How Do You Bounce Back?

Resilience. Some people are naturally inclined to have it, others struggle. I’m here to tell you, if you’ve decided publication – of any kind – is your goal, you’re going to need it.

Resilience comes into play when you have to push through a rough part of your story, produce words when the words are being little bastards, bounce back after some hard truths from a critique partner, or when you get rejected by every agent in the universe – plus a few from the Delta quadrant. Then, even after you sign with an agent, there will be more rejection, in the form of passes from editors. Even after you sell to an editor or publish, guess what. You got it! You can still face rejection for other projects or in the form of low sales.

Aren’t I just a little ray of sunshine this morning? :D So, how does one conjure up the resilience to keep going in this brutal business? After bouncing back from a recent rejection, a friend asked me, “How are you so resilient?” It got me thinking.

Part of it is who I am; the life experiences and beliefs that come together to give me resilience. I don’t say this to throw rose petals at myself. In fact, I wish I could’ve skipped some of those life experiences, but it is what it is. It makes me ME. The other part of bouncing back is habit. I have some bounce back steps, and today, I’m going to share those steps with you.

Step 1: Digest the rejection, in whatever form it comes, and grieve. I mean it. Being upset, angry, hurt, resentful, envious – whatever the emotion, don’t fight it. Be honest with yourself because if you deny that you’re disappointed and feel like you got slapped in the face with a cold fish, it will eat you up inside.

Step 2: Wallow a little. This is your Big Black Moment, the part of your journey where all is lost. A pity party is to be expected. Eat some dessert, have wine. Have both together. Navel gaze. Beat yourself up, compare yourself to others, doubt everything you ever thought about yourself. Oh come on! You know you’re going to do it anyway. Own that sh*t! BUT, you are allowed no more than 48 hours of solo woe. It gets toxic very fast, so set a timer, grab some bon-bons, and make it count.

Step 3: Reach out to your people. Not just any people, because while your spouse or sibling is probably awesome, they aren’t going to understand this process. You need to talk to a writer friend who has been in the trenches too. Make sure they are wise and reasonable, not a hot mess who will lead you astray. Tell them what happened. Let them be upset with you and for you, and let them reassure you.

Step 4: Listen to their reassurances. Absorb it. You aren’t friends with dummies, so don’t be that guy who can’t take a compliment. Your pals know what they’re talking about. Let their words of wisdom soak in.

Step 5: Get over yourself. This is the hard part, but it’s time. You’ve had your moment of sad, now it’s time to dig deep and keep going. The black moment is over; it’s time to move toward your resolution. Focus on the facts. Look at the substantial takeaways from this experience. How can you improve? How can you grow? What can you learn from this? Take those lemons and make a lemon drop martini.

Step 6: Get out there and enjoy life. Do the things that make you happy, let the brain rest and renew. That is when ideas strike.

Step 7: Get your butt back in the chair, put your fingers on the keyboard and WRITE THE NEXT BOOK. This is the single most important step for any author, regardless of the issue. The soultion to 98% of every writer issues is Write. Keep writing. Then, write more. You will get better. Your voice will get stronger. You’ll find that hook or genre or magical formula that will put your story in front of readers. You will not move from where you are unless you keep writing, so go for it! Tell us the next story and start bouncing.

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What about you? What do you do to process rejection? Favorite indulgence when in woe? Any tips you’d like to share with the blog?

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Meg Silver’s Fantasy Heights Series

WWRWThis week I’m recommending an erotic romance serial series by Meg Silver called Fantasy Heights. A word of warning here…these books are ridiculously hot. If you are offended by threesomes, bondage, voyeurism—Don’t read them.

But, if you like erotic romance, they’re a lot of fun. Each installment is a novella. The entirety of Season One (nine novellas!) is available as a box set, and Season Two is currently being released one by one. Thankfully, Ms. Silver is a fast writer, and there’s not much lag time between releases.

Meg Silver Box Set

Here’s a very brief description from Amazon:

“Season One: Jilted bank manager Amanda Tate discovers Fantasy Heights, a resort where sex and theater combine to fulfill its guests’ every fantasy. Hired as a low-bie performer, Amanda explores her sexual appetites with captivating coworkers and powerful clients. What could possibly go wrong?”

I would actually classify these as erotic romantic suspense. An underlying mystery threads through Season One and basically wraps up for our H/H, who do get an HEA at the end of S1, by the way. Season Two kicks off with a related mystery and a new heroine/hero. Although, be warned, sex has nothing to do with love in either series.

