Every Rejection Happens for a Reason

Did I get tons of eyerolls for that title?

Of course, there’s a reason for the rejection. I’m not talented enough. My writing needs to be stronger. I’ll never make it as an author. Look how good everyone else is.

Or, Magic8Ball

Acquisitions didn’t see my vision. They didn’t get what I was trying to say. They didn’t give my writing the time it deserves.

Or even,

They already have XYZ genre, subject, or theme on their lists. I’m too late.

I’ve wallowed and gnashed my writing teeth in all that mire. But once my head clears and I don’t take the rejection quite so personally, I wonder: what if I was selling myself short? What if I was settling, an injustice to the words I carefully selected and strung together? Worried and pried to make them the best and strongest they can be?

What if the rejection happened because it wasn’t the right place for my writing?

Two days ago a short story of mine was accepted into an anthology. As the lovely congrats comments posted, I realized a good bit of them were from authors I had ‘met’ from last year’s anthology, published by the same press.

And I thought, if last year’s short story, “Swamp Mallow”, had been published by the first place I sent it, I would never have met these nice authors. And honestly, it wouldn’t have been as strong of a story as it is now. I wouldn’t have been as proud of it as I am now. It would still be called “The Girl and the Gator” and feature a carrot as a weapon. *facepalm*

In 2015, 500 ‘new’ fairytales were discovered in Germany, compiled into The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales collected in the mid-19th century by Franz Xaver von Schonwerth. One of those was “The Girl and the Pond”. I’d always liked the fairytale, “Moss Gown”, the Cajun combination of King Lear and Cinderella, so I wanted to retell “The Girl and the Pond” with that bayou atmosphere. Hence “Swamp Mallow” was born.

I knew it was a good story: had a great setting, developed characters (the villain needed more motivation, mentioned one editor), and a nicely-paced plot. The feedback I received was positive: original, creative, etc, but it was always a no. Dejected, I put it aside. Even though I loved the story, I was forcing it to fit themes that didn’t work.

But then a publisher announced their 2018 theme: a full moon. It spoke to me. I rewrote it. All of a sudden, my story had heart and that pesky villain had motivation. This time a theme not only fit my story but made my story even better than it had been before.

My story found the home it was always supposed to have.

So yes, every rejection does have a reason. And sometimes it’s not anything to do with your writing abilities. Sometimes the reason is because better things are waiting on the horizon.

Don’t give up.
Keep writing.
Keep sharing your words with the world. My hope in this example is that the rejections don’t get you down for long.

How do you get through rejection? I’d love to see your tips in the comments!

Interested in reading “Swamp Mallow” and the 27 other fabulous short stories that take place UNDER THE FULL MOON’S LIGHT? Here’s the link.

4th Annual Miss Bookshelf USA

Whoops.

The Miss USA pageant completely passed by my notice.

But I couldn’t let May end without a pageant more to my taste. Yes, it’s time for the super prestigious event where I take all the books I read the previous year off their shelves, dress them up, spruce up the dust jackets, and parade them around. They love it. I promise. Miss Bookshelf USA

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the 4th Annual Miss Bookshelf USA…

According to my Goodreads, I read 10 adult books, 5 YA, 9 middle grade, 4 anthologies, and 3 picture books (which is super way off because the kiddos and I read at minimum one book a night at bedtime.) It was difficult to pick my TOP TEN DELEGATES as there were so many great books to choose from.

3kamjWmXCassie Beasley’s TUMBLE & BLUE

Emily Blejwas’ ONCE YOU KNOW THIS

Shannon & Dean Hale’s THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL: SQUIRREL MEETS WORLD

Darby Karchut’s DEL TORO MOON

Watt Key’s TERROR AT BOTTLE CREEK

Jaclyn Moriarty’s THE EXTREMELY INCONVENIENT ADVENTURES OF BRONTE METTLESTONE

Jewel Parker Rhodes’ BAYOU MAGIC

Ruta Sepetys’ SALT TO THE SEA

Jeff Zentner’s THE SERPENT KING

Miss Amity goes to… BAYOU MAGIC! Maddy is such an earnest, caring protagonist. I love how she grew to care so much about Grandmere, Bear, the Bon Temps bayou, and Mami Wata.

