I Turned Down A Deal.

I wasn’t sure whether to write about this or not, but I thought sharing my story might make someone else in a similar situation feel like they have a choice. Because at first, I didn’t think I did.

I’ve entered my women’s fiction on the contest circuit for awhile (and have since pretty much retired it from that, because overexposure in that respect could be detrimental, IMO).

Dreaming of becoming an author, no doubt.
Dreaming of becoming an author, no doubt.

In one particular contest, I received several requests from agents. And one from a publisher. The publisher asked for pages, then a full. Then a few days later, they offered to publish my book.

Granted, they’re a small publisher, and the offer wasn’t out of this world. The first release would’ve been electronic, and printed copies would come if so many sales were made, but the two staff members who’d read pages, and the editor, wanted *me*. They wanted my work. The contract mentioned “future books”. HOLY COW. After all this time, someone saw something in it that said, “Yes, this should be published, and by us.” That felt like validation. That felt amazing.

But I never wanted to go direct to publishers. I’ve dreamt of having an agent relationship, of working alongside someone who *gets* what I write, and can help me shape it into the best possible presentation to send to publishers. Someone who will work with me throughout my career, explain contracts and legal mumbo-jumbo, who I can seek advice from, who has the experience that I simply don’t. Maybe I’ve spent too much time on Twitter, wistfully admiring repped authors’ gushing relationships with their agents, exchanging in-jokes and kitty photos. But honestly, I want someone who sees me as a professional, and will help me make that dream come true. Someone who knows what they’re doing. I don’t feel qualified to represent myself.

So I had to finally admit I had a choice. I had to choose whether to accept this contract. Would it be my only chance? Will an agent EVER love my manuscript enough to call me? What if it doesn’t happen with this manuscript? What if it doesn’t happen with *any*? If I say no to this publisher, will I blow my only chance?

I respect self-published authors because that’s a LOT of hard work – I recently went to a writer’s conference at Bloomsbury in London, and a self-published author/social media “expert” came in and explained how much she does to stay afloat. It’s not for me, I don’t think. My gut says so.

And my gut said no, to this publisher. That’s all it came down to. I accepted the risk that no one may ever give me another chance again, as long as I live. But I don’t believe that will happen–otherwise I wouldn’t still be here. I decided I believe in my work more than that.

It was really hard, especially when I replied to the editor’s offer within the 2-week timeframe. I responded after 1 week. She didn’t reply. 2 weeks went by, she still didn’t reply, so I emailed to ask if she received my response. She sent me an unpleasant answer, inferring I’d missed my chance and telling me I’d wasted her time when I said, “This was a very difficult decision, and I’m so grateful for your offer, but I’ve considered it carefully, and I’ve decided to decline.” I was TORN. Torn. And I told her so. I thanked her for her time. I was nearly in tears typing that heartfelt response to her offer. And in return, she was snippy and short. That’s what I got for going with my gut. But you can’t please all the people all the time.

I keep working, polishing, accepting feedback, working with CPs, and attending Writer’s Digest webinars. Most importantly, I keep listening to my gut. I think one day, I will get more than that, for going with it.

If you find yourself in a similar position, for what it’s worth, I hope you do the same – whether your gut says yes or no, whatever you feel deep down, you have to stick with. And once you do, don’t wonder “what if”. Just move forward.

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Time & energy are precious commodities

Castles. I like castles. I’m excited for my wedding in this one. I’ll focus on that instead of the people who want to tell me I should do x, y, and z at said wedding.

I don’t “like” a lot of celebrities/public people on Facebook. Facebook used to be a place where you simply listed the things you liked, but it turned into a thing where everything you could possibly like has it’s own page. That means if I “like” Gary Oldman, then it will link me to his page. If I like avocados, it will link me to an avocado page. If I like lint balls, it will probably link me to a page for that. I’m not a fan of this set up, so I stopped “liking” things for the most part. But every now and then I think it’s worth it to be kept in the know of whatever I’m “liking”.