If I ruminate on the premise of the series offline, I’ll admit it’s a bit farfetched (I don’t want to say too much and give it away). However, the concept doesn’t bother me a bit while I’m reading them. I totally buy it. And, isn’t that the mark of a great writer? She sucks me into her characters’ world very effectively. While I’m on the subject, let me say that I really appreciate Ms. Silver’s voice. Her writing is crisp and descriptive without veering into purple. The books are written third person single POV of the heroine.

At the time I’m writing this recommendation, Book One of Season One, Help Wanted is free on Amazon. Also, Ms. Silver self-publishes her books, and her website is chock-full of great info for writers thinking about self-publishing. Whether you’re into erotic romance or not, she has a tutorial of handling and uploading files for the self-publishing. Check her out at www.megsilver.com

I’m normally not a serial romance fan, but I really enjoyed these and now would be a good time to binge read Season One! Hope you enjoy…

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Moonlight & Magnolias 2014

This past weekend, most of the Bad Girlz attended Georgia Romance Writers’ annual conference: Moonlight & Magnolias (M&M for short). It’s always a favorite, with great workshops, pitch opportunities, warm atmosphere, familiar faces and a kickin’ awards ceremony and dance party the final night. The conference was Awesome! You can see from the pictures below, good times were had, learning moments and epiphanies were shared, but most importantly, there was a lot of quality writer time and good-for-the-ole-mental-health socializing. :D

M&M technically begins on Friday morning, but most writers arrive Thursday to register, check-in, etc. We have absolutely NO pictures from Thursday, so let that lend credence to how hectic and FUN that first day is. It’s like a giant writer reunion!

Friday starts at 9am with workshops and pitch appointments. Our very own Jeanette Grey led a workshop on building an author website using WordPress (she’s our BadGirl tech guru too). Many of us attended, and all of us were too engrossed to take pictures. Trust us, she oozed technical authority, and looked MARVELous while doing so.

Next up was Frances Fowlkes’ workshop on historical fashion, from the inside out. She made over half of the outfits herself and everything was historically accurate, right down to the under garments. You’ll have to take our word on it. How great do they look all dressed up though?!?

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From left to right, Sydney Carroll in Regency, Jeanette Grey in Victorian, Chudney Thomas in Edwardian, and Frances herself in 1920s.

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Some attending Bad Girlz, in modern dress, with the models. I think we all agreed that we’re happy to be 21st century women.

Lunch featured the GRW speaker: Wendy Wax with a humorous and encouraging talk about the life of a writer and the people who are on this journey with you.

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Speaking of modern 21st century women, Jeanette, Heather and Fran went with a futuristic and heroic theme for the day. Marvel, Star Trek, and Star Wars. The trifecta of fangirling!

Once the first day, chock full of information and activities, is over, there’s time for dinner and socializing on your own. We made dinner reservations at a nice restaurant and the Scorpion Bowl happened.

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At its core, it’s a rum punch, but with a disinctive mid-century Polynesian-inspired flair. And sting! That little part in the middle? That’s the volcano of Bacardi 151. There was volcanic flame and some Nigerian funk music. Idek, but it was epic. For details, contact Sydney Carroll, our queen of all things entertaining & obscure.

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This may become a conference tradition.

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JennaP & McGovy at dinner.

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Cheers to the Bad Girlz!

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Group picture!

Saturday, Elizabeth Michels & Heather McGovern led their workshop on mastering the Big Black Moment. There were wands and Disney clips, but regretably, no tap dancing. Workshops filled the rest of the morning and lunch included an uplifting keynote speech by Marie Force. The afternoon offered more workshops, editor/agent panels, and Marie’s panel. That evening was the Maggie’s Awards Dinner and After Party. We were much better about taking pictures on the last night. :)

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Group picture with Killion Group’s cover model, Sergei.

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Our group shot that’s equal parts pageant elbows, cheerleading stance, sorority shot and rushing to take a pic before the ceremony begins. We tried! :D

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Jeanette & Brighton looking fabulous.

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Robin & Lori are dazzling. #selfie

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McGovy & EMichels getting their fancy on.

That’s just about it for Moonlight & Magnolias 2014. One last thing, we did a raffle basket for GRW’s literacy fundraiser. Someone won it, but we have no idea who. Whoever you are, congratulations and we hope you enjoy! :)

See you in Atlanta next year!!!

