Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

Post SYTYCW rejection update February 1, 2011

One of my critique partners Chelsea  just got a request for a full from Blaze for her So You Think You Can Write entry! Am squeefully dancing around the room for her!

I got over my poutiness pretty fast over the form rejection for mine. A girl’s gotta grieve, but the trick is to feel it deeply and fully, but not let it go on too long.  Truth is, what I sent in wasn’t very good. But I can console myself that I subbed it to the wrong line, and that’s why it got the R. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Well, that and the fact that the story needs to be approached completely differently. I got straight back on the horse, anyway, and if I had to use little mental tricks like that then so be it!

I’ve decided to let that story rest for now,  then come back to it later in the year. I’m currently in chapter 7, and I know some of what I did wrong. I wasn’t letting the story be what it needed to be. I wanted to sub it as a category romance, so I forced events into it that just didn’t fit – like making the hero appear as early as possible in chapter one. The more I write, the more I’m realising this isn’t a romance, it’s women’s fiction with a strong romantic element. It’s the heroine’s journey of self-discovery and emotional growth. Part of this is creating a damn good loving relationship, but she learns a lot of what she needs to allow this to happen from the female friends she makes when she allows herself to stay in one place long enough to be part of a community. Think Fried Green Tomatoes crossed with a hot SuperRomance and that’s kinda the idea! I’m feeling quietly excited about letting that one simmer on the backburner for a while and see what’s cooked up when I come back to it.

For February, I’m going back to the previous story, the one I got the personalised rejection with the two sentence gold nugget from Megan, the editorial assistant with Supers. The story is getting a radical makeover, even the title is new. Oh boy, my heroine has a goal, motivation, and strong stakes now! 95% if not all of my partial goes in the bin. A lot of the first draft of the rest of the book will also need to be scrapped too. It will be a real challenge to write, and the character arcs are still a teensy bit unclear to me, but if I can pull it off, it’s going to be good. I’m doing Shirley Jump’s Revisions can Be Fun workshop this month, so it’s the perfect chance to go back and see what I can do with this story. I’m hoping I’ll have an outline and at least a first draft of the new partial by the end of the month.

How’s everyone else doing in the post-SYTYCW week?

Hopefully there’s more idiot grins and happy dancing going on out there for people who got requests!

For those of us who got the rejection email, some people might be feeling stuck in the inevitable grieving after a rejection. We’re all going to take different lengths of time to process this.  I’ve had some practice this past year! Some things that help- do let yourself feel the anger and sadness. Don’t deny how you feel or pretend it doesn’t hurt- it does! Nurture yourself and be extra gentle with yourself. Remember, it doesn’t mean you suck or your writing sucks, just that there was something that didn’t quite work in your submission. Set yourself a time limit to move on so you don’t get stuck. Be willing to look at what could be changed in your story to strengthen it, or what other publisher it might be a better fit with. Donna Alward did a post on dealing with rejection (even multi-published authors get them) that you might find helpful.

Just don’t let this stop you. Believe in yourself and your writing.


Revisions- hell or heaven? December 22, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 12:02 pm

I haven’t experienced the mixed pain and pleasure of a revision letter yet.

Pleasure because the editor sees potential in my story, she wants to see more, ultimately she must think that this could actually be publishable! Pain because she doesn’t like this and she doesn’t like this and she doesn’t like this and she wants me to add more of that and that and that?  I loved my story the way it was. I sent her the best version I could. How the hell can I change all that?

No wonder we don’t know whether to dance or cry when we get one!

But they are a necessary part of a published writer’s life- next to no stories are published without some revisions, whether minor or extensive. The editor’s job is to know what will make a story work better, and read better, no matter how good it already is. Ultimately, her job is make our stories more publishable-  to help us create stories that readers will buy, read, and love so much they put us on their auto-buy list for next time!

The sad thing is, a huge percentage of requested revisions never get done. Two reasons.

The writer reads the letter as a rejection rather than a revision. Thinking of how to decode “rejection” letters, there’s an oldie but goodie forum thread on eHarl. I’ve heard so many writers say they’ve had a rejection when it’s really a revision, including one of my writing buddies.

Or the writer knows it’s a revision but decides not to redo and resend her story, because it feels like too difficult a job. Sometimes that’s the right decision, the story is too close to the writer’s heart to make the requested changes, and she’s better starting something new. More times it’s just a missed opportunity. We gotta know how to revise to get published!

Maisey’s Call story makes it clear what a big part revisions played-  though the first version of her story was excellent, her finished story incorporating her editor’s suggestions is amazingly stronger. She quotes from her revision letters on her blog in this great post.

Anyway, I want to cut and paste some wise advice for dealing with revisions  posted on the Mills and Boon forum by Historicals author Michelle Willingham. Mainly so when that day comes I need it, I can find it again!

Michelle’s advice-

I go through three phases when I do revisions.

1.  OMG, panic!  This book is the Worst Book Ever! She Hates It! (sobbing wreck)

2. Get over it, Michelle.  Read the revision letter point by point.  Start with the little tweaks.  Think about the bigger picture.

3. Read revision points again.  Realize that she didn’t really hate it, but I really do have work to do.

4. Remember that I’ve done this before. I can do it again. Self pep-talk. Read and absorb revisions again.

5. Start at the beginning,  Realize that editor was completely right and What Was I Thinking when I wrote this?  Start tearing it apart.

6. Start to see the light. Revisions are making the book stronger. Oooh, am loving the changes!

7. Turn in the revised book.  Collapse in a heap. 



Three things that you might try when revising your mss and a scene’s not working…

1.  Change the POV to the opposite character

2. Deepen the scene by revealing more of their emotions and motivations

3. Delete the scene entirely.  Sometimes less is more.

Just thought I’d throw those out there, since they’re techniques I use the most often.  Wink


Revision letters are tough and challenging! But having just had the dreaded form rejection, I would loooooooove to have had one of them instead!