Author Archive: Stanley

No Response from Editors and Agents

I submit short stories to magazine editors with the vague hope they’ll accept my work. I have hope until my story is rejected (hope turns to shock/surprise when accepted). I have the same hope when I query an agent for my young adult novel (there’s no acceptance, yet).

The worse part of submitting a story or a query is the “no response” position editors and agents take. Some agents will at least say that, if I did not hear from them, they were not interested. I still wait and, after a hundred days, decide they will not respond like they said they wouldn’t.

A few magazine editors say the same (don’t wait for a response), although I do. Some editors say to query them if there is no response. I used to do that and I always received a nasty email to stop bothering them. They put in more effort to respond to me like that than it would have taken to send a form rejection.

I realize people can be overwhelmed with submissions, yet it does not take much to send, at least, a standard form rejection. Most editors and agents have assistants or interns reading the submissions, anyway.

I think, to not respond at all, shows a lack of respect for writers as if they are not worth a reply. When I record on my spreadsheet “no response” from an editor or agent, I tell myself to take them off future submission lists.

Of course, the editor or agent could have lost my story or query. And, I am not immune from making mistakes in my submissions. This is why I will probably send another submission contradicting any advice I might have just gave myself.

Some Grant Writing Tips (Part I (II in 2 weeks)

Who is the Foundation?
Before writing a grant request, the writer should study the foundation to get a good understanding of their culture, mission, and goals. It is not enough to read a summary of what grant requests they accept. Research the bios, look at media sources for additional information, and read everything they have on their website. Yes, this can take several hours or more. At the end and if they allow it, call the foundation administrators with no more than one or two questions.

Motivation
A grant writer has to build excitement in their grant requests. Show the devotion everyone in the nonprofit has for the mission and goals. Write out any key words sprinkled in the foundation guidelines that stand out and want to be included in the request. Include these words in the grant request. Make sure the nonprofit’s grant request matches what is important to the foundation. No match, don’t apply. (Later, see waste of time.)

Social Media
When writing a grant request, the information and data in the request should not deviate from what is published online in a nonprofit’s website, Facebook, or other social media. If a nonprofit is fortunate to advance toward the final round of selection, a foundation will likely research a nonprofit’s online presence. There should be no deviation because, what is the truth?

An Opportunity
If a foundation offers a webinar, always sign up. This is where they offer tips and hints on writing a grant that is usually not found anywhere else. A webinar means, “Hey, we’re trying to help you.”

Performing an Ending

John T. Frederick wrote, in his 1924 book A Handbook of Short Story Writing, that “for the most intimate and final revelation of a character to be realized, it is best to put the character in action rather than conversation or introspection.”

I’m glad I found this passage since I am struggling to conclude what I finished writing. This is my dilemma with concluding my book. There is only dialogue. I need a performance.

Yes, performance and action do not necessarily mean the same in a lot of ways. I’m looking for something between action and dialogue and performance seemed to fit for me. Although, I don’t know what I mean by it.

The standard theory has one character changing from beginning to end. I made that happen. Now, how do I make him happy about it and ride into the sunset without looking back for a sequel?

I read a lot of different genres and some authors are good beginners, some good at the middle, and some end the novel well. The key is to be good for two out of three. It can be a struggle to accomplish this. Also, which is lower in priority? Beginning, middle, or end? I’m trying for at least one out of three.

So, I’ll put in a performance. I’ve decided this will be action and dialogue together that includes a second character. Like a dance. Maybe a tango.

P.S. Yes, I’ve used the same image before. I like it.

Big Egos in a Nonprofit

Some people have too big of an ego to be involved in managing the operations of a nonprofit. Egos are fine for businesses, agencies, and other organizations that are made up of paid staff. In a nonprofit, most of the people are volunteers and teamwork is essential to keeping people from running away.

I see the most harm done when egos exist on the board or in the nonprofit’s management. Board of Directors are responsible for identifying the mission, providing oversight, and raising funds. The Executive Director and other managers are responsible for fundraising, managing the paid staff, and day-to-day operations.

While the lines between the two are clear, they become blurred when big egos dominate. Board members become micromanagers on the staff or the executive director and staff work as if the board does not exist. Both ways damage the nonprofit’s ability to be successful.

Harm to the nonprofit appears in high turnover rates, loss of donor funding, and errors in meeting the mission goals. Even worse is when the egos reside on the board and management at the same time.

Unfortunately, there are no clear, easy solutions. There are mediators for nonprofits, yet someone has to initiate their involvement and pay them. Most nonprofits suffer through the turmoil. Board members serve two year terms and the executive director and staff with big egos usually burn themselves out and leave.

A grant writer should be prepared for this situation and stay away from it. I realize this is a poor solution, yet an honest one. The only people who can change the situation are other board members or staff who need to step in and confront the egos. However, it is sometimes easier to just leave.