Rejection – Before You Blow Your Stack

angry womanBy Cindy Sproles

Rejection. It’s not fun. I can’t think of a soul who lives for the next rejection, whether it be in our families, our jobs or our writing career.

When a child is told no, the next logical step is wailing…maybe a little kicking and screaming, then pouting and finally, life moves on. But if you’re a writer “NO” becomes stifling. Recently, I stopped at McDonalds to have lunch with my husband. I watched as a mom gently offered her child guidance on the outside playgym.

“No, Kylie. Step here.” “No, Kylie, don’t push.” No, Kylie, don’t take off your socks.” “No, Kylie, no Kylie, no Kylie.” There seemed to be no yes’s in the cards for poor Kylie. As patient as this 3-year-old’s mother was gently correcting and guiding her daughter, I couldn’t see Kylie had any success. I’m not sure she made it up the ladder and down the slide one time. But what I did notice was that rambunctious little girl never stopped trying. For every no her mother offered, Kylie moved ahead to the next adventure. She had a few tears but within seconds, she was up and on to the next task.

I sorted through my file folder of rejection letters last week. In ten years of writing, I’ve gotten more rejections than I have finished projects. It didn’t seem quiet right but as I gleaned through the letters attached to failed works, I realized the value of hind sight.

My first work was a novel I was sure God gifted to me (sound familiar?) I woke up in the middle of the night, ideas flashing through my head, rushed into my office and grabbed sticky notes. Within minutes I’d plotted out an entire “Lord of the Rings” like kingdom. My characters were in place, the monsters were there, and the scripture I’d base it on was the armor of God.

Due diligence was my friend while over the next three months I pounded out this great story from God. When it was done, I sent it for a paid critique at the conference I’d soon attend. The critiquer, an author of over 50 books, gave me wonderful feedback. He liked the story, remarked it didn’t hold the marks of a first time writer and he introduced me to the acquisitions editor of a major publishing house who in turn…on the recommendation of my critiquer, asked for the proposal. Needless to say, I was thrilled.

Months passed and finally the mail delivered my proposal back to me with a very nice letter.

Though I see potential in this work, I cannot see that this story could stand against works such as Lord of the Rings.

Really? We all know I’m a much better writer than Tolkien. Really? I was rejected and even with the criticism gently tucked between two bits of compliment, I was hurt. Even a little angry. Now, years past that work, I can look over it and see why it couldn’t stand against works like Lord of the Rings. You see…hind sight!

Rejection is never easy, but it is part of the process. To succeed we have to fail because the failure forces us to practice, learn and improve. Improvement leads to success. Now I look at my rejection letters and say, “Hail to the Rejection.” From it I’ll grow to be better. I’ve since learned, moving past is not as hard as it was in the early years. I owe that to the lessons hind sight has taught me.

Before you blow your stack over rejection letters, follow these tips to get you past the hump:

*Mourn a few days, eat chocolate and then get over it
*Pull out the suggestions along with a few writing books and study
*Write and rewrite
*Begin a new work
*Move ahead with the determination to be better at what you do

Rejections are the stairs to success. Choose to look at them with the attitude of persistence and you will climb your way to publication.


Photo courtesy of

Assignment 2 – Basic Writing and Editing Tips

Photo courtesy & OCAL
Photo courtesy & OCAL

By Andrea Merrell

As writers, we must invest our time, effort, and money to learn all we can to make our work as excellent as possible. As you prepare for Boot Camp, here are a few tips to help you polish your manuscript and get it ready for submission.

 Learn the lingo of the writing and publishing industry. This will be very important when you converse with other writers and meet with agents and editors.
 Know your subject. Do your research and be sure to document your sources.
 Know how to:
 Hook your readers.
 Set the scene.
 Show—don’t tell.
 Use POV (point of view) correctly.
 Create memorable characters.
 Construct proper dialogue.
 Build your plot.
 Creatively use backstory.
 Write tight.

Whether you’re a new writer or seasoned author, catching pesky typos and using correct grammar and punctuation may make the difference between acceptance and rejection. Even with a great story, the little things can spoil our manuscripts. Take the following quiz and see how many little foxes you can catch. The answers will be available at Boot Camp.

1. The acceptable size and font for manuscripts is: 10 pt. Times New Roman, 12 pt. Times New Roman, and 12 pt. Verdana

2. A manuscript should be:
Single-spaced Double-spaced Triple-spaced

3. Serial Comma Usage: True or False? All publications call for a serial comma if leaving it out could cause confusion.

4. One or two spaces at the end of a sentence?

5. Which word is correct in each sentence?
Whose/Who’s turn is it to wash the dishes?
My dad/Dad is a football fanatic.
I asked mom/Mom if I could buy a new dress.
Is this your/you’re wallet?
If your/you’re late to the meeting, you will miss the keynote speaker.
Stacy and Rick were going to their/they’re cousin’s birthday party.
Its/It’s supposed to rain the night of the big game.
Grace said, “To/Two/Too bad you can’t make it to the workshop this week.”

