Please welcome “Guest Jane” Annie Rains to the blog! Annie and I are Agent Sisters and I’m super excited about her December 1st debut from Randomhouse’s Loveswept imprint. WELCOME TO FOREVER features a military single dad hero and a school principal heroine. You can already tell there’s going to be some sparks flying, right? :-)
How to…Win at Rejection
Yes, you read this blog post title correctly. Now let me explain. This whole author game isn’t like football or soccer, but more like a long distance race. And it’s not for the faint of heart. I should know. It took me six plus years to reach the “finish line,” which I always thought was becoming agented and signing a book contract. That was just the first quarter, though (football anyone?).
During those first six years that I was writing, sending off queries, and collecting rejections, I realized there was a secret language of rejections. My first rejections from agents began as form-type rejections. They weren’t personalized, just a big, fat “no.” If I was lucky, I got a “no, thank you.” But then something wonderful happened. I started to get personalized rejections from agents, telling me why they were rejecting my material. That told me that the agent considering my work thought I had potential.
I held on to that shred of hope, and kept running. Or, as Dory would say, “Just keep swimming.” (I know, I’m mixing up all the sports.)
So I wrote faster, worked harder and (pay attention because this is key in winning at rejection) I took the constructive criticism from the personalized rejections and applied it to my work. Check your ego at the door and be willing to make changes.
Then I got the gold-star of rejections—a revise and resubmit.
There it was! The finish line was in sight. All I had to do was make the proposed changes and resubmit. Voila! Right? . . . Wrong! I rushed through my edits on that first R & R, eager for someone to say yes to me. I couldn’t wait for that to happen. And, in my rushing, I flubbed the ball (back to football). I only did one pass through with edits and resubmitted in one week’s time, naively thinking that would show the agent that I’m fast. Naively thinking that said agent was sitting somewhere behind a desk, tapping her fingers, and impatiently waiting for my revisions.
So I got another rejection. And because I never seem to learn my lessons the first time, I repeated the same scenario. Hard-earned lesson: Take your time and offer up your best product. This is true when you’re in the querying stage and afterward, when you have your shiny agent and brand new publisher.
Moving on, I attended my first RWA conference and started to make my first contacts with publishing people. I started putting faces to the faceless names I’d been submitting to for years. During that first conference I met several agents and discussed my book(s) with them. Most were genuinely interested and asked to see my work. So when I got home I carefully prepared my submissions, making sure the work I offered up was my absolute best, and pressed SEND.
Anddddddddd . . . Wait for it . . . .
I got more rejections. BUT I’d made a connection and I knew I could use that connection to my advantage. I wrote another manuscript and personalized my query to remind those connections of our meeting and their interest. I had a foot in the door and I wasn’t about to let it close without a fight. Because, after six years I was ready. Primed.
And that’s when I got it. The Call! Insert happy dancing and champagne! Fireworks!
And then my shiny new agent and I went on submission with my book, and the rejection started again. What I’ve learned, though, is that every rejection is just one step closer to someone saying yes. It’s a landmark, a hurdle, whatever you want to call it, but it’s most definitely not a stop sign. Quitting is the only way you lose.
So, go forth, gather your rejections like patches of honor and never give up.
Annie Rains is a contemporary romance author who writes small town love stories set in fictional towns on the coast of North Carolina. Raised in one of America’s largest military communities, Annie often features heroes who fight for their countries, while also fighting for a place to call home and a good woman to love. When Annie isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and 3 children, or reading a book by one of her favorite authors. She’s represented by Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost Literary Agency (NYLA).
In Seaside, North Carolina, there are two kinds of people: Marines, and kids of Marines. Then there’s Kat Chandler. Recently hired as the principal of Seaside Elementary, Kat makes it her mission to turn the school into a place of peace and calm. That’s not going to be easy with hard-liner parents like Micah Peterson storming in, telling her how to do her job—and then kissing her with those gorgeous lips of his and turning her brain into mush.
As a Marine Sergeant and a single dad, Micah Peterson has just two priorities: doing his job better than anyone else, and getting the absolute best for his son, Ben. But when he meets Ben’s beautiful new principal, a different yearning shifts into focus. He wants her, sure, but he’s also moved by the connection Kat forges with her students. So after learning that she refuses to date Marines, Micah sets two more objectives: convincing Kat to give him a chance . . . and then holding on to her forever.
Get Your Very Own Copy of WELCOME TO FOREVER
For the first time in what seems like forever (or about 18 months) I am staring down at my 2015 calendar and it is virtually empty. There is next to nothing on it. I’m basking, gratefully, in the freedom. Of course, my bank account balance is not basking, but that will be remedied soon enough. Right now though, I am positively alight with the idea of having no holiday plans whatsoever.
