Hello! A warm thank you to the Prairie Chicks for having me as their guest today. I’d like to chat about rejection letters. Are they the demons and bitter pills and a writer’s worst nightmare? Every writer has traveled this long and winding road, and if you’re having a bad day, receiving a rejection letter might just be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Rejection letters make us doubt our writing ability, our creative muse, and ultimately, ourselves and our purpose. With the devil perched on our shoulder, better add the why was I even born syndrome to the mix. Before long, chins are dragging on the floor and the poor poor pitiful me party is just getting started.
After a long bout with progressive blindness, due to diabetic retinopathy, my life took a severe nose dive. I went from being a legal secretary for a judge to not being able to see the paper, let alone the print. But worst than that, I could no longer pursue my passion of painting. With a strong creative muse and nowhere to channel it, life became as dull as my existence. But when I heard about a computer with adaptive software, converting text to synthesized speech, hope soared. With a new outlook and a new direction, I challenged myself to write a romantic suspense.
Once I’d written my first full length novel, I envisioned agents and Hollywood movie producers beating a path to my door. With this happy little fantasy in mind, I whipped out twenty-one submission packages to top New York agents. Then I sat back, waiting for the phone to ring off the hook. It never rang. But slowly but surely, all agents responded to my romantic suspense, each a rejection letter. The worst of the lot said simply, "Your project does not excite us."
With that little devil perched on my shoulder once more, my first reaction was to fire back an email of attack. Everything in me wanted to scream they’d be sorry when what they so carelessly pitched in the trash wound up a New York Times bestseller. But my psychology classes kicked in, and Freud’s ego component mediated between the devil and the angel. I orchestrated a new plan of attack. I enrolled in creative writing classes, joined critique groups and attended conferences. It didn’t take long to realize why my novel was rejected. Using knowledge as power, I learned to accept criticism from group members. And while attending a conference, The door to Wild Rose Press was opened. One more grain of knowledge to add to the list. I was marketing my novel in the wrong genre. While it had elements of romance, it did not fit the standard romance category and was rejected once more.
Unwilling to ditch the dream of having my first novel published, I set it aside on my hard drive. For the next two years, I focused on short stories of romance and had several published by The Wild Rose Press. Then I published a book about my struggles with diabetic retinopathy, giving a percentage of proceeds to JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) fight for a cure. More confident in my writing skills, I wrote a full length romantic suspense. Her Biggest Fan was accepted and will be released by Wild Rose Press in September. Now it was time to attack my first novel, still sitting pretty on my hard drive collecting dust.
While polishing it to the best of my ability, I recalled the words of a teacher in my writing class. She said the first book written is rarely the first book sold. Truer words were never spoken. After twenty-two rejection letters, three title changes and numerous rewrites, my first novel has a home. I am pleased to announced the release of Mask of the Betrayer by Whimsical Publications, book one in the series. Even though it has plenty of romance in it, it’s more about the complexity of the mind and is labeled a psychological thriller.
So are rejection letters really the bad seed we make them out to be? You betcha. But that one straw that could have broke the camel’s back made my back a hell of a lot stronger. Writing is a learning experience. The key is keeping up with the continuous changes in the writing world and knowing the market in which you are targeting. Rejection letters hurt, but for every rejection there is acceptance. My advice is to keep on writing and keep on submitting. What’s the most valuable lesson I’ve learned through all of this? I’m a better writer today than I was yesterday, but not as good as I will be tomorrow.
Visit Sharon at her website: www.sharonadonovan.com for news on her latest release and what's she's working on at the moment. You'll also find reviews, excerpts, and information on her contests.
You can also follow Sharon on her blog at www.sharondonovan.blogspot.com