6. Hyphenated words are tricky. Some words are hyphenated depending on the usage.
Which word/phrase is correct?
(Example: Maxine’s manuscript was high quality. That was a high-quality manuscript.)
Stephanie asked an open ended/open-ended question.
Do you like suspense-filled/suspense filled novels?
Research is time consuming/time-consuming.
Audrey’s daughter is very self sufficient/self-sufficient
Ben has a two-year-old girl/two year old girl/two-year-old-girl.

7. Confusing words: (Fill in the blank.)
I am not letting you out of my _________ (sight, cite, site).
My favorite _________ is chocolate cake (desert or dessert).
You must _________ your classes at the writers’ conference (chose or choose).
Mary was _________ her hands while she waited for the verdict (ringing or wringing).

** For more writing and editing tips, check out Andrea’s book, Murder of a Manuscript available from Amazon.

7 Things to Do NOW to be Ready When Writing Inspiration Strikes – Edie Melson

coffe and notebookAs writers, we know that inspiration is a fickle thing. And while we all need to keep writing whether we’re inspired or not, that rush of creativity is nice. What’s not nice is not being ready.

There’s nothing as disheartening as those times happens when inspiration strikes and we’re not ready to capitalize on it.

So today I’m sharing 7 things to do now to be ready when writing inspiration strikes.

1. Always keep a notebook nearby. It doesn’t matter if it’s a digital app or a physical book filled with actual paper. All too often I’ve thought I’d remember an idea or a new twist without writing it down. I rarely do. Beyond that, I spend a lot of time and angst trying to remember the brilliant idea.

2. When driving, make sure you have a voice recorder within arms reach. My darling husband decreed note-taking off limits to me while driving—even if I was stopped at a red light. Because of that, I used to keep a digital recorder with me. Now that I have my smart phone, I use that to capture fleeting thoughts.

3. Snag headlines and news stories that intrigue you. You can take a screenshot of digital articles, or use a program like Evernote. For newspaper headlines, use old-fashioned scissors and a manila file folder to keep track.

4. When you snap or snip an interesting article, be sure to include notes to remind yourself why that particular piece caught your attention. There is nothing more frustrating than coming across something you thought was important with no idea why you thought it was important.

5. Set up a system to keep track of those illusive ideas. These can be digital documents on your computer or a filing system in a nearby drawer, just make sure you can retrieve those ideas after you record them. For me, I use a series of files on my computer. I have one for quotes, one for blog post ideas, another for clever names, one for possible articles, etc.

6. Add a visual prompt to your idea. I admit it, I’m a born lurker. I’ve been known to snap surreptitious pictures of interesting people when I’m out and about. I also take shots of places and things that I’d like to later describe—either in an article or a work of fiction.

7. Become a professional eavesdropper. Along the lines of always having a notebook handy, take note of the conversations going on around you. But don’t stop with just the words that are spoken, write down the body language, tone, setting, everything that makes up an intriguing scene.

Each of these things on the list came directly from a lost idea because I wasn’t ready to capture it and hold on. I’d love to know what you’d add to the list.

Don’t forget to join the conversation,

Photo courtesy of and photoraidz

Assignment 1: A Blog about Blogging

MC900434671By Allison K. Flexer (

Fifteen years ago, I had never heard of a “blog.” Now, it seems like everyone I know either has a blog or has thought about starting one! Blogging provides a unique advantage to writers. A writer can start a blog and immediately be published on the World Wide Web.

Today, I want to share some advantages of blogging, specifically for those of us who feel called to be writers.

Advantages of Blogging

1. It’s a low-risk way to try out the craft of writing.
Starting a blog is an effective way to have your words immediately published. If you have something to say, start a blog. It’s the easiest way to get started in the craft of writing and find out whether you enjoy it and have a knack for it. Establishing a routine of composing posts on a regular basis is a good habit for beginning writers. The connections you make with other bloggers can also be beneficial. Essentially, blogging is a low-risk way for writers to figure out whether they enjoy the craft.

2. It’s a great training ground for writers.

In 2008, I decided to quit my corporate job and take some time off. At the time, I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and thought starting a blog might help me process some of the emotions that came along with this big life change. Blogging has been a great exercise for me over the past six years. Looking back at my old posts, I can see how my writing skills improved over time. The discipline of blogging taught me so much about the craft of writing.

