Rejection: So, does that REALLY mean it’s over?

No one wants to receive a Dear John, Dear Jane, or Dear Writer letter. Whether it’s from an ex-lover, an agent or an editor, rejection is rejection and it’s painful.

There are varying degrees of rejection. Some can actually inspire you, while others can be downright hurtful. Yet no matter how good or bad they are, our egos and confidence take a beating. Initially, we may want to:

• Scream and rip the manuscript to shreds
• Start revising the book–at that moment–from chapter one.
• Burn the rejection letter along with the other 50 stuffed in the desk drawer
• Become BFFs with Jose, Jack or the Captain.
• All of the above or a few of your own creative choices

Yes, I know. It hurts like hell.

But the next day, after the hangover and putting out the fire we started in the trashcan, we grab our manuscript, and tape it back together. Then we try to behave like the professionals we are, and take this rejection as a sign of getting closer to our dream. And remember, the most successful authors were rejected. I might add, some none too nicely.

I ran across an interesting blog, “One Hundred Famous Rejections,” complete with the blogger’s editorial comment(at the end in italics) that I thought could make any aspiring writer struggling with rejection, hopeful. (I only saw 78, listed. However, I’m sure they’ll have a complete list in no time.)

Here are a few from their list. I urge you to look at the rest.

Famous Rejection #1: F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald, considered to be one of the best American writers, wrote The Great Gatsby in 1922. While the book is now ranked #2 in Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century, he once received a rejection letter that read: “You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character.” I believe history would beg to differ.”

Famous Rejection #43: Nora Roberts

Bestselling romance novelist Nora Roberts has written over 209 novels! We think that deserves repeating. Two hundred and nine novels, which spent a combined 861 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. But, before all that, there was rejection.

[Nora Roberts] submitted her manuscripts to Harlequin, the leading publisher of romance novels, but was repeatedly rejected. Roberts says, “I got the standard rejection for the first couple of tries, then my favorite rejection of all time. I received my manuscript back with a nice little note which said that my work showed promise, and the story had been very entertaining and well done. But that they already had their American writer. That would have been Janet Dailey.” Nora found a home with Silhouette books, and since then romance has never been the same.

Famous Rejection #69: Louisa May Alcott

“Little Women” would never have seen the light of day if Louisa May Alcott let rejection hold her back.The editor of Boston’s The Atlantic magazine, James T. Fields, told Alcott’s father, “Tell Louisa to stick to her teaching; she can never succeed as a writer.” As far as rejection goes, that one is pretty harsh! Fortunately, Louisa May Alcott never took it to heart. Instead, she told her father: “Tell him I will succeed as a writer, and some day I shall write for the Atlantic!” Not long after, she did!”

Rejection #72: Jacqueline Susann

“Novelist Jacqueline Susann is famous for her book Valley of the Dolls, which sold over 30 million copies. She’s also known for a particularly nasty rejection letter. Editor Don Preston initially wrote this about Susann’s initial manuscript:

“…she is a painfully dull, inept, clumsy, undisciplined, rambling and thoroughly amateurish writer whose every sentence, paragraph and scene cries for the hand of a pro. She wastes endless pages on utter trivia, writes wide-eyed romantic scenes that would not make the pages of True Confessions, hauls out every terrible show biz cliché in all the books, lets every good scene fall apart in endless talk and allows her book to ramble aimlessly…. most of the first 200 pages are virtually worthless and dreadfully dull and practically every scene is dragged out flat and stomped on by her endless talk… I really don’t think there is a page of this manuscript that can stand in its present form. And after it is done, we will be left with a faster, slicker, more readable mediocrity.” Wow. Now that’s a rejection!”

Famous Rejection #76: Chinua Achebe

“Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” has been considered a milestone in modern African literature written in English, and is one of the first to receive global acclaim. It has sold over 8 million copies worldwide, been translated into over 50 languages, and was selected as Time Magazine’s 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. And, it too, was rejected: It was sent to several publishing houses; some rejected it immediately, claiming that fiction from African writers had no market potential. Finally it reached the office of Heinemann, where executives hesitated until an educational adviser, Donald MacRae – just back in England after a trip through west Africa read the book and forced the company’s hand with his succinct report: “This is the best novel I have read since the war”. In 1958, the publisher published 2,000 hardcover copies, and the rest is history.”

