Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Toni Noel - She Likes My Writing

I've reported this countless times over the years at critique meetings, and a file crammed with rejection letters to support that claim. Editors liked my writing, but they didn't buy.

My first submission came back with a handwritten note from a thoughtful editor who took the time to personally compliment my writing, although it failed to meet her needs.

"Good writing, you tell a fantastic story, but…"

That editor liked my writing, too. I was doing something right.

Later, a Kensington editor for Precious Gems made suggestions for revision in her rejection letter, changes I promptly made and mailed back to her. Nearly a year went by, convincing me that manuscript was with an acquisition editor, and encouraging me to buy a special outfit to wear to future book signings. Mine.

Then the manuscript came back with "I like your story, but…"

She liked my writing, but my hero and heroine didn't quite jump off the page.

One editor wrote, "I like your voice, but we expect the manuscripts we buy to sparkle." I asked other authors how to make a manuscript sparkle? No one knew for sure.

But she liked my voice.

I completed a time travel historical set in a silver mining town on the same exact day the latest issue of the RWR announced, "Time travels are no longer being bought," so that manuscript found a home on a shelf.

One day an editor at Silhouette wrote, "I like your writing. Send me everything you write." I framed her letter, and for several years kept the troubled postal service afloat and my mailman trim returning all those not-quite-right-for-her-line submitted manuscripts.

During this long and sometimes stressful journey to publication I continued polishing my writing skills by attending conferences, taking online classes and reading constantly. Then, while bedridden recovering from a DVT ( a deep vein thrombosis), I revised one of my early manuscripts and emailed it to a new eBook publisher, Desert Breeze. Almost immediately the editor replied she "…loved my quirky heroine," and wanted to buy the book. The rest is history, I like to say, because she has now bought three of my manuscripts.

It's hard to describe the elation a writer feels when an editor reaffirms the writer's belief in his or her ability. The adulation of my friends means nothing compared to an editor's praise.

My one regret is that I didn't start writing sooner. I edited the high school newspaper and always planned to write someday. I admire the authors I know who juggle a full time job, the demands of a husband and growing children, and still find to write. I should have tried harder to write with everything else I had going on in my life. I didn't. I waited until I retired to begin, only to discover I had no idea what to write. Or how. All those years, I could have been attending RWA meetings and learning the things I need to know to become a successful writer.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Yearling, had to file her thoughts and ideas away until late on Saturday night when she'd finally have time to work on her novel. If I had it all to do over, I'd write something every day, regardless of how many toddlers vied for my attention, or how many Girl Scouts troops I led.

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Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I often wish I had started writing sooner or found a writer's group before I started my first novel.

Toni Noel said...

Hi, Susan,

They say the mistakes we writers make that slows the journey makes us better writers.

I hope!


Kaycee kacer said...

Wow Toni that would be soo frustrating. I haven't had many rejections myself and most of them just form but all of those editors telling you they liked your writing but weren't interested. I would have been bald from all the hair pulling I would have done. So major major congrats on finding a home with your novels. Don't eat yourself up for nt starting sooner instead praise yourself for starting at all when so many people with a passion to write just never ever do. Maybe you waited until you were retired but you still did it and now youre published. Yay!!

R. Ann Siracusa said...

Toni, I've been there and heard the same comments.

Toni Noel said...

Thanks, Kaycee, for your encouraging words.

And here I was trying to encourage you!