Bad Girlz Write will be taking the week off to enjoy the holiday. We wish you and yours a happy and safe Thanksgiving!
In this current thread of writer bests vs. worsts (is worsts a word? It is now.), I’m treading over well-worn territory. To piggyback on Jenna P’s excellent, honest, and oh-so-true post previous to this one, I, too, am a re-published author. Why do I feel like I’m standing up in an AA meeting right now?
My best times as a writer so far include all the obvious things that show me that while I have yet to get The Call, I’m heading in the right direction. Contest finals, agents that actually want to read more of my work, and the like. But perhaps even more, my best days as a writer are when I’m in the zone writing, cranking out word count, and by golly, most of it isn’t crap! Getting in touch with my writer friends, either by text or a long-awaited get-together, is another best. And my brass ring of bests, which I someday hope to achieve, is having a book out there in the wild that hooks a reader so he or she can’t get anything else done until reaching the end. That’s what I want, and it will be the best.
What are the worst days for me? Well, I haven’t had a worst day, per se. I haven’t had a nasty review or been dropped by a publisher yet. And pretty much all the rejections I’ve received up to this point have been well-deserved. But I have had a worst year or two. Sunshine Boy was planned, healthy, and very much wanted. I was so lucky I felt blessed. Even so, adjusting to motherhood was hard for me…harder than I ever imagined. That’s a whole food service-sized can of guilt and inadequacy in itself, but the effect it had on my creativity was devastating. I went from feeling like I was so close to success, to not having the energy to open my laptop. Even for Facebook. And what kind of new mother doesn’t post gleeful accounts of her new bliss on the hour? See, I told you I sucked. For a while there, writing felt like yet another thing I was failing at. And you know the old saw, “writers write?” Well, there was my proof that I didn’t belong anymore. That was the worst.
I didn’t quit, but I gave myself permission to declare myself on hiatus. And funnily enough, that took off enough pressure to get the ideas flowing again. It still took time, though. But time went on, and with it, came sleeping through the night again, and witnessing all the awesome changes that Sunshine Boy was going through. My creativity returned, my sense of self returned, and joy returned. Now, I feel ready to take on the world again, and I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. In a way, getting through those feelings and looking back from the other side a stronger and better person might actually be my best.
If you’re struggling with an issue, big or small, that’s making you question yourself as a writer, a parent, or a person in general, know you’re not the only one, and it won’t last forever.
First off, thank you SO MUCH to Sophia Henry for swapping blog dates with me at the last minute. I was in the throws of jury duty (which was AWESOME), but I will need to save that post for another day as this cycle’s theme is my BEST and WORST day as a writer. I guess let’s start with the best.
I know I’m supposed to say something uplifting here, but I can’t. I guess I could lie, or turn something mediocre into something grand, but you all know that’s not my style. Harsh truth, no matter how bad it hurts to hear, right? And I respect you all too much to turn away from that motto now. So, cue the violins. Bust out the Boone’s Farm, Saltines, and Cheeze Whiz. Shit’s about to get real in here, folks.
TRUTH #1: I DON’T HAVE A BEST DAY AS A WRITER.
I haven’t gotten THE CALL (yet). I haven’t made a best sellers list (yet). I haven’t seen my book sitting on the stand at the Barnes and Noble (yet). THOSE will be my best days as a writer, and I would be lying if I said otherwise. Because isn’t that goal? I mean, yes, we all write because we can’t not write, and yes, it’s makes us all warm and fuzzy inside (blah, blah, blah), but isn’t the goal to get our books out into the world and into the hands of readers? Isn’t that the G in our GMC? It certainly is for me.
That’s not to be said I haven’t had good days. But usually, good days are negated by bad days. I’ve gotten tons of requests for partials and fulls (YAY!), to the point where I don’t even get all that excited anymore when I get one (HOW SAD IS THAT?). I’ve received many good rejections (there’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever seen one) stating, “You’re a strong writer and I loved your characters!” (YAY!), only to be followed by the, “but it’s a hard sell for a debut, so send me what you write next.” (OUCH). I’ve received an email from an agent telling me a sub-agent LOVED my manuscript and would be calling me (YAY!), only to receive a rejection letter a week later from sub-agent saying she already had something too similar (KILL ME NOW).