Lesson in all this?

If and when you get another disappointing ”Dear Writer” letter, take another glance at some of the most famous authors who had their work handed back to them. And remember, they prevailed. We will too.

And one more reminder. Stay true to you and your book. F. Scott Fitzgerald didn’t take out Jay Gatsby, did he? If he had, we would have been reading “The Great Whathisname.”

Chin up and keep writing because it only takes one YES.

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Thursday’s Toss: E-book settlement has publishing world in turmoil

Interesting article on the e-book settlement worth sharing.

E-book settlement has publishing world in turmoil.

The case, which alleges that three major publishers, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers and Simon & Schuster conspired to limit competition in the e-book market, and fix the retail price, is enough to make my head spin.

Was it the “in desperate times you must take desperate measures” philosophy that made them think they would achieve their goal? I’m still trying to figure that one out.

And with all this “turmoil,” I can’t help but wonder where authors and pre-published authors, particularly those traditionally published, should take cover. Or should we seek refuge in the e-embrace of Amazon and Barnes and Noble?

Just tossing it out there.

The Words: another lesson (and reminder) about integrity

Over the weekend, I saw the motion picture, “The Words,” starring Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Dennis Quaid and Jeremy Irons.

When I first saw the coming attractions at, “The Expendables 2” showing, I knew I had to see it. The movie tells the tale about a writer who, at the peak of his literary success, discovers the steep price he must pay for stealing another man’s work.

I’ve heard the lukewarm reviews from the critics. However, I rarely listen. I tend to lean on the side of what I want to see, as opposed to what’s being touted as the next best thing. After all, the opinions are largely subjective—as are literary reviews.

Personally, I loved the movie. Anything that features a typewriter, computer, library, books, ink, pens and thoughts, hooks me. It’s the kind of movie with which all artists, particularly writers, can relate.

I wouldn’t dare spoil the opportunity for you to see this movie for yourself. But I will tell you a line in the film that really had me thinking. One of the characters (the soon-to-be disgraced publisher) told the soon-to-be disgraced writer, “You’re not the only author who has done this kind of thing [plagiarized].”

I thought about that comment and wondered how many amongst the greatest writers of our times have put their names on someone else’s works? For starters, I know that William Shakespeare’s, work had been questioned.

Now here’s a little more food for thought:

As a struggling, unpublished writer, would you take a potential literary masterpiece that fell into your hands without anyone knowing, and put your name on it? If so, would you be able to live with the consequences?

In a nutshell, “The Words,” is a thought-provoking journey that will make you ponder your life as a writer and the possible “what if.” I certainly did. Go see the movie and then tell me what you thought.

An Affair to Remember: I Met Joe Black in Australia and he became my Bodyguard

If you haven’t guessed from the blog’s title, I’m a movie nut.

Okay, let me start over. (Remember, confession is good for the soul.) I’m a movie fanatic. I’m a movie fanatic. I’m a movie fanatic.

Ahh …just breathe. But hold on, there’s more.

This condition has been perfected over the years. When I was a pre-teen, I kept a notebook (five one-subject brown notebooks to be exact) of all the movies I’d ever watched, rated them and noted (with stars, in ink) whether or not I would watch them again.  My records were so meticulous that Siskel and Ebert, now Roeper, would be jealous. Yeah, I know no life. (Hmmm …I wish I knew where my old notebooks were.) 

But later on, I discovered that I wasn’t alone. For most of us, movies—like books—are a means of escape. Movies often deliver messages, influence behavior, spark reflection and literally change lives.  

Now, that’s a powerful medium.

I also find that movies serve as a vital and (wonderful) source of information and research. I recently blogged about my favorite fictional heroes and heroines of the silver screen who influence my writing. However, there are a few movies that also get me in the mood to write romance. They have a way of continuing to make me believe in happily ever after. (I also have to keep a box of tissues nearby.)