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Man Candy Monday: The British Invasion

In celebration of  GRW’s upcoming Moonlight & Magnolias conference, I thought today would be a great day for some Man Candy. Also, the Bad Girlz are taking this week off to attend Moonlight & Magnolias, so why not leave some hotness up for the whole week?!

This list is in no particular order (if I had to pick a fave upon threat of death, I’d say…yes, please!) and is not meant to be comprehensive. There are way too many British hotties for me to cover them all. I’m leaving some off the table intentionally because I know other BGs who are bigger fans and may want to do a list of their own (*ahem* I’m looking at you Jeanette and Syd. *ahem*). I’m also not including any Scottish hotties. They’re in a league of their own, amirite? All of these fellas are true Brits and, admittedly, sort of the same ilk. What can I say? A type, I have it. And I’m not even sorry.

First up…

RICHARD ARMITAGE

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armitage1Y’all have seen him as Mr. Thornton in North & South, right? Right, Fran?! Smouldering, swoony Richard even makes being a Middle Earth dwarf sexy. *looks around for fainting couch*

BEAR GRYLLS

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Bear Grylls. No other name is more suited for this man. Former British SAS, survivalist and all around energetic outdoorsman, Bear is who you want with you when you intentionally get lost in the woods. Plus he likes to hang out topless with Zac Efron, so it’s all good.

TOM HIDDLESTON

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Admittedly not my usual type, I became a fan of Hiddles after seeing him as Loki. He was such a precious little shit, I loved him even though I hated him. In real life, he seems like the kind of gentleman you can’t believe is real and he dances.

IDRIS ELBA

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He’s also a Marvel alum, but I first saw him as Luther on BBC America. That voice! That accent! That bod! He oozes cool confidence and charm. Where is his next leading role??? There’s talk of him as the next Bond and…

give it to me

DANIEL CRAIG

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Speaking of Bond…He’s contracted for one more and I cannot wait. Daniel is the only blondie on my list, but man! What a blondie?! I love him as James Bond. He brings something to the role that others didn’t. There’s a brutality to his Bond, but also a painful vulnerability, lying just beneath the surface. I’m such a sucker for the imperfect tough guy with a soft spot, and he nails roles like that. Plus that iconic bathing suit scene. Thank you powers that be, for finally giving us bikini Bond in what is typically a Bond Girl scenario.

TOM HARDY

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Look, another Tom! I’ll keep this short because this Tom has been on my list before, and probably will be again. That’s because he’s Tom and it’s my list, I can do what I want. :) He’s one hell of an actor and an activist. By all accounts, he’s just a good guy. Plus, THOSE LIPS!!!body is ready

ANDREW LINCOLN

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I first saw Andrew Lincoln in Love, Actually. I thought he was cute, but that was it. Then, along came Rick Grimes and The Walking Dead. I blame my Rick crush on the zombies and bad humans. They’ve taken well-meaning dad, good guy deputy Rick and turned him into an untrusting, hard-hearted, harsh, take-no-prisoners protecter and I LOVE IT! He is down for his small family of survivors and everybody else better keep on moving. The last two episodes of last season had me jumping around the living room, screaming at the television. OMG is it October 12th yet?!?!

AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON

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Last on my list is relative new comer, Aaron. He’ll play Quicksilver in the upcoming Avengers movie (I know, I know. Marvel. What?! Like you don’t know me by now…) Daaayum, the man looks good in a tank top… *___* What was I saying? Oh yeah, he’s a tall drink of water who will be in Age of Ultron, was in Godzilla, and has legs that go on for days. He’s also married to a woman more than 20 years his senior, and he took her last name of Taylor to make the Taylor Johnson. I, for one, think that’s hot.

So there you have it. A quick list of hotties from across the pond. Enjoy the Man Candy while we’re away! And start working on a Brit list of your own!

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The Big Hook

Several of the Bad Girl posts to our former selves have been philosophical musings ranging from the torture of waiting to how it gets harder to how we get better. I’m going to focus on something tangible that nearly lost me the chance at an agent and a publishing deal.

