Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Survival Tip #14 - Don't Get Your Hopes Up

When I first started querying back in Fall of '04, I had wild dreams.  I let myself believe I'd send my magnificent work out into the world (by mail because at that time most agents didn't accept e-queries) and the SASEs would come flooding back with offers for representation.  I mean, come on, my book was freakin' awesome.  Who would possibly turn that work of brilliance down??

Okay, let's just say that 9 years later I still don't have an agent and leave it at that.  This isn't about rejection letters.  This is about getting your hopes up. 

Don't get me wrong.  Hope can be an awesome thing.  Sometimes it drives us to do things, to try things, we never would've dreamed of doing.  If I didn't have at least a little hope, I never would've been able to write that first book.

The problem comes when the hopes get too high.  They're up there in the stratosphere filling us with totally unrealistic expectations.  You've got to keep your hope tempered with reality.

Cuz, man, those rejections to my first book damn near unraveled me.  You see, my hopes had been so high that when they fell, the resulting impact made it so my second book - which I was working on like a good little writer while I waited - got crushed in the process.  I set it aside and didn't write a damn word for 9 months.  And when I finally got back to it, I was so disheartened that I thought I'd written the first book all wrong.  I changed my process to meet someone else's expectation of how a book was supposed to be written.  The end result was crap, btw.  (Good premise.  Bad writing.  I really need to re-write that sucker...)

Anyway, the point is that maybe if I'd tempered my hopes a little, I wouldn't have fallen as far and the hole I made wouldn't have been so hard to crawl out of.

If you want to survive this journey, keep your hope but rein it in. 

Time for the rest of you to chime in.  How has hope helped or hurt you?  What do you to rein it in?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Guest Post - Jeffe Kennedy Talks About Her Journey to Publication

