Friday, October 21, 2011

How the Trafalmadorians Saved my Writing Career

Special thanks to all the awesome people who left comments on Wednesday’s post. You guys rock!!!

Today I am welcoming someone who is so full of publishing knowledge, it scares me - Anne R. Allen! Her weekly posts have me in total awe. So, it is with great honor that I let her take over for the day. (Because you’re not getting smart publishing stuff from me!)


How the Trafalmadorians Saved my Writing Career…and might save yours

by Anne R. Allen


Writing careers have ups and downs. But after my UK publisher went out of business—followed by the two magazines where I had regular gigs—mine went mostly downward.

I kept writing—sending endless queries into a black hole of rejection, not realizing the less-than-phenomenal sales of my UK books pretty much stamped “reject this writer” on my forehead.

Figuring my fiction career was over, I started a blog to help newbies learn from my mistakes.

Nobody read that either.

But a few months later, Nathan Bransford accepted me as a guest poster. I’d been going through one of those dark teatimes of the writers’ soul when you wonder if you’re delusional, clueless, masochistic or all of the above. I wanted to know what keeps us writing year after year despite endless rejection.

I came up with my theory about the Trafalmadorians.

If you’ve read Kurt Vonnegut, you know about Tralfamadore. It’s a planet where a super-race of toilet plungers exist in all times simultaneously and control all aspects of human life.

Since they have infinite time on their hands, I figured they need lots of books. And how do they get them? They compel earthlings to write novels! Millions of them. Way more than earthbound publishers and readers can handle. But on Tralfamadore—they’re consumed like Skittles.

I figured the Tralfamadorians were so eager for new material, they’d worked out how to transmit stories from our brainwaves to their TralfamaKindles the minute we type “the end” on that final draft.

In fact at this moment, your first novel—the one that’s been sitting in the bottom of a drawer along with 350 rejection letters and the restraining order from that editor at Tor—could be at the top of the New Tralfamadore Times bestseller list.

Nathan posted it in January 2010. My blog started getting visitors. I was invited to guest at prestigious blogs. PAY IT FORWARD author Catherine Ryan Hyde asked me to collaborate on a handbook for writers. I was asked to teach at the Central Coast Writers Conference. Publishers started contacting me, asking me to submit. (Yeah—kind of amazing.)

And last month, my romantic-comedy/thriller FOOD OF LOVE debuted with Popcorn Press, and on October 6, my Mad Men-era Hollywood mystery, THE GATSBY GAME debuted with MWiDP (ebooks now; soon available in paper.) Three more comic mysteries, GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY, SHERWOOD, LTD and THE BEST REVENGE will debut before Christmas.

None of it would have happened if it hadn’t been for those Trafalmadorians.

So the next time you’re going through the “Am-I-Crazies”—wondering why you keep pounding the keyboard, polishing up that opus, even though everybody, even your girlfriend—and your MOM for goodness sake—says it sux…

Realize you could be getting secret transmissions from Doubleday of Tralfamadore saying, “Hurry up! We gotta have this for our Christmas list!”

Hey, just prove it’s not true.

*********
Anne R. Allen blogs with NYT bestselling author Ruth Harris at Anne R. Allen’s blog - updated on Sundays. Anne’s books are available on Amazon and Amazon UK, as well as Popcorn Press and Mark Williams International Digital Publishing.

Questions for Anne? Questions for me? Are you totally lost? Want more scary pictures of Chewbacca?

97 comments:

A Daft Scots Lass said...

Creepy pictures of Chewbacca please!

Have a brilliant weekend

Ciara said...

What a great story. Congratulations on your success. It is an inspiration for the rest of us to not give up. More scary Chewbacca! :)

Anne Gallagher said...

I love Anne's story. It just goes to show how perserverance pays off. Thanks Alex for hosting. Thanks Anne for being here.

Karen Walker said...

How inspiring. Thanks, Alex, for hosting and Anne for sharing this with us.
Karen

Jon Paul said...

I love the Tralfamadorians, and it's nice to see them put to such utility!

(Sirens of Titan is an all time fave too!)

Great post Anne! Totally inspiring, and worth at least a few months of "I'm-not-going-crazy"-ness! :D

Donna Shields said...

Awesome post. Thanks for having Anne here.

Leovi said...

Wonderful that planet, is a paradise for writers. The trouble is that I do write as slaves. Although for quality books are certainly treated very well.

Will Burke said...