THE BIG HOOK

Two and half years ago, when I set down in front of a blank page to write my first book, not only did I not know I needed a hook, I had no idea this elusive hook thing existed. Even now, six books and two publishing contracts later, searching for The Big Hook feels a little like getting dumped out in the middle of nowhere on a snipe hunt.

ronweasleypanicWhen I was brainstorming ideas for my first book, I took the advice ‘Write What You Love to Read’. I love Regencies, so why not write one? Several that I loved revolved around Regency spies, so why not write about that? (The other implied lesson here is that if you are reading a bunch of books about X, then X will most likely be played out by the time you finish your masterpiece. Just sayin’…)

My first two Regencies did well on the unpublished contest circuit. They both finaled in the Golden Heart® in 2014. But, even though (I think) they are quite good, my agent almost passed on them and me. Her biggest criticism had nothing to do with my plotting, my characters, or my craft. No, my books lacked the dreaded BIG HOOK.

When I refer to a hook, I’m not talking about an opening line, or the last line in a chapter. I’m talking about what’s unique about your book or series. How you can sell your book and make it stand out in the crowd.

There are four books in my Regency series. I wrote all of them in a vacuum. They connect, sometimes loosely, through characters not concept. My awesome agent Kevan Lyon signed me but issued a warning. She wasn’t sure she could sell my books, because they were difficult to pitch. Honestly, I think she signed me based on my potential to produce salable books and not on these two books in particular.

Don’t ask me for an elevator pitch of my Regency series unless we’re headed to the penthouse of the Petronas Towers. I can’t sum up the series in a concise, hooky fashion. I got lots of editor rejections because (are you catching on?) my book series didn’t “hook” them.

Luckily, I found an editor who loves my stories and characters enough to overlook my lack of a hook. But, when the editor and I discussed what to name the series…I was stumped. We eventually settled on SPIES AND LOVERS even though Book 4 (which I hope she’ll eventually contract:) has nothing to do with Spies. Do you see what I did to myself through my ignorance of the marketplace?

My strength is the ability to learn from my mistakes. I’ll continue to make mistakes, but not the same ones, dang it. So, when it came time to brainstorm my next series, a contemporary this time, I set the series in a small Alabama town. The heroes of the trilogy would be the coaches of a high school football team seeking redemption. My hook was small town Southern football. (Cue the halleluiah chorus!) I framed my hook as Friday Night Lights meets Steel Magnolias. It’s common and useful to cross two popular movies to describe your series. It took nine months to sale my Regencies. This series sold in four weeks. That’s the difference a hook can make.

Yet another level to this whole thing exists. (Cue the groans!) My series has a hook but is it High Concept? Unfortunately, I don’t think it is. Here’s a good definition of High Concept. High Concept is even more elusive than The Big Hook, but if you can corral it, I will envy you.

Although, I did manage to get my Regency books contracted, I will always keep The Big Hook in mind when starting new projects. You could have stellar writing and an engaging plot but have difficulty selling your project to an agent or editor without a hook.

How about that advice ‘Write what you love to read’? Sure, but do it with your head in the game and with your eyes open to the marketplace, especially if you are going after a traditional deal.

And now, as a reward for reading my post, and because I’m watching The Voice, I give you…

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What We’re Reading Wednesdays-Barbara Longley

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I’m just going to put this out there: I’m a total sucker for time travels. Especially when they feature big beefy Scottish men in kilts. Not going to lie. You put those two elements together, along with a feisty heroine from my home state of Minnesota, and yeah, I’ve got my grubby little paws all over that story.

Thus is the case with the delightful Loch Moigh Series from Barbara Longley. Her delightful and rather spicy time traveling series is set in the Scottish Highlands with men like Malcom, aka Alpha Jerk, there to rescue recently transported Minnesota girls.  It’s a time travel. There is going to be some confusion, acclamation, and denial going on, all while in the presence of that beefy alpha Scot. Oh yeah, it’s good stuff. But what really makes this series fun is the element of the paranormal and the special ‘gifts’ the heroines in the series possess.

Here are short blurbs from Amazon:
True to the Highlander
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Native American violinist Alethia Goodsky had plans for her future, and they didn’t include time travel, hocus-pocus good luck charms, or heroic deeds. And she certainly never intended to lose her heart to a fifteenth century Scottish warrior or an orphaned boy unable to hear her music.

A life hangs in the balance, and only Alethia can tip the scale. This is all the supernatural being posing as a Renaissance festival fortuneteller reveals before transporting Alethia back in time to the Highlands of Scotland. Alethia must unravel the mystery before it’s too late if she’s to return home. She throws herself into the task only to have her efforts thwarted by her overbearing, self-appointed protector—Malcolm of clan MacKintosh.

