Neil O'Donnell

Neil O'Donnell

About Me

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Buffalo, New York, United States
Nationally certified career coach with expertise in writing résumés and cover letters for professionals around the world. 15+ years of focus helping new graduates find jobs.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thanks to Agents and Publishers

I read a disturbing post recently where a writer seeking a publisher and agents ranted about the prossess (and yes, the writer named specific pubs and agents that had rejected the writer's queries/manuscript). That's a dangerous AND unprofessional things to do. Why is it dangerous? Because, agents and publishers discuss troublesome/arrogant/self-righteous/annoying writers. Word gets around. The writer (as well as the other writers that have foolishly done similar things) is only making things more difficult for themselves. Yes, my short stories and novel were all rejected many times before I found a publisher (I still haven't found an agent willing to represent me). Is it frustrating? Yes. Have I purchased a novel published by a major house that was filled with grammatical errors, historically inaccurate, lacking any true cohesion, or all of the above? YES! Did I write back scolding the publishers and/or agents? NO!

The reason I didn't send such venemous attack letters is two-fold. First, I did my research on the publishing industry and knew that most things written were never published. The odds are stacked against us writers. In some cases, rejection may be due to the fact we submitted a bad manuscript (my apologies to TOR - they were the 1st publisher I sent my novel to and it truly was not ready for publication at the time). In other cases, what we've written may simply not peak the interest of the agent or publisher. It's that simple. I've read some classics teachers shoved done our throats in high school, which I thought (and still believe) are far from worthy of finding space on my book shelf. We all have likes and dislikes when we choose a book. Publishers and agents have the same right! Case in point, GONE WITH THE WIND was rejected well over twenty times before it was accepted by a publisher.

The 2nd reason I don't write attack letters? Thank my Mom for that. She always said we should thank people for taking the time to help or listen to us. Consequently, I usually sent thank you notes to the publishers and agents that read my material. Maybe they didn't like what I wrote. Maybe they were in the process of publishing a similar story? Maybe... Honestly, it didn't matter. The publsihers and agents took the time to consider my manuscripts. I was never under the impression that the pubs/agents were obligated to love my story. Yet, I was grateful that the publishers and agents took time to read any part of my query package, something I think all writers should appreciate. Take care.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How I come up with my cast of characters

Hi everyone,

'Vlara's Song' and 'Rise of the Celts' are progressing. I will be posting the next chapter of 'Vlara's Song' soon afterwhich I will be focusing my primary attention on the book. No additional chapters will be posted until the book is complete [I hope to have the book completed by lated Spring]. As for the characters that populate my books, I thought a little background info would be useful for readers so they understood better just how I come up with this stuff.

For me, the "quest" is oviously an essential part of the story. However, the cast of adventurers in everybook are often a starting point for me. I think of the people I surround myself with in life and develop characters of similar dispositions. Why? I find a character that's me inevery book, a necessity for me. Then I think of my friend and family [i.e. who do I want to hang out with]. Then I consider what we, as a group, would like to do. Yes, in other words, I have my compatriots and see what we want to do any given evening. Traveling and accomplishing a task always is made easier and more exciting when you are sharing the experience with loved-ones. Hence, the development of the characters often supercedes the identification of an quest. Now, there will be times that I recognize that my friends and family need additional support [characters], which leads to the development of characters like Helean and Troje (People of the Sword). That said, I have a deep connection with most of my characters, which makes the writing process a whole lot easier. Take care!

Neil