Day 2, Part 2: How Not to Approach an Editor

Oh, yeah. This is one of the parts of the story I feel very foolish writing about.

Writers are told constantly, never try to bribe editors. It’s very unbecoming and makes you look desperate. Well, when I conceived this mad plot, it was not for the purpose of bribing said editor, but just to break the ice so I could, as I explained to him later, just speak without stammering all over the place.

Yes, really.

So. I walked in and sat down with the illustrious Dave Long. I introduced myself and then said, “I heard a rumor that you enjoy dark chocolate.”

He hesitated—this was apparently not the line he was expecting to hear—and with a slow smile, affirmed that he did. I pulled out the bar of Rapunzel 70% bittersweet that I’d brought just for this purpose, and slid it across the table. I explained that this was my favorite kind and thought he might enjoy it as well.

The smile deepened. “Bribes,” he said. “I like bribes. I have contracts here for those who bribe me with dark chocolate.”

Well … I didn’t get a contract … in fact, he very apologetically declined even looking at my proposal for Gift, but he did say that they take historical. “We would need to see a complete,” he went on. “How much do you have finished?”

I grinned. “I have a grand total of three pages written, although I’ve been researching for a couple of months.”

The smile returned. “Well, I guess it’ll be a while.”

I explained that it had taken a certain amount of research to “find” my story, and that I wanted as much historical accuracy as possible. He nodded and said that some of their best historical authors often research for 5-6 months before even beginning to write—so that was encouraging. Not only did I have the open door for the story, but he seemed to assure me to take my time and do it right. (Hmm … that sounds familiar, come to think of it.)

I went on with the day buoyed by my dreaded appointment going better than I expected. I tried to get a seat at the other editor’s table but it was full, so I went to Randy Ingermanson’s table, and that proved to be not only a lot of fun (as always), but a blessing as well. We were invited to go around the circle and share not only about our writing but how we were doing at the conference. When I confessed that I hadn’t a clue yet why I was there, one of the other conferees actually thanked me for sharing that.

After lunch I managed to get in right away with the other editor I wanted to see. I slid right into talking about my work (he let me know from the outset, though, that he didn’t do historical; the house’s other editor handled that)—but to my shock, though he’d requested queries and proposals and even fulls from everyone else I’d talked to, he wasn’t at all interested in mine. He explained that he was looking for something more alternate reality. I actually caught myself starting to argue with him about the story premise, then stopped, took a breath, and remembered that Becky Miller had asked me to let him know about the SpecFaith blog. I explained the vision of the group and about the Christian SF/F blog tours, told him how excited we were to see that he really does understand the genre and that we’d be praying for him, then took my leave as gracefully as possible.

How is it that a person can feel gut-kicked and yet completely undergirded by God’s grace, at the same time? Because, I did.

Still to come ... what I did instead of attending John Olson's SF/F workshop, and how my roomies and writing friends made me feel like a celebrity ...


  1. I find the idea of writing a historical both exciting and quite daunting. Of interest to me would be ancient Greek/Rome, Medieval, and Victorian. But the only story idea I've gotten is a Victorian one that pays homage to Beauty and the Beast.

    What time is yours to be set in?


  2. Oh, and when he said alternate reality, do you think he meant Tolkieneske, ie. with a historical feel? Was he at all specific?


  3. Oooh, Mir, that story idea sounds kewl.

    Mine is set in 1780-81, during the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution. I'm taking it from the British/loyalist POV.

    And as far as alternate reality, he said that he just doesn't want anything that's connected to Earth, like mine is. So, not necessarily Tolkienish, but a whole different world and belief system and everything. (Mine is sort of literal speculative future.)

    Thanks so much for your comments, BTW. I'm glad you're enjoying this. :-)

  4. That's mine. Different planet, world, society, reality. So, good!

    Sounds like yours has a lot of inherent conflict to work with. That's a positive!


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