It is 1423AD, the year before Scotland’s King James is ransomed from the British to take his rightful place upon the throne. The Highland clans are at each other’s throats, and all of Scotland suffers under the ruthless reign of their regent, the duke of Albany. Treachery and intrigue rule the day, and all Malcolm wants is peace. Finding a gently bred woman alone on MacKintosh land can only mean more trouble. When the exotic foreigner reveals her strange tale, Malcolm believes she was placed in his path to warn him of coming danger. He cannot allow the willful beauty to put herself in harm’s way for his sake. Malcolm is determined to keep Alethia safe and by his side—if only she’d let him.

Surrounded by enemies, with the mystery still unsolved, passion grows between Malcolm and Alethia until her heart is torn. Should she follow the dictates of reason and find a way home, leaving Malcolm and the young boy she’s adopted behind, or should she listen to her heart and remain true to the Highlander?

The Highlander’s Bargain

The-Highlanders-BargainBefore he can settle down, blond-haired, blue-eyed Robley of clan MacKintosh needs to taste true adventure. So when the faerie Madame Giselle asks him to retrieve her stolen property in exchange for two enchanted tokens that will whisk him across the centuries, he jumps at the chance.

Nurse and future midwife Erin Durie is broke and alone, thanks to a roommate who skipped town and the psychic gifts that make relationships too intense and painful to bear. Then a kilted man magically drops into her arms, looking for a guide to the twenty-first century, and she can’t deny the attraction. But magical treachery soon throws open time’s portal once more—and puts a blade to Robley’s throat. Now Erin must decide where—or when—her healing powers can do the most good . . . and whether she can live without her handsome Highlander.

In the second thrilling Novel of Loch Moigh, award-winning author Barbara Longley delivers more of the action, adventure, and romance that began in the pulse-pounding True to the Highlander.

Of the two, the first is my favorite–for a couple of reasons:
1. I prefer alpha over beta heroes and the hero from the second book is a tish too…lovey dovey for my preference.

2. Taking a medieval Scottish knight and plunking him into the 21st century and reading about his fascination with modern marvels isn’t quite as exciting as taking a bewildered modern girl and thrusting her into the past. There is a reason I write and read historicals–I love the element of history. I enjoy escaping into another time. The second novel gives me that–but not until much later than I would like.

3. I enjoy reading sexual tension. Heavy on the tension. The first delivers it more than the second.

Now, that isn’t to say I didn’t like the second book, because I did. Barbara Longley’s voice is a treat to behold regardless of the book, but the story itself didn’t captivate me quite as much as the first. My preference isn’t swaying me off the series, though. In fact, I’m eagerly awaiting the third and last installment of Loch Moigh that is due to release next year.

Be ahead of the game, get over your “Outlander” withdrawal, and get your copies of Ms. Longley’s paranormal Scottish time travel, which, by the way, just happens to be sitting pretty in the Amazon top 500 romances. It’s a best seller for a dang good reason and that’s argument aplenty.

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You Get Better

If there were one piece of advice I could go back and give my former self, it would be this: You will get better.

I’m not sure about you, but back in my early days as a writer, I thought pretty highly of myself. Sure, I was disabused of the notion that I was any sort of singular talent, and fast, but I still approached my work from a weird, flawed position.

I was afraid that if this manuscript didn’t sell, then obviously nothing I wrote ever would. This manuscript was my best effort. It had to sell. If it didn’t, I would’ve wasted all that time I put into it! All those beautiful words!

But here’s the thing: that first book? Good or not (it was not), the process of writing it taught me so much. It helped me figure out that I do in fact need to do at least a little bit of plotting. It gave me a better sense of how to approach my pacing. It afforded me the chance to get a sense of my own voice.

Whether or not it sold (it did not), the time I put into it was in no way, shape or form wasted.

Writing is a craft and a discipline. It takes talent, but beyond that, it requires patience and practice. We improve by practicing our craft. And sometimes, we may not even be aware of how much we have improved.

I recently had the occasion to go back and look a manuscript I wrote a couple of years ago. While I was writing it, I thought it was the best thing I’d ever written, and even though I’d come a long way, I still had that niggling fear at the back of my mind, telling me that it might well be the best thing I ever would write.

Now? It looks amateurish. I have come so far, and I had no idea.

So here’s my advice to my former self: You will get better. Don’t worry about this manuscript, or the next one, or even the one after that. You’re learning just by writing them. You’re not wasting your time.

