Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Please welcome author... June Phyllis Baker!

When I volunteered to write this blog I had no idea what I could say you haven't heard a hundred times. Then the other day, the idea sort of fell in my lap…or my mailbox. I got a rejection. It's not my first; it won't be my last.

There is a popular song entitled The Climb that suggests it’s not what is on the other side, but the journey it took to get there. As writers, we’ll always have another hill to climb, another rejection letter to paper that bathroom wall.

They are a part of our mountain. Our first inclination may be to look at that sheer wall as insurmountable, and each rejection is another landslide pushing you further down the slope.

Not all rejections are “bad.” Some can lead you to path to the mountain peak. Learn from your rejections. Some editors, albeit rare, take the time to let you know why your manuscript is being rejected. Those are the letters you save and frame. They are great motivators. They inspire, inform, and drive new creativity. And, if you’re lucky, sometimes there is an offer for you to resubmit.

It’s rare, but it happens. I know, it just happened to me. It sure beats the cold form rejection letters that tell you nothing, at least on the surface. Rascal Flats' song Stand comes to mind “You get mad, you brush yourself off and then you stand”.

By now you know music plays a big part in my writing; country music in particular. Country music for me tells a story. The good, the bad, and the ugly! The trials and victories of life. Another mountain story. For me, music moves the muse.

There are times you’ll want to quit, but when the muse comes calling, you have no choice but to write. Step back, face the mountain down, and write.

I think every writer asks her/himself how did I get here. More to the point, how did this happen? Hard work and determination, that’s how. Most writers dream of the day they’ll be published. When that day comes, relish it; plant your flag on the top of that mountain! You’ve earned it!

I’m a romance writer by genre. I have tried writing other genres. I really wanted to write a paranormal with ghosts…and it was fine, until that pesky old ghost scared me away. Find the stories that work for you, instead of against. I think sometimes we don’t have control over our characters, they control us. LOL! So until I can figure out how I am going to make my ghost a bit friendlier, she remains stuck in a file…pouting.

Whatever genre you write, your hook has to be strong enough to make the reader turn the page.

A novel has to make the reader believe in your hero or heroine. It has to make the reader root for them, feel their joy and sorrow. And you have to make your characters unforgettable.

I once read a romance novel so realistic I forgot the characters weren’t real. I found myself wondering about them long after I’d finished reading the book. And yes, I fell in love with the hero.

That is our goal as writers.

Books help readers escape when the world outside gets “crazy”. In a sense, we are like doctors. We can help people feel good; we can make them cry, or smile, and we can let them find a place they want to be when their version of that old 'mountain' seems insurmountable.

Dreams do come true. You can stand atop that mountain. It’s all in your hands. It starts with the first rejection and it ends with a contract.

Speaking for myself, I refused to give up. That’s why today I can call myself June Phyllis Baker, author.

3 deadly screams:

Pandem said...

Good post, June!

I remember the first woman in a story that I fell in love with: Grace Marks in Margaret Atwood's slightly fictionalized historical novel Alias Grace. Living, breathing, engrossing characters are a necessity for work in any genre, I agree.

And of course I agree. . .never give up on one's dreams!

Thanks for blogging!


Jeannine said...

Excellent, June! You said it all.

Sarah Mäkelä said...

Great post. Thanks for blogging with us, June. =)