I recently read through the majority of books by a certain author and I’ve really enjoyed them and been inspired by the author’s success, as the genre is similar the the genre of my first complete manuscript. The books are easy reads and remind me it can be done, and they’re enjoyable, so I decided to “like” the author. I know little about her personally. What I like are her books, not necessarily her, and come to find out, given her snarky comments of late, I don’t think I like her. At least, not the way she’s portraying herself via her platform.

This is no biggie. I’ve “unliked” her. I still love her books and will continue to buy them, but the fact is her comments on her FB page are childish, so I’ve moved on. No harm done. But it got me to thinking… the hundreds and thousands of comments her snark has generated made me stick in my own $.02 (probably for worse, not better). What I said was this:

How about don’t spend your energy on things or people you don’t like. Simple as that. Move on. Time is limited on this earth and it seems a silly thing to me to spend it dwelling on things that a) don’t involve you and b) don’t appeal to you. Bizarre concept otherwise.

This wasn’t aimed purely at the author, but moreso at all the commenters who felt the need to vehemently agree with the author (my guess, so as to do a bit of ass-kissing). Lots of bickering going on. You know the drill, on any online forum where the public can make asses of themselves present their opinions. 😉 It was aimed at me, too.

Time really is limited. It’s the most precious thing we have. The energy we have to spend in this time, and the amount we have is numbered. As my favourite quote goes, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us” (Tolkien). Only God knows what that number is, and we can’t even afford to spend time guessing.

It’s a lesson to me, more than anyone. I’ve done what this author’s done, what these commenters have done. I’m as guilty, if not moreso. But I don’t want to waste any more time dwelling on things I’m not happy about, people who have upset me, things that don’t appeal to me. Everyone does it — it’s so hard not to! We see something controversial in the media and we gripe about it for days… or even just a few minutes, which is still pointless. Turn the channel! Read a book! Cook dinner! WRITE! Sure, we all have our opinions, but sometimes I find I let those opinions–or hurt feelings, or offended sensibilities–take over and distract me from something positive I could be doing.

I don’t just mean in regards to what People magazine says about celebrity X, but I’m talking about friends, co-workers, family. It’s very hard and I doubt anyone does it perfectly. But it was a good reminder, especially in the midst of upcoming nuptials where there are likely to be more opinions shared with me that I would rather have nothing to do with. Time is limited.

Challenge today, for me and you, if you so choose 🙂 Hear something you don’t like, or someone brings up a topic you’re not interested in, or offended by? Don’t dwell on it. Deal with it insofar as it impacts you or is directed at you, then use your precious energy for the things you DO enjoy/love/appreciate. Easier said than done, I know.

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Acceptable to others.

When you’re up a mountain in the clouds with a gorgeous view, you realise how small you really are, and how dumb comparing yourself really is.

Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day! Even if there’s only one person reading this blog, I still hope you had as fantastic a Valentine’s Day as I did! 🙂

I had the *best* V-day ever. It’s usually a dud. At least, it was until my fiancé came into my life. This year, not only do we have a wedding to look forward to, but he brought home not one bouquet of flowers but TWO (“because these smelled nicer, but then you have to have roses, too”), and chocolate (orange), and Zelda Skyward Sword for the Wii 😉 And it even came with a 25th Anniversary symphony CD of Zelda music. *swoon*

To top it off, the thing I’ve been eagerly hoping for for so long finally happened: I got my first bite from an agent! One of the top agents I’ve been reading up on replied to a query I sent in October, with a partial request. I know this is only a very small step, and there’s a long, long road to publication. But even if she rejects the manuscript, this was so much huger than that. To me, this meant someone in the industry saw some twinkling of potential in my writing, and that made me jump up off the sofa and run screaming down the hall. It was like someone whispered in my ear, “Keep going. This is right.”