So, when B.E. asked me to write a guest post on her blog, she gave me several general topics I could discuss. When I asked her for one or two specific questions, she came back with:
What made you want to write erotic fiction and how did you break into getting it published? 
Or broader, what were some of the bumps in your road to publication and how did you overcome them? 
I laughed when I read them, because really those two answers are intertwined in the same story.
I overcame the bumps in my road to publication by writing erotic fiction—and I did it partly because of those very bumps.
One of my critique partners (CP) recently said she admired my “career strategy,” which I found particularly generous because that implies I somehow planned this out. I did not. However, I will say that I did follow a particular strategy, that’s ended up working very well for me.
I’ve studied several success systems at various times. You know the ones—where you’re supposed to lay out your one-year, five-year, ten-year and lifetime goals. There’s lots of programs. Most involve visualizing and being specific. One teacher I had was adamant on the topic of dates. If you didn’t set concrete dates to your goals, they weren’t real enough, he said. Likewise, we were to be detailed in how EXACTLY a goal would be reached. You lay down the schedule for the universe and expect it to deliver.
It strikes me as, if you’ll forgive me, gentlemen, a particularly Male way of seeing the world.
And it didn’t work for me.
Eventually, I found my own way of doing things. I did know exactly what I wanted—what my career would be like, how I would be happy working—and I was willing to leave it up to the universe to find the best way for that to happen.
So, I had been trying to sell the book that became Rogue’s Pawn ( for a couple of years. I’d revised it a couple of times, kept getting close with agents, who then ultimately passed. Meanwhile my friends and CPs were landing three-book deals. They were getting what I was supposed to have written down on my goals: “Three-book deal, for $X by Y date.”
But I stuck to my resolve, that I trusted the universe to find the best way to get me there.
Still, it was hard to keep going. I wrote a second book—a concept that one of my near-miss agents had blessed and loved—and that one, if anything, crashed and burned harder than Rogue’s Pawn. (In fact, it’s still in the drawer. It turns out to be bizarre enough that my agent wants to wait for a “better time” to try to sell it.)
It was a hard time for me. You all know how it goes.
Then I saw a call from Samhain for an anthology of “Red Hot Fairytales.” On the goals list, I did make, I had “write and sell erotic novella to e-Press.” Here was the opportunity—and, besides, I had a great idea for a BDSM version of Beauty and the Beast. I wrote the novella, submitted it and Samhain rejected it. So I asked a friend who’d been writing for e-Presses where I should send it next. She gave me a list of her top three. Two of them wanted the story, which became Petals and Thorns (
At the time, it was my first publication in years, since switching over from nonfiction, and I cried because it wasn’t Rogue’s Pawn.
But I went with it because, after all, I’d told the universe I trusted it to make things happen in a way that would satisfy me.
Meanwhile, my friends who’d landed the book deals I had envied? They were struggling. Things went awry. The usual trials of the industry, but they were not living the life of Riley.
Surprisingly, to me, Petals and Thorns was very well received. Readers loved it. They loved it in a way that my other books had not been loved. It sold well and I started to gain an audience.
So, I wrote another erotic novella, Sapphire (, and sold it to Carina Press. It became the first in the Facets of Passion series. Since I really enjoyed working with my editor there and I’d given up on selling Rogue’s Pawn to New York, I offered it to her.
And Carina bought it.
Just like that.
From there, everything began to gain momentum. I sold another two books in Facets of Passion to Carina. I wrote some erotic shorts for Ellora’s Cave, because an editor there contacted me and asked me to.
Things were going pretty well. I didn’t have the prestige of a New York deal, but I was selling books. I gave up on querying agents and decided I’d just see if the universe sent me one. A far more successfully published author than I even laughed in my face when I told her this. Then she snubbed me as not worthy of talking to, because I didn’t have an agent.
That was June of last year.
Then Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, then a newbie agent at Larsen-Pomada, now a partner in the new agency Foreword ( read guess what? Yes, she read Rogue’s Pawn, loved it, and contacted me, asking if I would be interested in meeting with her at RWA.
I had a LOT of fun at that conference last summer, telling people that I wasn’t pitching—I was taking pitches.
It worked well for me. By the time I sat down for the breakfast meeting with Pam and Laurie McLean, who was mentoring her, I knew all the questions I needed to ask. I had a decent career going on my own, but I was willing to hear what they thought they could do for me. I wasn’t desperate for the least crumb of attention, as I would have been even the year before. Instead it felt like a considered business opportunity to me.
Pam offered representation and, after some time to consider my options, I accepted.
By Thanksgiving she’d gotten me two book deals with Kensington—one a three-book contract for trade paperback.
Would this have happened anyway? Hard to say. Writing the erotic fiction was easy for me. In many ways, the plot lines and dynamics are more straightforward than my fantasy works. I learned a lot about how to write from writing the erotic stories. My fantasy novels improved as a direct result of what I learned about tension and trajectory from the erotic romances.
They also opened doors for me. The erotic fiction career helped me gain enthusiastic readers, established me in the genre community and gave me the experience in the publishing world that I needed.
More, everything seems to have happened at a speed I can handle, in ways that have turned out to be serendipitous. I couldn’t be more satisfied with how it’s worked out so far.
Gratitude to the universe!
Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans decades. Her works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.  Her fantasy BDSM romance, Petals and Thorns, originally published under the pen name Jennifer Paris, has won several reader awards. Sapphire, the first book in Facets of Passion has placed first in multiple romance contests. 

Her most recent works include three fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns, the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and the post-apocalyptic vampire erotica of the Blood Currency.  An e-Serial, Master of the Opera, will  be released in January. A fourth series, The Twelve Kingdoms, will hit the shelves in 2014. A spin-off story from this series, Negotiation, appears in the Thunder on the Battlefield anthology, coming summer 2013. 

An avid user of social media, Jeffe engages daily with thousands of fans on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.  She frequently guests on publishers’ Twitter-feeds and reviewers’ blogs. She’s been an active member of RWA since 2008. She served two terms as president of RWA’s very large Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal special-interest chapter and continues as an advisor to the current board.
Jeffe can be found online at her website: or every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog.

 Learn more about Jeffe's books at her website. I met Jeffe (online only) through the Word Whores and it's been a pleasure knowing her, as well as reading her work.  Feel free to leave a comment, ask a question, or just read the post and then go buy her stuff.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Guest Post: "Nothing to Lose" by Clarice Wynter

Nothing to Lose

I wanted to be a published author for most of my life. I was about ten years old when I sat down with a spiral bound notebook and started writing down stories, and from that time on I spent a lot of time daydreaming about all the perks of being a full time writer. I imagined being interviewed [on TV of course], hitting the best seller lists, having my stories made into movies, having people line up around the block to buy the next installment of my world famous series. [I had no idea I wanted to be JK Rowling – and I suppose back then, she didn’t either.]

