Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Putting It Aside by guest blogger Robin Caroll

Cheryl here to introduce my good friend and awesome suspense author, Robin Caroll. I am so excited about the recent release of her debut single title, Deliver Us From Evil, from B&H. I read this story years ago in a contest, and even then, felt it would someday be a voice for little ones who can't speak out for themselves. While this book isn't agenda-driven, it does deal with child trafficking and I hope this book, though fiction, will help raise awareness of this horrific problem in the U.S. and abroad.

James Scott Bell, author of Deceived and Try Fear, said of Robin's book: "Deliver Us From Evil is the kind of novel 'Ripped from the headlines' was meant to describe. Compelling."

Okay, 'nuff from me. Here's Robin:

Putting It Aside, Moving On

I remember the first manuscript I hacked out on a typewriter. (Showing my age, aren’t I?) It was bad, and I mean, bad. That was back in the 90s. Thank goodness I lost that manuscript in one of my moves. Yes, it was THAT BAD. Then I wrote a story I just loved. Wrote it, rewrote it, polished it until it was “ready.” Submitted it to a publisher. Um, it wasn’t ready. It now sits happily UNDER my desk. That was early in 2000.

Between then and now, there have been many a manuscript on my computer in various stages. Some completed, some not. Some I really love, some, not so much anymore. But there is a story on my system that I love. It’s one that comes straight from my heart. It is ready for submission. Matter-of-fact, it’s been submitted to many places. Oh, I’ve gotten the personal, nice rejections, but not a contract. Again, let me reiterate, I LOVE this story. My writing buddies love this story. But for some reason, editors don’t. Or it’s not right for them. Or it’s too similar to something they’ve already contracted. Or . . .

Know what I’m talking about? There comes a time in every writer’s career when they have a story that means so much to them, is so personal to them, that it’s almost obsessive in the way we write. And when it’s done and edited and ready to go out, we just KNOW it’s going to be snapped right up. But it doesn’t. We get rejection letters. We get depressed. We pull the story out again and revise. We resubmitted until our story has seen every editor’s desk in the business. We’ve revised until we can’t revise anymore. And still it’s uncontracted. We can spend months, years even, on this one story to no avail. No contract. No interest.

Each writer will come to this crossroads sometime in their career. Each writer will have to cross the hurdle, much like overcoming writer’s block. Each writer will have to make that painful decision to put the story aside and move on. Yep, you heard me—put the story of our heart aside and move on to something else.

Ouch, that hurts. For me, it was several months of pouting. Kicking the couch. (Would never kick my dog) Pouting again. Stomping around the house until the hubby and kids were cowering in closets. Depressed. Angry. Depressed again. Pouting. Watching others getting their stories of their hearts published. Pouting. Depressed again.

And then I grew as a writer.

I saved the story of my heart onto a disk. (Ok, two different ones—I’m obsessive, what can I say?) Then I did the hardest thing, I deleted it off my desktop. My heart pounded, I felt nauseous. But I knew I had to. And then I did the unthinkable—I started a new story. I’d learned there’s a time to put away a story and move on to something else. I’d grown. I’d become a “professional” in my career thinking because I would write something else, something that might have a chance of being published. One story does not a writer make.

I still miss that story of my heart sometimes. Every six or seven months, I pull out the disk and read through it. I don’t save it to my computer though. I read it, then put it away. I’ve moved on to something else, and doing so got me published.

One story does not a writer make.

One day . . . one day it’ll be that story’s time. It’ll be its turn. And I’ll take it out, probably revise it for the millionth time, and send it out again. Who knows? It might be snapped up in a minute.

But until that time, I’ll keep pressing forward. Keep writing what I can. Keep giving each current story all my attention. I’ll keep doing so because I want to be an author, because I DO have more than one story in my heart.

One story does not a writer make.


About Robin:

Born and raised in Louisiana, Robin Caroll is a Southern through and through. Her passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others. Robin’s books have placed/finaled in such contests as Bookseller’s Best, Book of the Year, and Reviewer’s Choice Award. When she isn’t writing, Robin spends time with her husband of twenty years, her three beautiful daughters, and their four character-filled pets at home—in the South, where else? An avid reader herself, Robin loves hearing from and chatting with other readers. Although her favorite genre to read is mystery/suspense, of course, she’ll read just about any good story. Except historicals! To learn more about this author of deep South mysteries of suspense to inspire your heart, visit Robin’s website.