Delete that scene, even though it cost you blood, sweat, tears, and hours. The next one you write will be better.

Let go of that book that isn’t getting any nibbles. The one you write next will be better.

Keep going. Keep writing.

Because no matter how good you think this book is. Remember. The one you write next will be better.

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It Gets Harder

Ah, my newbie writer self: so innocent, so enthusiastic, so convinced major success was waiting to fall into her lap. So enamored with her new calling, her story permeated her life. It was the focus of her dreams: both kinds. Her husband got jealous of the time she spent obsessing over another (albeit fictional) male. Her mother (almost) got tired of reading new drafts. Convinced of the rightness of her place in the writerly universe, the words flowed, and she put them all to use.

 
Notice I didn’t say “to good use” back there. Oh no. As Mae West once said, “goodness had nothing to do with it.” Her themes were cliché, her descriptions went on forever, and I’m pretty sure there are Duran Duran videos with more plot than her original novel had. But the passion was there, and her output showed it. The only thing standing between her and success was hitting that Submit button. Soon, (possibly too soon), she did. Instant success? Not so much. Did the realization dawn on her that she maybe had a little more to learn? Did it ever! So learn; she did. Young Syd got better—a hell of a lot better. Her story began to resemble a seventh-grader’s attempt at erotic fan fiction a little less and a real book that other people might actually want to read a little more. She got better feedback from critique partners, contest judges, and agents. She was getting closer—and not just in the lollipop landscape of her own mind.

 
This is where things changed. Somewhere along the way, it started to get hard to make the words come. It got harder, and I’m afraid to say, it stayed that way. So, when the Bad Girlz got together and decided to put together a series of “advice to our newbie selves” posts, I knew already what the title and concept would be. It Gets Harder. Thanks a lot, Debbie Downer.

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Poor little newbie-writer Syd! What did she ever do to deserve such a crap mentor? And for that matter, how did her mentor-self become such a hardened old broad? It was a lot of things, some of which are beyond the scope of this article—but mainly it was a matter of quantity vs. quality. I knew more, so I recognized when my words were off right away. I became a compulsive editor, honing each sentence until it felt perfect, no matter if it was a first draft. Each day, I’d begin writing by going back over and picking apart what I’d written before. The quality was better, but boy was the going ever slow! The time it would take to produce five pages now produced one. As metamorphoses go, the timing utterly sucked. This time of my life is one where creative windows come in furtive snatches, much like trying to eat a cookie around a toddler without him sussing it out and demanding five for himself. A lot of little chances get wasted when you’re fussing around with old words instead of putting new ones on the page.

 
When thinking about this post, an idea came to me. Instead of bashing newbie Syd over the head with a club of her broken dreams, I’d think about what she could teach me. Her enthusiasm kept the same old story fresh through countless revisions. Her desire to entertain people with her stories made her fearless about handing them over to readers. Her exhaustive detailing of every little thing (down to her heroine’s favorite nail polish AND brand of topcoat) made sure she was never at a loss where to begin. Girl wrote in real time, y’all. So what if half of it ended up in the white void where deleted words spend eternity? That’s where the hardened broad comes in to do her thing!

 
I’m glad we’ve had this theme of looking back for our posts lately. It’s prompted me to think about not just the advice I’d give to my newbie writer self, but it also made me realize that she has a lot more to offer than I’d given her credit for, and she’s someone I want on my team.

 
So tell me, what awesome qualities did you have as new writers that you’d like to have now?

 

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What We’re Reading Wednesdays – The Wedding Dare Series (Entangled)

WWRWThe Wedding Dare books are an interconnected series of category romances from the Brazen line that take place at a destination wedding of the couple we meet in the prequel novella. Be warned, the heat level is close to scorching (and awesome!)

 

Dare to Resist (prequel novella) by Laura KayeBtMoH_500

Falling for the Groomsman by Jen McLaughlin

Baiting the Maid of Honor by Tessa Bailey

Seducing the Bridesmaid by Katee Roberts

Best Man with Benefits by Samanthe Beck

I’m used to reading (and writing) single title length books, so all of these read like novellas to me. They made for a quick, light read, and I finished all of them over a weekend. I very much enjoyed all of them, but I’ll admit to having a favorite—Baiting the Maid of Honor by Tessa Bailey.

