Wednesday, 29 August 2012

From rejections come strengths

Hello, Lorraine. I’m very pleased to visit you, today.

My topic is what was necessary, and what wasn’t, during the writing of my historical novel, The Beltane Choice, which releases in two days from Crooked Cat Publishing. I’m absolutely delighted it’s going to be published but must confess I wasn’t like Charles Dickens who dashed out his weekly editions whilst doing lots of other writing, and was said to walk some fifteen to eighteen miles a day. I can’t number exactly how many drafts/revisions have been made of The Beltane Choice to get it to the stage of being accepted for publication.

A rough plot outline was written a decade ago, and then abandoned, since I had to focus my vacation time on non-fiction projects for the school I was teaching in. In August 2008, I cut back to part-time teaching, extracted the outline from archived files, and made it into a novel around 95 thousand words. I sent off the manuscript to one of the ‘big’ publishers who accepted unagented work, having proof read and edited myself. The typical story applies. A letter of rejection eventually arrived, after almost a year, which gave no help at all.

(Though, that year wasn’t totally wasted. Whilst dutifully waiting I wrote manuscripts for two contemporary novels in the interim.)

My historical novel is set in a time period I loved teaching about-the Roman Invasion of Celtic Britain-and I really wanted it published. I self-edited again, and made changes. By then I’d learned that many e book publishers accepted unsolicited material. I chose one and sent off the manuscript. The rejection slip from them arrived very swiftly; within six weeks of sending. I was impressed by their prompt response, even if *saddened* by a second rejection, but the most important thing was I received suggestions for improvement.

Manna from heaven! Some authors might have been offended, or daunted. Not me. The premise was good, but the sexual content needed to be developed. My grammatical structure was too complex; I used vocabulary too difficult for the average reader; I used too many commas to separate clauses and should remove most of them. UK English spelling was an issue. English idioms wouldn’t be understood by most readers.

Slash and burn became my motto! I’d not set out to write a sensual romance, but I was prepared to make changes. Another draft was written-the sexual tension built up, and most of the other suggestions addressed. The novel changed in plot terms during that draft.

Cut out unnecessary historical detail? That was a tough call, since for me that prose gave substance to the environment in which my characters lived. The task then became –how to rewrite without losing information. I deliberated quite a bit and took time revising. During that rewrite I gained contracts for the two contemporary romances I’d written in the interim, which was a huge boost to my morale. When I believed the manuscript for The Beltane Choice was ready, I sent it to Crooked Cat Publishing.

What stayed in and what came out? During editing processes with Crooked Cat, points of grammatical structure have been reinstated and commas have been reinserted-which has totally delighted me. Though, I’ll be looking more carefully in the future for those sneaky wrong… or missing commas. Yet, I’ve learned more than one lesson. I’ll be wielding my checklist of areas to pay special attention to as I pore over a new piece of writing. My target audience will be carefully considered, and a salutary lesson has been-accept the consequences if I choose to rework my manuscript for a different publisher.

Everything in life has a purpose! From rejections come strengths. I’ve got to believe that…and I wonder if you do, too?

Thank you for inviting me today, Lorraine.

A former Primary teacher, Nancy Jardine lives in the picturesque castle country of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, with her husband who feeds her well or she’d starve! Ancestry research is one of her hobbies, as is participating in exciting events with her family which drag her away from the keyboard. In her large garden she now grows spectacular weeds, which she’s becoming very fond of! She cherishes the couple of days a week when she child-minds her gorgeous granddaughter.

The Beltane Choice  Book Trailer for the Beltane Chocie:
Other books by Nancy Jardine:
MONOGAMY TWIST  Book Trailer for Monogamy Twist:
TAKE ME NOW  Book Trailer for Take Me Now:
THE BELTANE CHOICE (Crooked {Cat}Publishing release date: 31st Aug 2012) Book Trailer:

Critique Service for Writers
Flash 500 Flash Fiction Competition
Flash 500 Humour Verse Competition

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Flash 500 winners - flash fiction and humour verse

The winning entries  for the second quarter 2012 are now available to read on the website. You can find the flash fiction winners here and the humour verse winners here.

The judges for the third quarter 2012
The flash fiction judge for the third quarter 2012 is an award-winning crime writer, Ruth Dugdall, and our judge for the humour verse is a multi-talented poet, writer and performer, John Hegley.

Thinking of having a go this quarter? Visit the websites to find out all about both competitions: Flash 500 Flash Fiction and Flash 500 Humour Verse.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Critique Service for Writers
Flash 500 Flash Fiction Competition
Flash 500 Humour Verse Competition