So, to say I’ve been close to my BEST day is an understatement. I’ve been so close I can smell the Vodka in my celebratory Cosmo. And let me tell you…knowing I was that close hurt much worse than the standard “it’s not for me,” rejections I received on my first two pieces of crap manuscripts. It sucked! It just plain sucked, I tell you!
And you know what else sucks? Watching all your friends having their BEST days, conflicted because you are so stinking happy for them and know how much they deserve every minute of it, but at the same time so stinking envious because you want it to finally be YOUR BEST day and you know you are just as deserving as they are.
Oh, just admit it, people! You’ve been there! And it doesn’t ever stop, either. There will always be someone who gets a better book deal, or sells more copies, or wins more awards.
So you may ask…why do you do it, Jenna P? You’ve been at this now for seven years (YES, I said seven!) and if it’s SO bad, why do you torture yourself?
I asked myself that same question a little over a year ago, right after I received the rejection letter from that sub-agent I mentioned above. I thought long and hard about it. Cried about it. Drank lots of wine because of it. I came within an inch of giving up on G because the C was becoming insurmountable. I truly considered allowing myself to have my WORST day as a writer, because wouldn’t that be it? Wouldn’t everyone’s WORST day as a writer be the day that they put down their pens or keyboards or their freaking sticky notes and say, I quit? It certainly would be for me.
TRUTH #2: I DON’T HAVE A WORST DAY AS A WRITER.
I wish I could say it was something uplifting and earthshattering that gave me the strength to keep going, but it wasn’t. In the end, it was good old fashioned stubbornness. Utter pain or Total Failure – take your pick, Jenna P. And I simply refused to fail. It’s just not in me. I know it’s not pretty, but when things get that dark sometimes the lesser of two evils is the only M you’ve got to keep going.
See what I did there?
So if you’re like me, and I think many of you are, I hope you will take this one prize token from the pity party I just threw….
TRUTH #3: YOU CAN’T CONTROL IF OR WHEN YOUR BEST DAY AS A WRITER COMES, BUT IT IS ENTIRELY UP TO YOU IF OR WHEN YOUR WORST DAY COMES.
Don’t let it. Ever.
Trying to narrow down my worst day as a writer is like picking out my worst dental experience–too many to choose!
It was a terrible day when I received my first rejection notice from a contest I’d entered. Reading over the judge’s comments, “Was your hero trying to be romantic, because he came across as gross?” Inner me, “Thanks. Way to sugar-coat it there, contest judge.” Painful, so painful. Anyway, similar emotions and looming doubts resurfaced with my following rejections.
Also, there was the time my dream agent played with my emotions for two long weeks, teasing me with the hope of representation and concluding with, “I think this will be a hard first sell. Write another book and send me that one.” Devastating things to hear as a writer and to your own personal confidence. It was a grab the tissues and crawl into the bed kind of day!
Reflecting back, I, as have many writers, have experienced several bad days, but somehow we carry on in hopes that our patience and talent will eventually be rewarded!
In contrast, there have been so many good days also. For example, going to my first RWA Writers Conference with Syd and Jenna P. and having Nora Roberts tell us, “The ones that make it in this business are the ones that never give up. So don’t give up.” Then there was the time I met these fabulous writers, became fast friends, and started a blog called Bad Girlz Write. I can’t even count how many awesome days we’ve spent together since then.
My first contest win was a pretty special day.
And I was sure the day I was offered my contract would go down in history as my very best day, but then I held my book in my hands for the first time. That was an unbelievable Day! Best days also occurred when I saw the glimmer of pride in my husband’s eyes as he showed my book to his best friend and when my daughter told me she fell in love with my hero and wants to meet a guy just like him.
All great days!
