Monday, March 29, 2010

Tea Cups and Quality

My idea of a fun afternoon includes poking through an antique mall. I confess. China teacups and saucers are a weakness. If I didn't rein myself in, my collection would fill every nook and cranny of my house. Whether it's color, quality, or a delightful pattern, the item must have special appeal to end up in my shopping cart.

Editors and agents have the same mindset. With so many options and limited room, they're a choosey bunch. They haunt writers' conferences, view query letters, read full or partial proposals, and dig through slush piles. I imagine their excitement at finding that special manuscript rivals the rush I get when I see a teacup that stands out from the crowd.

Do you have a special collection? How do you find the right items? With your writing, how do you make your manuscript/article stand out from the all the other submissions?

42 comments:

Rosslyn Elliott said...

I have a collection of plastic Breyer horses that is VERY dear to me because of childhood nostalgia. (It's actually my daughter's, but what's her is mine. :-).

I think that our books also have to tap into very deep feelings in the reader, feelings about what is precious, feelings about what makes life worthwhile.

Carol J. Alexander said...

Hi Susan,
I, too, collect China Teacups! Once a year we use them for a mother/daughter tea party.
Hopefully, my writing sticks out to an editor by my personal touch/anecdote that I give each story.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rosslyn -

Oh, I've seen the Breyer horses. They're beautiful and so detailed.

Your comment about tapping into deep feelings in the reader reminded me of a quote. "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader."

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Carol -

I've always wanted to have a real tea party. My collection is modest, so it would have to be small. LOL!

Personal stories and illustrations add so much to a piece. It bonds the reader to the writer.

Blessings,
Susan :)

laurel said...

Like Rosslyn, I was once a Breyer horse enthusiast, and for a time a tea cup gal. The only things I currently collect are music-themed Christmas ornaments (they're small and don't take over the house!).

I think what makes my work stand out is blending poetic elements in the prose, and wrestling with the deep emotions that shake--and shape--one's faith.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Laurel -

LOL! I used to collect dolls, but they started taking over the house. I still have them, but stopped adding to the collection.

I never thought of adding poetic elements to my writing (and don't know if I could). Thanks for giving all of us some wonderful ideas.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Emily Ann Benedict said...

I have a collection of tea cups too! (Though mine is currently small) Primarily, I'm a book collector. I will spend hours in bookstores searching.

In my writing, I know I have a lot of competition in the mystery relm. So, in hopes of standing out, I adda lot of humor to my work as well. Humor and suspense work well as far as I'm concerned. ;)

Maria I. Morgan said...

Great analogy, Susan! I love teacups too! As far as writing goes, I pray before I write and research, research, research what the agent or publisher is looking for! BTW - I have an award for you over @ Life Lessons! Your site has been a blessing! :)

Jill Kemerer said...

I, too, love teacups and teapots, but I don't collect them. I'm also enamored of any non-fiction book about tea time! Oh, crumpets! I want some now!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Emily Ann -

My collection is also small. Ah books! When I was a kid, my parents bought me a headboard with a built-in bookshelf. I called it, "my library."

Humor is a wonderful way to stand out from the crowd. I wish I had that gift. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Maria -

Thank you for your kind words and the award.

If I don't pray, the well runs dry in a heartbeat. You're so right about the research. It's a lesson I learned the hard way.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jill -

My mother has a pretty teapot, but we've never used it. Hmm, I'll have to remember you love all things tea. :)

Blessings,
Susan

patti said...

Not much of a collector, Susan, though I do have some beautiful old dishes from "Bavaria" (the U.S. section post WWII) that my mother hand painted.

Predicting what editors like seems difficult at this time (maybe it always was). I really am just trying to let the Holy Spirit guide my words...my work.

Terri Tiffany said...

I love anything with tea:) I am still working on having my book stand out--maybe by the time I am on my tenth I will get it!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I used to collect beachy-picture frames... until I realized they all looked cheap and tacky together. :0)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Patti -

My friend, who's like a sister to me, loves dishes. She has an everyday set, a lighthouse theme set, a Thanksgiving set, and a Christmas set.

Relying on the Holy Spirit's guidance is the best possible way to write.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

Me too! Tazo Calm and Earl Grey Breakfast Tea are my current favorites.

For me, I try to write the story of my heart. I can't crank out books for the sole purpose of publication. It must be meaningful in some way.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kristen -

I say, "if you like them, collect them." Maybe if you spread them around, they'd be less overwhelming. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Warren Baldwin said...

Congratulations on the nice award from Maria at Life Lessons.

(Collection? Pocket knives and coffee mugs. And none of the mugs are collectible - and none of them match. I use them all :)

Sharon Ball said...