No wonder you were contacted; I really enjoyed the writing of this post! Thanks for the dose of Brit-style sillies.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

A Daft Scot and Ciara, I'll have one for you on Monday!

Thanks Anne for inspiring the Army!

Jemi Fraser said...

I kinda want to stand up and cheer right now! What an inspiring post!! Thanks so much :)

Jules said...

Nice to meet you Anne. Alex, what is beyond the third realm? :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Melissa Bradley said...

What an awesome and inspiring post!! Thank you Anne, thank you Alex. This is just what I needed to hear as I pull out a rejected tale that I love, but have to figure out why publishers seem to hate it.

oceangirl said...

Hello Anne, I love your smile, and your story. Hello Alex, thank you for hosting Anne.

Rusty Webb said...

Thanks for the inspiration, Anne. I've read elsewhere that writers sometimes have to start over in their career. Glad you persevered.

LynnRush said...

Thank you for this post. It's just what I needed to see today.

Old Kitty said...

Knowing me, my erm... "novel" is probably not even showing up in the New Tralfamadore Times bestsellers list! Hooorah! LOL!

Yay for Ann!! Thanks Capn Ninja! Take care
x

iZombie said...

Great stuff! Inspire, yes please!
All the best!

Jeremy

Isis Rushdan said...

Way to bounce back, Anne!

Please, Alex, I beg of you, no more horrifying pics of Chewbacca. PULLLEEEZE!

Carole Anne Carr said...

Wonderful and greatly encouraging!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I've always thought that perseverance is one of the most important traits for a writer. So excited for you, Anne!

Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page said...

Amazing success story. Go Trafalmadorians!

Amy said...

Definitely inspiring, thank you for sharing Anne! :)

More scary Chewbacca pics, yes please, lol!

Yvonne Osborne said...

Thanks Anne. I knew I wasn't crazy. Just knew it. Yours is a great story.

And thanks you, Alex for your constant encouragment. There isn't enough of that.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Thanks Anne. I knew I wasn't crazy. Just knew it. Yours is a great story.

And thanks you, Alex for your constant encouragment. There isn't enough of that.

Vicki Rocho said...

So that explains the giant sucking sound in my head at night....


Thanks for sharing!

Matthew MacNish said...

Wow. Nathan changes a lot of lives.

Suze said...

More Chewbacca! More Chewbacca!

Connie Keller said...

Hey, Alex! I found you over at the bloffee. Hot tamales sounds great for breakfast.

I loved this post! Thanks.

salarsenッ said...

Anne - you've had a fabulous journey! I really appreciate you sharing it. Once again, perseverance is key. :) Now if I can just hold out...

Charles Gramlich said...

If it works, it must be true. :)

L.G.Smith said...

Wow, what a difference a guest blog post can make! Way to make the most of it. Congrats on all your success.

Sarah Pearson said...

I love Anne's blog, and this post made me chuckle :-)

Sangu said...

I love Anne's story - thanks for sharing that! Hope you both have a great weekend!

Pat Tillett said...

Thanks to both of you!

Michelle Gregory said...

i had no idea.

Marta Szemik said...

Ahh, what a nice story. Good Luck Anne and congratulations!

Michael Offutt said...

I too visit Anne's blog quite frequently. I love Kurt Vonnegut. This post had me smiling all the way to the end. Congratulations on your success Anne. I may not read with the pace of a Tralfalmadorian, but I shall get to your books soon.

Sue R (Lauracea) said...

Excellent interview. Amazing - and inspiring - how one day you can feel that your career's at an end and the next publishers are contacting you! Great :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Trafalmadorians, huh? lol!

I like the theory. Your article made a valid point, if you enjoy telling stories and writing, don't give up.

I'm glad you rode out the dark side of a writer's life and are back into the sunshine.

I'll have to check out your blog. And Nathan is wonderful. I've enjoyed my interactions with him when I featured a couple of his clients.

Congratulations on your release!

Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

TL Conway said...

I just found Anne R. Allen's blog a few weeks ago (behind the times, again). And I remember that post over at Nathan's, but never put the two together. BAM! Synapses connecting all over in my blogging brain this morning!

Tara Tyler said...

thanks for the great story of hope & proof that perseverance pays!
have a great wknd!

Jamie Burch said...

This post just made my morning! Thank you Anne and Alex! :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Isis, it's two to one in favor though!

Suze, he will appear again on Monday.

Glad Anne was able to inspire so many!

