Tag Archive | Fragile Blessings

When a Rejection Bears Fruit

I started writing in 2009. One novel through National Novel Writing Month. Had fun. Kept writing, clueless about all I didn’t know about writing and publishing fiction.

logoIn 2012 I wrote a historical novella A Wisconsin Christmas Blessing. I submitted it to a company called Pelican Book Group who was putting together a Christmas collection of novellas. The submission process resulted in a request for the full manuscript. Naive me – I thought I had it made. I was going to be published.

Not so fast, Susan. 

I got a rejection letter from one of the editors. But I didn’t get just a rejection letter. I received a 1 1/2 page (when I printed it out) email. She said: “I would like to list the most common errors to point out some things  that might help you prepare your manuscript for re-submission.” Six specific areas of growth to be exact. SIX! Talk about humbling.

fragileblessings1-copyDetailed, informative and time-consuming. As disappointed as I was at the rejection, I felt honored at her willingness to help me, a novice writer, grow. I sent her a thank you note for all the time she took to write that email and help me.

prism-new-logoI sat on that story for a few years. Time can often equal growth and wisdom if we let it! After I became an Acquisitions Editor with Prism Book Group another opportunity for a Christmas series of novellas arose so I rewrote my novella using all the tools that this fabulous and compassionate editor had given me. It was contracted, renamed and Fragile Blessings was published in 2015 to great reviews.

Now this is where it gets really weird. Prism Book Group was recently acquired by Pelican Book Group as one of their imprints. This also means that all my published works are now technically Pelican books (under the Prism Book Group imprint). So in essence, Pelican did end up publishing my novella! To be honest, the editor had given me an open door to resubmit that I had never taken her up on. God knew.

So now I will be part of a team of editors who I get to work with, one of whom was integral in helping me grow in my writing. Since that rejection, I’ve published two novellas, a collection of short stories, three novels (and a fourth coming soon) and have seven more books contracted. And another two with my agent.

Here are some of the lessons I learned that hopefully will help others: 

  1. Listen to the feedback you get from rejections. Not all of it will be right – but you can always learn something.
  2. Don’t give up. Maybe that story isn’t the one that’s going to sell, keep writing. Obviously, I didn’t stop at one novella given how many stories I’ve written. Write long, write short. Just don’t quit.
  3. Trust in God’s timing. My story wasn’t ready for publication in 2012 but after some conferences and growth and writing more stories in between, when I went back to that novella, I had better skills to apply to make it publishable.
  4. Don’t burn bridges. Can you imagine if I had sent a scathing note to that editor? She would have told her boss and do you think that woman would have been as eager to bring me on as an editor? It’s a small world in Christian publishing and while yes, we are commanded to forgive, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be trusted with the bigger tasks God might have in store with you down the line.
  5. Relish the new opportunities for growth. That editor is now someone who I’ll be working more closely with now with the books I edit and I hope and anticipate I’ll learn even more on my journey because I hope I never stop improving my stories or my editing for others.
  6. It’s okay to laugh. I am giggling at God’s path that led me here. I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined this journey he’s had me on and the blessings of the people He’s brought in my path. Writing (and editing) is hard. Pouring your soul on paper is not without risk and life itself throws us curveballs all the time. I’m grateful for the people God’s placed in my life to help me get to those next steps.

I’ve kept that editor’s name private for now… she knows who she is and my hope is that you’ll treat every editor you meet, not as your enemy, but as someone who really can help you grow, even when you get a rejection letter.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Fragile Blessings tied for second place as an inspirational short at OKRWA International Digital Awards for 2016. Not too shabby for a story that was initially rejected, right?

How about you, if you write, do you have any stories of things you’ve learned through the “rejection” process?

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One Way A Book Gets Written

For all the books I’ve written, the stories have come from my imagination. I’ve written the stories and later contracted them. I’ve had rejections for those stories and I’ve taken the tales and revised, edited and revised again.

But The Baron’s Blunder is the exception.

Every November since 2009 I’ve written a story during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I’ve written some stories that I’ve felt inspired to write. I’ve written flash fiction, short stories, novellas and full length novels. I’ve written contemporary, historicals and romantic suspense. I’ve never submitted a story idea to an agent, editor or publisher that I haven’t already written – at least the rough draft.

I work as an Acquisitions Editor for Prism Book Group. It’s a smaller e-book publishing house. One of the benefits of being in a family of authors like Prism’s is that they become family. Authors supporting, praying, encouraging each other and cross-promoting books. Another up-side is that occasionally our Editor-in-Chief comes up with a crazy idea to do a novella series.

FragileBlessingsWe did a collection last fall of Christmas stories. All authors could participate. I’m an author and had a manuscript that I dusted off and sent in Fragile Blessings. That wasn’t the original title but I love it. A historical novella I’d written years ago that needed a lot of work, finally was read by others. It ended up as an e-book as well as in a collection of historical novellas called Love’s Christmas Past.

All that to say is my “boss” decided we should do a series of novellas based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. Each story was to show some aspect of that chapter. Authors submitted their ideas and soon all the topics were taken. Authors stared writing and as an editor, I started to work on edits for a bevy of stories and I had the majority of them finished before November 2015.