Unfortunately, the thing about these good and bad days is that you don’t reach the good days, and then get to send the bad days packing. Nope. Not how it works.
There will always be this back and forth of emotions, from misery to elation and everything in between, FOREVER AND EVER as a writer. So my wonderful Bad Girlz of the world, if you happen to be having one of these very bad days, hang in there. Tomorrow may just be your best day ever!!!!
Have you had similar experiences? I’d love to talk about them.
Remember to Dream Big!
The moment I wake up. Before I put on my makeup, I write all the words for you…
(That’s not really true, and you’re welcome for the ear worm. LOL)
We’re doing a series here on Bad Girlz Write about our best and worst days as a writer. While I’ve had plenty of ups and downs in my career so far, I think an average Tuesday is my best day and my worst day all in the same day. Can you relate?
7:30 am – I walk in the door from taking my little boy to school and collapse at my kitchen table for some breakfast. There is not enough coffee in the world to make me write words at this hour. I’m pretty sure I’m going to die from the early time of day. OMG! I have to meet my word count, I can’t even think yet, and that’s so many words. I’m not going to make it. I am the worst failure that has ever failed. Worst day ever. *drinks another cup of coffee*
8:30 am – I finally convince myself to even walk downstairs and darken the door of my office. I might live to see a friendlier hour of the day, like 11 or 12, but I still have so much to write. How am I going to do this? Maybe I can’t do this. Maybe I should quit. Worst day ever.
8:31 am – (One minute later.) I look at my plotting board with all of the scenes mapped out and know I have to tell this story. I CAN do this. This is a great story! I love to write! I’m never going to quit. Best day ever!
8:56 am – That line I ended on yesterday is all wrong. I’m terrible. I should quit. Or maybe I’ll look at Facebook for a minute so I don’t have to face the harsh reality that I’m a bad writer. Worst day ever!
9:30 am – Holy crap! Why am I still looking at Facebook?! I have a book due! Worst day ever.
9:38 am – Maybe that line I wrote wasn’t that bad, and the whole paragraph before it was awesome. Look at me, actually writing words like a real writer! This book is going to be great! Now, let me finish this scene. Best day ever!
2:00 pm – I just wrote a whole bunch of words and they weren’t all bad!!! I made my daily word count and I told that story like crazy! I’m awesome. Best day ever!
4:30 pm – I just checked Twitter. Author X said that she typed “The end” on her 4th novel of the year. I wonder if I lived like a hermit in the mountains with no family and no distractions if I could write that many books. I mean, 4-5 books a year? I think I would have to run away from home to accomplish that. And I love my family. Even if I finish this book and it does well, it wasn’t my 4th this year. I can’t compete with that. Worst day ever.
9:00 pm – Today I wrote some great words. In addition to that, I helped with homework, cleaned up my house, cooked dinner, did laundry, and now I’m on the treadmill trying to be skinny. I did it!!!! I love my life! Tomorrow I’m not going to wallow in self-misery, or compare myself to other authors. I’m going to write more than I did today! I’ll even start my work day at 7:30 all bright eyed, and not waste half of my work day shopping online and looking at social media. I’ll write all the words and I’ll have the best day ever!
And on goes this vicious cycle of everyday writer life.
Stay positive! Keep writing! And have the Best Day Ever!
What’s your favorite part of the day? Do you write in the morning or at night? Are you happier after you’ve had time to write? Let’s chat!
Good old Charles Dickens…
I don’t write like him. I’m not literary. I’m not trying to be. I don’t write prose. I’m a simple writer. I know that. I like how I write. I like what I write. But not everyone will. Which brings me to my worst day as a writer.
My Worst day and my Best day are the same: The day I received the first critique on the first manuscript I ever let someone read.
I’d worked on this particular novel for three years. I wrote. I re-wrote. I joined RWA. And Carolina Romance Writers, my local RWA chapter. I read books on craft. I attended workshops. I followed favorite authors and industry professionals on Twitter. I entered contests. I re-wrote based on contest feedback. I sent it to friends to beta for me. I edited again. And again. I polished. If any manuscript was ready for submission it was that one!
