Posts Tagged ‘rejection’

Writing friends, I just gave up. Completely surrendered.


And you know what? It felt great. I’ll probably do it again tomorrow. And the next day, too.

I see the confusion on your face. Surrender?? Gave up on what???

Stuff I have no control over. Factors outside my influence. The immoveable metric ton of tricksy particulars I keep trying to shoulder. Pesky things like:

–the economy

–market and genre trends

–shifting state of the publishing industry

–today’s seven figure deal for the latest self-published/YA/fanfic/erotica/BDSM/OCD/PTSD/STFU phenom

–three day auctions

–past failures

–past revisions

–past mistakes
–present learning curve



–editorial taste

–editorial lists

–acquisitions meetings

–editorial boards

–the submission process

–submission response times

–NYC weather


Maybe your list is different. Maybe you’re querying agents or staring at your debut’s book cover or sobbing over your last royalty statement. But I bet you have a list. Take a good hard look at it, and ask yourself if you’re like me, a writer who needs to put her hands up and say…

I am not psychic. I am not a special snowflake. I am not superman, yet I am not immune to kryptonite. I am just a girl, sitting in a red chair, typing some words. I am just trying to tell a story, the best way that I can. I can control the words. I can’t control the rest. The rest will not cripple or paralyze or smother the joy I find in words. Yesterday and today and tomorrow.  Amen.

Surrender is sweet. I highly recommend it. 🙂

Hullo there.

Er, sorry for not blogging last week.  I’ve been polishing up my new project. I’d tell you about it, but I’d have to shush you. Permanently.

Anyhoo, let’s see a show of hands. How many of you writers out there have doubts about your writing? How many of you wake up everyday knowing you’re a genius scribbler?


My friends sometimes give me a hard time about this, but I must confess: Aside from Scarlet Whisper, Librarian/Rock Star/International Jewel Thief,  I also have ANOTHER alter ego. Yes, I am the (not so super) hero known as UNCERTAIN GIRL.

Uncertain Girl has one ridiculous ability, the Paralyzing Power of Indecision. Twenty times a day, Uncertain Girl changes how she feels about her own writing. One minute, she’s onto something good. The next, she doubts she can string a first rate sentence together.

Uncertain Girl has never had a day in which she felt totally, completely, utterly brilliant about a WIP.

Is that a bad thing?

According to Nathan Bransford (one of the galaxy’s most kindly and crazy cool agents), it’s okay to be uncertain. Here’s why.

See? I don’t have to think I’m awesome. I just have to be passionate, committed,  and ready to grow as a writer.

I’m happy to be imperfect me. I’m (maybe) good enough. I’m (probably) smart enough. And doggone it, (some) people like me!

I’m enjoying this unpredictable up and down journey. How about you? Please don’t leave me hanging. I’d love to know how you feel about uncertainty.

Hungry for more?

If you’re feeling anxious, try working out your issues by making these Aggression Cookies. Stress was never so yummy!

I’ve added footnotes to this sterling query letter. Enjoy.

(1)Dear Agent:

(2) Are you terrified of death? (3) Imagine a world where sparkling, flesh eating zombies roam freely across the countryside. (4) By reading my novel, you will experience the terror of an undead apocalypse. (5) TWILIGHT HUNGER is wholly original; you’ve never met anyone like Hunter Steele. (6) Hunter’s zombie killing escapades are just the tip of the iceberg. (7) Can he save the voluptuous raven haired Desiree  D’Uathata (a fiery tempered fae) from an Islamic terrorist plot?

(8) By now, you must realize you’ve never seen the likes of TWILIGHT HUNGER before. My novel will appeal to anyone who loves good literature, especially men. (9) With over 144 million men in the United States alone, my 287, 000 word epic saga is destined for the bestseller list.

(10) I’ve had my fiction novel professionally edited by my aunt, who proofs the classified ads for our local Penny Saver. (11) My family and friends characterize my story as “unforgettably horrifying” and “strangely amusing.” (12) Although I know you’ll fall in love with my manuscript, I need assurances you will not plagiarize my ideas. (13) To this end, I’ve contacted the copyright office to secure the rights to the novel.

(14) Each chapter of my manuscript is attached to this e-mail as a separate word document. I quit my job this week in order to write a sequel, and I’ll be on vacation until next Thursday. I’ll await your call next Friday at 5:00 p.m. sharp. (15) Let’s make some money together!

(16) Hugs and Kisses,

Scarlet Whisper

(1)   Agents appreciate efficiency. Research is tedious and time consuming. Instead of selecting individual agents who might be the best fit, go ahead and toilet paper Manhattan with your query. Don’t personalize queries; everyone knows it’s a waste of time. If “Dear Agent” feels too impersonal, use “To Whom it May Concern” instead.

(2)   Always begin your query with a question. Agents love rhetorical hooks, especially ones which raise one’s blood pressure; it builds tension

(3)   Show how attuned you are to pop culture by adopting movie trailer narration in your query.

(4)   You know how fabulous your novel is; be confident and tell the agent how much they’ll enjoy your story!

(5)   You want to entice the agent without giving too much of the plot away. Don’t forget to mention your hard-bodied protagonist!