Blogging taught me to organize my thoughts and follow through on ideas that came to mind. A blog is a great repository and online journal for writers. And of course, it’s not just about us. Readers can benefit from the message God has led us to share through words.

3. We never know how God will use our words to impact others.
Blogging can help you interact with readers and grow your audience. By looking at the popularity of posts, you learn what works for your readers and what doesn’t. My most popular blog post (most views of any post) was a letter I wrote to my newborn niece the week she was born. You wouldn’t believe how many people search Google for the phrase, “Letter to my Niece.” For a long time, my post was in the top three results on Google for that search term. Although that topic didn’t fit with my book project, thousands of people ended up reading a letter that contained Scripture and Truth from God’s word. We never know the reach our words may have.

Whether you’re thinking about starting a blog or you already maintain a regular blog, I hope this post encourages you to keep sharing your words through blogging.

Your assignment – Start a blog. If you already have a blog then update it with new features. Write a short blog for use on Writers Boot Camp and send it to Cindy.  Get out of your comfort zone. Learn to blog.


Make the Most of Your 15-Minute Conference Appointments – Cindy Sproles

conference meetingAs conference time nears, conferees dig down and prepare to meet one-on-one with publishers, agents, and editors. The wonderful advantage of attending a conference is this “free-card” to meet face to face with industry professionals. The publishing market has tightened to the point of strangulation. Publishers are overworked and understaffed, so to meet with them at a conference is an amazing opportunity.

During these meetings publishers (and agents) will extend an open door opportunity for writers to submit their work directly to them during a specific time frame. Does this increase your opportunity at publication? Some.

What are the advantages of the 15-minute appointment? Believe it or not, a lot can be accomplished in 15 minutes. Publishers and agents are looking for individuals who can be concise. Sitting across the table from these folks offers writers the opportunity to pitch their work, develop a relationship, and to network – all of which increase your opportunity at publication. Don’t misunderstand. Increase and promise of publication are two different things; so if a publisher requests your proposal, it’s not a promise to publish . . . it is merely an opportunity to look at the work. One a writer may not otherwise get for several years.

Come Prepared
Bring a business card.
Have a one-sheet.
Come with paper and pen.
Have a list of questions you’d like to ask.
Be ready to spit out your pitch.

When you sit across from a publishing professional don’t find yourself upside down digging in your briefcase for these things. For lack of better words, when your backside hits that chair, these things should land on the desk.

Why choose an appointment time? This is the one time a writer can obtain a free-card. During conferences, publishers and agents (who are snowed under with manuscripts), allow writers to send unsolicited work to them. Most publishers offer a time frame (maybe six months to a year) for conferees to submit work to them for review. This opportunity in itself is a prime opportunity.

Follow these steps for your 15 minute appointment:
Be courteous about the 15-minute time limit.
Set your watch on the table and be courteous about the 15 minutes. WATCH THE TIME.
Have your business card and one-sheet ready
Introduce yourself, shake hands. Handshakes say a lot about a person. So have a firm handshake, not a fishy one.
Don’t babble. Some professionals will want to know a tid-bit about you. Not a life history. Rather, your length of time writing, the genre you write in, and your passion.
Practice your pitch. Know what you want to say before you sit down. I’ve lovingly said, “You should be able to bolt upright from a dead sleep and spout off your pitch.”
If the professional wants to read your one-sheet, please be courteous and be quiet. Let them read. The more you talk the more you eat away that 15 minutes.
Should the publishing professional offer you constructive criticism – be gracious. Don’t be offended, be thrilled. You’re getting free, professional advice from folks who know the business.

Finally, understand before you sit down, if the publisher or agent wants your work, they will ask. Sometimes the opportunity to “not ask” is a gentle way to say no without hurting your feelings. So don’t ask them if you can send them your proposal. If they are interested, they will ask.

Remember, the 15-minute appointment is a prime opportunity to network. Many authors pick up free-lance work and special projects from publishers due to a 15 minute appointment. Publishers meet you, see your abilities and remember when a special project opens. You may be the someone who might fill the bill. These appointments are more than just pitching one piece of your work. You’re pitching you and your abilities. You are a whole package, not just one project. Keep that in mind as you meet with publishing professionals.

Research the editors, publishers and agents at the conference and pick the ones who represent the genre you write and prepare your pitch accordingly.
Make your one-sheet (see below for instructions on a one-sheet)
Get business cards. They don’t have to be fancy. But make a business card on your computer so professionals can make notes on the back and remember you.

One-Sheet Requirements
Title, genre, word count, completion date
1-3 solid paragraphs that summarizes your book (think back of the book text)
A SHORT bio and your photo, agent information or your contact information.

Be sure to leave any questions or comments about a 15-minute appointment in comments section below.

And don’t forget to join the conversation!

Photo courtesy of and photo stock.