But I needed an actual Critique. Not just a friend who would read it. So I responded to another author’s call for a critique person on Twitter.
We exchanged e-mail addresses. We exchanged manuscripts. We did not discuss what genre or style the other wrote. We did not discuss what kind of feedback we were looking for in a critique or how we liked it delivered. We did not discuss what genres the other liked to read or did not like to read (or had absolute disdain for). Nothing. Nothing at all.
I received an e-mail with the opening line: “This is the worst thing I’ve ever read. You should scrap it and start over.”
WORST DAY EVER.
But it was also the BEST DAY EVER.
I cried and threw fits and quit writing, but deep down, I knew she was right. And it allowed me to move forward.
It didn’t matter that she loathed and looked down upon the romance genre. It was a horrible book. And I knew it…because even after all my editing and rewriting there was still something wrong. Something I couldn’t fix. Something I didn’t know HOW to fix. And instead of re-writing, I tried to make it fit. It didn’t. It wouldn’t. Ever.
I re-wrote the entire book (using a slight twist on my original premise) in six months. It went from TV crime-drama-wannabe/YA Romantic Suspense to New Adult Contemporary Sports Fiction. Once I scrapped the original book I worked on for THREE YEARS–the words flowed. The storyline flowed. Everything fit. Everything worked.
I re-wrote that book in SIX MONTHS. Using all of the craft and editing techniques I re-learned in three years.
I pitched that book for the first time in May 2014. The publisher wanted it, but it wasn’t the right fit for me. I pitched for the second time in October 2014. Accepted an offer in December 2014, and signed a contract in February 2015.
That book came out on September 1st, 2015.
And it all stemmed from my WORST DAY as a writer.
Keep your head up. And look for the OPPORTUNITY in every failure.
Yet again, we have two Bad Girlz with release days this week, and yet again, the themes of their book could not be more different. The third book in Laura Trentham’s Falconers Football series, MELTING INTO YOU, is all about coming home, while the first book in Jeanette Grey’s new series, SEVEN NIGHTS TO SURRENDER, is about traveling the world and finding love in far-off destinations.
Home Is Where the Heart Is…
In MELTING INTO YOU, two lost souls reconnect back in their home town of Falcon, Alabama. Lilliana left home for art school in NYC but returns after her father dies and she inherits the decrepit family home. Alec was a football star at the University of Alabama and a professional quarterback in Philly until a dirty hit ends his career. (Did I mention he is hot and tattooed? I didn’t? Well…check out my excerpt below) Will they be able to put their pasts behind them for a future together?
“…marvelously funny, engaging, and memorable romance in a place where everyone knows your name.” – RT Book Reviews on Falcon Football Series
“Absolutely perfect!!! I loved this book from start to finish.” – Laura H, Goodreads (<–not meJ, although, it is pretty perfect, imo)
“I’m highly recommending you read the Falcon Football series and I’m giving Melting Into You five-plus stars!”—Bookaholics-not-so-anonymous
Read an excerpt from MELTING INTO YOU
Alec grabbed at both her wrists, but the movement only flipped his shirt apart, exposing the bottom half of his chest. Something dark edged from the checked cotton. He froze, his hands loosening. Lilliana finished working his buttons open and spread the shirt to expose his entire chest.
“Oh. My. God.” Her words compressed out of lungs that held no air.
She wasn’t in shock from the defined muscles of his chest. That she’d expected. It wasn’t even the sexy dusting of hair trailing into the waistband of his pants. What hypnotized and held her rapt was the enormous tattoo that covered one side of his torso.
The vibe was difficult to nail down. Tribal with some Picasso cubism thrown in. Script played peekaboo along his side, obscured by the shirt hanging on the curve of his shoulders. What words would a man like him pick to inscribe on his body? One thing was certain—his tattoo was a work of art. Now she was less interested in his warm, man-scented skin than what was drawn on it. Impatiently, she pushed his shirt off his shoulders to hang at his elbows.
