

    >There once was a plumber turned poet
    Who persuaded himself to just go for it
    But they scrunched up their nose
    “We can’t work with this prose!”
    Oh that poor proseless plumber turned poet.

  • Karen Burgess

    >Thank you for your pages:
    Sadly, not for us
    Economy is poor.

  • A.L. Sonnichsen

    >There once was a writer named Florence
    Who suffered rejection abhorrence
    She stared at blank page
    In writers’ block cage
    Wishing her words came in torrents

    She’d stare up for hours at the skylight
    Praying to enter the limelight
    She queried just twice
    Hoped her words would suffice
    Feedback was: “Too much like Twilight.”

    She wrote and she wrote on for decades
    Through twenty-six computer upgrades
    Ten queries she dared
    Not one of them spared
    Gave up: now plays games in the arcades

  • Kelly Combs

    >Bad News Haiku…
    (Perspective is Everything).

    An agent calls me.
    Bad news doesn't bother me.
    An agent called me!!

  • Loree Huebner

    >Dear Author ~ the sting of an impersonal rejection letter

    Dear Author,
    Thank you for your query submission.
    We appreciate your ambition.
    We’re just not interested in your composition.

    Please forgive this impersonal note,
    We’re just not interested in what you wrote.
    We’re handing you your hat and coat.

    This is the one millionth rejection we’ve sent this year.
    Go ahead and shed a tear.
    Best of luck in your writing career.

  • Shelley Adina

    >To an Editor, Upon Rejection of My Novel

    O lady, thou'rt a hussy fair and cruel
    In thy high tower dispensing smiles and pain
    In letter form to literary fools
    Like me, who flinch, yet must submit again.
    You say my plot turns on coincidence,
    My characters lack marketing appeal,
    And further, drama loses consequence
    When folks are made not fantasy but real.
    Reluctantly I to the keyboard go
    To cut and slash–revise–eviscerate–
    And reconstruct it so the seams won't show
    And none would recognize its former state.
    Then, when a rival house says "yes" to me
    I'll send a copy–autographed–to thee.

  • Ruth Chambers

    >Myiku

    Quoth the agent

    I like it
    But I don't love it

    I've heard before
    Quoth the author nevermore

  • Amy Tripp

    >Words strung bright as pearls
    Draping, dripping down the page.
    Snipped by frenzied doubt.

  • terri de

    >Fibonacci Sequence Poem

    A True School Visit Rejection

    So
    Sad
    But no
    The reason
    We have money for
    A “really expensive” author
    But don’t worry we are going to have you come next year.
    I want to reply: Great! See you next year with my new “really expensive” author rate!

  • Happy M. LaShelle

    >had to brush off my iambic pentameter for this one :)

    A parody of William Shakespeare's Sonnet #29

    When, in disgrace with many agents' eyes,
    Writer, alone, beweeps his outcast state
    And troubles his betas with fruitless cries
    And looks upon his Mac to curse his fate,
    Wishing himself like to scribes rich in hope,
    Jealous of those published, with books possess'd
    Reject after reject seems a cruel joke,
    When what he needeth most: a Full request;
    Yet in this gloom, and the tenth revising,
    Haply, an agent beckons with good news,
    She wants to rep his book, his mood's rising
    She loves the plot and hook, he's paid his dues;
    Faced with more work and new challenge this brings
    He now hath strength of Shakespearean kings.

  • Brandy Heineman

    >An Email Just to Say

    I have considered
    the penname
    that you chose for
    your novel,

    the name
    you likely
    treasured
    in your dreams.

    I’m sorry.
    Stephen King Stevens
    won’t work.
    Yes, I’m sure.

    (With apologies to William Carlos Williams and Stephen King.)

  • friendtoyourself.com

    >Rejection Letter

    I move in-between here and in-here
    In the evenings and
    After a good laugh
    and other unmarked moments;
    A secret door meant for my protection
    gives way.
    I am winning something
    and all my sponsors are happy.
    I slide the door
    So I can smile for them,
    the people who love me.
    I am dressed as if there was no funeral;
    A princess in color-me-beautiful
    Instead of gauze and linen.
    But winning isn't enough to afford what just happened.
    I move again,
    inside,
    Where wins and losses co-exist
    My words and pages, taking turns.
    "Until the author rewrites the book,…"
    I move in-between.

