14
OCT
2018

The Power of Perseverance

After many years blogging with Bad Girlz Write, we’ve closed our doors and shut down the site. But I didn’t want all those posts to go to waste, so I’m going to be reposting them here where they can live forevermore. LOL

This particular post was the most visited on BGW and the one I referenced the most while I was part of the Pitch Wars contest. Three years have passed since I wrote this, but every bit of it is still applicable to each and every writer I know—published or unpublished, with one or fifty books under their belts. Keep on keepin’ on, friends.

***

Since I already did my post on what I constantly screw up for this month’s theme, I’m going to use this post to write about something that’s important for any writer: Perseverance.

If you want to make it in this business, you need it. There’s no denying that. You will constantly face obstacles and challenges—not to mention rejection—and it’s important you keep on keeping on.

This is the second year I’m a mentor for Pitch Wars, a writing contest where hopefuls submit their work to a limited number of potential mentors, vying for a slot as mentee. If chosen, there’s two intense months of rewrites and revisions under the guidance of a mentor, leading up to the agent round.

Right now, it’s selection period. The mentors have been researched (hopefully), their wishlists scrutinized. The submission window has closed, during which the hopefuls submitted their polished work, and now they’re all waiting with bated breath, hanging on the tweets of the mentors to see if their MS will be selected.

As I was trying to figure out what to write for this post, I put out a call on twitter (as one does) and asked what the Pitch Wars hopefuls would like to see. I got several tweets, but the one that stuck with me was, What should we do if we don’t get picked?

Well. I’m glad you asked. Grab your marshmallows, gather around the fire, and let Auntie Brighton tell you a little story…

Illustration depicting a green roadsign with a rejection concept. Sunset with clouds background.

August 2013, I submitted my query and the first 250 words of CAGED IN WINTER to a contest (I can’t remember which one…I thought it was Pitch Madness, but the timing doesn’t work, so just make one up) and then I waited. And I hoped. And hoped some more. I was so sure I’d get picked.

And then I didn’t get in. (Dun dun dunnnnnnnnn)

Did it suck? Hell, yeah, it did. Did I give up and never write again? (Spoiler alert: my sixth [now tenth solo, eleven co-written] book released last month.) So, uh, no. I didn’t give up. I picked up my bruised ego and my dented pride, and I kept going. I continued on the path I’d intended. I was fortunate in that my path wasn’t much longer. Two weeks after that rejection from the contest, I received the first of four agent offers on CAGED IN WINTER.

So what does this tell us? A few things: one, everyone’s path is different. Some get in contests and land an agent immediately and their book sells at auction. Some get in and don’t get any requests. Some don’t make it in and get a dozen. Some don’t do contests at all and query for a week and get an offer. Some find an agent after years in the trenches. No two paths are the same–your path is your path for a reason.

Two, some manuscripts just aren’t made for contests. There’s not enough room for them to breathe. They can’t shine. From 140 characters to 50 or 250 words…or even one chapter, sometimes that’s not enough to get to the gold of your manuscript.

Three (and this goes for more than just contests, but for errrrrrr’thing in publishing), reading is subjective. Ridiculously so. Every person who reads your MS is bringing their life circumstances and their baggage with them, and that affects their reading experience—for better or worse.

Lastly, the power of positive thinking didn’t kill me. It hurt a little after my hopes got crushed when I didn’t make the cut, but the main reason I was able to wallow for an hour, then shrug it off and keep going is because I believed in my work. 

I feel like I need to repeat this while putting it in all caps, bold, italic font, so I think I will: I BELIEVED IN MY WORK.

If you want to persevere in this business, you have got to have faith in what you write. Because if you don’t? Who’s going to?

During the 48 hours, give or take, since the submission window closed for Pitch Wars, there has been an influx of tweets on the hashtag, most mentees biding their time chatting while they wait to hear. Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of negative thinking hanging out over there, too. Many are certain they’re not going to get in. So certain of it, they’ve pretty much written it off. Meanwhile, I still have approximately 30% of my subs to even open, let alone read. They’ve thrown in the towel before we’ve even had a chance to read their name on a submission form.

