Deb Tawna finds rejection laughable…er, mostly

There are ways to find humor in anything life hands you.

Even rejection.

That’s what we’re talking about this week at The Debutante Ball, and it’s a subject near and dear to my heart.

If you’re not regular reader of my blog, Don’t Pet Me, I’m Writing, you might not know the story. For the sake of keeping it brief, here’s the short version:

I took my first stab at writing fiction almost eight years ago targeting a line of women’s action/adventure/romance novels from Harlequin. My first try sucked, my second got close with the elusive “request for revisions,” and the third sold. End of story, right? Break out the champagne!

Wrong. The line was canceled a month before my scheduled debut, leaving me out on my butt with one formerly contracted novel and two follow-ups that never made it to contract.

I wrote a new book, this one a mystery/romance/comedy hybrid. I used it to query agents and racked up my share of rejections before four offered to represent me.

I picked wrong. A year later, I went crawling back to the agent I should have chosen to start, and thus began a wonderful relationship with the best agent on the planet, Michelle Wolfson.

Still, the sales didn’t roll in. I wrote more books, and we got so close several times we were reaching for the champagne. But our glasses stayed empty, and the rejections piled up. Sometimes they were for silly reasons, like the editor who loved the idea of MAKING WAVES if only I changed everything but the characters’ names.

Other times it was just bad luck, like the three editors in a row at different publishing houses who left their jobs just as they were teetering on the edge of making an offer.

Somewhere in there, my agent and I reached the point where rejection was not soul-crushing so much as ridiculous. The fact that she kept believing in me was great, but the fact that she joined me in finding the humor in the setbacks is the real miracle. We kept each other laughing, which kept us pushing forward even when common sense said to throw in the towel and try something easier like brain surgery.

Finally, we found the editor who scoffed at the notion that romantic comedy is dead. With a three book deal in hand, I’ve got more than one try to prove her right.

All this to say, I know rejection. I know it intimately.

I’ve kicked it in the ding-ding and run away laughing.

8 Replies to “Deb Tawna finds rejection laughable…er, mostly”

  1. That is a FANTASTIC rejection story. And no one else can ever take rejection too seriously now, because it can only talk in that high, squeaky, kicked-in-the-ding-ding voice.

  2. I, for one, am very glad you perservered. Your story is a good example of the vagaries of the publishing world and also how things sometimes work out when they’re meant to, in the way they’re meant to. You’ve mentioned before that the first book you sold wasn’t the book you were meant to be writing, and I’m glad you’re finding success with the story you did want to tell.

  3. I wrote a rejection letter to myself after I received a slew of rejections from agents and editors on my first novel. It was a way for me to poke fun at myself and laugh. It still makes me chuckle a year later. But you know what? That book is getting published. I’d almost given up on anyone liking it, but I sent it out one more time and success came my way. Rejection is about preserverence. You have to keep at it, keep trucking. As Nora Roberts said at Nationals “eat the hard for breakfast”. Never give up, never surrender! Be the Weebl!! Cause Weebls wobble, but they don’t fall down.

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