About the book:

A beautiful yet tough woman working in a beautiful yet tough setting, Brannon Callahan is a search and rescue helicopter pilot for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Strong faith and a decorated history of service have kept her one step ahead of on-the-job dangers, but there’s no precedent for what’s about to happen. After a blizzard takes down a small plane carrying U.S. Marshal Roark Holland (already haunted by a recent tragedy), Brannon must save him in more ways than one and safeguard the donor heart he’s transporting to a government witness on the edge of death. Otherwise the largest child trafficking ring in history—with shocking links from Thailand to Tennessee—will slip further away into darkness along the Appalachian Trail.

What's next from Robin:

Dead Air (March '10, Steeple Hill Suspense)
Fear No Evil (Aug '10, B&H Publishing)

Cheryl here. I'd love to know what everyone is working on now and whether you've written the "story of your heart." If so, I'd love you to share about it in the comment section.

Also, if you've ever set a story aside, I'd love to hear how you were able to let it go and whether you think you'll ever get to pick it back up & why or why not. If not, I'd love to hear what you feel the purpose was in you writing it. For me, I learned to write by writing. And writing. And writing. Most of those early stories were martyred for the ones that eventually sold and so I'm okay if they don't sell because they served a definite purpose.

I'd love to hear about stories that won't let go of you. Talk away!

Cheryl Wyatt


  1. Hi Gals,

    Can't give you a story of my heart because I'm not a writer but I certainly love reading everyone else's :)

    Thanks for the thoughts, Robin :)

  2. Welcome, Robin!

    Love the concept of the ST, and I can totally relate to the cast-off great story scenario.

    I bet most authors can.

    I've found that bits and pieces of those initial stories find their way into my books, strengthening the current works because I'm a stronger author now. Do you notice that, too?

    I brought coffee. Butter toffee for us frou-frou girls and straight-up joe for the hard core among us.

    Also have a full tea assortment, including a vanilla chai without the spice, but I brought the spiced vanilla as well. I prefer that one, but I like a little spice in life... :)

    Breakfast courtesy of Perkins this morning. Pancakes for "Fat Tuesday", (Shrove Tuesday) and they're making cheese pancakes, potato pancakes, blueberry, regular and whole wheat...

    Selection of syrups to your left, fresh whipped butter. Oh my stars, I'm first in line, wearing strings of Mardi Gras beads.

    Grab a plate, we'll get ready for Lent together and talk awesome story stuff.


  3. Several stories of my heart shelved in various stages. One made the go around to editors, even made it to committee once. Then I rewrote it and it's out there again...now as I type this. But since then I've finished one more (currently being considered) and I'm in the middle of another. This one is NOT the story of my heart, but it could be the one. Or the next one could be...So yes, I've put the other stories aside, but they still call to me every now and then.

  4. Morning Robin and thanks for joining us at Seekerville.

    Oh my, I have more manuscripts in the freezer, literally, than books on my shelf. (Hey--Someone told me a deep freezer makes a great place to put things in case of fire. What can I say. They have to go somewhere.)

    As for the book of my heart. Seems like whatever I'm working on becomes the book of my heart. Those characters just take over.

    Yummy stuff as usual Ruthy. I've gained so many cyber pounds thanks to you.

  5. Hi Robin (& Cheryl),

    Thanks for the insight into your career. It's truly an encouragement. I too had to put aside a story before I began on my current WIP. It was my first and had gotten to the point that I was sick of looking at it and so wrapped up in what was wrong that I couldn't figure out how to fix it. So, like you, I set it aside with the intent of pulling it back out later- hopefully with a fresh perspective- to again submit for publication.

    My current WIP I'm enjoying and it's coming together much faster because of all the things I've learned. I can only pray to continue to become a better writer with each story.

  6. Good morning, Robin and Cheryl! Great to hear your story, Robin. Glad you let go and moved on in order to see your dream come true.

    Story of my heart? You're making me think way too early this morning : ) The story of my heart had no ending in sight and I do believe I was cresting page 486 : ) Words just flowed (yes, that's a nice way of putting it) out of me, LOL! Oh did I get caught up in prose and imagery. Yep, thought I was God's gift to the literary world : )

    We really must keep our sense of humor, mustn't we : )

    Anyway, I've finished many books since then, but I heartily doubt I"ll ever go back and bring my Regency/pirate/heiress/dark-and-stormy-night/shipwreck ala Kathleen Woodiwiss to the Happily Ever After I know is there somewhere, LOL!