I’ve always been a believer in the power of positive thinking. I get excited over things that may never happen, but I do it because it makes me happy. I like looking forward to something, thinking about all the good possibilities. Is it disappointing? Well, sure, sometimes. But, hey, life is disappointing sometimes. At least this way I got some genuine happiness from hoping.

Here’s the real truth: this industry is chock-full of disappointments and rejections and many, many no’s. That’s just a fact. You are going to face it every leg of this journey from finding agents to publishers to working with editors to readers’ reactions to your book baby. The good news is it’s also full of lots of good news! But you’re sometimes going to have to wade through the bad to get to the good. One thing that helps is to remember you’re not the only one to go through this. Head on over to the good ol’ google and search for famous author rejections. There are a lot. Pages and pages of them, and many of them are classics or beloved books, ranging in category and genre. But what do they all have in common?

Not a single one of them gave up when they got that inevitable ‘no’. Will you?

18
MAY
2016

Whatcha Lovin’ Wednesday: Writing Conferences!

Helloooooo! Long time no post. My apologies. It’s nearing the end of the school year here which means an all around clusterfuck as I try to balance last minute school projects and trips with working and figuring out summer plans for the hellions. I’m also leaving tomorrow for four days away, which means I’ve been busy trying to get everything ready for that. But that also brings me the guts for this post!

What I’m loving this week (and what I’ll be thankful for next week once I get back) is writing conferences! As I saw recently in an author group I belong to on Facebook, there are a lot of thoughts on whether conferences are good for you, for your business, or if your time would be better spent writing. And that question? Honestly, it’s one you have to answer for yourself. I don’t know you or your situation. I don’t know where you are in your career, what your personality is like, or if leaving the house makes you break out in hives. What I’m saying is, it’s going to be different for everyone.

But for me? Conferences are where it’s at.

I went to my first conference in July 2013, and I didn’t just dip my toes in the water. I dove straight in the deep end by starting off with RWA Nationals. It was huge and overwhelming and completely and utterly amazing. I had a ball there, and vowed to go every year (sadly, that vow will be broken this year because they moved the timing up a week, and it just doesn’t work with my husband’s work schedule. I’m legitimately teary about not being able to go). If you’re interested to read about my past experiences at Nationals, I posted a recap on my first year in 2013, as well as 2014.

Since 2013, I’ve been to a few different conferences—from big ones (RWA and RT) to smaller ones (Moonlight & Magnolias, and the upcoming Spring Fling). And while I definitely have my favorites, I think there’s something to be gained from each conference. Now, whether or not all those conferences have a positive ROI (return on investment), that’s another story all together.

For the record, I thought RT was the biggest money suck of all the conferences I attended. I loved meeting readers and bloggers and getting to hang out with them. I would just like to not spend three thousand dollars to do it. And while I can’t necessarily point to my sales post-RWA and say, yes, I’ve made back what I’ve spent, that’s not what RWA is for me. Those are business conferences—ongoing education for writers. And, to me, they are absolutely vital to continuing to grow as a writer.

Let me just put a caveat to everything: I am an extrovert. I live off the energy of others. When my conference wife and I go together and she’s drained by the end of the day while I’m bouncing off the walls, this becomes perfectly apparent. That said, here’s a lowdown on some of the different conferences I’ve heard about or attended.

Large conferences

2014-07-26 16.16.52RWA Nationals: The Mama Jamma of conferences. For learning conferences in the romance industry, this is the biggest. It normally has about 2500 attendees, hundreds of workshops, editor/agent pitch appointments, publisher parties (if you are traditionally published), vendor parties (if you are self-published), an awards night, keynote speakers, book signings, and lots of socializing with all those writer friends you’ve met online. And also, you get to meet authors you’ve read and loved for years (cough Jill Shalvis cough).

2015-05-13 14.33.14-2Romantic Times Convention: One of the largest reader oriented conferences, again for romance authors. Many of the events are geared toward readers and/or bloggers. There are still workshops for writers (though far less than at RWA), publisher/vendor parties, an awards night (full disclosure: I did not attend this. But I did get dressed up, because it was an excuse to wear a tiara, and if there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I will always wear a tiara if possible.), book signings, themed parties every night, and way way way lots of socializing with friends and authors.

NINC: As I’ve not attended one of these I won’t be able to give info on what happens at one of them, but they do come very well recommended. Bonus: They are for all novelists of all genres, not just romance.