  • Jules Big Girl Bombshell

    >Difficult conversations to be had
    Certainly I feel a bit of a cad
    But changes you must make
    Book sales are at stake
    in the end we will all be glad

  • Aimee L. Salter

    >To: The Semi-Famous and Self-Impressed Author Who Unfollowed Me on Twitter

    Beware ye touter of self and same,
    Whose work hath ‘chieved a whit of fame,
    For those who in your shadow lay
    Will come upon our own gold day
    Of pub and strub and contract. Nay?
    You say?
    Hark, yon heart of gleeful pride,
    Doest thou doubt I’ll dance and fly?
    Mistake is thine my snubnosed ‘friend’,
    For when we reach the distant end
    Of road-less-travelled, I’ll not bend.
    Or lend
    My sparkling star to thee,
    Whom saw fit to poo and pee
    ‘Pon it when I were just ‘aspiring’ –
    A hidden gem, a tarnished ring,
    A twitter-itch. A nothing,
    You mean?
    Yea, when thou dost next consider
    A twittering mess, a constant jibber,
    Think on this, some-lauded scribe:
    Your star my fall, your star may rise
    Or flap, or float, or glide.
    But, time?
    Time flies on wings of lightest air
    And takes with her your laissez faire.
    And when your star doth crash to ground
    And your twittering mess I’ve found
    Somewhere inside my round,
    Your pound
    Of flesh, I’ll un-follow you right back,
    You seething pit of crit and flack.
    That’s right, you heard,
    Though perhaps not learned
    That people are still people, were
    They semi-famous here
    And now
    Or not.

    -Aimee L. Salter

  • DiscoveredJoys

    >In the style of Li Bai…

    You ask why I keep writing
    I smile without speaking, my heart content
    Cherry blossoms on the street ache for a description
    There is a heaven and earth beyond the sorrow of rejection

  • Ashelyn Nicole

    >I run my fingers down the weathered spine
    bent and broken but loved firsthand.
    I wish mine could be loved so dearly
    but instead banked a secondhand spurn.

  • William

    >Name: William Stuckey
    Poem Title: From Rejected Eyes
    Poem Form: Tanka
    Reference: http://www.tankaonline.com/Quick%20Start%20Guide.htm

    From Eyes Rejected

    The story blossomed
    Like a cherry tree in spring
    Her face spoke volumes
    Red marks struck deep with contempt
    But with eyes of hope retained

  • Melissa Crandall

    >"Sorry," she said.
    "Your book? It is dead.
    It really is going nowhere."

    "That's okay," I replied.
    I went home and cried,
    and shaved off all of my hair."

  • Lucy

    >A Haiku…..

    The small envelope
    Arrives in the daily post
    Still not good enough.

  • Gus

    >Sonnet 1
    by Gus Kroustalis

    She said she can’t be my agent any longer.
    That the story was much worse than my past projects.
    No inspiration?” she asked. “No inner hunger?”
    She wouldn’t go to market just to risk our necks.
    I thought I had become master of the edit.
    Five drafts of striking ‘delete’ to perfect this piece.
    That she could at least give me a little credit.
    I didn’t think my talents showed any decrease.
    But then she brought forth the evidence for her case
    Like bad dialogue, thin characters, and no plot.
    It puzzled her to see a regression take place.
    Traveling backward in skill to a writing tot.
    I was now the Benjamin Button of my craft.
    Seeing that my best writing was in my first draft.

  • fodycoyote

    >compose stellar prose
    stalk unsuspecting agent
    launch poetic strike

  • Rachel Searles

    >After planning, plotting, drafting,
    After writing three years long,
    Just imagine my elation
    when an agent signed me on.

    Her name was Mary Ellen,
    and she knew I’d be a star,
    You’re a genius! she first told me,
    When I met her in a bar.

    I had penned a racy thriller,
    based on ancient Roman lit,
    Where the killer was a werewolf,
    And we knew we had a hit.

    Mary took it to the big leagues,
    Harper, Random, every spot.
    When the indies wouldn’t buy it,
    Then she asked, what else you got?

