Monday, March 29, 2010

You're Never Too Old for Success

Anne R. Allen, author of The Best Revenge and fellow Genre Wars contributor, has posted a writing success story on her blog that is one of my new favorites. Excerpts:
You know how everybody keeps telling you to keep sending out those queries in spite of all the rejection? How it pays to persevere? And the only way to fail is to give up trying?

Now I have proof they're right. You're never too old for success.

My nearly 89-year-old mother, Shirley S. Allen, had her first mystery novel, Academic Body, published this week by Mainly Murder Press. ...

My mom started writing Academic Body over thirty years ago, when she was teaching English at the University of Connecticut. When she retired from full-time teaching, she polished the book with the help of a critique group, then started attending writers' conferences, querying agents and entering contests. She placed in several contests, including Minotaur's Malice Domestic but finally got discouraged after endless agent rejections.

But last year my sister and I urged her to give her book another chance.
Read the whole thing. Allen makes a few caveats while chronicling her mother's achievement, namely noting that the publisher is small and ticking off all the concomitant wrinkles that entails. But I find it heartwarming that a project over thirty years old that was probably considered dead long ago has finally seen the light of day. If that doesn't whip you out of your existential writer's funk faster than a venti-sized Sumatra, I don't know what will. There's hope for you and me and all of us laboring to make our mark on this post-literate culture.

(Picture: CC 2008 by


pattinase (abbott) said...

This certainly brightened up my day. There's time yet then.

Loren Eaton said...

Yeah, I loved reading that. Sometimes the submission/rejection cycle gets to me. But I love hearing how someone triumphs in the end.

B. Nagel said...

post-literate culture.

Yes, when we are talking about paper and pasteboard, hardbound printed pieces. We have been for years. In chronological order, the role that the popular novel (and poetry tome) once played has been filled by radio, movies, television and the internet. While movies come early in the chronology, they are still an active literature source today.

In fact, I hold that movies are the literature of the 20th century, but novels and short stories offer something that movies and television cannot. Movies and television bring to the viewer a fully realized and complete imagined world with definite rules and characters and progression. Paper-based stories offer an array of options, interpretations, envisionings.

For instance, I had the pleasure of reading the first few Harry Potter books before the movies came out. I had the joy of building the world along with the book, picturing the smudge on Ron's face, the unruly hair and ragged clothes of Harry and the wild hair and horsey teeth of Hermione. Not to mention the vast unexplored environs of Hogwarts. Yes, the books had cover art and probably chapter heading illustrations, but I have always laid more weight on the word than on drawings.

With the brilliant success of the movies, you can't read a HP book without picturing Rupert Grint's smudge-free face, Daniel Radcliffe's stylized hair and wardrobe and Emma Watson's curls and perfect teeth.

I'm not saying there are no great movies, nor am I saying the printed word is dead. But an ink and paper story has to offer something that engages, involves and invites the reader to participate.

Reading is a participation sport, movies and television are attendance only.

Is that too long? I think I'll copy and paste this as a new blogpost.

B. Nagel said...

That was a bit of a tangent. The post is encouraging and triumphant. I do hope to have something published in the next 30 years.

Anne R. Allen said...

Thanks so much for the link love. I passed on the info to my mom. I know she'll be pleased. I probably should have mentioned that she also writes a regular column for her retirement community's newspaper, which gives her a nice "platform" in her demographic. Never underestimate the power of platform--even for fiction.

Loren Eaton said...


Tangents are welcomed and appreciated. Also, I happen to agree with you. Film (at least much of it) tends to be more passive than the printed word. Of course, it's an art form in its historical infancy when compared to writing. Perhaps future directors will push it into more challenging territory.

Daniel Radcliffe makes me thing of Equus, which I have never seen but can somehow imagine. It isn't a pretty mental picture.

Loren Eaton said...


Your mom deserves many kudos and huzzahs. I am most impressed by her tenacity.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

That truly is an amazing story! I'm still so young and have so much time to publish. Perseverance. :)

Loren Eaton said...

Perseverance is the hardest part, isn't it?