Wednesday, April 25, 2012

W1S1 Interview: Jeannine Allard

Jeannine has spent years writing and publishing fiction under several different pen names, including Jeannette Angell and Jeannine Allard. She's currently taking submissions for two GLBT, historical anthologies, and has some tips to offer writers.

Q. What can you tell the Write 1 Sub 1 readers about your writing and publishing history?

A. Ah. I've been writing ever since I could write, and elementary school teachers pegged me already for a writer. I've only ever thought of doing one other thing when I grew up, and that was a short-lived affair with archaeology! I didn't publish, though, until I was in my twenties. Now, under a number of pen names, I write historical fiction, nonfiction, and mysteries, as well as short stories and plays. I love what I do, but I will say that neither the writing nor the publishing gets any easier as time goes by!

Q. Can you tell us about your upcoming anthologies and the types of stories you're looking for?

A. Yes: I'd like to put together one and possibly two anthologies of historical fiction that will comprise GLBT holiday stories. Yeah, I know: lots of requirements there! But a number of readers of historical fiction have complained that there weren't any "Christmas" stories that GLBT folks could identify with, so I thought this might be a way to bridge that gap. I'm thinking one could be women-oriented and the other male-oriented, though of course they could be together as well -- they just appeal, I should think, to different audiences. No title yet and no publisher yet -- have to see what the stories are like as a whole first. If I secure a publisher, there will be payment; if I don't, the writer is free to submit the story elsewhere.

Q. Does the submissions process seem much different than you expected now that you're on the other side of the slush? Submissions all in script fonts, addressed to someone else, or in the wrong genre?

A. Aie! This is the first time I've ever solicited and collected stories, and it's been a bit of an awakening! I always have fantasized that when I retire (yeah, right—I'm a writer, my retirement plan is death) I'd start a literary journal. Maybe not so much now. As a writer, I've always been scrupulous about following guidelines. I had no idea that others weren't! Also I'm noticing a great deal of impatience on the part of writers. As a writer myself I understand this; I too have languished, waiting for word from my agent or a publisher, thinking that my work has been somehow lost somewhere. But I'm receiving queries the day after a piece was received. And this doesn't make me feel exactly warm and fuzzy toward that particular writer. Something to bear in mind.

Q. What are the biggest problems you see in the submissions you've been getting, aside from those that disregard the guidelines? Underdeveloped storylines, poor endings, lack of proofreading and editing, overwriting…any specific problems coming up again and again?

A. Hmm. Some of all of that, no doubt, but perhaps most of all (or maybe this is a combination of the above) there's a feeling that it's a first draft that's being submitted. The advice I always give to beginning writers is to write something and put it away for as long as you possibly can, then take it out again and revise. Revisions are essential to the writing process. I don't see a lot of revisions happening in the material being submitted. And I have neither the time nor the inclination to embark on developmental editing here.

Q. Any tips for writers who want to submit to your anthologies, or general tips that apply across the board?

A. Yes. Read the guidelines. Follow the guidelines. If you don't like them, don't submit. It's really that simple. The people putting the anthology together have thought those guidelines through and they're not going to change their minds. No-one's work is so dazzling that someone will say, oh, I wanted historical fiction, but damn, this alien invasion is so cool that I just have to include it. Doesn't work that way. Once you've read the guidelines, send in your best work. Really. Send me draft eight, not draft one. Look at it this way: do you really want work out there that will embarrass you someday? No: you want to be able to stand behind everything that you've written. If you don't have time to give your best to this anthology, don't do it; there will always be another anthology.
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Thanks, Jeannine! If you'd like to submit to these historical GLBT anthologies, you have until June 15th. Stories should be between 2,000 and 4,000 words and should revolve around a holiday theme. Here are the detailed submission guidelines.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks, Jeannine, good advice to keep in mind when making submissions. I'm new to this, so I haven't submitted anything for publication yet, but hopefully soon.

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  2. Thanks for the insight from the other side of the desk.

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  3. Writers who have obviously not even bothered to read guidelines (let alone follow them) drive me up the freaking wall. It's just straight-up disrespectful. Argh!

    Good luck with your anthologies. Alas, I don't have anything suitable nor time to write something right now. Wah.

    ~ Rhonda Parrish

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