the body

the ragged bone
presses beneath damask skin
and a seam gasps
for the body
to become
a city of spires:
rib-cage and wrist
and ripped fabric

© 2019 Stellular Scribe



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death is a mother at a hearth

she imagined death as a mother at a hearth
fava beans and fennel
oregano and almond-ground pasta
set to simmer in the three-legged pot

the steam lifted her
kissed her
savory firelight bathed her
a peppered voice anointed her

she imagined death as a mother at a hearth
and such sweet regard ruined her

© 2019 Stellular Scribe

Rejection and Gratitude in Writing

My dear scribes:

Today, January 10th of the year 2019, is a historic day in my writing history. It is a day that I hope to look back on with fondness and invigoration.

Today marks the day of my first rejection from a literary agent!

When I was younger, the thought of sending my work out into the world, of bleeding out something that for so long had been kept quiet and secret, was enough to freeze my fingers at the keys. And then to have that piece of my heart rejected? Suffice to say, I feared the denial of agents and editors more than rejection in my personal day-to-day relationships. What was some dumb boy’s affections to the opinions of my literary betters?

But today I received my first rejection (not one week after sending out my first batch of queries, might I add), and I can’t help but feel…gratitude.

That might seem odd. And I’m not claiming that rejection doesn’t sting. But at this early stage in my career I can only afford to consider the positives.

I am grateful to have even been considered, because that means that I am officially in the game to play. If one rejection gets me down, then I’m in the game only to win, and winning isn’t possible without playing every card.

I am grateful that the response even showed up in my inbox, because a rejection is better than radio silence. I can now cross the agent off my list and send out another query in its place.

I am grateful that it was a personalized rejection. I hear that form rejections are common due to the sheer amount of queries that agents receive. So the fact that this particular agent took the time to comment on what she thought worked and didn’t work in my first few pages is extremely valuable to me. I know that my query and synopsis caught her attention with my concept and setting. I also know now that I need to work on kinks in sentence structure — which is feedback that I can use and that will be an incredible asset as I continue querying.

I am grateful for the rejection itself, because it means that this particular agent is not the right fit for me or my book. No doubt she provides terrific representation to a great number of writers, but without that initial spark in the querying process, there is no way that she could be the champion of my story that I would need her to be. Publishing is subjective, and that is simply a fact.

I am not going to post every time I get a rejection (because that will quickly get old as more roll in), but after reading my first rejection I was overcome by a sense of accomplishment. I needed to mark this moment, so that when I become discouraged I can look back and remember the things to be grateful for in a rejection.

Like I said before, I can’t afford to dwell in self-pity. I can only pick up my pen, revise again, and send out more queries.

Have you dealt with rejection in the literary sphere? What was your initial response? How have you grown from it?

Happy writing,

Emily

2019: The Year of the Query

I’m not in the habit of setting goals for myself come the New Year. This is in large part because I always, always, always have the same handful of goals guiding my every step, no matter the season.

And that driving ambition? To put a book out in the world.

Though with such a challenging objective, it makes sense for me to break it up into smaller pieces. That’s why, in 2018, my goal was to finish writing and revising my book.

I am proud to say that I accomplished that goal. My sixth book, a YA fantasy called Hymns of Salt and Terror, has undergone three rounds of revision, and is complete at just under 90k words. It isn’t perfect, and I’m sure that I could still find ways to improve it, but agonizing over that fact will only stagnate the process.

Now, after three years, I finally feel ready to query.

I have no delusions about the publishing world. Starting next week, when I send out my first batch of queries to literary agents, I will be exposing myself to rejection. I will be wide open, vulnerable. The future of my book is now out of my hands. 

So I designate 2019 the year of the query.

But I don’t want to be all consumed by drafting better letters or writing more revisions (though I will certainly dedicate time to those). I want to start writing something new in 2019. I think, after being so close to this project for so long, I will rejuvenate in a change of story, perhaps even in a change of genre. 

