The big R: A writer’s worst enemy… and best friend

I received my second (novel) rejection earlier this week, and it felt like I’d been steamrollered.

I have come to realise that a rejection can easily be likened to the five stages of a bereavement or break-up. Because, like it or not, you will go through them. And as this blog is about my writing journey, about my successes as well as my failures, it’s only fitting that I should share this step and the feelings it evoked.

Anger – In my case, it wasn’t so much anger, more shock and confusion. Deep down, I think I guessed it would be rejected. We set ourselves up to expect the worst, so that anything else comes as a beautiful surprise. But even though I expected a rejection, I was still shocked by such unexpected feelings of hurt and disappointment. While playing the waiting game, I think I secretly hoped for a ‘revise and resubmit’, but let’s face it, this is my first full-length, completed novel, and although I have submitted a partial manuscript before which was also rejected, this one is technically (in my book – excuse the pun) my first official submission and rejection, which is nothing in this industry.

Denial – Yep, this one definitely played its part, but this came first. Mainly because when you’re playing the waiting game, you begin to imagine that your submission hasn’t even been received, or that you followed the guidelines incorrectly, or that it’s been lost somewhere, never to be seen again. That YOU have been forgotten about. Little, insignificant you, just a tiny grain of sand lost in an entire beach. So when that email first arrived in my inbox, my heart slammed against my chest and forgot to keep beating. My whole body went cold, my hands started to shake, and I had absolutely no idea whether I should open it, because I didn’t want to know what was inside.

Bargaining – I tried bargaining with myself throughout the waiting period. ‘No news is good news. You’ve worked so hard on this book, it’s intricately woven, it deserves a decent amount of attention. Wait it out.’ Except, that little voice kept chipping away. ‘Forget it. Move on. You’re insignificant, you’ve been forgotten about.’

Depression – It hit. It struck like a giant wave engulfing me and sucking me under. Yes, it’s a cliche, but I don’t care. That’s how I felt. I told my writer friends. I told my husband. I told one of my close friends. I needed to express these vile feelings churning inside me, even if only to tell someone and have them try and make me feel better about it. It worked, a little. But the only thing that truly helped was a good night’s sleep and to get back in my chair and continue working on my current WIP.

Acceptance – Fortunately for me, I bounce easily. Also, fortunately for me, I have a fantastic support group of writing friends, who told me what I needed to hear: Keep going. I have a distinctive voice. One response doesn’t signify the end. It’s only one person’s opinion. Additionally, it’s only my second rejection. Which is nothing in this field. It still hurts, but I also know it means I have a fair way to go in honing the craft of novel writing. The best part about this rejection, is that the editor said it was a ‘fun first novel.’ Imagine that? My first novel, my first full piece of work, which went through five drafts in just over a year, which started off as a typical romance and ended up being set in the 1920s (WHAT happened?!). It was bloody hard work, it was complicated, it made me go cross-eyed, and I fell in love with my characters. So, I’m not going to forget about it and move on, I’m going to put it to one side for now. There are some aspects which need work, but the editor also said I have ‘great potential.’ She took the time to give me that feedback, as well as the parts which need more work, and I’m going to hold on to that and remember it every time I feel doubt. ‘A fun first novel’ is perhaps the most amazing thing an editor from a well-known publisher could say in a rejection, so although the end result wasn’t what I dreamed of, it will come to help me in my journey.

If you’re reading this and have recently received a rejection of your own, I hope you’ll gain some encouragement from this post. Realise that if you want something badly enough – it’s in your power to keep trying. As I have always said, the only way to fail is to stop trying.

Never. Give. Up.

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Book Review: What a Girl Needs (Indecent Proposals, #2) by Aimee Duffy

What a Girl Needs (Indecent Proposals, #2)What a Girl Needs by Aimee Duffy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As with the first of Aimee Duffy’s Indecent Proposals (What’s a Girl To Do?), I devoured most of the author’s second offering – What a Girl Needs – in one go. I loved the opening, which hooked me in straight away. Our heroine, Georgia, has an embarrassing secret which warms you to her immediately, regardless of whether you’ve ever shared her plight. But although she has her fair share of problems, she also has a sharp tongue – her trademark defence mechanism. So when her hot new boss Max discovers her secret and hits her with a shocking proposal, he’s not prepared for the tongue lashing she gives him – in more ways than one. Both characters are in denial, and believe they can both have some no-strings fun, which quickly spirals out of control. It’s a novella, so this fast-moving romance is short, but Ms. Duffy still manages to deliver real-life characters with depth, plenty of conflict and a wonderful dollop of HEAT – it is, after all, indecent.
I can’t wait to read Eloisa’s story – the last in the trilogy of these Indecent Proposals. Thank you once again Ms. Duffy!

