Tag Archives: RWA

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.

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Hug a writer today

5 Apr

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I absolutely adore my RWA writer’s group. I don’t think there’s a better bunch out there than the LARA gals and guys. (Well, actually I fell in love with the Austin chapter people in Atlanta at the National convention last year… so I’m sure there are other great chapters too, but today it’s all about LARA love).

Firstly, and I know I’m a little late in announcing this, but I’m SOOO excited for LARA’s wonderful Robin Bielman and Samanthe Beck  – both of whom have been nominated for RITA Awards for their debut novels. For those that don’t know, the RITA’s are the romance writing equivalent of the Oscars, so at this year’s National convention in San Antonio in July, they’ll be dressed in their posh frocks waiting nervously to see if they won. They’ll probably be slinging back more alcohol than those of us cheering them on. LARA-ITE Jennifer Haymore has also been nominated for her editing of a novella. Such exciting news. Do click on their names and check out their websites. They are all amazing women that deserve to be celebrated.

LARA-ites are such huge supporters of each other. I confess my inbox is inundated with emails from members at all hours of the day and night and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m also really, really, excited that as part of the LARA mentor programme where seasoned vets share their knowledge and expertise, they take on grateful little people like me. And so, I was delighted to discover that the brilliant Maggie Marr has been designated as my mentor. I did indeed hit the “send” button today and my first 50 pages are wending their way to her where I hope she will forcefully (but kindly) rip my pages to pieces so I can build them back up and make a dent in making my novel worthy of publication. Do please check out her website too, so you can learn about all things Maggie. 

I’m also excitedly awaiting a rerouted USPS screw up, from the wonderful Barbara Claypole White, who is sending me one of her novels from North Carolina. Barbara and I touched base over at the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association, where I read an excerpt of her work in progress and left a comment noting how I picked up on a major character trait of one of her characters (due to my personal experience with said trait). She was thrilled that I cottoned on to it and called me to pick my brain about my knowledge on the issue to help her flesh out her character. What a great conversation. Can’t wait for her book to arrive. 

I love that writers (at least the ones I associate with) are such a supportive, collaborative bunch – it can get lonely behind your computer screen churning out thousands of words a day (or avoiding churning them out). Cheerleaders, nurses, doctors, best friends – these are all the roles (and more) that we take on to support our fellow scribblers. And we tweet their book releases, and promote their Facebook pages. I’m feeling warm and fuzzy inside thanks to the world of writing interwebs. So do yourself a favour: hug a writer today. 

 

What do you get when you win a contest?

10 Sep

charter oak B-1… a fantastic picture to put on your blog page, that’s what!

See? Isn’t it pretty?

I still cannot believe I just won The Golden Acorn RWA contest in the Mainstream with Romantic Elements Category. Wow! I’m so excited. Not the least because there’s never been anything remotely mainstream about me and most people would say I’m a cynic… not a romantic. And that, my dears, is why G-d invented fiction. Phew.

Along with this winner’s picture, I also get bragging rights. So, no, no big cash prize in this contest but I”ll take my picture and run, thank you.

I’m also thrilled that I’m a finalist in The Catherine RWA contest and posted the highest preliminary round score.

There’s a lot of discussion amongst writers about entering contests: the good, the bad, the ugly (the East German judge – writers you KNOW what I’m talking about!). At the end of the day we all have different reasons for wanting to enter contests. For me, it was about getting people who I didn’t know to give me honest feedback on my work. And that’s excellent. Contests have also galvanized me into being more focused on my process – always a good thing, no?

To this end, I’m also so happy to have found three like-minded writers to form a critique group with (Thank you RWA-PRO loop. So please do go and check out my new critiquers-in-crime – the wonderful Betty Bolte, Shelly Alexander (Shelly, time to get a website/blog or twitter handle, methinks!) and Tereasa Bellew.

I’m also SOOOO excited to announce the official launch of the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association. Just signed up, paid my dues et al. Kudos to the entire team that pulled this fantabulous group together and worked their arses off over the past year to make it a reality.  It’s a much-needed resource/support group for all us WF writers. I’m so proud to be a member.  I believe chocolate, alcohol and high heels are allowed too.

If you write women’s fiction then be sure to join. Not sure what that is – then JOIN and enter into the discussion about what it truly is. The conversations are fascinating. Just know women’s fiction does indeed have women in it. Hey, it’s a jumping off point, right?

Special shout outs to the board – all wonderful writers – the incredible Orly Koenig Lopez, Kerry Lonsdale, Laura Drake, Linda Avellar, Marilyn Brant, Annette Gallant, Steena Holmes and Maggie Marr. Don’t know how brilliant they truly are? Then click here and read each of their bios. 

And on an entirely different note for those of you, like me, in the deep bowels of the High Holy Days, wishing you all a Shanah Tovah, G’mar Chatimah Tovah and may 5774 be a year where your writing soars.

 

 

 

Lurching from Conference to Conference

29 Jan

You+can+finish+writing+your+novel

How do I explain my lack of posting since RWA conference in August 2012? No idea. I’ve been busy? Writing? Doing other things? Doing both? Dealing with life? Yes. All of the above.

The best things about RWA Conference are too many to mention (and let’s just say I’m still wading through all the free books I got. Who knew we’d get so many? Apparently everyone who wasn’t a conference newbie.)

In short, I made great friends, became a groupie and stalked my newfound hero/author Pamela Morsi, who was so sweet about my stalker-y ways. I had requests for my manuscript and have been feverishly reworking my novel after realising at conference that major changes were needed. So huge kudos to the amazing writers whom I learned so much from and gave me the strength to kill (some of) my darlings to rework my novel into a better product.

Now I’m gearing up for the SoCalRWA Writers’ Conference in March and it’s galvanized me to complete my rewrite in time to pitch again at conference. Can’t wait!

And I’m excited to have found a critique partner – Celia Lucente – who by default has kicked my arse into posting on my blog again today. Finally. So excited about 2013 and my novel!

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.