Christopher Hudson said...

Anne, I believe you ... by the way, does Doubleday of Tralfamadore pay in US dollars? Oh, and for the record, my mom, bless her heart, loved my stuff.

Stephen Tremp said...

Perserverance is the name of the game! Great to meet you Anne! Best wishes for your continued success!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Alex and Anne .. sounds fantastic .. did they beam you into space .. what an amazing story .. fun to read - thank you. Enjoy the weekends .. Hilary

Patricia Stoltey said...

A wonderful post, designed to bring us hope. Thanks!

Anne R. Allen said...

Oh, my! It's only 8:30 AM here in CA, and you've already left all these lovely, lovely comments. It's fantastic to see my blogpeeps here as well as so many of Alex's loyal followers. I'm glad I can give you a laugh on a Friday morning. But I really sort of do believe in those Trafalmadorians. There's something in writers' brains that keeps us going in spite of the fact we look seriously crazy to the rest of the world. Thanks for all your encouragement and good wishes. It means so much!

Lydia Kang said...

Great post, and I second (third?) the vote for more scary Chewy picts. Please.

Bish Denham said...

That's what you call serendipity! Gotta love Vonnegut.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Man, I hope those Trafalmadorians are around when I stick my neck out. Congrats!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Anne, good morning!!

Thanks everyone for supporting my awesome guest.

Empty Nest Insider said...

I could use some Trafalmadorians around here! This was a very entertaining and informative post! Thanks to Alex for hosting Anne and I would like to see the Trafalmadorians in a group shot with Chewbacca please.

M Pax said...

I love reading these stories of tenacity. Congrats to Anne on dealing with the darkness and punching through.

Anne R. Allen said...

I should point out there are still lots of moments of darkness, M Pax. Doing revisions of three novels at the same time I'm trying to promote two others isn't exactly the way I'd have planned my career. I'm not getting a lot of sleep. But maybe I'll get a nice vacation package to Trafalmadore after all this is finally done :-) (With Chewbacca as my tour guide?)

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, too funny! I love that idea that all our books are going to be devoured regardless. And I love that such a zany idea got you so much recognition! Definitely inspiration to just be ourselves and eventually someone will realize we're fabulous!

Reka Sang said...

Enjoy the little tale inspiring her second journey. Congrats Anna for your success and Alex for managing to come across such gems of guest posts.

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

Hey Alex, thanks for commenting on my interview over at Lydia Kang's. I don't actually do the Tom Bird thing anymore, but it was really helpful for eliminating my anxiety that there would be nothing to say when I sat down to write. And yes, eyes closed. It's very weird, I know!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Empty Nest, that's a tall order!

Anne, I'll see if Chewy is busy...

Melissa, as I'm desperate for ideas, I'll try anything!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Like Skittles, huh?

Very inspiring Anne.

Anonymous said...

Anne, I never get tired of reading your great story ... it is one of determination and courage and it inspires us all to keep moving :)

I can't for the life of me understand how I am not able to get in without having to open a blogger account. Florence Fois is leaving this comment as "anon."

Anne R. Allen said...

All your comments are really brightening a gloomy Friday, everybody. OK, now to talk to the Trafalmadorians about their Wooky immigration policy...

Nicki Elson said...

Are there ever enough pictures of Chewbacca? (Can you believe this is the 2nd time I've said "Chewbacca" in blog comments today?)

Thank goodness for those Trafalmadorians. :)

tfwalsh said...

Great blog - makes so much sense and so glad it all worked for you in the end:)

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

How does one pronounce "trafalmadorians"? Regardless, I like this woman and am off to visit her blog. Thanks, Alex.
Have a nice weekend.
xoRobyn

Anne R. Allen said...

Rawknrobyn and all of you who stopped by my blog--and especially the people who followed--a big THANK YOU. Thanks to you, I've now reached a milestone 800 blog followers.

I remember when I first started my blog and kept telling myself I'd feel OK if I could just get 42 followers. 42 would look like more people than my immediate friends and family. Plus, of course, as all Douglas Adams fans know, 42 is the answer to life, the Universe and everything.

I wonder what 800 means? I guess I'm indebted to the Trafalmadorians for one more thing...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Nicki, no there's never enough!

Robyn, fortunately we don't have to pronounce it online!

julie fedderson said...

Love stories like this! I must know more of this creator of Trafalmadorian lore.

Susan Kane said...

So that's how to get published. I knew there was a secret. Trafalma...