Miss Style is awarded to… THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL! I mean, it has footnotes, how cool is that. I enjoyed Doreen’s story so much that I actually dressed up as Squirrel Girl for Halloween, chikkt! (Yes, I am awesome, thanks for noticing ;))

Most Photogenic Cover goes to… TUMBLE & BLUE. Look at those woodcuts! The dreamy colors! Alligators! I like to pet it, it’s so pretty.

 

Second Runner Up goes to… DEL TORO MOON! The war stallions took me back to my childhood love of horse stories. This middle grade had the perfect blend of heart and legend. Of creepiness and bravery.

For First Runner Up, I dithered. I waffled. I couldn’t make up my mind. Then I thought, hey! This is MY bookish pageant! I can pick both SALT TO THE SEA and THE SERPENT KING to tie. They’re so different. SALT is a YA historical fiction set in 1945 about the Wilhelm Gustloff maritime tragedy, and SERPENT is a YA contemporary with Pentecostal tendencies. But both have a super strong cast of characters which is why they’re my 1st Runner Up picks, and interestingly, both authors live in Nashville. How cool is that?

 

And now, the moment you all have been waiting for…

Miss Bookshelf USA is…

ONCE YOU KNOW THIS cI4UE-Ja

Absolutely gorgeous and important book. It hit me right in the feels. You’ll want to hang out with Brittany and observe the world through her eyes just like I did.

I hope y’all enjoyed my little pageant! If you have recommendations for next year’s contestants, let me know.

(Thanks to Mermaid Girl for letting me borrow her Rapunzel tiara once more!)

Third Annual Miss Bookshelf USA

This Monday was the 67th annual Miss USA pageant. Congrats to Miss Nebraska on her win, making her the first lady from her state to wear the crown. Now if y’all know me at all, you know my interests have a bit more bookish lean to them. Hence my 3rd Annual Miss Bookshelf USA pageant, where I scour my previous year’s bookshelf to bring you some of my favorites.

My Goodreads shelves say I read thirty books last year. Eight more than last year and that doesn’t count the books I beta read and the three I haven’t finished yet. Interestingly, a third of those are adult books which I blame mostly on my sister. Here’s the full list and my reviews if you want to check it out.

2018MissUSA

A stack of some of the Miss Bookshelf USA contestants

For my TOP TEN delegates in no particular order (Ok, twelve. I did fudge the numbers just a bit because of sequels. Hey, it’s my contest and if the sequels are as awesome as the first, them I MUST include them):

The Broken Earth #1 & #2 by NK Jemison

A SHADOW BRIGHT & BURNING by Jessica Cluess

Princess Academy #1 & #2 by Shannon Hale

STARS ABOVE by Marissa Meyer (specifically “The Little Android”)

HARRY POTTER & THE CURSED CHILD by John Tiffany & JK Rowling

THE ADVENTURER’S GUIDE TO SUCCESSFUL ESCAPES by Wade Albert White

BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE and THE RAVEN KING by Maggie Stiefvater

THE KEY TO EXTRAORDINARY by Natalie Lloyd

RAVENCLIFFE by Carolyn Goodman

And out of these beautiful books and talented authors…

Miss Amnity 2018!Miss Amnity goes to… Miri of The Princess Academy, for always listening to her heart and her head equally!

Miss Style goes to… THE FIFTH SEASON and THE OBELISK GATE because whoa…Essun has a certain style about her. And that thing Ms. Jemisin does with Hoa’s POV–blew my mind, people.Miss Style 2018!

 

 

MrMr Photogenic Cover 2018! Photogenic Cover goes to THE ADVENTURER’S GUIDE TO SUCCESSFUL ESCAPES. I mean, you know it’s going to be fun just looking at it.

 

 

2nd Runner Up Miss Bookshelf USA!

Second Runner Up is…. STARS ABOVE! So many of the stories in this Lunar Chronicles collection are great but “The Little Android”, Ms. Meyer’s version of “The Little Mermaid”, tugged on my feels just as hard as the original fairytale.

 

 

 

FFirst Runner Up Miss Bookshelf USA!irst Runner Up is this sweet hopeful book…THE KEY TO EXTRORDINARY. Seriously, I’ll read everything Natalie Lloyd writes. She has an extraordinary way with words.

 

 

 

 

 

AND OUR 2018 MISS (AND MISTER) BOOKSHELF USA GOES TO…BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE and THE RAVEN KING! Kind of fitting right? The Raven Boys and Blue looking for royalty all along 😉

So what do you think of my picks? What was your favorite book you read last year?

For the curious and who’d like more book recommendations, check out my 2017 pageant contestants.