    I took those tear-soaked pages
    And I hurled them in the fire,
    Then I went back to my laptop
    And I started to perspire.

    That book had been my oeuvre,
    I had nothing else to give.
    I gnashed my teeth in anguish
    Was my mind a useless sieve?

    Then genius struck: I had it.
    I could base it on my life!
    I could mine my wealth of stories–
    The ideas, at once, were rife.

    Mary Ellen met me downtown
    And she bought me rounds of drinks.
    Then she said, I love you madly,
    But this story kind of stinks.

    I’m a certain sort of wizard
    I can sell ‘most any book.
    But no editor will buy this–
    It’s all fluff, and zero hook.

    I know this is disheartening
    But that’s no excuse to cry.
    Dystopians are selling,
    Why not give that type a try?

    And while we’re on the topic
    (Now please don’t take this as stricture)
    Let’s talk about your website,
    In particular, your picture.

    The shot is unbecoming,
    But your problem’s worse than that,
    For your fans might find it strange
    To see you posed with your dead cat.

    I went back to my workspace
    Feeling like a bitter fool.
    Then I signed up for some classes
    At a local writing school.

    The idea for my next book
    Took me ages to discover.
    I was thrilled when it was finished,
    and designed a flashy cover.

    A desperate tale of bravery
    By a Congo-dwelling doctor.
    A complex plot, a hot romance,
    And prose worthy of Faulkner.

    Mary Ellen cried, I love it!
    This is clearly your new best!
    There are just a couple changes
    That I humbly would suggest.

    The story starts in chapter five,
    So cut out one through four.
    And while you’re at it, you should tweak
    The dialogue some more.

    The plot twist comes too early,
    So delay the revelation,
    And change the doctor’s background
    To define his motivation.

    The ending is fantastic!
    But the middle just drags on,
    And could you change the setting
    To Karachi, or Saigon?

    Now I’m working on draft seven
    Of book number twenty-two,
    And my dreams of overnight success
    Have soared into the blue.

    I’m still working as a waitress,
    But don’t dare call me a hack.
    I know I’ll make it someday:
    Mary Ellen’s got my back.

  • Beth

    >Just getting started
    Unaware of what's to come
    Anticipation

  • Sarah Thomas

    >Loved this! It's been ages since I attempted a form poem, tapping out iambic pentameter. What fun. Here's a little something that would make Elizabeth Barrett Browning choke.

    Sonnet from the Publishese

    How do I love thy book? Let me spell out
    Any misconceptions you may hold dear.
    Your book is acceptable, have no fear,
    ‘tho about a few things there is some doubt.

    Your book needs rewriting, this you must know
    The publishers aren’t biting, I have tried
    My best to sell, but opinion’s bright tide
    Points out your tendency to tell not show.

    Oh and did I mention your frightening hair
    and that book two is a cause that is lost?
    Don’t worry, the writer with all is rare,
    And though the fixes are not without cost,
    We’ll soon have a product to sell I swear,
    And Hell will experience a light frost.

  • Larry Carney

    >The one bit of news we all hate is the New York Times' bestseller list: to think of all the nights chained to the desk as we type away the next Great American Novel only to learn that some third-rate (and X-rated) "Lord of the Rings" knock-off has taken the number one slot!

    So here is a poetic parody of a song by Cee Lo Green fit for both readers and writers (or at least our egos) alike:
    Query For You

    I see you chillin' in a Starbucks with a book I loathe
    And I'm like, here's a query for yoooou
    Was Cheevers' prose just not good enough
    I'm like, here's a query for you
    Did you know all your favorite books suck too?
    Said if you read something richer the story would stay with ya
    Long after you put down that piece of sh—
    (Oh don't throw no hissy fit)
    Is Teenage Mutant Paranomal Amish fiction really the best
    Don't believe me I'll put it to the
    test
    Just answer this query here made for you

    Well I'm sorry
    That my advance couldn't buy a Ferrari
    But that don't mean I'm sleeping on the stairs
    Even if I'm more of a starving artist
    Guess you're looking for a one hit wonder
    But nobody ever said the publishing game was fair
    I pity the foooool that's stuck in a book club with you
    (What's a "foreshadowing", you ask, "is it some type of eyeshadow?")
    Ooooooooh I got some news for you
    Yeah go run and buy a dictionary.

