Ramona here, and I LOVED reading about the great times everyone had at RWA this year. RWA is a conference I always enjoy, and I missed going. But while RWA attendees cavorted on the dance floor with my beloved CRAFTIE compatriots, I spent time recovering from my own adventure . . . and a rejection.
Two weeks ago, I went to New York City for a job interview. Awesome time in a phenomenal town. The interview went well, and I would love to have the job. But exactly 30 minutes before I left the hotel for the interview, I got an email from my agent. My last submission to Steeple Hill had been rejected.
Good news to go into an interview on, huh? I did a lot of fanning and grring to keep the tears out of the mascara. It hurt deeply, beyond the usual pains of rejection, for three reasons:
1. It was the third book of a three-book series.
2. I thought I had poured everything I’d learned from the previous five edits into the book.
3. I’m broke.
While I’d like to be financially solvent again, and I hate the idea of the nice set-up at the end of the second book going nowhere, it was number 2 that hurt the most. I’ve been studying the previous feedback and reading other LIS books. I’ve been studying how-to sites and books on romantic suspense. I’d gone into the proposal armed and ready.
Now I felt like an idiot who just wasn’t getting the point, and I didn’t know why.
So what do you do when a rejection slices this deep into your psyche?
First, you get really angry. And I did—I threw things, screamed, cried, railed at the moon. Second, you get depressed. And I did—I moped around so much my friends were concerned. But that stage is also a processing stage, when you go over everything you’ve done; everything they’ve said.
Then . . . you get determined. They said my plot wasn’t worth re-writing, so I ripped it out entirely. I took my characters (all established in the first two books), my setting (likewise), and the basic premise for the romance/set-up. Then I changed the time frame (from prior to a restaurant’s opening to 2 weeks after it does), the title, and set the whole thing down in a new plot.
The original plot opened as the heroine fell through the floor and discovered a skeleton. The book now opens in the middle of a kidnapping scene. Literally. Here’s the first paragraph of the first draft:
Lindsey Presley struggled against her bonds. Sweat coated her back and legs where they pressed against the vinyl backseat of the 1968 Pontiac GTO. The fury that seared through her made Lindsey’s mind spin and her muscles tremble, but terror and pain kept her sane and focused. The last ten minutes played over and over in her head. How do I get out of this?
Will they like it? Don’t know. But I’ve tried. If they don’t, then I’ll take that rejection with the same cycle, although I’ll probably move on to the next book.
Anyone who thinks writing is easy should come to an RWA conference, sit down with us, and listen to a few war stories. We party hard because we work hard and take a lot of blows to the ego. But when you see that book cover, you know it’s worth it. You celebrate.
And, occasionally, buy a new pair of high heels.