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Book review: Blood Torn by Lindsay J. Pryor

Blood Torn (Blackthorn, #3)Blood Torn by Lindsay J. Pryor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I make no secret of the fact I am a big fan of Ms. Pryor’s world of Blackthorn. The first book in the series, Blood Shadows, was a whirlwind, gripping story about fierce, feisty agent Caitlin Parish – from the Third Species Control Division – intent on bringing down the notorious master vampire, Kane Malloy. This story almost prevented me from preparing the kids’ dinner a few nights in a row.

Then came the second book, Blood Roses, and the incredibly dark vampire, Caleb Dehain, who I absolutely loved. I think I loved Blood Roses, with Caleb and Leila – a serryn born to destroy him – more than I loved Blood Shadows (although I’d never have guessed it at the time).

Ms. Pryor creates strong, but seriously flawed heroines, on a mission to take down the enemy they’re destined to fall in love with, but not without consequence.
She likes to put some serious obstacles in the way of these couples, leaving you wondering how on earth they’re going to come through it unscathed.

I got my ‘claws’ into Blood Torn by downloading it as soon as it was released, and spent an entire evening into the early hours reading the first half. I’d have pulled an all-nighter if I could, because the threads Ms. Pryor kept spinning kept me turning, page after page after page with questions, desperate to know what happened next.

The first two books follow the story of two of the key players – the two most powerful vampires – in Blackthorn.

Blood Torn, on the other hand, is all about sexy Lycan leader Jask Tao, and Phia McKay; the sharp, impulsive younger sister of Leila from Blood Roses, and she’s intent on bringing down ALL of the Third Species leaders. What she doesn’t count on, though, is Jask being a force to be reckoned with, someone who challenges her very being, her reason for existing and all of her values. He breaks her down, gets under her skin, and gets into her head and she’s powerless to stop him, although she certainly gives it her best shot. As with all of Ms. Pryor’s books, we are left with a Happy For Now, but there are some mammoth challenges left in the way, all leading up to what I expect will be a massive show-down – yet to be revealed. Once I’d experienced all the action and conflict (and not to mention steamy scenes) unfold between Jask and Phia, a feeling of deep unease crept over me at the prospect of the next book. Because while we have a Happy For Now, Ms. Pryor has laid the path for an even darker journey into the next book, a taster of which is provided at the end of Blood Torn. I read the first chapter horrified, then gasped as it came to an abrupt end. Because, although disturbingly dark, I was so embroiled in the lives of the characters of Blood Torn, so wrapped up in their world, that when I got to the next part of the story, I simply wasn’t ready to leave Blackthorn. Alas, I shall just have to wait until Blood Deep is released. Or read all three books again.

Once again, a fabulous instalment from Ms. Pryor. Absolutely spectacular.

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‘A day off?’ she laughed. ‘Don’t be silly dear, I’m a mother.’

I decided to take a day off today.

I never stop. Never. Never get a day off. Never get to just impulsively hop in my car and disappear for the day. Not without intricate planning. That is a luxury pre-parenthood. Because, let’s face it, once you become a parent, your life is no longer your own.

Oh no, wait, I'm a mom
Oh no, wait, I’m a mom

As a writer, I’m always pushing myself to work at every spare opportunity I get to myself, which means ‘me’ time regrettably takes a back seat. Whatever my vocation in life may be, whether I work in retail, in an office, or from home; first and foremost I am a mother, and I guarantee every single mother will identify with this.

Your day starts as soon as you open your eyes, when the first thing you hear is the click of your child’s bedroom door down the hall, followed by a mini-elephant running across the landing and bursting into your bedroom. The first thing you feel, is your child’s knee in your stomach and elbow in your face as they climb up next to you for morning cuddles. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE morning cuddles, but occasionally I get to experience that rare moment of waking up before my child, when I have just a few precious minutes to gather my thoughts before the day starts. And so it begins. A long, challenging day of random conversations, cleaning, washing, fetching drinks, snacks, chiding, coaxing, pleading, prising crayons out of sticky mitts before they connect with the wall, rocking in the corner… right up until that delicious hour before your own bedtime, when you get to do your best impression of a stoned zombie. Except, for me, this is also my time to catch up on other necessities like texts from family and friends, social networking, not to mention the growing list of catch up TV which is clogging up the Sky box. When I do get to bed, I like to indulge in making a dent in my To Be Read pile, which I manage for approximately half an hour before my eyes start to roll back in my head. This is all providing I haven’t had numerous return-calls upstairs to check the wet and windy weather, or say goodnight to the moon, or change a nappy, fetch a drink, or just for a cuddle (I don’t mind this one, of course). If I’m lucky, I’ll get a full seven hours with no interruptions, although this is rare.
Once again, before we know it, we’ve come full circle and are doing it all again.

