An e-mail arrived in my inbox today with the subject line: “Your Submission: …”

Since I was at work at the time, I had an argument with myself.

“You can’t open that! You’re supposed to be working,” the me with the Midwestern work ethic said. (It’s the same me that never calls in sick because I don’t want to leave my coworkers in the lurch. I have something like 140 sick hours built up because never feel like I can take it.)

“Open it. It won’t take long β€” and it might be good news.”

“No, really. Good news or not, you can wait until you get home,” the angel me insisted.

My impatient side snorted. “Yeah, right.”

No need to guess which side won. I clicked on that e-mail faster than a hungry dog scarfs down its dinner. I’m not even sure I took time to carry on that conversation in my head before I opened it. (I should have!)

Unfortunately, the news was not good. Another rejection β€” the second on the partial MS for “Blind Date Bride” … well, the third. Two agents and one publisher have taken a pass.

I still have hope, though. At least it was an encouraging rejection, complete with a “hang in there and stick with it.”

The agent’s complaint? Worry that the voice isn’t unique enough to stand out in the market.

Now that’s a little worrisome, because I don’t have any other voice to write in. And confusing, because in the Beacon Contest judges’ comments, they loved my voice.

Then again, the judges’ comments are on “Beauty and the Ballplayer,” not “Blind Date Bride.” Maybe BDB still isn’t ready for prime time.

And maybe I just need to continue my agent search. Somewhere, out there, is the agent who will fall as in love with my story as I am. I just need to find her (or him).

Lucky for me, my friends at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood wrote a blog post about just that topic today: the agent hunt.

It’s funny how wildly my mood has swung. I was euphoric about my contest final two weeks ago, especially after reading the judges’ feedback. I had a feeling it was the start of something big. I imagined myself on the verge of signing with an agent, selling a novel or both.

Now, I’m down in the dumps, questioning my story … my voice … even my writing talent. Yes, even a “good” rejection stings. (I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that.) πŸ˜‰

I know rejection is a β€” huge β€” part of writing. We all get them. Even the bestselling authors got them at one time.

Even so, I can say it definitively: I don’t like the downslope of the writer’s roller coaster.

It’s time to make something good happen so I can crest another hill. πŸ˜‰

 

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Now that I’ve had time to synthesize my score sheets from the last contest I entered, I’m pleased to say I’m on the right track.

No, I did not final. The max score was a 161; mine was 130-something.

That being said, I wasn’t displeased with the results. That was my gut reaction when I read through the score sheets the first time; it didn’t change when I reread them a couple of days later.

I got at least a 3 (average) in every category. I also got plenty of 4s and even a few 5s.

I think I can safely say I’m on the right track. The judges liked the concept and at least one said they liked my writing style.

Now, all I have to do is revise, using the feedback to make the story even better. (Since it’s going to be a GH entry, I want it to be as perfect as possible … and the comments should help.)

Maybe I ought to take the hard copy of the MS with me on vacation so I can get started …

It always amazes me how attending my RWA chapter meeting recharges my creative battery.

Sure, it means a long day for me. I usually don’t get to bed until at least 2 a.m., and I’m up before 8 on meeting day. We meet from 10:30-ish to 2 p.m. and drive an hour and a half back home. Then I usually have to head into work and put in a full day there.

But I wouldn’t miss it. The chats while we’re carpooling are a great way to get new insights. And the meetings themselves always serve up something useful.

This time, we had a group critique: Several members submitted the first three pages of their WIP. Entries were read aloud, anonymously, then everyone shared their thoughts.

There wasn’t a single one that didn’t intrigue us enough to want to read more. That, of course, begs the question: Why haven’t any of us wannabes made a sale yet? But that’s probably a question best left for another post (in which I’ll rail against the publishing industry that depends so much on sheer luck. You have to be in the right place at the right time and know all the right people. Your MS could sparkle like the Hope Diamond, but if it crosses the desk when the editor’s having a bad day, too bad for you.).

Sure, a few of them had issues: Too much backstory, head-hopping. But the only way to improve is to have someone point out where you need improvement.

Our members are great at offering the right mix of encouragement and advice. I think (hope) we all left with a warm, fuzzy feeling β€” and some tips to take us another step closer to the ultimate goal of publication.

For my part, I realized (with feedback) the new beginning works really well. It was also pointed out I need a solid description of my hero in those opening pages.

As a side note, I had no idea Matt sounded so arrogant. But when you read it aloud, he sure does. He doesn’t remain arrogant throughout the novel, though, so I’m not sure what to do about that.

Since those first pages are in Meg’s POV, maybe we can chalk it up to her perception? He’s not really all that arrogant, she’s just in a bad mood, so she sees him as more arrogant than he really is?

I spent most of today working on a couple of scenes from Bethany and Cody’s story … 3,115 words written. I was surprised again, though: Beth’s mother sounds like a guest on “Jerry Springer.” She must be from Southern Illinois! πŸ˜‰

It’s time for me to start polishing next year’s Golden Heart entries, though. My Orange Rose scores came back Friday. With those and Saturday’s feedback on the contemporary series story I want to enter, I’m ready to put the comments to good use.

Based on the contest feedback I got on “Operation Snag Mike Brad” today, there’s no way in hell it’s going to final in the Golden Heart.

Guess that means I don’t have to worry about coming up with $425 to pay for Nationals, eh?

I got scores back from a contest I entered right before I sent everything off for the GH. One judge gave me an 80 out of 100. The other two? 60 and 57.

I can buy 60’s assertion that there may not be enough conflict to sustain the story. (She should have seen it BEFORE I beefed up the conflict in one of my rewrites!)

However, I find 57’s comment that I don’t know how to use punctuation insulting. It reminds me of my freshman year of college when my World Cultures prof (who taught art history) tried to tell me I couldn’t write an essay.

I know punctuation, darn it. I’m a freakin’ copy editor for God’s sake. I may not do old-school punctuation, but what I do is perfectly acceptable in journalism. And I should think that if my punctuation was that darn bad, someone else would have pointed it out to me when they were proofing my GH entry for me.

Nary a peep, though. So I’m inclined to write that one off as ravings.

Guess I should be thankful that all my scores were at least a 2 (shows promise but needs improvement).

I’m sure I’ll be able to look back at the scores with more detachment later, so I can get more out of them. Next week … maybe next month … Right now, however, I’m still smarting.

My instincts are right on track.

At least that’s the gist of the feedback from fellow NARWAn Kelly, the first person (besides myself) to read through the entire first draft of “Blind Date Bride.” All 330+ pages of it. (And it took her less than a week!) πŸ˜€

She loved the hero and heroine, Damien and Kari β€” alwaysΒ  a good start.Β  She found their best friends interesting, too (also good, because I always kind of envisioned giving them their own book.)

Her main suggestions for improvement: More sex (or at least thinking about sex), less eating; more explanation of the awful things Kari’s ex did to her to make her mistrust Damien at first; and a longer black moment β€” or at least one with more depth of despair.

I’d already been thinking I need to torture Kari and Damien a little more before I let them get back together … and I can see the other two points, as well.

It’s good to know I’m at least headed in the right direction. I can’t wait to get started on some revisions.

The plan is to start entering a few contests in preparation for next fall’s Golden Heart competition. (This is the story I’d wanted to enter last time, but didn’t think I’d have it finished. Turns out, I was right β€” but it’s going to be ready for the next one, doggone it … even if that does mean writing another synopsis.)