First Rejection

No, no, no…I’m not talking about my first crush in elementary school that crossed his eyes and ran the other direction when I professed my true love. Although I have to say that it could’ve been worse if I hadn’t watched, with my tender heart in pieces, as he slid to a stop and ran into the monkey bars. My best friend’s giggles quickly helped to start the healing process as the teacher picked gravel out of his elbows. My true love today, besides family and friends, would be my stories. Every hurt, joy, stress I feel is woven into my writing. It can get pretty emotional and I sometimes feel the torture I put my characters through. My contemporary stories focus on real life drama and intense relationships in small town America. Rugged cowboys, oh my, and the strong women that fight back when life tries to buck and bully them. And with as much emotion as I put into my stories, can you imagine the anxiety I felt when I first submitted my work to a critique group, and then the pain when the first response was a woman blasting me with tons of red ink? I actually considered quitting as I’m sure many others have done after rejection knocked them for a loop. But I have been truly blessed with my current critique partners, and even a few from the past. They steer me in the right direction with constructive criticism and have taught me so much along the way. They cheer me on and supply chocolate and hugs when I get shot down.

The reason rejections are felt more strongly than normal is because writing is  personal. My stories are something I put my heart into and when they’re rejected, I tend to take it personally. It’s hard not to. I’ve been writing for publication for almost seven years now and received my first rejection letter within three months of submitting. That is a quick response considering I know several writers that have been waiting a year, or two, for an editor to respond. They say that no news is good news. Really? Hand me a silver bucket I can throw up in from the overwhelming anxiety every time the phone rings or bings with notification that I have an email.

I have to admit though, my first editor rejection was a good one as far as rejections go. It was a revise and resubmit. The story was ultimately rejected but the process wasn’t as heartbreaking as I’ve been through since. I think the worst I’ve received was a form letter that they just plugged my name into the greeting. A critique partner received one with her name but the wrong manuscript title. The hard part about those types of rejections is not knowing if you even had a chance. Is there something you need to change or did you just get the wrong editor/agent on the wrong day? When you are receiving multiple rejections, examine the rejection letters (or critiques) and see if you can find common suggestions, mistakes. Do you feel as though you can make the changes without losing your voice?

There are plenty of authors with success stories out there with bestselling books on the market that are proud of the hundreds of rejection letters before they found the one editor, or agent, that led them to success. My first rejection was hard to swallow though I’m sure it could’ve been much worse. I find encouragement when I’m down by reading about how other authors have struggled but they kept plugging away and persevered. My post today sounds like it’s geared more toward the writer, but anyone can apply this post to something they really want to accomplish. Make positive changes if needed, but don’t give up if you really want something. Success is always the best revenge.

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!

Chelle Sandell

About Chelle Sandell

Contemporary western romance author, Chelle Sandell, was born and raised in southern Oklahoma but has mostly traded her cowboy boots in for flip-flops. That is unless her cowboy feels the occasional need to go boot scootin' across a dance floor. A foodie at heart, leaning toward the sweet treats, you can find her in the kitchen experimenting on her family and friends. She lives out in the country with her very own cowboy, rowdy boys, Hank & Lilly (blue heeler cowdogs), rescue kitties, and a hungry opossum that loves to sneak up at night to eat the cat food on the back porch. An avid reader from way back when, Chelle first found her writing voice when her favorite aunt showed her a historical romance book that mentioned a Native American ancestor that she had been researching. She realized she could weave her own stories that could have the same impact on readers that she felt when reading. Most of her stories are contemporary western romances, but she also has a Western/Native American historical and paranormal romance waiting in line for attention. While Chelle hasn't published yet, she has met some success as a finalist in the Magnolia State Dixie First Chapter Contest, OKRWA's Finally A Bride, and two eHarlequin Editor Pitch contests.

First Things First

Hi, all, Jennifer here!

I have to admit that in my personal life I’m very sensitive to order and having everything around me just so. No, I don’t have OCD. But I have joked on many occasions that I could quite possibly be borderline. Luckily, my family has learned to deal with it.

So it stands to reason, that in my writing life I like order, too. Our theme this month at the Heart-Shaped-Glasses blog is FIRSTS, so I thought I’d share what I like to do first when starting a new book.

When an idea first comes to me, it’s really vague. For example, in my recent novella, A LITTLE BIT CUPID, I knew I wanted to write about a woman who had never been in love and I also knew I wanted Cupid to help her find Mr. Right but have her want someone entirely different.

See? We’re talking really vague.

Before I can go any further with plotting, the first thing I need are NAMES.

Believe it or not, I can write without a working title, but I NEED NAMES for my characters or they just won’t feel real to me. Without a name, it would be like writing about a cardboard cutout figure. And I just can’t get into that.

So where do I start looking?

Actually, I have a nifty little Baby Name book called Beyond Jennifer and Jason, Madison and Montana: What to name your baby now. It’s an awesome book and I highly recommend it (even if you’re done having children of your own). It categorizes names for you, which makes it ever so convenient, especially if you’re looking for a masculine or feminine type name or maybe a good-girl name, or a no nonsense name, etc…

Once my characters are named, I’m good to go and I can then create my character profiles and then a brief story outline. See? Very orderly. But that’s me. I’m a first things first kind of girl. 🙂

How about you? What’s the FIRST thing you like to do when beginning a new story?

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her upcoming sweet romance: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH releasing December 5, 2016.

Storytelling to Take Your Breath Away

storytellingAs I’m sure you know by now, this month our theme is “firsts”. I wanted to write about the first romance novel that made me say, “I want to do that!”

Naturally, there have been many novels since. Many, many. I often think about a book I loved after I read it to examine what about it touched me. Because those are the things I want to do.

That first book, though. It wasn’t a thoughtful examination. I didn’t know a thing about craft. I knew when I couldn’t put a book down. This particular book–Faking It by Jennifer Crusie–not only touched me, it also made me excited about storytelling.

There are spoilers from here on out, so fair warning.

Throughout the book, Matilda has difficulty achieving a climactic moment when she and Davy get intimate. (Don’t you love the classy way I phrased that? Don’t get used to it.) But, also throughout the book, Matilda is struggling very much to not be herself. She’s not comfortable in her own skin, she’s not comfortable with what her father convinced her to do (that was illegal, fraudulent, and,to her, immoral). And because she did this thing, she has to hide the thing she is most passionate about: her painting.

So, in the end, when Davy (who is a former con artist) sees the real Matilda (who did a bad thing) he likes it. And Matilda likes being Matilda. And bad. And not hiding what she is most passionate about.

When this happens, Matilda is able to become quite passionate. And finish up in an explosively hot way. (I told you not to get used to it.)

When I read that, after I finished fanning myself, I could see what Jennifer Crusie had done. She’d given us a physical, concrete way to see how deeply Matilda’s feelings were affecting her. And when Matilda resolved those issues? Wow, did we know.

Have any stories touched you in a memorable way?

EDIT: My mistake is your gain! I published this post with the wrong title and character names (but right plot, lol). To apologize for my error, I’m giving away a copy of Faking It on Kindle. I’ll chose from comments up until midnight tonight and post the winner in the comments tomorrow.

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    Lori Sizemore's Infamous released on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available.