Tag Archives: Robena Grant

Never Give Up (aka the rejection letter that made me cry tears of joy)

12 Mar

OHI0122-PitchQueryTo blog or not to blog? That isn’t the question.

Honestly, I haven’t blogged in so long because a) I didn’t feel I had anything inspiring to say and b) I made a decision to spend more time writing, and that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve reworked and rehoned (I know not a real word but I’ve decided to employ it anyway), my first novel and am deep into writing my second.

But I digress.

I’m now about to discuss the title of this blog post (tsk tsk I’m a journalist and I just buried the lede). So back at RWA 2014 Nationals in San Antonio I pitched my book to several agents and editors. There was one in particular who was genuinely excited about my book. I felt a rapport with her. You know that feeling, right? You sit down in the 10-minute merry go round that is pitching appointments and hope your tongue doesn’t swell and you don’t break out in hives as you pitch your darling, your baby, your brilliant story you’ve slaved over to the people who can launch your career.

And this particular agent was wonderful. She not only asked for my partial manuscript she asked me what else I was working on. When I told her she said she was excited about the concept. She said she’d never seen a book about the issue I was writing about. I felt good.

When I got home I sent my partial off two weeks later. And waited… And waited… And waited… You know the drill. Four months went by. Nothing. Not a blip. I was too wimpy to send a follow up. I figured if she hadn’t responded by this point it was probably a “no” anyway. I figured the book gods were laughing at me for wishing she was the one who I most wanted to want my story. Oh well.

As the months dragged on  I was deep into my second novel and also reworking the first one after taking lots more workshops, classes, working with critique partners and continuing to learn. All hail the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and my RWA Chapter LARA, and the Women’s Fiction chapter of RWA and the Pro Org of RWA. I have learned and gleaned and honed and battled and slaved over a hot keyboard with input from amazing minds from Donald Maas, Margie Lawson and the brilliant blog Writers in the Storm and Writer Unboxed  to following the ups and downs of colleagues on their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. I am inspired byLiana LeFey’s work ethic, Laura Drake’s sense of humour, Barbara Claypole White’s gin-infused, Doc Martin wearing, garden tending tales, Kathryn Craft’s emotional bravery, Amy Sue Nathan’s generosity, Maggie Marr’s prolific output, Lynne Marshall’s world domination of medical romances, Robena Grant’s determination to carve her own path and her dry Aussie wit, Robin Bielman’s joie de vivre, Betty Bolte’s sumptuous descriptions, Sarah Vance Tompkins and Christine Ashworth’s can-do attitude, Pamela Dumond’s quirky tales (and even quirkier neighbours), Dee J Adams‘ take no prisoners attitude, Claire McEwen – whose success story is my daily inspiration –   and countless other writers who help me sit down and bash out (sometimes awful) words on a page every day.

So when month five rolled around I saw someone had “followed” me on Twitter and said they were working at an (undisclosed ) big agency and I could pitch my story in 140 characters to them. I tweeted. He tweeted back. He was an assistant at the agency of – you guessed it – the person I had now been waiting five months to hear from. He requested a partial. I told him my submission was in fact still with one of his agents and I hadn’t heard back yet. He said he’d look into it and get back to me. He told me he reminded the agent and she said she’d get back to me.

Another month rolled by and I heard nothing. Until today. Firstly, she apologised profusely for taking so long to get back to me. Apparently my submission landed on her desk just days before she gave birth (timing has never been my strong suit) and it’s taken her a while to get back on track.

And then she wrote this:

I jumped eagerly into [title of book], it’s a unique premise and you have a very entertaining voice. Unfortunately I didn’t connect with this story the way I had hoped I would. While there were elements I loved, i.e. the dog, the clean writing, the relatable heroine, in the end I just  didn’t love the execution. This is an entirely subjective opinion. As I’m sure you know this is a business based on personal tastes, and this is purely indicative of that fact. I wish you the best in finding a better suited match for this project.

As I mentioned I think you are quite talented and do hope you’ll keep me in mind for future projects. Please feel free to query me directly in the future should the opportunity present itself.

The first thing I did after reading this was cry. Tears of joy, because it was such a beautiful rejection letter. Weird, I know. But it was so specific and encouraging and everything that many of us wish a rejection letter would be.  And she’d said she would be happy to look at anything else I wrote. So I sent her an email back thanking her for her kind words. I told her I was halfway through my second book and it was the one she had expressed interest in at our meeting when I pitched the first one, and that I would definitely send it to her when it was ready. I also mentioned that in the six months that had passed since I had first submitted to her, I’d done some extensive rewrites on the first book and that as a result I hoped to find a home for it soon.