I tried to limit my list to the top 27 movies for writing romance and I can’t tell you how difficult that was.  Why 27 movies?  Because everyone always does the top 25, and I wanted to stay below 30. 🙂

So, here’s my list of favorite romantic movies. Each are special and have had an influence on my writing, and in some respects, my life. Perhaps there’s a few here on your list of favorites. If so, tell me about a favorite scene or line or why you could watch it over and over again.

  1. The Way We Were, Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand
  2. Somewhere in Time, Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour,
  3. Australia, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman
  4. An Affair to Remember, Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr
  5. Bridges of Madison County, Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep
  6. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton
  7. The Mask of Zorro, Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta Jones
  8. Sabrina (remake) Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, Greg Kinnear
  9. Someone Like You, Hugh Jackman, Ashley Judd, Greg Kinnear
  10. Legends of the Fall, Brad Pitt, Julia Ormond, Aiden Quinn
  11. Meet Joe Black, Brad Pitt, Claire Forlani
  12. Love Jones, Larenz Tate, Nia Long
  13. The Notebook, Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams
  14. The Bodyguard, Kevin Costner, Whitney Houston
  15. The Wedding Date, Dermot Mulroney, Debra Messing
  16. Romancing the Stone, Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner
  17. A Walk in the Clouds, Keanu Reeves,Aitana Sánchez-Gijón
  18. The American President, Michael Douglas, Anette Bening
  19. Message in a Bottle, Kevin Costner, Robin Wright
  20. The Wedding Planner, Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lopez
  21. Pretty Woman, Richard Gere, Julia Roberts
  22. Sweet Home Alabama, Josh Lucas, Reese Witherspoon, Patrick Dempsey
  23. You’ve Got Mail, Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan
  24. City of Angels, Nicholas Cage, Meg Ryan
  25. Ever After: A Cinderella Story, Dougray Scott, Drew Barrymore
  26. Hitch, Will Smith, Eva Mendes
  27. Out of Africa, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep

Uh oh it’s only the beginning of the week and I feel a movie weekend coming on. Better go stock up on popcorn. 😉

My hate-tolerate-hate relationship with honey

Do you have an affliction or fear that keeps you from doing certain things on a day- to-day basis?

Well, I confess I have a bee problem.

Yes, that fuzzy honey-toting insect so highly regarded for its pollination of crops around the world. At one point, there was a report that honeybees were at risk of becoming extinct in the United States. Pfft. Apparently, someone got that wrong. They’re alive and kicking.

If you must know, I’m not particularly fond of honey, either. (Well, maybe it’s good for a couple of things, but I won’t go there.)

Anyway, my fear has caused me to take preventative measures over the years, and to live a certain way.

I must have a car with air-conditioning. In the summer, bees tend to fly into my car. It’s like they’re saying, “Hey, there’s Nett. Let’s go scare the crap out of her.”

Many years ago, that happened to me and I almost caused injury to myself and my children who happened to be in the back seat. Somehow a bee managed to get into the car and I went ballistic. After screaming at the top of my lungs, I pulled over to the shoulder of a major highway, and continued to scream and run around my car in an effort to get away from the bee. Mind you this is a major highway, so there were MANY wide eyes passing by, probably wondering, what the heck? Sad, I know. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

I can’t watch anything on television with bees. My sister who is closest in age to me, (remember, I have two) thoroughly enjoys my affliction and on occasion, calls me up to tell me there’s something great on television that I should see. How naïve am I to think, this time she’s really telling the truth? Very naïve. I turn the channel and there, in living color, are a pack of bees swarming around a beehive collecting honey. Ewww. Each time she does that, I pull the sister disownment papers from my desk drawer.

It’s become so bad that I can’t read anything with bees. I borrowed Sue Monk Kidd’s wonderful book, “The Secret Life of Bees,” from a friend at work. I was so determined to read the book because I’d heard such great things about it. I settled down on my favorite chair one Saturday, totally enjoying the book. Until chapter 3.

You got it. A pair of beekeeping sisters, showed the young heroine of the book, how they keep the bees. Needless to say, I have not finished the book. Nor have I watched the movie, with Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning and Jennifer Hudson, and I love the acting of all three.

