10 Steps to Handling a Rejection Email

“You’ve got mail!”

“Many thanks for sending your work to us at …… Your submission was interesting; however, after a preliminary internal review, we have decided that … is not the best venue for your work at this time. We wish you well in finding a suitable publication for your writing.”


It is important to note that I did a Psychology course for my Undergrad, so all of the below advice is sound and valid.

Step One: It is imperative that you report the email as spam instantly! The faster you do it, the sooner you can pretend it never existed. Continue along your daily activities, until later in the night when you check your spam and come across said rejection email.

Step Two: Re-read the email at least five times – First check to make sure that they used your correct email address. Maybe some poor gal with a similar name (Shakitah Bourne) wasn’t accepted into the publication. Poor chick, and you have to be the one to break it to her.

Step Three: Check for Typos – “Your submision was interesting” maybe? Then you can reply to the email, highlighting the typo, and making it clear that you have ZERO interest in being included in a publication where the editor can’t spell…unless they say please…

Step Four: Contact the Editor – Send them an angry email with the subject line “Serial Killer of Literary Dreams” and poetically express how angry you are that they have rejected your piece. If everything goes to plan, they will change their mind upon reading this second sample of writing, and realise that they made a horrible mistake.  If you could get a home address that would be even better, as you can reason with them face to face at their house.

It is best to go between 12am and 7am to make sure that you don’t interrupt them during busy hours.

Step Five: Re-read the email while drinking wine straight from the bottle. It helps to have music playing in the background. Make sure songs from Adele, Nine Inch Nails and Evanescence are in the playlist.

Step Six: Sing loudly while crying. Don’t bother to sleep. 

Step Seven: Let it all come pouring out. Call a helpline if you have to; they’re there to listen. It’s their job.

Step Eight: Stalk the Editor on Facebook – What do they like to eat? Do they like sports? Football? Basketball? Maybe your protagonist was a ninety year old man, Theophilus, who solved crimes in his retirement home, but… does Facebook tell you that the editor likes to breakdance?  

Step Nine: Change Theophilus’ story into an inspirational tale about human resilience, as he and his four retired friends form a dance group, and compete with their great-great grandkids at a local breakdancing competition.

Step Ten: Submit the story again to the same publication and wait…This will be the one.

It is important to note that I failed that Psychology course.

Disclaimer: This is NOT satire.

Reading at Good Shepherd Primary School

On Wednesday, I accepted an invitation to speak to parents at the Good Shepherd Primary School about the importance of reading and writing. The first thing I remember reading is a Kellogg’s cornflakes box. kellogg

My mother had punished me by turning off the television and I was eating breakfast, so there was nothing else to do but stare at that box, trying to pronounce the ingredients. Soon it became a habit – and a kind of game – to see how many ingredients I could remember. Leave me alone; I was a strange child. And it worked! I got interested in words, so thank you Kelloggs!

I already knew this event was going to be special when I pulled into the parking lot and was faced with this view of the West Coast:

Thank you for the photo Voghn!

Thank you for the photo Voghn!

I hope the teachers and students of Good Shepherd admire this view whenever they can. Sometimes you can be so indifferent to beautiful things when you become accustomed to them…

On my way to the PTA meeting I passed a reception class with this poster outside:


Of course, I have to stop to examine something entitled “Rock the Reading Vote”.  Below is the text:

“Today the students of the Reception and Infants A had a chance to Rock the Reading Vote! After carefully listening to two stories read by Ms. M Fergus, the students made a choice. They decided which story they liked the best. Just like their parents and teachers yesterday, the students collected their ballot papers and placed their “X” beside their choice.  The choices were “Daffidilly Zoo’ and “Fuzzy Wuzzy”.

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Structuring Your Screenplay

It’s easy to lose your way when writing, especially in Act II. Here’s the diagram that I use to help me control the plot and structure of a full length feature film. This technique is all courtesy of Syd Field, the master of screenwriting. I would encourage everyone to read his books “The Screenplay” or “The Screenwriter’s Workbook”.

Do the story arc.

syd field paradigm
Right so Syd Field uses a story called “The Unhappy Marriage”. A young woman, a painter in an unhappy marriage, enrols in an art class and has an affair with her teacher. Against her will she falls in love with him, then learns she is pregnant. Torn between her husband and her lover, she decides to leave them both and raise the child by herself.