This is a great analogy, Susan. We all have particular interests and things that we enjoy simply because of our personal taste. I love beautiful stationary and pens, and like you I have to keep myself under control or I'll go nuts with spending money I don't have!

Jeanette Levellie said...

I love teacups, Susan! My grandmother collected them, and I have a few of hers plus some I've found, to decorate my hutch.

I try to use humor as much as possible to make my one sheets and proposals stand out. If that doesn't work, desperate prayer is a great help.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sharon -

Ooo, I could get into pens and stationery in a minute. When I was a kid, someone gave me a set with my name and address. LOL! Even back then, I liked seeing my name in print.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jen -

I didn't know there were so many tea cup collectors out there!

Both you and your writing bring sunshine to a day. I can't wait until a publisher snaps up your book, so I can get an official copy. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Warren -

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

My late husband collected coffee mugs in much the same way. In fact, when I came to live in his house after we married, they're all he had in the kitchen cabinets!

Blessings,
Susan :)

kristen said...

I collect Boyds Bears figurines.
This collection started when a lady gave me one after my grandpa died. She said it reminded her of him.

I think our writing has to touch editors and agents much the same way. Good writing and good plot/character ect. of course needs to be there, but does it touch them in a way that reminds them of something, or a forgotten desire. Does it ring true with them in a way no other writing does.

This is a difficult task for writers since we don't know what will touch editors/agents. But if we are true to our writing, hopefully it will touch their heart as well.

Nancy said...

I have so much of everything, that a new item has to be exceptional. I don't grab everything I see like I used to.

With writing, the one way my work might stand out is that everything I produce is from the heart and usually from my passions.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kristen -

I've seen the Boyd's Bears figurines. They're adorable!

You made a good point about touching some forgotten desire, of reaching the heart. It's that emotional connection with the reader.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Laura Frantz said...

Love your tea cup analogy, Susan, as I collect them (or used to). The picture is so pretty. Makes me want to start collecting again!Your post mirrors something I've been hearing lately about publishing. So much talent and so few publishing slots. But with God all things truly are possible and He can open any door.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Nancy -

For me, it's not even about the collection as much as the hunt. It's so much fun.

Like you, I write from my heart. It's almost impossible for me to write stuff if it doesn't have any passion behind it.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Steve Wuz Here said...

My manuscript is far from finished but I really like your post.

I avoid clutter at all cost. I may even silently call pretty nick knacks dust collectors; but as I look around my desk, I can see a variety of pens. One may even call it a collection.

I have one for poetry, one for short stories, one that I was given for Father's Day that I use for journaling, even one for writing on Cds. Each one as special as the next.

Is it the same with tea cups?

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Steve -

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Thanks for your kind words.

I don't see why pens wouldn't qualify as a collection, especially if they're meaningful to you. For myself, the teacups are both pretty and practical.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jody Hedlund said...

Love your comparison here to teacups and writers! I do have a collection of pottery and when I find something unique and lovely, I add it to my collection. It's neat to think of agents and editors adding writers to their treasured collections too!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jody -

I hope someone decides to pick me up and take me home soon. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Laura -

Yes, with God all things are possible - even a book deal. :)

Blessings,
Susan

jean Fischer said...

Last Christmas, I saw a photo on a blog where someone used their teacups as ornaments on a Christmas tree. It was lovely.

My mom collected china teacups and antique spoons. I have her collection, but I haven't added to it.

Lily Robinson said...

I think that's what we all strive for... something to make our work stand out.

If you like teacups, check out

http://ladykatherineteaparlor.blogspot.com/

She has some darling table settings for tea parties!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jean -

Oh, that must have been beautiful! I've seen teacup ornaments in stores but never the real thing hanging from a tree. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Lily -

Thanks for the link. I'll check it out. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Carla Gade said...

I love tea cups, too! I have a few very special ones and also antique tea pots. I collect gemstones, preferrably the ones I hound myself.
Rosslyn, I also had some of those horses when I was a girl.

Another excellent analogy, Susan. I hope my writing stands out because of the feelings that I hope resonate with the reader. I try to give a unique twist to the story and not be cliche.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Carla -

Thanks for joining the discussion. A lot of us appreciate beautiful teacups and teapots. :)

Avoiding cliched stories is another way to wow an editor/agent. I've seen a lot of posts about using cliche words and illustrations. How about some posts on avoiding cliched stories?

Blessings,
Susan :)

Sandra Heska King said...

I just blogged about mugs and cups the other day. There's a lot of symbolism in a cup.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sandra -

I'll have to pop over there and check out your post. :)

Blessings,
Susan