    Thanks for the goodies, Ruthy! Wow, Fat Tuesday already? Bummer. I have to weigh in at WW tomorrow. No way am I going to cringe when I step on the scale : )

  7. Welcome to Seekerville, Robin! "One story does not a writer make" is a harsh but important truth. Figuring out when to let go and move on is the hard part.

    My debut, Courting Miss Adelaide, was an old revised manuscript so I've seen that some are worth salvaging. But my first manuscript is horrible. No amount of revising could make it saleable.

    I have a manuscript I love that's been rejected by my publisher. I may revise it one day. But like Sandra said, every book I write is the book of my heart. How can it not be when we invest so much of ourselves in our stories?

    Yet I've learned to let go of manuscripts, even rejected proposals and write a new story. The more I write, the more I learn about craft. Nothing is ever wasted.

    Ruthy, thanks for the pancakes!

    Sandra, clever to store your manuscripts in the freezer. What's for dinner, hon? Leftover tales.


  8. FANTASTIC post, Robin. And quite a pill to swallow, but it makes so much sense.

    I have a story I've written on (here and there) for ten years and one of my great fears is that it will never see the light of a binding. Your words made me think. Hard. Yuck, I hate doing that so early in the morning ;-)

    I think sometimes the stories of our hearts may just be meant for us - in some crazy kind of way. Something we hold as a little treasure of ourselves and keep it locked away in a little file in our heads, or saved to disk, or printed out in a 3 ring binder ;-)

    I'm with Ruthy too. Sometimes my older "cast off" (oh, that hurt to write) stories sprinkle throughout newer ones - because if it's a story from your heart, pieces of it are always there, right? It's like that for me.

    Thanks again, Robin - and I'm taking some of those pancakes, Ruthy. Yummy!
    I'd rather say Happy Mardi Gras than happy Fat Tuesday. Something about that makes me feel...well...not skinny ;-)

  9. Wow, Ruthy, I'm full. Thanks everyone for the welcome.

    Pepper, one thing I learned is that sometimes God gives me a story to write that He has no intention of ever allowing to be published. Either I need to write it for me to grow in my spiritual journey, or one of my cps or early readers need it. Sometimes, that's hard to accept because we've put in many months of writing. And it's HARD work. But I've learned (FINALLY) that I'd rather be obedient than published!

  10. Wow! Words of wisdom, Robin.
    "I'd rather be obedient than published."
    How much does that transfer into all other aspects of our lives?!?
    "I'd rather be obedient than wealthy."
    "I'd rather be obedient than 'successful'"
    And AMEN - that sometimes the stories we write, with our lives or on paper, no one else might see except Jesus (or the few close people around us) - but that's enough.
    Thanks again. You've blessed my morning.

  11. Omg! My aunt's second published book had the same title until the last minute the publishers had her change it. I think it's a great title name.

  12. Welcome, Robin!

    Howdy girls. The food is yummy, Ruth and the butter toffee coffee ROCKS! :-)

    Sandra, I LOLd about the mss in the deep freezer. I can only imagine what company thinks when they join you for dinner and see reams of papered stories in there. LOL! Great idea.

    Obedience is HARD, but worth it.

    Hugs all!

  13. your book sounds wonderful Robin...I'm going to keep my eyes open for it...


  14. Hi Robin and Cheryl:

    When I first got out of college, I wrote four books that, as you would say, were stories of my heart. The only person to ‘read’ them was my professional typist. Unsolicited, she said she loved them. But then I figured she needed the typing work.

    I then took a college class in literature because the teacher was the editor of a highly regarded literary magazine. I submitted my shortest book as my class project and she loved it. She said I was a writer who ‘could really write’, but she did not think there was a market for it and she did not encourage me to submit it to anyone. So I didn’t take her praise as being serious.

    Those stories were like children. I could not send them out into the world and see them rejected or hurt. I’m not sure I could even find the manuscripts at this late date. Besides, now, I am afraid to find them and read them less I too reject them from the distance of older age and greater understanding.

    But sometimes, at the strangest moments, a thought comes to me: publish those books as POD books and put one copy each on my bookshelf. Let those children at last see the light of day and show their face to the world.

    I actually don’t know why I don’t do this. I can easily afford it – but then – in another way, perhaps, I can’t afford it.

    Perhaps some dreams are dreamworld dreams and too gentle to see the light of day.

    Being a writer is more complex than putting a pen to paper or a finger to a key.


  15. Robin & Cheryl:

    I have let go of two manuscripts. One of them got a request for a complete years ago, but then that line was canceled. After a ten year hiatus and resuming writing, I dug it out, worked on it some more, and submitted it. Got another request for a complete, but still no sale. At that point I 'retired' it. Another one, a 90K effort, never had even that much success and sits alongside that first one on the shelf.