It’s also increasingly hard to walk my dog in the summer, particularly when he wants to stop and smell the flowers. There always seems to be the largest bee buzzing around. Buzzing. Waiting. I’m also afraid they will sting him, so I politely move him along to a grassy knoll with no flowers. I’m told that only wasps, and hornets sting, not bumble bees.

Yeah, okay. Sure. Guess who won’t be waiting around to see if that’s true.

The strangest thing about my fear is that I’ve never been stung. I’ve been running all my life. I even thought about hypnosis to help calm my fear. But I quickly changed my mind. The doctor might discover all my other issues, or perhaps have a conversation with one or all of my characters.

And there is no way that’s going to happen. Those conversations are reserved for me. 😉

Okay, your turn. Spill.

Thank B&N it’s Friday!

For the obvious reasons, Friday is the best day of the week. People who work hard all week, finally get the chance to join in the universal yelp of TGIF (Thank God it’s Friday). There’s nothing more liberating than singing that phrase as you grab your coat, snatch up your car keys, run for the train, or hand your money to the bus driver.

The happiness that follows (even though you may have to share Saturday and Sunday with errands, little league, work around the house) is euphoric. And in the summer, forget it! The trek to the beach, barbeques, family outings for the most part begin on Friday!

What a day!

There is, however, another reason why I love Fridays: free online books—ranging from the classics to obscure—available at Barnes and Noble (B&N) . They’re primarily geared toward NOOK owners. However, everyone can download the NOOK app and benefit from this weekly offer. A true book lover’s haven.

There are some critics that may say the books are of less than best-selling stature, and THAT’S why they’re free. Maybe. But it’s still free! And you won’t have to pay good money for something you don’t like.

And who knows, even in the worst written book, there can be a kernel of knowledge, some piece of craft that helps you in your writing. Free Friday boards and blogs also provide recommendations, so you’re not totally wasting your time.

So indulge. Check out B&N’s Free Friday books. I’m going perusing later on today. I haven’t visited the site in a while, so I’m anxious to see what’s new. TGIF!

I’d love to hear about your favorite site for free online books.

Balancing Joy: Writing and Reading

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I know, I know. It’s been a long time. I’ve been a rotten blogger.

The summer is winding down, and Fall is in the air. Kind of, maybe, sort of. Some parts of the country are still sweltering while the east coast is finally cooling down. I say that with my fingers crossed. After all, it is only September. Indian summer is still a major possibility.

I’ve been working on my second manuscript and trying to churn it out during the past few horrendous hot days. It’s hard to put my fingers to computer keys when I’m constantly drinking water, ice tea or anything else I could get my hands on that would help beat the heat.

But I have five chapters down and it’s coming together.

Unfortunately, I haven’t done much reading. I usually don’t read while I’m writing, and I’ve heard quite a few writers say the same.

Can you read while you write, or do you have to wait until you’re finished?

If I do read, it’s usually not my genre. I catch up on my westerns, my ménages and paranormals. One-on-one erotic or steamy romance, I won’t read while writing.

However, I continue to add to my ever-increasing wish list of books. I have a few books that I’ve purchased, and lovingly placed on my shelf for near future reading.

Here’s my very short list:

Celeste Norfleet – When it Feels So Right
Kimberly Kaye Terry – The Sweet Spot
Beverly Jenkins – Captured (To be released in Sept.)
Brenda Jackson – One Night with a Wealthy Rancher
Lena Matthew and Eve Vaughn – Ever After
Francis Ray – And Mistress Makes Three
Maya Banks – Unbroken
Rochelle Alers – Man of Fate

As I mentioned, this is a short list. I can’t, and won’t list all the items on my wish list. There are just too MANY. And if I did decide to list them all, you’d probably think I’d succumbed to the heat. I would. 🙂

My writing goal today was 1,000 words. I’m at 743. I should get back to Chapter 6 before, I stray any further and pick up one of the above mentioned books.

Everyday I work to balance the joy I get from writing and reading. Setting a writing goal helps a great deal. It helps me stay focused, because the quicker I write, the quicker I can read!