Medium sized chapter conferences

For these, I’m talking about Spring Fling, Moonlight and Magnolias, Emerald City, NJ’s Put Your Heart in a Book, Florida’s Fun in the Sun, and many more I’m probably forgetting. Each one will have something a bit different, but for the most part, it’s going to be like a mini-RWA. The only exception to that is the publisher and vendor parties—those aren’t at these (or haven’t been at any I’ve been to yet).

Smaller, reader focused conferences

Full disclosure, I haven’t been to one of these, though I’d love to. I’ve heard great things about them, and it’s on my radar for 2017/2018. These include: Barbara Vey Luncheon, Lori Foster’s RAGT, Apollycon (I’m one of the attending authors in 2017!), Rom Con, and probably a crapton more I don’t know about/am forgetting.

Bottom line? There are a ton of conferences out there and more popping up every year. What you get out of one will totally depend on who you are, where you are in your career, what your mentality is before you even step foot at the conference, who you go with, the organizers, and about a gajillion other things. My advice? Try out a couple and see what size/style you like best. Don’t schedule so many that it interrupts a great deal of your writing time, but also don’t bail on them if you want to go but instead feel like you should write. (Also, who says you can’t write at conferences? I was on deadline with CAPTIVE when I went to Moonlight & Magnolias, and I spent many an hour pounding away at the keyboard.)

Do you know of and love a conference I didn’t mention? Do you have experience with any that I did mention? I’d love to hear about it, so drop me a comment or pop over to Twitter to chat.

13
APR
2016

Whatcha Lovin’ Wednesday

Earlier in the week, I wasn’t sure what I was going to talk about for the Whatcha ____ Wednesday blog. And actually, as I opened up a new post to start writing, I intended to chat about what book I’m reading and loving right now (side note: Tessa Bailey’s Boiling Point). But then I remembered what I did last weekend and thought it might be better to touch on something else that I’m loving right now: writer friendships.

I’ve said before a thousand times that this career is lonely at the best of times, isolating at the worst. This, of course, may be different depending on your personality type, but for me? As an ENFJ(-A), I gain energy from being around people and find this job to be extremely taxing in that aspect. I like to joke with my CP that all that energy she’s drained of at conferences, I suck it all up. Because of that, it’s important for me to find outlets and ways to connect with others, whether that be through dinners out, meetings, workshops, social media, or just plain old texting.

IMG_6474Last weekend, a group of seven of us headed to beautiful Galena, IL for a writer’s retreat. The plan was tentative and loose—show up on Friday, leave on Sunday, and do whatever we wanted in the time between.  And we managed to cram a lot in. Between workshops, plotting chats, discussing our processes, working, and, of course, drinking, our weekend filled up before we even knew it. We had a nice mix of people who attended, writing in different genres and categories, and at different stages in their writing careers. Because of that, conversation never waned, and each of us had something different to offer the others in the group. We had such a great time, we’re planning to make it a yearly event.

As I’m sitting here this week, on the downhill slide from my high of the retreat and also #NotAtRT and feeling pretty bummed about it, I’ve been chatting with my CP and good friend Jeanette Grey about other ways I can get that fuel when it’s just not possible to attend a retreat or conference. Because let’s face it—that shit gets expensive. The thing she keeps telling me (and, to be fair, the thing she’s told me at least seventeen times a year for the past four years) is to go to my local chapter already, god. (So she didn’t say it like that because she’s much nicer to me than I am, but still the gist was the same.)

I’ve been a member of my local-ish chapter for a while, but timing hasn’t ever worked in my favor. I say local-ish, because I actually have three chapters close to me, but by close, I mean they’re all about an hour away. That’s made it challenging to find the time in the schedule to go, but I think it’s about time I figure out a way to make it work. Because in this isolating career where my brain and my spirit run on connections, it’s time I made some more.

Sign up for the newsletter!

Stay up-to-date on all Brighton's bookish happenings, including sales, new releases, and exciting news, plus be the first to hear about exclusive giveaways and content!

As a newsletter subscriber, you'll also receive the quick and dirty romantic comedy, The Neighbor!


You may unsubscribe at any time. To view our privacy policy, please click here.


Subscribe!