The funniest bit is that I saw her name in my Inbox and immediately turned my phone off, made dinner, drank half a bottle of champagne, and just enjoyed my evening. I was afraid another rejection (as I’m getting used to job-related ones) this month would send me over the edge and keep me from enjoying the night. So when I got the nerve to read it, I was shocked.

No matter what happens, I feel like this gives me a much needed and appreciated push to try even harder and keep at it. So, if anyone out there’s reading this, KEEP AT IT!! Keep believing even when you get a hundred rejections. Keep trying, keep writing, keep submitting. If you believe in your dream and your abilities, don’t listen to any naysayers!

I do hear how much harder actually selling a book is, and that getting an agent is so much less than half the battle, blah blah blah. I know it’s got to be true, but I’m not going to let those bridges rain on my parade (do bridges rain?) because they’re nowhere near being crossed yet. One day at a time.

It went hand-in-hand with three quotes I read a few days later:

The remarkable thing about spiritual initiative is that life and power comes after we ‘get up and get going’. God does not give us overcoming life – He gives us life as we overcome. We have to take the initiative. (Oswald Chambers)

I cannot make myself acceptable to all people, and neither can you, but we can believe God will give us favor with the people He wants us involved with . . . Once we know who we are and accept ourselves, we no longer have anything to prove. (Joyce Meyer)

Secure people who know God loves them and has a plan for them are not threatened by the abilities of others. They enjoy what other people can do, and they enjoy what they can do. Our goal should be to find out what we individually are supposed to be, and then succeed at being that. (Joyce Meyer)

The first one is the sort of thing much easier believed once you’ve experienced it. Nothing’s going to happen if I sit and dream about getting published, about making writing my main focus in life. No query-fairy is gonna come down out of the sky and grant me a request. I’ve just got to hope and believe I’ve got a shot, and go for it. I believe that all the other doors in my life had to slam shut for me to take time out to give writing a shot, and if it never works out, then it wasn’t meant to be. But I don’t find out until I take the initiative and step out and do something about it.

The next two are linked. I am a person who struggles with self-esteem and self-confidence, and always have. But when I was little, not nearly as much. Anyhow, I’ve lived a life so far of wasting WAY too much time comparing myself to others. “She’s pretty, she’s a homeowner, she has a proper career, she has a huge savings account, she speaks confidently in social situations, she speaks 6 languages, she looks amazing in a bikini,” etc. Whatever.

I am finally getting to the stage where I am okay with who I am, and that acceptance is very slowly helping me to stop trying so hard to prove myself to others. But the key is the simple fact that I will NEVER please everyone. Ever. I am *such* a people-pleaser and am so guilty of backing down when I think it’ll make the other person happy. But in accepting that I’m never going to make everyone happy or like me no matter how much I back down or try to appease them, forget it!

Bottom line. I will *never* make everyone like me. I’ll never make every person happy. That sets me free! I need to remind myself of it daily.

And the last one – that’s a tough one for me. I’ve wanted to be good at so many things: playing bass guitar, painting, acting, singing, piano, guitar, dance, writing, photography, film editing. I’ve always had way too many interests and struggled to narrow them down into what I could be best at, and happiest with. But the more I practice writing (and I definitely have my film degree to thank for a lot of that practice), the more I learn about the publishing industry, the better I feel about where I’m going. I will always love painting and music and everything else, but I feel like – right now, at least – this is my calling, and if I can be great at one thing, and happy with myself in one thing, then I shouldn’t need to compare myself to the people at volleyball every week who can spike the ball in my face, or the friends who can run a 10k without breaking a sweat. I enjoy those things, but nowhere does it say I have to be amazing at them all. That pressure only comes from within.

And that goes for the querying stage, too: some writers I talk to online might get 4 requests for fulls on their first try; I have my own path, and I might not be the best query writer in the world, but I need to try harder. I believe in my manuscripts, and they deserve my effort, at the same time as being thrilled for others.

Sorry for such a long entry, but this all seemed to tie together 🙂

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