    After producing several traditional romances and three cozy mysteries, I am currently attempting to combine the two elements and writing a romantic suspense.

    I guess it's all about the learning process. Like Ruth, I know I'm a stronger writer now. And the way I've learned is by just writing. And writing. And writing.


  16. What an amazing post! I love it! Thanks so much for sharing, Robin.

    I guess my first unfinished manuscript was a story of my heart. Apparently my heart is a hodgepodge of YA, Women's Fiction, Suspense, and Romance. LOL! Needless to say, once I started reading writing articles I realized that my story of my heart wasn't publishable.
    But the nice thing is I see elements of that first story in my other manuscripts.

  17. Robin & Cheryl,

    Wow getting a heart to a witness who can testify against trafficking. Pretty interesting.

    I have a story of my heart. Like you, Robin, the story of my heart was started on a typewriter. It's a historical so I'm sure that thrills you, but I love it, the characters the trip.

    My first full copy got fried on a computer and I had to retype it all in again. All 700 some odd pages. It's a four part serial by the way...

    I have put it aside. I didn't push too hard to get it published, although I did put it out there as an ebook long time back, when ebooks were a mystery.
    I got started on other projects. I too pull it out and read it from time to time and fall in love with it all over again.

    For myself, I wonder if I shouldn't have spent more time editting the story then I did and tried harder to get it out there. Maybe I would have been published sooner. But then again, maybe it's better where it's at until I really mean to do something with it.

  18. I have not written the story of my heart. I've got a couple of ideas, actually, and have done some work on them. But they're bigger than I think I can handle right now. I'm at a point where I need to work on some craft elements and some discipline that will allow me to tell those stories. Later, but soon, I hope.

  19. Love the book cover! I've never written a manuscript on a typewriter, but I've always been partial to the rattly keys. It always *sounds* inspiring... although I'm sure my typos wouldn't be!

  20. Ooooh, great post Robin and Cheryl.

    So far each story I'm completed feels like the story of my heart, the ONE that will sell, that agents and editors will clamor for.

    And each time I go through the process of letting go and letting God before I start a new wip.

    Sometimes takes me longer than it should, but Ruthy usually slaps me around until I quit whining and get to work.

    Here, Robin, have a white mocha cappucino, viente, of course!

    Oh, and for those who haven't gotten a copy of Deliver Us from Evil, GET IT. It's THAT good!

  21. Robin, thanks so much for being with us and for your wonderful post! I've had several manuscripts that have been put in a drawer. And it's hard to let them go after so much work. But I've come to consider them learning manuscripts--practice books. :)

  22. I have to say, Deliver Us From Evil is one of the books of my heart. Wasn't the one started on a typewriter (trust me, that thing will never see the light of day) but as Ruthy pointed out, some of what was in that story has sprinkled into some of my other books that have been published. :D

  23. Oh my gosh, I brought more batter...

    The pancakes are a big hit!


    Robin, dear heart, I'm mercenary.

    I will fully admit to wanting obedient AND published.

    But I will totally agree that I learn as I write, so whether something makes it into print or not, isn't the be-all, end all. They don't all have to be published, but I would not have considered stopping short of the goal.

    I see it as a process. Like learning an instrument, or being Rudy on the sidelines of Notre Dame football.

    You might not get in every game, but you're a better person for having fought the good fight and stayed the course.

    But in all honesty, publication was the goal and I love having that opportunity now.

    Which doesn't erase the fact that my early stuff was so bad it made editors weep.

    And run.



  24. Thanks for sharing today, Robin -- tough things to hear, but sometimes we have to. That's part of what helps us survive the publishing world somewhat intact.

    I'm in the midst of writing the book of my heart. I don't have any other completed mss hiding in drawers, but have 10-15k words from several different projects -- women's fiction, contemporary romance, YA, romantic suspense. If I put all those words together I could have enough for a book (not a good story, mind you, just enough words to fill the pages LOL).