Last year was a nonstop job-event-family-more-events marathon with every single day, and every weekend, stacked with everything from conferences to parties to responsibilities. The best celebrations were making holiday cookies in a commercial kitchen with dozens of friends, and my annual wreath-making party. I’m not shy about letting anyone know I throw a great party. Hey, I’m a Libra. Still, too much of a good thing can quickly turn what’s supposed to be a fun-filled time of year into a chore.
Which is why I’m laying low this month and next, organizing my year-end taxes, streamlining my home, reading and focusing on all that I have to be grateful for right now. There are few distractions other than the dog hounding me for extra walks.
I haven’t been in this mental space in a very long time and I realize I have missed it. I also need to curb the urge to pick up the phone or send out emails, contacting friends I haven’t caught up with in a while. Happy hours and holiday shopping are on hold, too. The crazy-making pace and whirlwinds of non-stop activity that often define our culture… they can wait.
I’m not doing anything right now. But there’s always next year, I tell myself. 2016 will be here soon enough. I’m all about NOTHING right now. A Zen holiday!
In one word, can you sum up your thoughts or feelings toward the coming holiday weeks?
This month at See Jane Publish we’re talking about how-tos, but since it’s also the Thanksgiving season, I thought I’d contemplate “how to holiday”.
As we accelerate at breakneck speed into the holiday season, I guess this is the time to take a moment to reflect on all the good things we have and we can look forward too — but WHO HAS THE FREAKIN’ TIME?!?! How do people manage to pull off this whole “life” thing?!
Ahem. Excuse me. That is the leftover Halloween candy
shrieking talking. (And by “leftover”, of course I mean “specifically purchased in excess of the estimated number of trick’or’treaters”.) I LIKE the holidays — or I WANT to like the holidays, but they make me nuts. And I don’t like nuts in my chocolate. I like to do handmade things for Christmas, but every year I find myself rushing to get through instead of mediating on the loved ones who receive the items. (I just accidentally typed medicating instead, which goes to show you how nuts I am.)
This year, I’m trying to be a little more mindful. According to my calendar, I have the “last” book in my Wolves of Angels Rest series (it’s not really the last-last, just the last in this second trilogy) coming out tomorrow. And then I have most of a month off. (And by “off”, of course I mean only day job, second day job, and holiday prep.) A whole month with no writing deadlines looming! December and January are gonna be reeeeeeeediculous, but for a few weeks here at the end of the harvest season — we still have a bit of broccoli, peppers, and lettuce in the garden, not to mention some brussels sprouts (no really, let’s NOT mention the brussels sprouts, eeeewwwww) — I am going to FOCUS on what I want to like about the holidays: family and friends, gifts and good food, the promise of peace.
We’ll see how I do…AFTER tomorrow’s release. ;)
On a scale of candy-comatose to full-on frantic, where are you in your love of holidays? Share in comments to commiserate… No, wait, we’re being grateful. So share a tip for mellowing out instead.
And I’ll leave you with Monster Girl, who was very much NOT into the seasonal spirit with her ghost dog costume. It was my trick, but she got the treat.
Several of my writing buddies decided to take a local law enforcement citizen’s academy because it would give us insights to enhance the details of our own stories. How long would it take for a real law enforcement agent to show up at the crime scene to aid our fictional hero battling a villain? What are the real physical and mental stressors that uniformed officers experience when they are called upon to save my fictional damsels in distress? All these questions have been answered and so much more has been learned taking these classes. I highly suggest, to any writer, to take advantage of any local citizen’s academies available to you. Your characters will be well-developed and you will become an educated citizen in your community.
There were several class topics that peeked my interest and some that gave me dread. Top on the dread list was the opportunity to tour our County Jail. From my limited knowledge of jails, based on television, inmates are in their cells or in the yard while guards are behind glass or above in towers. But this is not the reality of my local jail system. Inmates are placed in pod systems based on the severity of their crimes and personal aggression levels. In the higher level pods, there are lots of locks and closed doors. However, in the majority of the pods, there is one deputy in the open spaces with the inmates. It was explained to us that if the guards stay behind glass walls, there are lots of nooks and crannies where inmates can misbehave with each other. If the guard, aka “Mommy and Daddy”, were in the room with the “kids” it would more difficult to get away with misconduct. They have statistics that this system works.
And it all sounds very logical until you find yourself in one of those pods, on an escorted tour, and there is no glass to hide behind for a sense of security. I found myself more sacred than I care to admit. I felt like I had agreed to go on the worst haunted house tour ever. I loathe Haunted Houses. I hate all things scary. I can’t believe I found myself going on a jail tour at 9pm on a Tuesday night. The memories of what I saw are lingering with me.