Fast forward to the early 2000s. I was now a married mother of two, and having a writing career was still just a daydream. I wrote for fun, but I was so petrified of failure that the only person I allowed to read my work was my husband, who unabashedly encouraged me to pursue my dream. Even with his support, I couldn’t seem to get past the fear of rejection. The idea that someone with any type of power in the publishing industry might read my work and shake their head in disappointment paralyzed me. As much as I fantasized about getting ‘the call’, I convinced myself it really wasn’t worth all the heartache that might accompany an actual rejection. I was certain if someone turned down my work, I would never want to write again, and I would lose the thing I loved so much. I couldn’t bear that, so I kept my work in the drawer where it, and I, would be safe.

My wake up call came when my son, three years old at the time, was diagnosed with glaucoma. It’s a rare illness in children and fortunately one that’s treatable. Nevertheless the diagnosis came with endless visits to specialists, complicated medication schedules and half a dozen surgeries in an attempt to prevent further damage to his already compromised vision.

I remember sitting in a hospital hallway waiting for a surgeon to shepherd my husband and I into a pediatric recovery room and thinking, I really don’t know what’s worse than this. And that’s when it hit me that a rejection from an editor or a publisher or an agent would be a downright pleasant experience compared to waiting for a doctor to show me into a room where my toddler was waking up from anesthesia. I realized when it came to submitting my work I had nothing to lose. If I could handle this, I could handle anything the publishing industry could throw at me.

I began submitting my work in 2003. The first story I sent off to a publisher, apparently never made it there [these were still the days of mailing your manuscript]. I didn’t let it bother me. [No news is good news, right?]  The first story I submitted electronically was accepted and published, the second won a contest and a contract and quite a few after that were bought by editors who told me they loved my work and couldn’t wait for me to produce more. The rejections did come in time, as they do for everyone – from agents, editors and publishers, and I won’t say I wasn’t disappointed by any of them, but rather than see them as a failure of my work or myself, I was able to see them as opportunities to improve and to find a better home for my stories.

Since then, between my three pen names, I’ve gotten a drawer full of rejections, but I’ve also published 50 novels and novellas, and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. My son is a healthy 15-year-old whose illness, while not curable yet, doesn’t stop him from doing any of the things he loves. And I credit him with helping me to see that I could face rejection without losing what I loved as well.

If writing is your passion, but you’re still struggling with fear of rejection, just ask yourself what you really have to lose. The answer may surprise you.


The third of two voices, Clarice is the alter ego of a multi-published paranormal and science fiction romance author.

Clarice lives in New Jersey with her husband of twenty years, their two children and three cats. She's been writing since the age of ten [a long, long time ago] and looks forward to bringing many contemporary romances to her readers.

To learn more about Clarice visit her at
Or you can pick up a copy of her book "Jilted in January" - the first in her Spring River Valley series.  It's free at most retailers or at Amazon for .99.

Harper Shaw is certain she’ll never live down her reputation as the jilted bride after her fiancĂ© bails on the wedding and decides to go on the honeymoon by himself.

Grant Addison’s career depends on saving the failing catering hall where Harper’s wedding was supposed to be held. He can’t return her deposit money to her, but his business proposal could help them both stay out of the red.

Their unlikely partnership heats up the cold winter nights in Spring River Valley, and leads them to discover January just might be hottest month of the year.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Literary Agencies' Websites, Blogs and Social Media

Since I'm doing agent research, it seemed like an appropriate time to renew my old list of Agent Blogs and Websites.  I've had one on The Writing Spectacle for years.  I just haven't updated it in forever - because I haven't queried in forever.  And now that I have The Guide, this seems like a more appropriate place to keep it.

Disclaimer:  This is in no way a complete list, and I'm not endorsing any of these agencies.  Do your research before you query any of them.  Any mistakes you make are your own and any mistakes they make are theirs.  I'm just the messenger here.