    Y'all are more profound than usual today -- must be the pancakes! One story does not a writer make ... praying to become a better writer with each story ... being obedient rather than published/wealthy/all that other stuff ... some dreams are dreamworld dreams and too gentle to see the light of day. My, my! Lots of good stuff to ponder and pray. :-)

  25. Janet and Cheryl you are toooo funny.

    Come to dinner sometime and see. LOL

  26. I had pancakes for breakfast *grin* YAY!

    Anyway, welcome Robin!! Do you know, yesterday (I think it was...?) I was on your website and had just barely found you! LOL! And now you're on HERE! Who knew!?!? Weird.... But this was a really great post! Your book sounds very thought provoking, while still being page-turning, not necessarily an easy thing to do I'm sure! *wink*

    Can you tell us a lil bit about your upcoming LIS book??? Pretty please with sugar on top!? I cannot wait for it! It. Looks. Fantastic/Amazing/Terrific all at once! LOL! When I first read the blurb, I got chills, that's gonna be good. There are so many LIS coming out doing that to me (I know the blurb on Debby's new one did that to me too!).

    Okay, sorry to ramble, just wanted to ask you about that...

    Hi Cheryl *waving* How are you?? We've been visiting colleges over this break....ughhhh...It's been good, but I'm just tired. Not much of a vacation really. : )

    Great job ladies! Keep up the good work ; )

  27. Robin, Cheryl ... I am SO sorry I am late today! Left the house early this morning and that put me behind on my beloved Seeker blog!! And, oh my, what a blog to have been late on!!

    First of all, Robin, I have to tell you that just as you apparently shy away from historicals, I tend to do the same thing with suspense (I guess I figure I'm nervous enough without adding to it!). However, Debby Giusti did go a long way in turning me around, along with Irene Hannon and Colleen Coble! BUT ... and I'm being totally honest here ... you are one of the FEW suspense authors that I have thought to myself ... I want to read her books! And I will, I promise, because I gotta strong feeling I will not be sorry.

    As far as the story of my heart, I have to admit that mine was A Passion Most Pure, which I began writing at the age of 12 after reading Gone With the Wind. Which just goes to show ya if you are old enough and wait long enough, anything is publishable! :)

    Although I was one of the lucky ones blessed to see the story of her heart eventually published, it did put me through 45 grueling rejections, which brings me to my question today. Just out of curiosity, how many R's did the story of your heart garner? I guess I'm wondering if maybe there isn't some life in it somewhere, somehow if you just don't stop sending it out ...

    Great post, Cheryl and Robin!


  28. I put the story of my heart away last year. It began as a contemporary romance. Many years ago, I had an agent, before I was ready for an agent. I still don't know why she signed me. I guess she saw hope, but realized two years down the road that I needed more time and instruction than she had to give. Anyway, she suggested I turn the story into a women's fiction, which was big at the time. I did and I liked the story even better. I sent it out, pitched it at conferences, got requests, followed by rejections. My writing wasn't ready. I wrote other books, but still went back to it and revised once in a while. I was revising it for the dozenth time when I sold my contemporary romance series. I put the book of my heart aside to meet deadlines. Someday, I'll go back and revise with all I know now and give it another shot. My quandary, leave it women's fiction which is a tough market right now and wait for the market to ease? Or cut about 8 beginning chapters and transform it back into it's original romance form? Time will tell, I guess.

  29. I put the story of my heart away last year. It began as a contemporary romance. Many years ago, I had an agent, before I was ready for an agent. I still don't know why she signed me. I guess she saw hope, but realized two years down the road that I needed more time and instruction than she had to give. Anyway, she suggested I turn the story into a women's fiction, which was big at the time. I did and I liked the story even better. I sent it out, pitched it at conferences, got requests, followed by rejections. My writing wasn't ready. I wrote other books, but still went back to it and revised once in a while. I was revising it for the dozenth time when I sold my contemporary romance series. I put the book of my heart aside to meet deadlines. Someday, I'll go back and revise with all I know now and give it another shot. My quandary, leave it women's fiction which is a tough market right now and wait for the market to ease? Or cut about 8 beginning chapters and transform it back into it's original romance form? Time will tell, I guess.

  30. Robin,
    Thanks for being in Seekerville today!

    The book of my heart was the first story I ever wrote -- on an electric typewriter, like you, Robin! Typing The End gave me such a sense of satisfaction. At long last, I could call myself a writer!

    I should add, the book will never be published, but I still love every word I wrote! :)

  31. Robin,
    I'm only a little bit late reading this post, but it pays off because I get a peek into everyone else's heart too. I wrote the story of my heart four years ago and it's being published in November. My journey hasn't been has hard as most of you here, but believe it or not I DID let go of it for a while. One of the hardest things God's ever asked me to do! But it seemed no sooner had I give it up than He gave it right back. I think He just wanted to be sure what was FIRST in my life.
    Thanks for this blog and to all you lovely ladies who've shared a bit of your soul!