We were warned that jail can be quite boring so seeing us would break up the monotony of their day. The second we walked into the first pod, we got the full attention of one of the inmates. I believe this guy watched too many episodes of Prison Break and idolized the character of T-Bag. While the deputy was explaining jail pod life 101, this guy sharpened three pencils while gyrating his hips and making sound effects. While we were trying to exit, he took an imaginary phone call so everyone would have to walk inches past him to leave the area. I don’t know if the guy was crazy, evil, bored, or a little or each. I wouldn’t voluntarily be in the same room with that guy again and all I wanted was the deputy to be safe behind some glass (and even the other inmates to be safe against this guy). But he was just the tip of the iceberg. In the medical unit, where they keep inmates on suicidal watch, with infectious diseases, etc, their faces seemed void of sanity. In the highest level pod, finally behind some glass walls, there was an agitated man who appeared to have more dementia than criminal intentions. At the end of the tour I witnessed a woman who was so upset at her situation that she just screamed at the top of her lungs until she ran out of energy.
I could barely stand being in that place for an hour. At the end, I was less fearful but my heart ached. Many of the inmates gave me the impression that they would benefit from a Mental Health Counselor or an Addiction specialist, which would be way beyond the abilities and talents of the jail guards hired to maintain order. These guards are called upon to do a difficult job dealing with a wide variety of personalities. However, every single employee we came across seemed to be the type of person you would want as a co-worker. They treated everyone with respect, were extremely knowledgeable and did their jobs with a sense of purpose. Those were the thoughts that flooded my mind as I fled the jail as soon as the tour was over.
Yet my final lingering thought, that I tell everyone who has asked me about my jail tour experience, is that you wouldn’t believe how many Nora Roberts books I saw in these pods. Her books are everywhere!
I’m on the cusp of a big change, one that I’ve been dreaming about for a long, long time. Change is always difficult and more than a little scary for me, and this new phase I’m about to enter is so big, it’s extra scary. My debut novel VIKING WARRIOR RISING releases on November 3!
On one hand, I can’t wait for this to happen. On the other, I’m very, very frightened. I’m looking forward to the release party. My mom is coming over from Sweden, friends are driving over from Seattle, and geographically closer friends all plan on being there to celebrate the occasion. After November 3, I will have taken the big step from writer to published author. What if I flop? What if people hate the book? Those questions are why I’m also looking at November 3 with trepidation.
I like routine, I like the familiar, change is scary and intimidating. But I also know it helps me grow.
As much as I have a hard time to adjust to my new role, I’m looking forward to my release day. I completed my very first novel in 2006. I didn’t sell until I’d written two more, so it was a long journey before I signed my first publishing contract. After I’d polished that very first novel, I headed to my very first writers conference in 2007 to network with other writers, and also to pitch my project to agents and editors. The 400+ participant conference overwhelmed me, so I took a break during one of the workshop sessions and went to the hotel restaurant for some food. There was only one other person there, a friendly woman who also wore a conference badge. She asked me to join her and it was easy to talk about books and writing. She asked me what I wrote and when I described my novel, she recommended I’d check out Romance Writers of America (RWA).
This professional writing organization ended up being a huge part of why I finally sold a novel. I learned craft and business processes through its workshops and classes. I researched and vetted publishing professionals at its conferences, which is how I found my dream agent and editor.
I also joined my local chapter and this weekend I had the pleasure of donating a basket filled with books written by my fellow Inland Empire Chapter writers for the Passport to Romance Reader Appreciation Event in Seattle. The basket contained an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) of VIKING WARRIOR RISING. The very first copy of the book that I signed as an author. Guess who won the basket? That same lovely woman who told me about RWA eight years ago, the talented author and editor Christine Fairchild.
As much as new adventures scare me, I realize the familiar continues with me on the next steps in my journey. And I look forward to many more magical encounters as that one time in an empty restaurant when a scared and intimidated new writer took who had stepped out of her comfort zone to go to a writers conference all by herself met a gracious and generous stranger who gave the best advice ever and also became a friend.
Happy Writing! And Happy Halloween! May we all have the courage to step into the scary and unfamiliar so we can experience amazing adventures!
Ps. If you’d like to learn more about Naya and Leif’s adventure in VIKING WARRIOR RISING, it’s available for pre-order at any of your favorite book retailers including these: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and BookDepository.com (Great retailer for international orders. They ship out of the UK and deliver free all over the world.)
För mina Svenska vänner och familj så har Bookus.com den Engelska versionen. Jag vet inte ännu ifall mitt Amerikanska förlag tänker sälja översättnings rättigheter.