The tattoo extended to his shoulder and over his upper arm, stopping at mid-biceps like a permanent sleeve. In all the football practices she’d attended, he’d never revealed his ink. Unlike the boys or other coaches, he wore long-sleeved workout gear and used a towel tucked into his shorts to wipe away sweat, but she’d chalked his habits up to being a quarterback and needing a protected throwing arm and dry hands.
Never in a million years would she have guessed what preppy, uptight Alec Grayson had up his sleeve. Literally.
“It’s old. From when I was young and stupid. Most of my teammates in Philly had tats and I thought I was the sh—” He muttered to cover the curse word and ran a hand through the top of his hair, mussing the regimented style. “I’m planning to get it lasered off.”
“Don’t you dare!”
Clarity struck like a shot of adrenaline to her heart. He was ashamed or at least embarrassed by the tattoo. With trembling fingertips, she skimmed the outer line of a dark black swirl of ink tracing the muscle of his pectoral. At first contact, the muscle jumped, and he flinched away as if in physical pain.
“Don’t you dare,” she repeated in a whisper leaning in to follow the line with her lips.
Travel The World To Find Yourself
In SEVEN NIGHTS TO SURRENDER, aspiring artist Kate takes herself on a trip to Paris in search of inspiration. Instead, she finds Rylan, a fellow ex-pat who offers to show her around the city–and also to show her his bed. The two indulge their every desire, but Rylan is hiding not only his fortune but also the truth about who he really is. As the two open up to each other, they both want more than the week they’ve allotted, but Rylan’s secrets may tear them apart before they’ve even begun.
“Jeanette Grey has become a must-read voice in romance. Seven Nights to Surrender is lyrical, stunningly sexy, and brings swoons for days.”
— Christina Lauren, New York Times bestselling author
“A must read! I couldn’t put it down. Jeanette Grey’s writing is so refreshingly honest. Seven Nights to Surrender is intensely emotional and sexy as hell. I need the next book ASAP!”
— Tara Sue Me, New York Times bestselling author
“With its sexy setting and sensual story, Jeanette Grey’s Seven Nights to Surrender sparkles!”
— J. Kenner, New York Times and International bestselling author
Read an excerpt from SEVEN NIGHTS TO SURRENDER
Eyeing her up the entire time, he finished the rest of his drink. She still had a little left of hers, but they were closing in on decision time. He didn’t have anything else going on today—he never really had anything going on, not since his life had fallen apart. But was he willing to sink an entire afternoon here, offering to show her around?
He tried to be analytical about it. Her body language was still less than open, for all that she’d loosened up a bit. Given her age, probably not a virgin, but he’d bet a lot of money that she wasn’t too far off. Not his usual fare. He preferred girls who knew what they were doing—more importantly, ones who knew what he was doing. What he was looking for.
This girl…It was going to take some work to get in there. If it paid off, he had a feeling it’d be worth it, though. When she smiled, her prettiness transcended into beauty.
There was something else there, too. She was romantic and hopeful, and between the story of her lost sketchbook and her delusions about Paris having the power to change her life, she had to be a creative type. Out of nowhere, he wanted to know what kinds of things she made, and what she looked like when she drew.
He kept coming back to her eyes. They hadn’t stopped moving the entire time they’d been sitting there, like she was taking absolutely everything in. The sights beyond the window, the faces of the people in the café. Him. It was intriguing. She was intriguing, and in a way no other woman had been in so long.
And the idea of going back to the apartment alone made him want to scream.
Decision made, he pushed his chair out and clapped his hands together. “Well, what are we waiting for then?”
“Travel guides are bullshit anyway. Especially when you’ve got something better.” He rose to his feet and extended his hand.
Her expression dripped skepticism. “And what’s that?”
He shot her his best, most seductive grin. “Me.”