For me, Ms. Bailey’s contribution was the most emotionally driven and had the most relatable main characters. The heroine, Julie, is a do-good Southerner who feels the need to make sure everyone else is happy without leaving time for herself. The hero is a dirty-talking, damaged sexy beast—my favorite!—who forces her to enjoy herself in delightful ways while letting go of his own baggage.

My second favorite was the prequel novella, Dare to Resist by Laura Kaye. Loved both of the main characters and would have loved spending more time with them (although the couple does weave through all the stories since it’s about their wedding, but there was a nice, kinky twist to their story that I really enjoyed.)

While I was reading these, I had a hard time turning my writing brain off and kept wondering how in the world the four authors managed to interweave the stories so thoroughly. Each book might feature the same conversation from a different point of view. Did they email or phone constantly? Did they get together for a big weekend sleepover and plot/write them together? The latter sounds a lot more fun!

The best line (IMO) came out of Seducing the Bridesmaid by Katee Robert:

“Southern women. Sweet as pie until they’re pissed, then it’s all shotguns and setting shit on fire.”

This made me laugh so hard. Maybe it’s because I’m from TN and have ties to where the characters are from, Manchester, TN. Or maybe it’s because I’ve taken a home cooked dinner to a sick friend and then turned around and pulled my boots out of the closet to offer to kick another friend’s a-hole spouse in a dark alley. Even though the series takes place in Colorado, there is a definite Southern flavor to several of the stories, which I am a total sucker for.

This was the first interconnected series by different author’s that I’ve read, but it won’t be the last. There is a group of historical authors who have put together a anthology called At the Duke’s Wedding (Ashe, Lindon, Neville, Rodale). That might be my next foray into an interconnected story.

I would highly recommend this series from Entangled. I passed a very enjoyable weekend at the wedding.

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The Waiting Game

I’m not a patient person.

I hate waiting—–in line, for an email response, for my boyfriend to purpose—- I want instant gratification. I fall in-between a Generation X’er and Millennial, one of those horrible people who rely too much on technology and would not know what, God forbid, they would do if forced to unhook from the internet for more than a day. I’m used to instant text responses, to 30 min or less email replies, and to live streaming videos. If I can’t get something when I want it, I take matters in my own hands and get it done. Hence why my boyfriend is now my husband, and has been for the past 16 years. I proposed to him. The year after we graduated from high school, because gall darn it, I got tired of waiting on him.

Don’t even ask what it was like to wait NINE months to see each one of my babies. Just know it was BRUTAL, even with the sonogram sex reveal.

Writing, or more specifically, the industry of writing and publication, forces me to do that which I loathe: WAIT. And with a big fat capital “W”.

My young naïve self sent in my very first query thinking I’d hear back from the agent in an hour, maybe two. I’d at least get a note saying she had received my submission and would take a look at it–right?

Sorry, let me wipe the tears out of my eyes, cause girl, I’m still waiting.

The writing world does not run on my time. It is a professional business, and as such, runs on its own schedule, which, at times, can be slow. Really slow. And sometimes stand still slow.

That doesn’t mean, however, things do not get done. They do. But it happens at its own pace, often times much slower than many of us used to instant feedback, would like. I’ve learned, after waiting days, weeks, months, YEARS for a response, that publishing a book takes time. Hearing from an agent or an editor takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, my friend, and just like it took you months and maybe even years, to write that first book baby, it takes an equal amount of time, if not longer, for your book to be discovered, published, or represented.

Waiting to hear back on your proposal can be heart-wrenching. You may think you might die if you don’t hear back from your editor or agent in the next week. But you will survive. You might click that refresh button on your inbox every 60 seconds, but that doesn’t make things go faster. It actually makes it go slower. If you really want time to go by quicker, write. Delve into that next project. Write the next chapter. Stock up on blog posts. Whatever you do, don’t sit there and stare at the screen while biting your nails into bloody stubs. It doesn’t bring a faster response. Trust me, I’ve tried.

What does, is working. Staying busy. Doing that thing that made you happy in the first place: WRITING.

I can’t promise you’ll get a response. But I can promise that you will wait for one. My mom always said good things come to those who wait. And she’s right. While not every response will be one you wish to hear, the good ones– the acceptance letters and contract offers–are worth the wait.

Take a breath. Relax. And remember–waiting is a good thing. It’s a part of this business, and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you can get started on the next project. That way, when the business knocks on your door, rings on your phone, or emails you that acceptance letter, you can’t be blamed for keeping anyone waiting.

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