Monday, August 31, 2009

Perseverance and Perspective

Perseverance and Perspective -- two of the best tools in a writer’s tool kit.

Hello and thank you to L. Diane for hosting me on her blog today. I’ve been writing for nearly fifteen years and the journey certainly has been filled with many ups and downs. So many wonderful experiences and craft tools I’ve learned, but today I’d like to speak a bit on two tools that writer’s don’t often think about… perseverance and perspective.

I think one of the biggest mistakes a writer can make is believing that once a first draft or even twelfth draft is done that a story is done. That once you’ve gotten a handful of rejections the story is rejected for good. What I’ve discovered after writing over 33 manuscripts and selling nine books, is no story is ever done until it’s published.

The first book I sold to a publisher was my fifteenth manuscript. I had written it for a romance line that closed the week I sent the story in to an editor. Undaunted, I rewrote the story as a single title-adding more conflict, a subplot, and sexy bits and resubmitted. But I was told, while the story was good, that particular setting was of no interest to the publishers at that time. So, I put the manuscript away and continued to write other stories. Three years later a publisher opened a new line and was looking for all settings, but this publisher wanted short sweet books- half the size of my manuscript. So, I set to work and ruthlessly cut 250 pages from the work including all the bits that I had put in after the initial rejection. The book sold within six weeks and Saving Samantha was one of two debut historical romances published by Avalon books.

You might think published authors would no longer have full manuscripts around as they sell on proposal. But this is also a myth. Even with 7 books on the shelf, when I wanted to change from historical to romantic suspense, I had to have a completed work for editors to see. So, I wrote Mr. Charming, my first romantic suspense. I sent it to a series publisher who rejected it as not right for their list at this time. So, I rewrote it as a big single title, but was unable to find a house for the story because to them the story line sounded like a series romance. So, I put it away and wrote other things. Then Avalon thought they would have a romantic suspense line. So, I took out Mr. Charming and once again cut it down in size and scope and rewrote it as a sweet. Unfortunately, Avalon decided against a romantic suspense line and the book came back to me again—rejected. Still I didn’t give up. When I heard that The Wild Rose Press was looking for romantic suspense, I dusted off the book, revised, edited it yet again and sent it in. This time~ it sold!

The lesson I’ve learned from these two experiences is that no book is ever “unsellable.”
Stories are fluid and can be written and rewritten many times. The only time a story is set in stone is when it’s published and put on a shelf. And just because it’s not right for the current market, doesn't mean it won’t eventually find a home and an audience.

Perseverance—if you love your characters and are will to preserver then your chances of selling go up. Perspective helps if you can remember that publishing is a business and a good book may be rejected a thousand times before it finds a home. Even though rejections hurt—and they do—if you have faith in your work and are willing to keep trying, it will pay off. For me, the real pay off comes when someone takes the time to write me an e-mail and tells me that the LOVE the book and want to know when my next one is out. Those e-mails make my day… and all the effort worthwhile. Keep writing!

Mr. Charming, a romantic suspense where a single mom discovers that love doesn’t follow the rules, is available now at The Wild Rose Press,,

Nancy J. Parra has a degree in Journalism but turned to writing fiction when she discovered it was more interesting to interview the people in her head. She loves to interact with readers and writers. You can contact her at Nancy J. Parra

Follow her blogs at:
This Writer’s Life
Room With A View


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great point on perseverance. I think that's what sets published authors apart from the others.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Helen Ginger said...

What a fabulous post. Very inspiring for all of us who have those manuscripts sitting in boxes on on smart sticks. And thank you for giving your own personal examples!

Straight From Hel

Unknown said...

Wow! As Karen said, this is one very inspiring post! Not giving up is one thing, but to rewrite or reshape your stories says so much about just how much perseverance you have! I applaud and admire your outlook and dedication.

You mention that if you love your characters and are willing to persevere, your chances of selling go up. What came to mind is a favorite saying of mine, "A belief in a thing makes it happen." This certainly has proven true for you!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Good morning, and thank you everyone!

Elizabeth- I think it is so true that perseverance is the number one thing to getting published.
Karen- thank you, I know that rejections do create a hopeless feeling,(even if it's your 575th lol) but once you've had your 24 hours of chocolate and tears- there is always another shot. For writers it's never too late.
Hi Helen- thanks, there are so many wonderful examples of authors who didn't give up. They inspired me as well.
Crystal- I love that saying. Thanks for sharing!


Nancy Holzner said...

Great post, Nancy--and so true! I'm about to turn in a manuscript and was wondering what to work on next. Now you've got me thinking about taking an old project out of the drawer and seeing how I might recast it.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Thanks Nancy, (and thanks for tweeting the blog.)

Sometimes a rejected manuscript was simply written ahead of it's time. Trends change.
And sometimes a story that didn't work for one genre turns out to be perfect for another. (with revisions, of course.)


Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

What an encouraging post! I agree that perseverance and perspective are two important assets for a writer. Your experience provides a great example on how unpublished work can be “recycled” until it finds a home.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Nancy, I'm so glad you could visit today!

Donna McDine said...

I enjoyed this post today, especially for a Monday. Sets the tone for the week for me in a good mindset. It was a pleasure getting to know Nancy through her guest post. Thanks to both Nancy and Diane.

Children’s Author
Write What Inspires You Blog
Donna M. McDine’s Website

Carolyn Brown said...

Hey Nancy,
Loved your post. As usual you always inspire me to keep going!
Hugs to you,
Carolyn Brown

Marin Thomas said...


Great post! I agree that the book isn't finished until it's published. I'm always amazed at the changes in my books from the first draft to the final one that hits the shelves.

Samantha's Cowboy *out now*

The Old Silly said...

Excellent post and I couldn't agree more about the two BIG P's!

Marvin D Wilson

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Jane- welcome back. Thanks for commenting.
Hi Donna, thanks!
Hi Carolyn, thanks for stopping by- can't wait until your book is out...tomorrow??
Hi Marin, so, true. Loved Samantha's Cowboy!
Hi Marvin, thanks for the positive comment.

Joelle Charbonneau said...

Thanks for the perserverence talk, Nancy. I always love hearing your perspective. It helps me look at my life and career in a happier way. You are a true inspiration! And I love Mr. Charming. Again, a great example of work that deserves to be published, but had the wrong circumstances at the wrong time when it was first submitted. Congratulations on persevering and giving us something fabulous to read!


Morgan Mandel said...

You're right, Nancy. The key is to keep trying. Some people give up too easily.

Morgan Mandel

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Joelle, Hi Morgan, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

I know you both have persevered and become successful. Cheers!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Thank you L. Diane, for hosting me today! Wishing you all the best! Nance

Linda Kage said...

I love that post, Nancy. It was true for me too! I'd written a YA romance long ago and submitted it, getting rejection after rejection. So, I put it away until last year when I heard about a publisher looking for YA romance. So, I pulled the old manuscript out, dusted it off, polished it up and sent it off. The things sold almost immediately. Amazing.

The book industry really does change and some types of writing are more popular at different times.

Thank you so much for your post.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

How I love this story! It so sell illustrates how important perserverance (and learning more about writing and the publishing industry!) are!

It's the same with marketing our books once published. And maybe with life. We do need to temper our determination by occasionally listening to the universe, too.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Tweeting writing tips at