Don’t misunderstand me. I love my life, I really do. I left the security of a full-time salary in favour of looking after my family while working on my writing career, with only one income coming into our home. I make no secret of the fact that my husband is the bread-winner, although some days I really miss having an income of my own [sobs]. But the fact remains that whether I have an office job, or am a stay-at-home mum while trying desperately to create an income of my own from home, my main role – motherhood – never stops. A mother is on call 24/7, has the patience of a saint (mostly, with off days), is the peacemaker, home-maker, problem-solver, nutritionist, nurse, counsellor, and many more.

Anyone who thinks being a parent is easy – particularly being a stay-at-home mum (and childminders will identify with this) has clearly never done it.

Motherhood – no, scratch that – parenthood (not forgetting the stay-at-home Dads whose wives go out into the ‘real world’ to earn the main income) – is bloody hard work. But, when all is said and done, it’s also the most rewarding job in the world, and I wouldn’t change it for a second.

I have to go now. Someone just pulled the entire toilet roll off the holder.

Important note: As indicated by this blog post, any mention of time-off was theoretical and never actually happened.

ABC (Awesome Blog Content) Award

Okay, so I’ve been nominated for this award twice now and it would appear there is no getting away from it.

Thank you hugely to Lindsay J Pryor (check out her awesome website and books) for the first nomination, and Jane Hunt (author of her exciting debut – The Dragon Legacy) for the second nomination. I feel if I don’t do this now, I may be receiving a third nomination, so here is an A-Z of things which are important to me, just for a bit of fun! 🙂

A is for affection – the amount that just one child can offer, and how a hug from such a little person can warm your soul.

B is for Bailey – our ginger and white cat, a complete stupid soppy soul who I watched being born, and will put up with anything from our 2 year old – just a month younger than him.

C is for cats – my favourite animal. We have two of them. I’ve always grown up with them, although I don’t class myself as a ‘crazy cat lady’. Not anymore, anyway. Not since I got married and didn’t have to worry about being eaten by Alsatians.

D is for Dad – I had two of them, and sadly both are no longer with us. But I consider myself lucky for having two such wonderful role models in my life, even if it wasn’t for as long as I’d have liked.

E is for Emmeline – my first true heroine and the leading lady in my novel, Time for Love.

F is for flood – what I think the garden is going to do while I listen to the rain lashing against the window pane.

G is for G-Raff, the name of my daughter’s favourite comforter, who I am also oddly attached to. If she ever lost him, I don’t know who would be most upset…

H is for hungry – I’ve spent too long on here tonight and now must forage for food.

I is for Innocent – how I try to look when I play a practical joke on my sister. I always fail.

J is for Jogging – something I’d love to do but never quite get around to it…

K is for Kip – something I dream about doing when I’m older, when the kids have left home, and a marathon writing session with my wonderful Twitter support crew leaves me ready for a cheeky afternoon nap!

L is for Leo – my Antagonist in Time for Love. He leapt out of nowhere onto the page, and pretty much wrote himself.

M is for mother – mine is the bees knees. I thought I’d put her in here to see if she’s reading the posts. 😛 Hi Mum!!

N is for Novel – and the fact I can say I have written two in two years.

O is for Octopus. How I sometimes feel since becoming a mother.

P is for Poppy. Our beautiful flower-come-butterfly. xx

Q is for Qi – one of my fallback words in Scrabble when I’m stuck without a ‘U’ 😉

R is for Robert – the name of my first and favourite teddy bear, my Grandad and another two legends in my family 🙂

S is for silly – how I act when there are no kids about. Responsibility can be a heavy burden.

T is for the Tiara I wore on my wedding day – the only day in my adult life I could get away with wearing one, and feeling like a princess.

U is for Us – family, friends, writing support crew. We pull together and make a great team. We wouldn’t be so damn good without each other.

V is for Vampire Diaries and my #TVD girls. You all rock.

W is for water and its healing properties. Drink it, swim in it, play in it, bathe in it. Did you know your body is made up of about 70% water?

X is for xylophone and my concern over how a child is supposed to get their head round learning that letter of the alphabet when the English Language is so… odd!

Y is for Yoga – my favourite past-time and a great excuse to wear my ‘yoga pants’. Just ask my husband. On second thoughts, don’t.

Z is for Zebedee from The Magic Roundabout and the lampshade and curtains my sister and I had as small children. Oh the small things that stick with you!

I believe I’m supposed to tag someone else now, so I choose the following lovely ladies to display the logo and give us an A-Z of what’s dear to them…

Shanah Wooldrage
Catherine Coles
Michelle Smart

Take it away, ladies, over to you! 😉