So my goal for 2019 is not “to get an agent” or “to get a book deal.” My goal is to cast my line into the waters of publishing, and to write ever more.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by goals because so often we frame them as a thing that we want to achieve or possess. I find it much more assuring to stake my agency in actions. If I commit to the act of something, I do not constrict myself with the narrow outcome. I open myself up to possibility.

Perhaps I don’t get an agent at the end of this road, but I know that no matter what, I will get somewhere.

© 2019 Stellular Scribe

Hereafter

He holds the arms of the fever,
the wrath of the water,
and their bodies are enlarged with dreams.

They are the bodies of crushed marble,
gold, amber bone extraction,
the raw materials behind the Hereafter,
when the Nile remained in the luster of Lebanon.

A gem of her old light
softens the tongue of its severity.
And he, the only poet in the night sky
kisses her collapsed face
to taste tomorrow binding.

© 2019 Stellular Scribe

#AMMconnect Bio

Ever since finishing the first draft of my YA fantasy novel, HYMNS OF SALT AND TERROR, I have had Author Mentor Match (AMM) on my calendar. After months of pooling over critique partner notes and completing revisions, I finally feel ready to put my baby out in the world. But before I do that, I know that I could still stand to learn and improve with the help of the Author Mentor Match program, which connects unpublished writers with agented authors.

If you are an aspiring writer who wants to be traditionally published, I urge you to check out their program!

A Bit About Me

My name is Emily Giangiulio. I am an undergraduate student from Philadelphia working on my degrees in Creative Writing (Fiction) and Anthropology. Writing has always burned brightly in my blood, and the novel that I hope to seek representation for is my sixth manuscript. Granted, the first few novels (written between the ages of eight and twelve) were all about talking dogs and elementary school heists, but I consider each work to be a piece of me, and I would not be where I am now if not for the experience of writing them.Emily Giangiulio

At the moment, my life is pretty typical of a college student, except I wake up at four in the morning to write novels and spend my nights tutoring English to non-native speakers.

My family is Italian-American, and I have been studying the Italian language throughout college. I even studied abroad in Sicily, and it was my time there that inspired the fantasy setting for my novel.

What I Write

I write young adult speculative fiction, and I am particularly fond of fantasies set in non-Western European settings. HYMNS OF SALT AND TERROR is a YA fantasy novel inspired by fifteenth century Barbary pirates and various Sicilian folklores. If Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina met Starz’s Black Sails in a life-raft on the Mediterranean, I like to think that this book would be the lovechild of that sea-swept union.

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Without giving away too much, my novel is about Esmerata Spataro, a flutist whose world is forever changed when her fishing village is ransacked and she, her musician friend, Pia, and a number of other captives are kidnapped by pirates. While awaiting her fate in the slave markets of distant Arpoli, Esmerata is forced to serve as the captain’s private musician aboard God’s Plague.

She discovers a mysterious connection to the sea that allows her to spin each note into her will and to manipulate the actions of all who take pleasure in her hymns. Her goal: to take the ship and to kill the captain, armed with nothing but her music and the help of a grim surgeon, a fast-talking helmsman, and a lookout whose veins run with more saltwater than blood.

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In this novel you can expect to encounter: subtle yet gritty magic systems, settings inspired by Sicilian villages and Tunisian coasts, morally gray pirates who wear too many rings and too much eyeliner, non-traditional revenge-filled sirens, and music that quite literally breaks hearts…and bones. Also, a dash of romantic angst with a supernatural selkie-boy.

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Why I Would Love To Be A Mentee

I am a big believer in the power of collaborative writing. As both a writing tutor and a person who has participated in many fiction workshops, I have come to value criticism and feedback in all its forms.

I am in love with my novel, but I need someone to push me further. Someone to rip the rug out from under me, so to speak. I have worked with critique partners on this manuscript, but I feel that I need the help of someone who has foresight into the publishing industry.

I am a dedicated editor and I am willing to put the work in to improving my novel. If I am selected for Author Mentor Match, I would be so grateful for the opportunity because I know that each mentor truly cares about seeing their mentee do well.

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You can find me lurking around this blog, or on twitter @stellularscribe. Thanks for stopping by!