Get your copy today:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seven-nights-to-surrender-jeanette-grey/1121335315
Google Play: https://books.google.com/books?id=rsYLCgAAQBAJ
I had a really hard time trying to figure out what to write about for my best and worst days as a writer. I mean, picking my best day out of the dozens of amazing days I’ve had? Impossible. (I know, I know…poor me.)
But for you, kind folks, I will do it. It wasn’t the day I got my first call. It wasn’t when I got my first agent offer or even when I spoke to my agent for the first time. It wasn’t when she called me with an offer for my debut novel, or when I saw that book on bookshelves… It’s undeniable that I’ve had a lot of exhilarating days when I squeed and jumped and flailed, but there’s been only one day that I cried because I was so overwhelmingly freakin’ happy. That was the day my editor at St. Martin’s Press told me Captive had been picked up by Target. (Ironically, one of my worst days as a writer was finding out Caged in Winter had not been picked up by Target, but I digress…) This was a bucket list item, people. In fact, I can link to a post I wrote right here on the Bad Girlz site where I mentioned it as one of four items I wanted to achieve. It’s amazing to me now to look back on that post and see how far I’ve come, especially when I’m having a down in the dumps day.
Now, my worst day as a writer was even harder for me to figure out. Those down in the dumps days I just mentioned? I have those. We all do. Where I compare myself to everyone else, wonder why X isn’t happening or why Y happened for Suzie Smutsalot but not me, but those are just the daily woes of being a writer. Having a soul-crushing day that destroys my will to write? I haven’t had one. I think part of it is because I have this annoying ability to turn even negatives into positives, so what may seem like a catastrophe to someone else, I figure out a way to spin it to work in my favor and move on. I am an eternal optimist, and that has come in very handy in this business that has a tendency to beat you down.
One thing I can’t do that eternal optimism with? Every deadline day. Every. Single. One. That week leading up to that big red date on my calendar looms, and I get crabbier and I snap easier. I lose sleep and I forget to eat. I don’t shower, and I’m generally not a nice person to be around. The day of the deadline? Forget it. You just shouldn’t be around me, shouldn’t talk to me, shouldn’t even look at me. On that day, I’m convinced no one has ever had as bad of a deadline day as me, with all my words to write and edits to do and shower that still hasn’t been had and…well, you get my point. (I’m a writer…I’m prone to the dramz.)
But then the day after deadline comes, in all its glittered, shiny, glorious perfectness, and I forget how awful the day before was. Writing is a lot like childbirth in that way. The event is this horrible, painful thing we never want to think about again, but when it’s all said and done, we have this beautiful (book) baby for our efforts. It’s why some people have fourteen kids, and while other brave (crazy) souls go on to write one hundred books.
Here’s hoping I can be one of those brave (crazy) souls someday…
Our latest blog series on BGW is about our Best and Worst days, as writers. Or Worst and Best, depending on how you want to mix it up.
My Best Day was the night I queried my agent, thinking, “There is NO WAY she’ll want to represent me. Let me get this over with and deal with the rejection.” I’d met her at two different conferences and she oozed professionalism and business savvy. Nicole knew what she was doing, knew the industry and what she wanted in a client. Why would she ever want me? She had NYT & USA Today Best Sellers on her list. I’m just little ole me.
Within ten or fifteen minutes of hitting send, she emailed me back, saying something to the effect of, “YES! I love this. I want more. Send me the full!”
First of all, that uber impressive agent wanted my full manuscript? Secondly, my timing was 100% pure luck. She must have been checking her email at the time my submission popped in and there I was, at the top of the inbox. I received her response some time after 10pm and proceeded to wander around my house for the next two hours in complete and total shock. Once the shock wore off, the panic set in. I had to get the story finished and polished immediately (forever indebted to my CP and fellow Bad Girl, Laura Trentham for being super speedy with my emergency), but I sent the full off a few days later and my agent loved it. We emailed back and forth and chatted on the phone. She offered representation and I accepted. I was over the moon for days! We went on to sell my next story in a three book deal (still flying high about that), but the very best day was when I received Nicole’s email of enjoyment and interest. In the dark of night, when I had no hope of her wanting to rep me, and didn’t think anyone would ever want to read me, my dream agent said she loved my story.
