Monday, May 25, 2009

A Tale of Two Sales

Some excellent news awaited me when I got back from my mini-vacation over the May long weekend. First of all (drum roll please!) my novella “Burning Love” has been accepted for publication at the Wild Rose Press. I’m very pleased and excited by this news for a lot of reasons, but especially because of how hard I had to work to get this sale. Let me tell you about it.

I originally conceived of this story almost exactly a year ago. I read on Samhaim Publishing’s MySpace page that they were taking submissions for a novella project. Each story had to have an “other worldly” element to it. I’ve had this angel named Angelica floating around in my head for a while. I paired her with an older angel named Hildegard and together they match mortals with their soul mates in Heaven’s Relationship Division. They bring together Riley, a firefighter, with Iris, a young woman prone to starting cooking fires. “Burning Love” is a light-hearted and I hope, humorous look at love.

The deadline for submission for the Samhain contest was May 31 of last year. I worked extremely hard to get my submission ready by the end of the month. And I did it! Even though my story was not accepted, I was proud that I’d been able to write a 20,000 word novella in less than three weeks. Being able to do that gave me confidence to face any deadline.

After a time away from the story, I looked at it again. I realized it had several flaws I hadn’t previously caught. I sent it around to several friends for their input. Using their advice, I revised and sent it off to the Wild Rose Press.

I got my answer in mid January. The editor liked the story but felt it needed work. She gave me good suggestions, all of which I knew would make a stronger story. I assured her that I would be very happy to work on those revisions and resubmit.

I believe it was at this point that I dragged fellow Chick Janet into my story. Through a series of instant messages, we bounced ideas off each other. Janet has a wonderful, crazy, quirky imagination that really suited this project. She can also come up with an idea at the drop of a hat. Armed with the editor’s suggestions and Janet’s wonderful ideas, I made the second round of revisions. I felt I really “dug deep” for these revisions, perhaps working harder than I ever had before on revisions. Going through this process taught me that I do have the capacity to reach way down and make a story better.

I resubmitted and a few weeks later I got a reply from the editor. She was pleased with the revisions I’d made, but there were still things that had to change. Again, I had to agree with the editor. The changes she suggested would make the story stronger. So I took a deep breath and assured the editor that I would be pleased to make the changes and resubmit. Once more into the breach.

I have to admit I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about this third round of revisions. Again, I enlisted Janet’s help. Again, she gave me great suggestions. She also encouraged me when I felt like I couldn’t revise another word. I called on some inner resources I didn’t know I had and finished the job. The results are worth the effort.

I tell you this story not only because I want to share my good news, but also because I want to let you know that it is possible. Sometimes you feel like you can’t make a deadline or finish a project; yes, you can. Sometimes you feel like you don’t have it in you to make those revisions; yes, you do. Sometimes you think you’ll never make a sale; yes, you will.

This is a profession filled with disappointments and rejections. It’s hard not to take rejection personally, and it’s hard not to give up. I’ve been there. But if you can retain your faith in yourself and in your ability to do the work, you’ll be okay.

Oh yes, the title of this post is “A Tale of Two Sales”. What, you may ask, is that about?

I received a second email after the long weekend, and this one came totally out of the blue. Four or five years ago I entered a contest with “Chicken Soup for the Soul” about pets I’ve loved. I entered a story called “The Great Hunters” about my cats. My story is being considered for one of their books called “What I learned from my Cat”. What I learned from this experience is that you never know where your next opportunity may come from so you can never give up.

Do you have a story of perseverance, or a time when you accomplished something when you didn’t know if you could?

22 comments:

Janet C. said...

ACK - OMG - Jana, this is such great news. I've been waiting to hear from you (and I know you said in June you'd hear). I'm so happy for you. I know how hard you worked on this story - I know how much of yourself you gave - and I know how much you wanted this. I'm so glad that Riley and Iris' story is going to be published (believe me, people, this story is fabulous).

WOO HOO - it's 6:50 in the morning, I just got out of bed, but I'm still jumping up and down in excitement. Way to go, Jana.

And for the second sale as well - I haven't read that one, but I know how well you write and I bet it is fantasic (and in a Chicken Soup book, no less :)

Silver James said...

w00t! Awesome blossom news, Jana! Welcome to the Garden! (as those of us at TWRP call it.)

I love the premise of this story and can't wait to read it. The editors at Wild Rose are demanding. They want to put your best book out there. (I just went through five months of the Revision from Hades(tm) on Faerie Fate but it's done and so much better than it was before -- I'm lucky they bought the original. lol!)

Congrats on both sales and congrats for sticking it out. I'm sure Burning Love is going to be a hit!

Karen said...

Wonderful news, Jana. I'm soooo excited for you! Congratulations, too, on sticking it out and doing what needed to be done.

I can't wait to read it!

Thanks for inspiring me today, Jana, I'm going to promise myself lots of great writing will be done today.

Yunaleska said...

Many congratulations Jana! That's fantastic news indeed.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Squee Jana. That's fantastic!!!

And here I thought only Captain Achiever gave pep rallies. Wow.

So, this is what I can expect from the editors at TWRP, eh? Good to know.

Thanks for starting my week off with a bang. :)

Helena said...

