Friday, October 1, 2010

Shelley Munro Guest Blog - Hope in The Mail


Once upon a time there was a young girl (that would be me) who loved to read. She started out reading Doctor Dolittle adventures and graduated to Famous Five and Secret Seven mysteries. Next came Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys plus lots of other books in between. One day she went on holiday to the beach. It rained and it rained and she ran out of books to read. In desperation, her mother handed over her Mills & Boon paperbacks. The girl, now in her teens, devoured the medical romances her mother gave her, and thus began her love affair with the romance genre.

On another day, a few years later, she decided that maybe she could write her own book. She made a few starts and discovered this book writing business might be a little harder than what she'd thought. Oh, well. Never fear. She put her writing attempts aside and started dating boys. She found a boy she really liked and married him. They decided they'd like to travel so they set off on an overseas experience, exploring quite a bit of the world. Six years later, they finally returned home to New Zealand. The girl found a job and they lived happily.

One day the girl woke up with an overriding thought on her mind. If she didn't make a serious attempt to write soon, she'd run out of time.

That day was a turning point.

The same week, she discovered a course on writing romance at Auckland University. She enrolled. One of her favorite magazines ran an article on Susan Napier, a New Zealand writer, and gave details of an organization called Romance Writers of New Zealand. Fate, she decided. A sign that she was meant to write romance.

She attended the course and started writing. She completed her story and sent it off to Harlequin Mills & Boon in England. Then, she sat back and waited for a contract to arrive in the mail.

A rejection arrived one month later.

This was her first experience with rejection. Undeterred, she set about writing another book. Another rejection. This process repeated for the next five years…

She found this rejection business very irritating and disappointing and frustrating. Each one was a blow requiring many chocolate bars, the odd glass of wine and many consoling hugs from her husband. She grew tired of rejection and decided to employ a strategy that she calls “Hope in the Mail”.

With several manuscripts under her belt, she resolved to make sure she had several submissions out at once. She also started to enter contests and she entered more than one at a time. This meant she had several coals in the fire. If a rejection came back, she could tell herself she still had hope in the mail. One of those submissions might just be the one. If she received a rejection, she'd evaluate and either submit it to another publisher or rework it, ready to send out yet again.

During her sixth year of writing, she and one of her writer friends had a competition. The one who had the most rejections by the end of the year would win a lunch out, paid for by the loser. The girl ended up receiving quite a few rejections and won a free lunch. On the second of January the next year, she received an email from a publisher wanting to publish her book. It was a good year because she sold to several other publishers too.

My name is Shelley Munro. I currently write for Ellora's Cave, Samhain Publishing and Carina Press. I write contemporary, paranormal, sci-fi and historical romance.

One thing you mightn't realize is that published writers still receive rejections. I hate rejections. Most people do! I try to keep my hope in the mail strategy working for me to cushion my disappointment. At present, I have only one submission out, but I'm working hard to complete another manuscript. I need more hope in the mail!

CONTEST: Win a download of Shelley's recent release, The Spurned Viscountess. All you need to do to enter the draw is answer one of the following questions.

What is your favorite way to cope with rejection? Do you wallow? Eat chocolate? Drink a glass of wine? Do some retail therapy? Or, if you have any questions for me about writing, that will put you in the draw as well.


Shelley Munro lives in New Zealand and loves to write romance. She also loves to travel and explore the world. Her latest release is a historical romance called The Spurned Viscountess, currently available from Carina Press. You can visit Shelley and learn more about her books at her website 

 The Spurned Viscountess purchase link

Nicole here, thanks for all the wonderful comments you left for Shelley! The winner of Shelley's contest is Aubrie. Congrats, Aubrie and enjoy!

23 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Love the story. Cool almost interview. :D

I wanted to be a writer after reading Famous Five. I couldn't get enough of the series. This was big because up to then I was a reluctant reader. Now I'm a reluctant non-reader. I'm always reading . . . even in the car (just not when I'm driving).

What do I do about rejections? I pout and move on. And eat some chocolate.

Myrna Foster said...

Thanks for sharing your story.

If it's a request for a re-write, I try to do what the editor asks for. But if it's a rejection, working on something new makes me feel better.

Cherie Reich said...

Thanks so much for sharing!

Rejections aren't easy, and some are harder than others. If it is a place I really wanted to get into, I tend to be a little bit depressed about it for a while. Lately though, I try to think more positively (love the "Hope in the Mail" part). If I receive a rejection, I'll start writing a new story or I'll submit a story, old or new one. I'll try to keep options open and hope one of them makes it. :)

Shelley Munro said...

Stina - the Famous Five series is the reason I chuck the odd body in my stories. It doesn't seem right to leave them out.

Have you heard that the publishers who own the rights to these stories are going to update the language and republish them?

Shelley Munro said...

Myrna - I find that working on something else helps. I also like to have a plan A, B, C & D for each manuscript I send out. I look at the rejection and move on to the next stage of my plan.

Shelley Munro said...

Cherie - I totally agree that some rejections are harder than others to face. Some require a lot more chocolate! I find the length of time involved i.e. the waiting makes a difference to the rejection experience, too.

Dominique said...

Thanks for sharing. This strategy sounds brilliant.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Now that is perseverance!

Liz Fichera said...

I can relate to your post on so many different levels that it's quite scary. I deal with rejection by running and eating chocolate, not always in that order.

Shelley Munro said...

Dominique - the strategy certainly works for me. :)

Alex - I think every author needs perseverance because the publishing business isn't an easy one!

Shelley Munro said...

Liz - the waiting for a response never gets easier either!

Hailey Edwards said...

I really like your hope in the mail idea. Maybe one day I'll write fast enough to give it a try. lol

Shelley Munro said...

Hailey, by the time you factor in the waiting time, it's easy to have out more than one submission.

elisewarner said...

Loved your books. I was a big Nancy Drew Fan too. Then dogs came into the picture with Lassie Come Home. One day I picked up Edna Ferber's Show Boat.and since then it's been reading, theatre and writing.

Shelley Munro said...

Elise - LOL with me it was ponies and horses. I read lots of those stories and they were even better if they contained a little mystery as well.

Aubrie said...

This story is a lot like my own, so it was fun to read.

Retail shopping does help, so does watching my favorite movies over and over again to inspire me to think of another story!

Shelley Munro said...

Hi Aubrie - I find favorite movies and TV shows inspiring too. I must watch the Firefly series again. It's one that always gives me some great ideas.

Julie Musil said...

I love this story! And I love the term, "hope in the mail."

I deal with rejection by sending the piece out again. And again. And again. And chocolate. And writing.

I figure I'm just lucky to be in the game, and I don't let the rejections get me down. Much.

Janice said...

Shelley,

That's a great strategy. It would be so easy to quit, but you didn't. Good for you!

Janice~

Christina Lee said...

Love the story--thanksfor the inspiration.

After a rejection, I allow myself 24 hour wallow time and that's it--time to move on!

Shelley Munro said...

Julie - Resending a project really helps me too. I have a plan A, B, C and sometimes D for each project.

Shelley Munro said...

Janice - once I started on my journey I found it was difficult to stop. I didn't want to stop without achieving my goals.

Shelley Munro said...

Christina - I think a limited wallow time like that is a good idea. Happy writing :)