I wrote another novel for National Novel Writing Month in November of 2015. I finished and in December I got back to work on edits for my authors. My boss sent me an email asking me if I could write a novella for the Love Is series about the topic: Love does not rejoice in evil but rejoices in the truth.

THE Baron's BlunderWell, I’ll try. I thought about trying to add a novella in my Orchard Hill series but the story idea I had for the next book didn’t quite fit that subject. I looked at my Regency series. It has five books and I wondered if perhaps I could pull a minor character from the first novel and give him or her a romance. I remembered that my main man, Lord Marcus Remington in The Virtuous Viscount (a Regency romance coming soon I hope!), had a sister. The Honorable Henrietta Allendale arrives mid-story, throwing a stumbling block in Marcus’s romance with Miss Josephine Storm.  Henrietta is married to a man named Lord Percy. So for this novella I wrote their romance.

I had so much fun. I was afraid I couldn’t write on demand but obviously that was a lie. And I hope readers enjoy my Regency romp of a romantic suspense as I did writing it. The Baron’s Blunder is up for preorder and releases on Friday, August 26th, 2016.

Love’s Christmas Novellas (Book Reviews)

I should have had this post of up weeks ago but seemed to be deficient in remembering how to enter my blog (in spite of my notes to the contrary. Holiday ditziness? I apologize for that but it is still possible for you to get these books in time for Christmas – definitely on your e-reader (.99 each!) or to get the print copies. Because of this delay I’m not waiting to post this on Friday as I normally would!

I have to confess that with these compilations – I’ve not had a chance to read EVERY novella but since they come from Prism Book Group I’m confident they are great stories!

Love’s Christmas PAST

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FRAGILE BLESSINGS (Susan M. Baganz)

Is it vain for me to promote my own novella first? I wrote this because I was intrigued with pioneer life and set it in my home state of Wisconsin out where my grandparents were raised and lived. I’ve always been fascinated with way people deal with death and in our day and age we expect so much of modern medicine. But back then? They didn’t have the answers . . . so how would one young couple cope? The story took me places I didn’t expect as Grant and Lily live through unexpected tragedy and blessings. I hope you’ll enjoy their journey to love and hope as much as I did writing it.

A MEDIEVAL CHRISTMAS (Rachel A. James)

Tales of old with noble (and not so honorable) knights and ladies of grace and beauty. Set at Christmas-time this story explores the journey of young Nola as she faces the consequences of believing the pretty lies of a nobleman who turns out to be a skunk. When the solution is not as noble as she would prefer and out of a desperate desire to save her family from scandal, Ms. James takes Lady Nola on a journey fraught with danger, wonder and a chance for love if she’s brave enough to accept it.

CHRISTMAS BELLS (Jewell Tweedt)

This is the one story I’ve not yet read but look forward to perhaps during Christmas break. Ms. Tweedt tells a tale of a widow, Connie Rose Simonson, who manages two cafe’s on the frontier and seeking the perfect Christmas for her son. Dr. James Connor has poured out himself in caring for the citizens of an influenza ravaged town. From the description of her story it sounds like heavenly intervention helps these two lonely souls find love. I’m looking forward to reading it!

 

Love’s Christmas PRESENT 

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LOVE AGAIN (Paula Mowery)

Ms. Mowery has a gift for sweet romances and this novella is no exception. Ben Jacobsen has suffered the loss of his wife which meant abandoning his military career to care for his two young children. He moves back in with his parent’s in Myrtle Beach to start life afresh with his in-laws seeking to defeat him at every turn.

Jenna Campbell has moved to the same town to work as a Children’s minister. Coming off a dysfunctional relationship with a guy, she’s not really interested in romance. But something about helping the young widower with his children might have her changing her mind.

But could Ben love again without betraying the memory of his deceased wife?

BACKWARDS CHRISTMAS (Brooke Williams)

Brooke Williams writes a tale filled with humor and adventure. Noelle Richards lives in South Pole, Alaska and enjoys all the holiday festivities of the Backwards Christmas the town celebrates.

Chris Furst has disdain for the holiday. As a sled-dog trainer he loves two things: his dogs and Noelle Richards. The one thing he’s not in love with is CHristmas and the reason for the season. Jesus.

When Chris finds his life in danger though, the tables turn and he’s the one in need of rescue and Noelle and Christ are his only hopes. Maybe love can redeem the holiday for him after all.

ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE & ARSON (Sharon McGregor)

I can hardly wait to read this novella by Sharon McGregor. It sounds like a fun romantic suspense! Bella comes home to care for her injured mother, run her mom’s shop and apparently also needs to take on her mom’s role in the Christmas theater production, a musical o less! The theme is a well-known mystery that seems more bizarre as the days progress. Add in a serial arsonist and the fact that her high school sweetheart, Jake, is now police chief and the holiday is going to be like nothing she or this town had ever seen before.

These books are all fabulous gifts – for you or for someone you love who enjoys reading. So order quickly and snuggle up over the holiday, with your favorite hot beverage, the lights on the tree and a fuzzy blanket and enjoy these novellas filled with warmth, romance and adventure. I know that’s what I’ll be doing!

Merry Christmas!