Handling rejection like a boss!


I am a people pleaser.  I’m pretty sure I came out of the womb asking the medical staff if there was anything I could do for them.  I invariably want to go out of my way to make sure everyone is happy, but my ambitious goal is not necessarily always an attainable goal.  In the words of John Lydgate, later adapted by President Lincoln, ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time’.

As a young writer, back in my grade school days, I was afraid to let people read my poetry for fear they would not like it.  That same phobia applied to my poems and short stories through high school and college.  Writing, for me, is the biggest part of myself and I used to feel that if people didn’t like my writing, they were somehow rejecting ME.  It wasn’t until I began the process of seeking an agent or a publisher that I began to truly understand how rejection makes us stronger.

I received my most recent rejection last night.  It was a curt line that simply said, “Thanks for submitting, but I’m afraid this one isn’t for us. ”  Instead of feeling unsettled by such a quick and negative response, the thought in my head was more of understanding that my book was not a true fit for their collection.  I wasn’t sad.  I was merely determined to continue the quest to find an agent that would best be suited for ME and not the other way around.

Writing a book is not for the faint of heart.  Hemingway said it best when he quipped, “There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”  My blood is now the ink on the pages that I crafted.  My skin is much thicker now than it was and I am more than prepared to deal with my overwhelming share of the writing world’s brush-off.  Those abrupt dismissals are the constant in the ‘writer seeking publishing’ equation and I am prepared to rework the problem until I come up with an acceptable answer.

To bastardize Sally Field’s 1985 Oscar acceptance speech, “They don’t like me. Right now, they don’t like me.”   And I’m okay with that because, someday, that will change.

January showers bring publishers emails


I awoke to a sound not typically heard in the snow belt regions in late January ~ thunder.  It was shortly after 3:00 am and the lightning made my room light up like Chevy Chase’s front lawn in Christmas Vacation when Beverly D’Angelo finally hit the right switch.  Carved into the newly formed shadows was the outline of my storm-fearing dog.  We cuddled for a while, listening to the pouring rain, and eventually fell asleep again as the storm moved on.

When I woke up at my usual time, I was greeted by a misty, grey day instead of the usual crisp, white blanket of snow for which January is famous.  I have lived here for 42 years and I can’t recall a more turbulent month since it began with three consecutive days of feeling like -43 with the wind chill and we are now hovering at a balmy +3 degrees Celsius.

Weather can certainly affect our moods and today was no exception.  Our morning walk was shorter than anticipated because of the rain and our drive to work was somewhat daunting since the back-roads resemble a cross between a sheet of ice in a curling rink and a luge, depending on your trajectory.

But my morning improved significantly when I arrived at work and checked my email.  Sitting innocently in my inbox was an email from a publisher in the States.  After reading the first three chapters required for initial submission, my story was intriguing enough for her to want to see where I took the rest of the story.  She wants to read my book!!

I have calmed myself to the point that I can craft this blog post while reminding myself that she may not like the remainder of the story.  But I am allowing myself the high of knowing that someone who works in the world that I am attempting to enter has opened a small door for me to be able to peek into the other side and I have to say, so far, the view is fantastic!


Three for three


The term “Beta Readers” is a daunting phrase for fledgling authors.  It means you trust your book to people who don’t know you and won’t be so prone to sugar-coating their review of your work.

My first reader, admittedly, was my nephew.  While he is still a teenager, he is a voracious reader so I knew his opinion of the story would be valuable.  Since I gave him the book in the middle of the summer, his reading was not as fast as his usual pace but he loved the story and he liked the twist at the end.

My second reader was a friend, but a friend who I knew I could count on to be brutally honest about her take on the story, the writing and the characters.  When she handed the pages back to me, they were filled with sticky notes that I was initially afraid to read.  When I finally got the courage to open the pages, her sticky notes were filled with encouraging messages and notes about her excitement to keep reading to see where the story went.  She didn’t want to put the book down.  Her last message had me in tears when she said she was at a loss for what to read next because she enjoyed the book so much.

My third reader is a friend of my second reader.  I have never met her so her opinion was, by far, the most anticipated because she had nothing to gain, or to lose, by telling me her honest opinion of my book.  She enjoyed the intrigue and said my book had all the elements of a good suspense/thriller and she is looking forward to my next book.  For a writer, it doesn’t get much better than that!

After those encouraging words, I followed my pattern from last year and have scheduled the suspension of my satellite service for a six-month period starting a few days after the Superbowl.  Without the mindless distraction of random television shows, I hope to repeat my success from last year and finish book number two while still pounding the internet pavement to see if I can find an interested agent or publisher for book number one.

If ever I needed patience, now is the time.  I will still be looking for a few more Beta Readers in the interim but my confidence in handing over my pages is certainly much higher that it was before.  Most of the fear is gone and has been replaced by hope.  A few positive words can go a long way and I plan on holding those words very close to my heart.