Your story is so inspiring, Jana. You certainly give the rest of us some hope that a little extra effort (or a lot!) will pay off in the long run. Congrats on your double dose of good news.

This is my first comment in several days, since I'm off on a family visit. Just hopped on an insecure wireless hook-up, and the strength is questionable, but it feels like I'm coming home to check in with the Chicks!

Jana Richards said...

Thanks Janet. You had a huge part in this story, so thank you, thank you. I couldn't have done it without you.

I was totally amazed about the Chicken Soup for the Soul thing. Like I said, I submitted 4 or 5 years ago. So long ago that I've had a couple of computer crashes since I wrote the piece and I only had the story on a 31/2 x 5" floppy drive that I can't open anymore. I was glad that they sent me a copy of the story! I vaguely remember getting an email from them saying that they weren't going to use the story for the project they were working on at that time, but were going to hang on to the story for future projects. I thought "Yeah, right." I also wrote a story for them for a book called "Chicken Soup for the Expectant Mother" or some such thing. Who knows, maybe I'll get a call about that one in a couple of years!

Jana

Jana Richards said...

Thanks Silver. Yes, you're right. TWRP is very demanding, but like you said, when you're done you have a better story. I'm pretty pleased with the way the story worked out.

From one Rose to another in the Garden,
Cheers from Jana

Jana Richards said...

Hi Karen,
I really wanted to write this story to inspire other writers. I came this close to quitting. Seriously. But I couldn't not write, so I hung in there. Deep down, despite so many rejections, I still felt there was something worthwhile in my writing. My Winnipeg buddies, who are nothing if not honest, told me they would have told me to quit if they thought I didn't have it in me. So I hung in there.

And I'm sure it's going to happen for you too. Just hang in there and keeping working.

Jana

Jana Richards said...

Thanks so much Yunaleska. I'm hoping good things come in threes. I'm off to check my lottery tickets very soon!

Jana

Jana Richards said...

Thanks Anita. I appreciate your support. And yes, this is what you can expect from TWRP. I guess it's not just me because Silver says the same thing. My editor at Uncial Press, Jude Glad, is a terrific editor and really made me work hard on revisions for the three books I have there. I think she helped make them better books. But this was even more rigorous, and like I said I felt I really had to "dig deep" to complete those revisions. I'm sure you'll find out for yourself sometime soon! Revisions are hard but they're worth it.

Jana

Jana Richards said...

Hi Helena,
Glad you were able to check in. And I'm glad my story inspired you.

Being the contrary soul that I am, I never feel like I get enough accomplished. Like Janet said in her post on Friday, I have to remember to pat myself on the back once in a while. But you're right; I don't think you get anywhere without a lot of hard work.

I'm looking forward to seeing you at retreat.

Jana

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

Congratulations on the sale to Wild Rose, Jana. What a great way to start Monday! See you soon,
Lesley

ban said...

Fabulous news Jana !! I have no situations that echo yours but ... I'm working on it ;)

Jana Richards said...

Hi Lesley-Anne,
Thanks very much. It was certainly wonderful news to come home to last Monday!

Looking forward to seeing you too.

Jana

Jana Richards said...

Hi ban,
Keep working at it and I'm sure your dream of publication will come true. I'm a firm believer that published writers aren't always the most talented. Sometimes they're the most persistent, or just the most stubborn. They're the ones that didn't give up.

Hang in there.
Jana

Mavis Smyth said...

Hello Jana - I'm new here, but just wanted to say congratulations! Those revisions sound a bit daunting, but obviously worth it in the end if you stick at it.....no doubt I'll find out one of these days (eek!).

Janet C. said...

Jumping in here to welcome you, Mavis, to The Prairies. And thanks for your kind words about us on your blogger profile. Looking forward to reading your blog :)

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Mavis - you're in the heart of the prairies, now. :) If you look on the eharl community map, most of the Chicks live within a day's drive of my balloon but you don't see their balloons because they like lurking. LOL

Everyone, I'd like to introduce Mavis, all the way from N. Ireland who recently completed the first draft of her ms. Woo hoo!!!

It takes perseverance to complete a manuscript and if you read Janet's post on Friday, that already makes you a success. Great job!

So nice to see you here. :)

Karen said...

I'll add my welcome to Janet's. Hi Mavis, glad to be talking to you. Happy writing.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Mavis,
So glad you could join us! Thank you for your warm wishes. Revisions are tough, there's no doubt about it. After writing for many years, I've come to the conclusion that I can't write a coherent story in the first draft. I really agreed with our guest blogger this past Saturday. I don't even find out what my story is about until I get into revisions. Sherry Thomas talked about finding the heart of the story, and for me, the revision stage is when the heart is revealed.

Congratulations on finishing your first manuscript. That's a major accomplishment! And yes, you will soon find out about the joy of revision!

I hope you drop by again soon.
Jana

Mavis Smyth said...

Anita Mae - I can always depend on you to get me out there!!!!

Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome.

And yes......I'm revising - need to get my hero into Chapter 1.....so Chapter 1 is going along with half of Chapter 2 or there abouts - and here enters the shiny new more improved Chapter 1....complete with hero....lesson learned!