This is the setup act, where we learn what the story is about, who the characters are, and why we care about them. Your main character is normally in every scene, and we go through “a day in her life”. So for instance, in this story we could portray the unhappy marriage with a scene of them eating breakfast in silence, sleeping in separate bedrooms, arguing etc. The woman, let’s call her Mary, is a painter, so maybe we could see her releasing her frustration through painting. The TP1 (Turning Point One) occurs when she enrols into the art class. This is the inciting incident; the moment where your main character’s life could never be the same. If we’re writing a 100 page script, then Act One should be approx. 25 pages.

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Do you have a Dream Journal? Crazy Caribbean Fantasy

Excerpt from an unfinished novel:

Michael’s dreams taunted him. There was a world in his sleep that disappeared when he awoke. Even though he kept a pen and pad on his night stand, he was never quick enough, strong enough, and talented enough to capture his dreams. When he was asleep, he could manipulate words; he created plots and crafted stories so beautiful, so exciting that he was sure they would be recited for generations…but as soon as he opened his eyes they all disappeared and he was left staring at pages of disjointed sentences and nonsensical stories.

Taken from Patsy, Coming no time soon…

I was inspired to write this post because of a crazy adventure dream I had last night.

I was in a rainforest in Guyana with some friends. The task was to reach a part of the island, within some time frame (yes even my dreams have some kind of structure) and apparently I was the only person shocked by these strange creatures in the Caribbean, whose sole task was to prevent us from reaching the sacred bush and get a tasty human entrée in the process.

We fought every creature – some of them physically- but most of the time it was a battle of wit and strategy versus strength. My Guyanese friends would give me a rundown description of the creatures, what their weaknesses were etc., while they stood there and waited until we finished (Yes they are monsters, but that is no reason to be rude).

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I Confess: I love Mondays

*Fends off the evil stares*

Writing does not have a conventional 9-5 schedule, and that’s why we love it.  I can sleep in late or wake up early; set my schedule around a four hour afternoon nap, anything I want! But sometimes I do lament not being able to relate to those “TGIF” posts. tgif

I despise the weekend! There are so many distractions, too much noise – I will have a separate post to describe my hatred of lawnmowers. I find it hard to focus, and to balance the need to get work finished and to hang out with friends/support events. Productivity is at an all-time low on weekends!  It is not relaxing for me because I get frustrated when I can’t get things done. Sue me for liking my work.

I love the feel of Mondays. Monday symbolises the smell of fresh projects, new ideas, replies to my emails, progress on assignments and…sweet silence as sour-faced islanders trudge off to offices.

So I just re-read the first two sentences. If I can do anything I want, then why is it so hard to set an off day? Decide to write Monday to Friday, and take weekends off? Yes, I’ve read the numerous articles and tips on how to be an effective writer, and they all recommend that off day.

shut_my_brain_off_by_digiq8-d3itbzlMaybe someone can tell me how I shut my brain off? I am not so talented yet that I can programme inspiration to come between Monday and Friday because an expert said that I should have one day to relax. I relax when I want to, write when I want to, spend the time lamenting about my lack of progress when I want to. Maybe I need more training? If only my body would cooperate.

You’re supposed to find out the most effective time to write for you, and plan your schedule around that. A couple years ago, waking up around 5am and writing until I could no longer ignore hunger pangs used to work for me. Then I changed time zones, and my effective writing period changed to midnight until about 3am. Life changed, and I found that I could no longer stay awake, and so I wrote from about 4pm to 8pm. You get my drift? Now, I just move with the tide.

I can’t even say, “Look out for new posts on Mondays and Fridays”. Suppose I have something to say that is only relevant on Wednesday? Suppose nothing interesting happens to me at all, and I have to post a pic of my cat in a compromising position?

The highlight of my week was nothing writing related. My friend sent me a vid of my godson, Zach. Not many things can bring you as much joy as a child’s laugh. See for yourself.

So…this starting off as a post about me loving Mondays, and ventured into all different directions. Who cares?

At a recent writing workshop, a fellow writer told me I have a great talent for ‘circular writing’. I smiled and accepted the compliment. She didn’t have to know that – like this post- I started with one topic/issue in mind, got lost, asked for directions, stopped to observe the scenery, and then continued along the original path. I always get there in the end.

See? I have my own problems.

But ‘Monday blues’ isn’t one of them . 🙂

PS. Here is the pic of my cat.


Hmm…will have to look for a new back-up post.