This is a work in progress.  Last worked on: 6/17/13

- The Ahearn Agency -

- Aponte Literary AgencyFacebook

- Bob Mecoy Literary Agency

- BookEnds, LLC. - Blog, Facebook: Jessica Alvarez / Jessica Faust / Kim Lionetti, Twitter: Jessica Alvarez / Jessica Faust / Kim Lionetti

- The Booker Albert Literary Agency - Blog, Facebook, Twitter (Jordy Albert) Twitter (Brittany Booker)

- D4EO Literary Agency -

- Don Congdon Associates, Inc. - Twitter: Katie Grimm, Katie Kochman, Maura Kye-Casella

- Dystel &Goderich - Facebook, Twitter

- Falkin Literary

- Felicia Eth Literary RepresentationFacebook,

- Folio Literary Management

- Foreward Literary - Agency Blog, Agent Savant Blog, Twitter: Laurie McLean

- Foundry Literary + Media - Facebook, Twitter

- Janklow & Nesbit Associates

- The Jennifer De Chiara Literary AgencyBlog,

- Jill Corcoran Literary Agency - Blog,  (8/21/13: new agency, currently closed to submissions)

- Lippincott, Massie McQuilkin -Facebook,

- Miriam Altshuler Literary AgencyFacebook, Twitter

- The Park Literary Group, LLC

- Regal Literary - Blog, Facebook, Twitter

- Sanford J. Greenburger Associates -  Agent Lisa Gallagher's site,

- Speilburg Literary AgencyBlog, Facebook, Twitter

- Spencerhill Associates -

- Talcott Notch Literary Services - Twitter: Gina Panettieri, Rachel Dugas, Paula Munier,

- Trident Media GroupFacebook, Twitter: Agency, agent Melissa Flashman,

- Vicky Bijur Literary Agency - Blog, Facebook, Twitter

- Zachary Schuster Harmsworth -

If you have any information on any of these agencies - specifically URLs to their social media accounts that I can post - feel free to leave it in comments or email me directly using the linky-loo thingie in my profile.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Just Don't

The other day I stumbled across something in the newsletter of a literary agency.  I read it with dismay and a little bit of hurt, and a very large amount of frustration cascaded through me.  So, I went to Facebook and posted my frustration for pretty much everyone to see.

How unfair.  How utterly shitty.  Oh woe is me.  And a big huge helping of WTF for the literary agenting community.

I deleted it an hour later once I realized what I'd done.  Could be no one saw it.  Could be a boatload of agents saw it and their form rejections will be rolling in any time now. 

No one likes a whiner.  They certainly don't like it when you publicly display your annoyance.  The quickest way to get yourself labeled as someone who'd be a pain in the ass to work with is to post something like that to Facebook or Twitter or any other social media site.

I knew better.  In my defense, the little snippet from that newsletter caught me unaware so I didn't have time to steel myself against it.  I wasn't expecting it to slap me upside the face so I slapped back.  Now, don't worry.  I didn't get snotty and I didn't name names.  I didn't call names either.  I just expressed my frustration in a vague and meaningless way.

Still... Just don't do it.  Yeah, life's unfair.  This business may or may not be more unfair than the rest of life, but it is what it is.  Sometimes you're going to get slapped down from an unexpected source.  Guess what?  If you ever want to get published by someone other than yourself, you have to suck it up and take every slap they aim your way (and a few no one aimed but that hit you anyway).

So, have you ever vented your frustrations publicly?  How'd that work for you?  If not, how does holding it all in work for you? 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Submission Alert

If any of you out there write horror - or anything that could be loosely described as horror, I guess - then a place called Sinister Grin Press is open for submissions to their Fresh Meat Writing Contest.  Between now and Halloween, submit your stuff according to the guidelines* and play in the contest.  It's an interesting concept.  Makes me wish I has something scary to send.

If you do enter, let us know how it goes.

* This goes without saying, but so many people don't follow guidelines, I have to say it.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Don't You Quit

Don't You Quit 
by Indeterminate Author
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow -
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
Whe he might have captured the victor's cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit -
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

(The above poem has been attributed to someone by the name of Ralph Acosta, but I can only find one place that says it's his.  Every other place says this poem is by 'Unknown Author'.  An extensive Google search didn't yield any more information.  So, to whoever actually wrote this poem: Thank you.)