Every now and then you meet the right people


Throughout my journey as a fledgling author, I have encountered many encouraging people along the way.  In the initial stages of writing it was friends and family who were at the forefront of my support team.  As I talked more about my writing progress, my circle of support grew much bigger and began to gather friends whom I have never met face to face but have become friends through this blog.

The nice thing about friends is that they have other friends, and some of those friends can provide a wealth of knowledge about the very thing that I am most passionate about – writing.  Yesterday, I met one of those people.  She was able to give me a much more extensive view into the publishing world since she has two published novels and a third is due out in October of 2018.

During our conversation, she was more than just supportive, she was engaging.  She gave me some great insight into ways that I can establish more connections and receive some honest opinions about my writing.  She told me about her journey through publishing and made me have faith that the rocky roads I will face in wanting to be published can quite possibly pave the way to eventual success.  And the one thing she told me that I will continue to hold onto is to never give up.

The best thing I have learned about this process is to take advice, to take lots of advice.  Some of it may have no bearing on my path or my success, but at least I can face the daunting task of publishing with as much information in my arsenal as I can get.

The two most important things I have going for me are tenacity and an extreme desire to succeed.  If I can keep meeting the right people and following the right path, I just might find that success.


Trying to keep my s&*t together


There is a fine line between hoping for the best and reaching for the stars.  I am perched precariously in the middle of the two, balancing on that fine line.

A blogging friend who I have never met face to face suggested I contact her publisher and I, being the eternal optimist, thought ‘what do I have to lose’?   I sent an email and I was shocked to receive a quick answer.  I have since submitted my first three chapters of my novel and will await her response.  The publisher has been very forthcoming, telling me she is madly preparing two new books for publication so I have a few weeks to wait for her reply.  I may or may not be sh*&&ing my pants.

My first two Beta readers were very encouraging.  Although the first one is related to me, I knew I could count on the second reader to be brutally honest with her feedback. She loved my story, so much so that she didn’t want to put the pages down and was sad when it came to an end.  To say I was elated is a gross understatement.

When you create a story and bleed throughout it from beginning to end, it is more than encouraging that others can find, not only merit in your writing but, a story in which they can truly become engaged.

Here’s hoping the publisher feels the same way.





Feeling elated all over again


When I explain to people how it feels to write a book, I compare it to being pregnant and birthing a child without the physical pain.  I mean no disrespect to women who have given birth to a tiny human but the process is quite similar.  You spend months caring for and cultivating this remarkable thing you have created and once the process has come to its natural conclusion, you feel elated and you feel a sense of pride you never knew existed.  You spend so much time staring at it and are afraid to let anyone else touch it.  It never leaves your side.

But there comes a time when you have to learn to give up a little bit of the control.  Eventually you know you are going to have to let other people handle your baby and you are a nervous wreck when you finally make the decision to leave them with someone else.  Your gut churns as you wonder how other people are going to react and how they are going to treat your baby.

Until this week my baby had only been left with family. While there is still a sense of apprehension, one assumes that family will not come straight out and tell you that your child is terrible.  They may allude to the fact that there are some problems but any feedback could be slightly sugar-coated to preserve the emotional well-being of the parent.

I knew the day would come when I would have to hand my baby, my book, over to a person outside of my immediate family.  It honestly felt like I was dropping my child off at overnight camp for a week with no way to communicate with them.  I carved a path in my living room carpet as I paced the floor and, as the days went on, I began to get a feeling that I’m sure many parents feel.  If I have done the job I needed to do in the creation of this entity, I should have some faith that I did a good job.

Yesterday morning, I received a validation so positive it made me cry.  Her first two texts read, “Omgggggg, I am so hooked on your friggen book.  It’s like every second wondering if you can take it with you to read one more page.”

(image credit)

Where the flame of my publishing dream was a mere flicker, it is now a roaring fire.  If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to buy some gasoline.


And just like that, it was out of my hands…..


I saw the corners of his mouth turn into a smile as I handed it over.   One hundred and eighty-two pages of eight and a half by eleven paper covered by eighty-two thousand, six hundred and fifty words of a story I crafted were turned over to my fourteen year old nephew so he could be the first person, besides myself, to read the book in its entirety.

My nephew, like me, loves to read and even though his calendar age may prove that he is only fourteen, he reads far beyond his age.   I could think of nobody more suited for the role of first reader than him and I was happy to hand the pages over to him.

My dad was a voracious reader as well.  Although the premise of my story may not have been something my dad would have eagerly pulled from the book shelf, he would have been my biggest fan.  It is bitter-sweet knowing how proud he would have been of my accomplishment but knowing that I can never hear those words come from him.  I know he is up there somewhere giving me a thumbs up and doing his best to encourage a literary agent to take a chance on me.

As much as I sit here, nervously awaiting the outcome of the first read-through, I anxiously anticipate feedback on the story.  I’m sure Dean Koontz or Stephen King never batted a thousand on their first at-bats so I’m expecting to take many more swings before I knock it out of the park.  I just want to make sure I stay in the game!