    I see you chillin' in a Starbucks with a book I loathe
    And I'm like, here's a query for yoooou
    Was Flauberts' prose just not good enough
    I'm like, here's a query for you
    Did you know all your favorite authors suck too?
    Said if you read something richer the story would stay with ya
    Long after you put down that piece of sh—
    (Oh don't throw no hissy fit)
    Is Teenage Mutant Paranomal Amish fiction really the best
    Don't believe me I'll put it to the test
    Just answer this query here made for you

    Now I know that I had to borrow beg steal and lie and cheat
    Trying to reach ya
    Craft a story that'd please ya
    But self publishing sure aint cheap
    I pity the foooool that's stuck in a book club with you
    (What's a "flashback," you ask, "is it part of a flashlight?")
    Ooooooh I got some news for you
    I really hate illiterate fools right now.
    Now baby baby baby why why do you read stories that are just plain bad?
    (So bad, so bad)
    I asked my agent she just said reading is more than art there's enjoyment to be had
    (To be had, to be had, to be had)
    And I'm like, why?
    (Oh!)
    Why?
    (Oh!)
    WHY???
    (OH!)
    It's so cliche!
    (OH!)
    The prose is so gauche!
    For crying out loud I got an MFA!

    I see you chillin' in a Starbucks
    with a book I loathe
    And I'm like, here's a query for yoooou
    Was Dickens' prose just not good enough
    I'm like, here's a query for you
    Did you know all your favorite books suck too?
    Said if you read something richer the story would stay with ya
    Long after you put down that piece of sh—
    (Oh don't throw no hissy fit)
    Is Teenage Mutant Paranormal Amish fiction really the best
    Don't believe me I'll put it to the test
    Just answer this query here made for you
    "Would you please consider buying my book too?"

  • ChelseaL

    >Difficult Conversation Number Five

    Your prose shows loads of promise, but it needs an overhaul.
    Checking out your website, I suspect the text’s too small.

    Your characters impress me, but the structure’s off the mark.
    I’m not exactly sold, although I see a teeny spark.

    Your writing is exciting, but by “salable,” I meant
    You’ll need to redo only the last 85 percent.

    Get a better head shot and a hotshot stylist, too.
    Your tweets are too offbeat. (This hurts me more than it does you.)

    Oh! I know an image pro who’ll coach you on your look.
    (Listen, kid; it’s true: a dated 'do won't move that book.)

    Get more friends on Facebook, make them “like” your page and then
    Grow your lowly platform by a factor of, say, ten.

    I hate to hurt your feelings, but I need to do so, Chelse.
    I tell you, I can sell you if you’ll just be someone else.

  • dylan

    >Dear Rachelle

    It pains me to have to admit
    Your project is not a good fit
    The premise is ugly
    The writing is fugly
    There’s no way I’d handle this…

    er…

    LIT!

    dylan

  • Lisa

    >chapter one: revisions

    fresh-voiced writer
    with so much to say,
    heed my advice:

    chapter one is
    the sane voice of the flight attendant
    who assures you the plane won’t crash
    (but it does)

    the outgoing friend
    who invites you into her social life
    luring you to wine bars
    (and bad blind dates)

    the charming celebrity perfume
    fruit! flowers! cupcakes!
    cheap and captivating
    (smells truly vile)

    chapter one is
    a red herring
    an unpracticed sales pitch
    a stammering contrivance
    a lie
    how can i believe anything that follows?
    (said the critique partner)

    revise, revise, revise
    until the sun creeps
    over the eastern horizon
    your bad hook
    will be a distant memory
    one day

    (start over)

  • elizabeth seckman

    >Dear writer thanks for your time,
    please add your name to this line.
    I read your query with great interest,
    but found the writing quite senseless.
    Perhaps the art is best left to the sublime?

  • elizabeth seckman

    >oops…excitement got the best of me. Post is too late, but I'll leave it. I'm a rebel. That's just how I roll…do the poem, then read the rules. *sigh*

  • Arna Baartz

    >They
    Love
    Me
    I know it…..

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