She emailed me back and said she was thrilled to hear I’d made progress, asked what changes I’d made and that she would be more than happy to have me resubmit it to her.

So there you have it. A wonderful rejection and  an opportunity to reread the new, improved, updated version of my manuscript.  Six months later, the connection I felt with this agent back in San Antonio was still there in these email exchanges. I have no idea whether she’ll take me on when I submit my revamped manuscript. But whatever happens, it’s all part of the journey. I feel I’m one step closer to representation. In the meantime I’ll keep working on my craft and pushing myself to be a better writer.

I know that there are paths to publication that don’t require agents; that there are publishers out there that will take you on without one; that there are a myriad of self-publishing opportunities; that there are lesser known agents at smaller agencies all of whom are hungry and eager to take on first time novelists. I love that there are so many paths and that we have so many choices. Right now, though, for whatever reasons that make me me, I’m still pursuing an agent and the traditional publishing channels.

Hold on to your publishing dreams, whatever form they may take and whatever roads they take you down. But have a solid writing community to back you up whether you’re crying tears of joy or frustration at yet another rejection letter. And keep learning, keep taking classes, keep putting your words on the page and never give up.

Eternal love and (romance writing) thanks.

12 Jun

Wow! So, um… tomorrow is my birthday (because someone has to be born on the 13th – right?) – which I THINK is galvanizing me in part to write a blog post… because I’m SOOO lax at this. Although, I once read someone said they like it when blog posts are sporadic because then the post is usually great and they don’t feel pressured to read something every day on someone’s site. All I can say to that is I think almost six months between posts goes WAY beyond sporadic,  and I don’t think there’s going to be anything “great” about this particular post – beyond touting other people’s websites and blogs, whom I happen to think are great.  So, here goes nothing.

Firstly, another HUGE thanks to everyone at LARA for keeping me on my romance writing toes. I’ve signed up for the RWA Conference in Anaheim this year, and can I state that not only am I an RWA Conference virgin I am a TOTAL writing conference virgin?  Let’s just say I spent 11 years living in Israel, where writing conferences (in English) aren’t exactly abundant. I never came across one when I lived there. So I’m REALLY excited to attend a writing conference. My first ever!  I feel like I’m going on holiday!

I’m also exceptionally grateful to the delectable Anne Kemp who will be my roomie at Conference and whom I met for coffee and had a lovely chat with. She just published her first novel – Rum Punch Regrets, which I downloaded on my kindle. You should too! Check out her site, here.

Anne also introduced me to RWA’s Women’s Fiction forum, after helping me understand that my novel  – The Periwinkle Prophecy – does indeed fall under that category. And having been introduced to THAT forum, I was introduced to Sharla Rae’s site Writers in the Storm and her fantastic blog post about her first RWA conference and how (or how not to) pitch. Check it out here. It’s going to be my bible because I too will be pitching my novel for the very first time. I’ve chosen my editor and agent and am already freaking out. Lots of great tips in this piece and of course I’ll be attending Dee J Adams’ “Itch to Pitch” talk at our next LARA meeting on July 15 – just in time for Conference. I’ve heard her speak twice, now. She’s smart, informative and best of all – funny! It’s always good to have a good laugh even when you’re working, no?

For now, though, I’m deep in rewrites and edits of my novel (when I’m not deep in my day job). I still have to wade through research on iodine poisoning, work on  my “talk to” character -yes, I’m adding a whole new character to my book, thanks to my great friend (and screenwriter) who told me my book really needed one.  I also have to decide if my garish Vegas hotel should be named or not… and so much more.

Oh, and I’m desperately seeking Beta readers so if you’re a women’s fiction fan and want to read a book about  a driven journalist on a mission to find a beloved, renowned artist who has suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth and has to do it all accompanied by a strange, blue dog that shows up unannounced in her life and a whole slew of other obstacles, please let me know? It’s not 100 percent complete yet but the July 25 looming date of conference is a great galvanizing force. Funny, that.

And apropos of nothing (well of romance writing) – can I just say how wonderful it was to read another Women’s Fiction RWA members’ blog post on turning points? Robena Grant also grew up down under so I feel a kinship. She has a great post and some wonderful responses from people, too. Check it out here.

There are so many great writers on LARA and on the Women’s Fiction forum. I can’t list them all her but hopefully future posts will also allow me to highlight some of their great books, blog posts, words of wisdom and motivational tactics.

And now.. back to the day job.

P.S. Today’s cute graphic comes from Debbie Ridpath Ohi, whom I’ve been following for years – especially during my freelance writing days. She can write AND draw. So jealous.. Check out how brilliant she is here.