(6)   The use of metaphor marks you as a sophisticated writer. Pepper your query with bold clichés.

(7)   Only give the agent a taste of the action in your story; use adjectives and adverbs freely to highlight your plot. Keep the agent guessing what your book is about.

(8)   Confidence, confidence. Who wants a milquetoast as a client? Tell the agent how unique and profound your novel is; spare no descriptor!

(9)   It’s important to show you’ve done your market research; calculate how many people will buy your masterpiece. By sharing this information up front, you’ve told agent you’re a savvy business person. Include your initial word count, even if you think 287,000 is a little low.

(10)                       Of course, don’t forget to include the manuscript’s history. The agent will appreciate the expertise of a fellow professional. Also, be sure to clarify that your novel is “fiction.”

(11)                       Blurbs are a powerful selling point; quote your blood relatives. The agent enjoys reading these objective reviews.

(12)                       Be careful. Publishing is a cutthroat business. You know your novel is the next Pulitzer. Let the agent see you’re streetwise and prepared for a lawsuit.

(13)                       I’m sure you’ve heard your novel is granted copyright protection from the moment you wrote it, but it never hurts to go the extra mile. While you’re at it, secure the copyright for the cover artwork your daughter painted. Original black velvet canvases of sparkling zombies are hard to come by.

(14)                       Attach the full manuscript, regardless of the agent’s submission guidelines. They’ll thank you later. Attaching each chapter separately will make it easier on the agent when you send revisions two days after your original query.

(15)                       Let your enthusiasm and financial prowess shine through your query letter. In fact, send a box of cigars or a bottle of aftershave along with your submission.

(16)                       This is the clincher. You’ve been the consummate professional throughout your query. Seal the deal with an intimate greeting. The agent will develop distinct feelings toward you.

Still hungry?

After you’ve sent your query, wait for the stacks of manuscript requests to pile up in your mailbox or e-mail folder. Until then, build a bonfire with the mountain of rejections you’ve accrued. The crackling flames are the perfect compliment to my Indoor Smores.

Indoor Smores


4 cups Gold Grahams cereal

3 tablespoons butter

6 cups mini marshmallows

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

Spray or butter a 9 by 13 pan. Set aside cereal in a large bowl. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add marshmallows and corn syrup and stir until melted. Stir in chocolate chips until ingredients melt together smoothly. Remove from heat and pour over cereal; stir well to coat. Press into pan. Cool completely before cutting into squares.


Oh, yes. I am well acquainted with the heartbreak of rejection.

 I mean the writing kind, folks. (Not the kind of rejection I got in fourth grade when I slipped a box of Russell Stover chocolates into my dreamboat crush’s valentine sack…that’s another level of pain altogether.)

 1. Rejection is a natural part of the writing process. Everyone goes through it. Rejection should be a motivator to persevere and grow.

 2. Rejection can nurture a healthy sense of humility. You thought everyone would love your perfect novel about sparkling zombie assassins? Think again. Learn to embrace honesty and work to improve.

 3. Rejection can be illuminating. Although even the most complimentary rejection is still a “no,” rejections with personal feedback provide the writer with valuable critique. If agents or editors take the time to point out flaws, some deep reflecting and/or revising is in order. Query, partial, or full request rejections with on target personal critique are golden. Each has the potential to strengthen future submissions.

 4. Rejection can measure progress. Most of my first rejections were impersonal form rejections. After much revision and critique, my rejections became personalized notes and partial requests. After more revision, my queries have been followed by full requests. Yes, I’m still getting rejected, but I’m getting a lot of detailed critique in the process. Bless those agents who offer scraps of insight to the hopeful writer.

 5. Rejection can be a much needed reality check. If you’ve revised two dozen times, queried 200 agents, and still get only form rejections, a gut assessment is needed. Maybe it’s your project, maybe it’s your writing, or maybe it’s the market. Maybe you stink like a three month old cabbage. Maybe it’s time to explore a career in dairy farming…

 6. Rejection separates the wheat from the chaff. Those who give up early and refuse to learn from rejection make room for others who will go on to publish wonderful (or not so wonderful) books. Keep your day job, but keep writing.

 7. Rejection is hard and fast. No amount of wishful thinking or elaborate rejectomancy can spin an acceptance from a pass on a manuscript. Deal with it and move on.

Dear Ones,

Although your rejection misery sounds very compelling, I’m afraid Imust pass on hearing more about it. I wish you future success in your psychothery sessions.

Best Regards,

Scarlet Whisper

 Hungry for more?

 Curl up with a steaming mug of my hot spiced cider. Pour in a little something extra, if necessary, but remember that the suicide hotline standing by twenty four hours a day, if you need to talk to someone. 

 Hot Spiced Cider

1 large can pineapple juice
1 quart orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 1/2 quarts strong tea
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons whole cloves
Cinnamon sticks (two or three)

Combine  juices and tea. In sauce pan, combine remaining ingredients with 1 qt cold water – bring to a boil, then simmer for five minutes. Turn off the burner and strain off the cinnamon sticks and cloves. Add hot mixture to tea/juice mixture. Heat and serve.