The Worst Day was when it became apparent I would not break into NY with the first series we sent on submission. It was just after RWA Nationals last year, and while editors loved my voice and the characters, for a debut author, the series needed a stronger, more original hook.
Now, I get it. I absolutely see why they had concerns about the series marketability and sales, since I’m a new voice in the genre. Now, I know how I’d change the series to make it a stronger sell, but at the time, I was devastated. All of my friends had sold their first time out, and I fell into that comparison game even though I know it’s a no win competition.
But along with the rejection came a lot of great feedback. Every house was open to seeing my next project and now I could create a series from scratch, with my agent’s feedback in mind. I learned a lot from those rejections, and I stopped worrying about the comparison game. In fact, that game is almost non-existent for me now. I’m stronger for not getting a yes right away, but man oh man, it suuuuucked when it happened. I cried and emailed my CPs/executive committee. Of course they were all fabulous and supportive. They were fabulous and supportive again, when I DID sell; screaming on the phone with me, doing the happy dance no matter where they were. I can honestly say they believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.
That’s the takeaway here, writers and Bad Girlz of the world. Best Day or Worse, you will learn from both. You will find your true friends through both. Success and Failure are of equal importance, and I believe you can’t fully appreciate one without the other. Now go out there, grab the words by the horns, and write those stories!
The life of a writer has a lot of ups and downs. Why I chose a career that would send me on a roller coaster ride when I hate roller coasters, I have no idea. Oh yeah, that’s right, I didn’t like math and science. So when considering today’s blog topic, I had to sit here and stare at the computer screen for a while, remembering a lot of the highs and lows of my career.
For the highs, there have been wonderful moments — winning two Golden Heart Awards, finaling in the contest eight times, winning two Maggie Award of Excellence medallions, seeing my first cover for the first time, signing my first book contract. Well, you get the idea. But I have a feeling my best day is the same as it is for lots of writers — the day I sold my first book. As it happens, on a personal level it wasn’t all that great a day. Let me explain. After 11 years of rejection and unsold manuscripts that numbered in the teens, my agent finally called me with the news that Razorbill/Penguin had bought my first two young adult manuscripts. Yay! Now for the bad part. I was sick as a dog when I got the call, in bed with an all-over body rash and fever as a result of a bad reaction to antibiotics I’d been given for the foot infection (caused by shoes I’d worn to the RWA National Conference 10 days before) and sinus infection raging in my head. I could barely talk because of my sore throat. Yeah, I was a big, pitiful mess. I was so excited, but I could only stay up long enough to call or e-mail a couple of people at a time, and then I had to go back to bed because my fever would spike. Good times! It really was an awesome feeling to get that call, however. I’d very nearly given up a year earlier. I’m so glad I didn’t.
Now for the lows. There were those 11 years of rejection letters hitting my mailbox, not winning contests, harsh critiques/contest feedback, etc. But there isn’t much that feels worse than being orphaned by a publisher. Odd how the call about sales from Razorbill were my high moment, but my lowest moment came because they declined to sign me to another contract even before the second book on my first two-book contract came out. Like a year before.I was convinced I was going to have the shortest publishing career in history, that they were wondering why in the world they’d bought books from me. The truth was that my contemporary tearjerker YA books were hitting the market right when paranormal YA was exploding all over the place. Razorbill decided to go that direction instead.
But in a lemonade-from-lemons scenario, I eventually got the rights back to those two books, gave them new covers, ditched the pen name I’d had for those two books, and re-released them. Now they’re available in e-book format as well and in countries outside the U.S., neither of which were the case when they were originally released.
There have been highs and lows since that day I was orphaned, and I have no doubt there will continue to be both in the future. It’s just the nature of this business we’ve all embraced because it’s what calls to us. I’ll just try to enjoy the view from the top of the roller coaster before I scream my fool head off on the way down and try not to pass out.