Thursday, April 19, 2012
Inspiration for the Oft-rejected with Guest Jane Myers Perrine
I also saw a good number of recipes that look delicious. I considered adding a recipe, but mine don’t always turn out well, like the oyster stew when I misread the recipe and an inch of butter floated on top. Or the cabbage, cinnamon apples and sausage casserole so bad we picked out the sausage to eat.
No, everything doesn’t turn out as we’d like. This is really a sneaky way to get into the subject of my bumpy writing career which didn’t turn out exactly as I’d like until recently.
As I’ve mentioned in several bios, my third-grade teacher said I’d be a writer but publication took longer than predicted. I have a copy of one of my early rejection letters, date 1981. Yes, thirty-one years ago.
What took me so long? First, I wasn’t serious about my writing. Then, I was writing Regencies when those lines were closing. Finally I sold seven books and thought, “I’m on my way.” Didn’t turn out that way. For three years, I wasn’t on contract with any publisher.
Do you know how depressing that is?
How did I keep going? Perseverance. My motto has been and still is: If you don’t keep writing, you’ll never be published.
I kept writing but worked hard to improve. How? Glad you asked. I didn’t publish during those first years because I didn’t know how to write. Until I joined RWA in 1993, I wrote in a vacuum, making the same mistakes over and over.
First step: be ready to learn and accept, humbly, the help of others.
I bought tapes from writing conferences and listened to them of the way to work and back. Knowing my weaknesses, I repeated the ones I needed until I could almost recite them.
I asked others for help and listened. Many years ago, a friend read a few chapters, then pointed at one sentence and said, “There’s your voice, Jane.” I didn’t even know what voice was and certainly didn’t realize I had one.
Enter contests and learn. If you are a writer who believes your words are golden and no one has a right to change them, if you enter contests only so people will praise your amazing talent, you might never publish. Few of us are that good and editors do expect a writer to listen to suggestions and make changes.
And, yes, this is your book and your choice—but the judge could be pointing out the reason it hasn’t sold. As writers, we learn which suggestions or criticism to accept, but we should consider everything first.
That’s my first suggestion: network, share, listen, learn.
Second: take action.
In 1997, I realized my career was going nowhere. I had to do something. I began a new story, a light paranormal, and gave it a title that really stood out: Your Love Life Stinks. I finaled in my first contest—and many more--with that. No one forgot the title. I believe this was the true start of my writing career. It never sold but I gained great confidence and people remembered me.
Third: Don’t keep writing the same book over and over.
You’ve probably learned everything you can after a few years on one story. You’ve redone the action and characters so often, you may be confused about who they are. Yes, you love them, but let them rest. Start something new and fresh. Once you learn more, you may be able to come back and fix the first one. Many of us have decided that first book was a learning experience, never to be read by anyone.
You might try a different genre. I know people tell you to stick with the same one until you publish, but I had to find my place. I adore mysteries. Drop a body in and fun ensues, but I don’t write them well. I’ve tried paranormal and romantic short stories but found my niche in novels about life in a small town. Could be you need to try something else.
One more thought about publishing: a lot depends on luck or karma, a blessing or a window opening. When I was writing a Regency, all the lines were closing but a friend told me Avalon had just opened a historical line. I sold. With Love Inspired, I’d finaled in several contests but the LI editors who judged never asked for a complete. Then LI decided to become edgier and bought my novel about an ex-con. My editor for FaithWords had been talking to a friend who said she loved humor. My manuscript was the next one my editor picked up. Often, publishing means being on the right desk at the right time.
But you won’t get there if you stop writing.
Jane Myers Perrine has worked as a Spanish teacher, minister, cook, rifle instructor, program director in a state hospital, and been an active volunteer but she’s always wanted to write. Finally, she found time and has published books with Avalon Books and Steeple Hill Love Inspired. Her short pieces have appeared in the Houston Chronicle and Woman’s World magazine.
She’s now writing a three-book series she loves about a young minister in a small town in Butternut Creek in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas. She likes small towns, warm, friendly people and humor.
With her minister husband George, she landed in the South after living many years in cold areas of the country. They decided to give up changing seasons for no snow and have never regretted that choice. They now live north of Austin where their lives are controlled by two incredibly spoiled tuxedo cats.
The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek is the first book in the Widows of Butter Creek series and releases April 2012 from FaithWords.
From Amazon.com:Upon his arrival, Butternut Creek Christian Church's newly-minted minister is met by a welcome committee led by Miss Birdie and her friend Mercedes, a.k.a. "the Widows." Their first order of business, to educate him on how things should be done, quickly gives way to a campaign to find him a wife.
When their matchmaking efforts fizzle, the Widows turn to another new bachelor. Amputee and Afghan vet Sam simply wants to be left alone-- a desire that's as good as a red flag to the Widows! Soon they're scheming to pair him up with Willow, his beautiful physical therapist, a divorced mother of two who is afraid of commitment, Perrine's small-town tale is a big-time triumph of gentle humor, fast-paced plot, and wonderfully engaging characters.
Jane has a copy of her release to give away to one commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition!! Thank you, Jane!~
P.S. Jane has a beautiful website...check it out here.