Monday, April 2, 2012

Don't Get Mad. Get Busy!

Tomorrow is the 12th anniversary of the sale of my first book, Rachel's Rescuer.  To say I was surprised when my agent called to say that Silhouette Romance was interested in publishing it would be a colossal  understatement.  I never really believed it would ever happen, but I kept trying anyway.  Sounds a bit crazy, doesn't it?  I owe a ton of thanks to three wonderful women who, at the time, were my critique partners.  Because of Kathie DeNosky, Janet Barton, and Belinda Barnes, I never threw in the towel all those times I wanted to so badly.

Rejection is a terrible thing to endure, and even more so when something you've created from your heart is turned down.  It happens to the best of writers...nearly always more than once and---believe it or not---to writers who have written and sold many, many books.  Even last year I experienced it twice, until I finally hit the mark with two different books.

When things got rocky over the past seventeen years, I could have quit.  I've had plenty of rejections of all kinds.  But I didn't throw in the towel.  Whether it was friends who kept me going or sheer stubbornness to prove that I could do it, I kept trying.  So far, being stubborn has paid off, even though there have been times I was convinced it wouldn't.

So what was my motivation?  I fiercely believed that if I quit, I'd miss my chance and never prove to myself or anyone else that I really could do it.

That long and winding road the Beatles sang about just kept leading me back to the door of writing.  And that road had plenty of bumps.  Before I sat down to write what would later become Rachel's Rescuer, I'd experienced several rejections on other stories.  By that time I'd learned that it didn't do any good to mope around the house because an editor didn't care for my story.  Or my writing.  Or whatever it was that prompted the rejection.  I'd come to the point where I'd have a short pity party for myself that lasted less than a couple of hours, then I'd force myself to move on.  After the first couple of times, doing that became fairly easy.  I can still remember sitting at the drafting table that served as my desk at the time, while I announced, "They want cowboys, brides, and babies?  I'll give them babies, brides, and cowboys!"  And although heroine Rachel Harris's son Cody was a few years past being a baby, and hero Lucas Callahan was a rancher in Montana, not a rodeo cowboy, there was a wedding---although not a real one.  I finished it, titled it, and then wondered what to do.

I decided to throw caution to the wind and entered The Rancher and the Runaway Mom in the Maggie Contest.  Of course I knew it was crazy, but what the heck.  At least it was a chance to get some helpful feedback.   The feedback really was helpful...and so was winning first place, along with receiving a request for the full manuscript from the senior editor of Silhouette Romance.  I was so excited, I called an agent on the spur of the moment, and she graciously offered to represent me.  I polished the manuscript, sent it to an editor I was working with at Silhouette, and was promptly rejected.  On the same day the rejection arrived, so did a rejection from an agent I'd queried months before.  Things on the publishing front weren't looking so good, after all.  Because the editor who rejected me was leaving immediately, and with an okay from my agent, I decided to submit to a different editor.  It took a while, but I finally struck gold on April 3, 2000.

Looking back, it took motivation, fueled by perseverance, the help of friends, and an added dash of simply stubborn.  It still amazes me that someone liked my creation enough to publish it.

Be amazed.  Find the best motivation for you, and then use it with perseverance to reach your dream.
 "There is no failure except in no longer trying." - Elbert Hubbard 

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