Carol Kilgore said...

Congrats, Anne. Just goes to show we should never give up. Even if we think it's crazy.

Nancy said...

Love your sense of humor, just downloaded Food of Love because comic and mystery are a combo I love.

Draven Ames said...

Congratulations on your success with FOOD OF LOVE and THE GATSBY GAME. They both sound promising, as my wife loves Mad Men. Did you ask Nathan if you could post, or did he approach you? How did everything come about?

Great post and completely inspiring.

~Draven

Anne R. Allen said...

All of you who are buying my books, I send you virtual bouquets and heartfelt thank-yous. I sure hope you like the books. Gatsby is funny, too, although it's not quite as farcical as Food.

The funniest one of all--Ghostwriters in the Sky--will be out next week. I just found out! It's set at a Z-list writers conference where bogus agents fleece writers, (but they get their revenge.)I'll be giving a copy away free in a Halloween contest.

Draven--Nathan holds contests for guest posts about once a year. I entered the contest and got one of five places. Eric of Pimp my Novel started as a guest blogger for Nathan, too, I think. And I met super-editor Victoria Mixon when she was a guest. Nathan's blog is a wonderful hub for the writing community.

Leovi said...

Well, leaving me jokes. The truth is that being a writer is very hard, because in addition to writing the book was to get them to read. At least one picture you can see in 5 seconds.

L'Aussie said...

Hi Alex! Hi Anne! This is an awesome, encouraging post for bloggers and writers. I learnt heaps but the biggest lesson is to keep on keeping on.

Denise

Rhonda@Laugh Quotes said...

Thanks, this was awesome, and just what I needed as I have been feeling a bit frustrated. BTW-I am loving the Trafalmadorians :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Anne, he holds a contest for guest posts? Sorry, I hope I never get to that point.

Glad everyone has enjoyed Anne's story!

Just Another Day in Paradise said...

Thanks, I needed that.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Very inspirational. Sometimes I do wonder but I keep typing away.

Tonja said...

That was AWESOME!!

RaShelle Workman said...

Great post! I KNEW there was a reason I couldn't stop writing. And congrats on all of your success. ;D

Anne R. Allen said...

Alex, with the number of great commenters you have here, you could *charge* for a guest post spot. :-) Seriously, this has been such an energy boost for me. You've got a great community here.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Anne, my Ninja Army is just awesome!

Karen Peterson said...

That's a pretty awesome story. And further proof that you have to accept opportunities when they come along because you never know where they might lead.

laughingwolf said...

thx anne... and alex!

Leovi said...

I love the detective thriller.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Karen, you are so right!

Anne R. Allen said...

It's been so fun to share my story on a sci-fi blog where people understand about Trafalmadore.

Leovi--I should probably warn people that The Gatsby Game isn't your standard detective story. It's got a lot of humor. I love the cover, but I realized too late that it makes some people expect Raymond Chandler noir. It's more like Dorothy Parker meets Agatha Christie.

CS Perryess said...

Dearest Miss Allen,
Bravo to the Tralfamadorians & their good taste. As for me, Skittles, not so much. I'd say your writing is more like homemade bittersweet chocolate truffles.

The Golden Eagle said...

Awesome post! Congratulations, Anne on your success. :)

I'll have to find that book by Kurt Vonnegut now.

Donna Hole said...

I think I read this on Nathan's blog the first time, and its as inspiring now as it was then :) Explains some things too . .

I haven't been by here or there lately, my loss completely, but its good to see both Alex and Anne at the same stop.

I enjoyed your Wednesday post too Alex. You deserves all the heartfelt attention. I'm looking forward to CassaFire.

......dhole

She Writes said...

It's always good to hear some positive news :)! YAY for her!

Biff Tanner said...

I love thrillers.

Lynda R Young said...

This is an awesome post of much awesomeness. Thanks so much for this. And a huge congrats for your success, Anne.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Donna, thanks so much! And I know real life takes away from here sometimes. It's cool!

Lynda, you sound like Po from Kung Fu Panda! I like it.

Thanks again, Anne!

Tasha Seegmiller said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I think one of the best things for anyone chasing a dream is to hear of the experiences of others, primarily to learn there isn't just one way to achieve the dream. Thanks again!

Anne R. Allen said...

Thanks for hosting me, Alex! It's been great to meet all your ninja warrior-writers. Tasha is right--there are as many ways to achieve a dream as their are dreamers. Go for it, everybody!