Twists and Turns in the Road

ForbiddenFantasies_Final.inddThis month, we’re talking about our paths to publication.  Mine was both shorter than some and longer than others.  Forbidden Fantasies, my first Carina Press title and my first published story ever, was rejected by Harlequin Spice Briefs. Form rejection, no suggestions as to why, nothing. I put it aside and worked on some other projects, but it was never far out of my mind.

During that time, I submitted two other stories to different Harlequin lines, both of which were rejected. At this point, I was seriously questioning my writing skills and wondering if the stress of raising a family, working a full-time job, and trying to get published was worth it.  But Forbidden Fantasies wouldn’t let me go, and I started to fiddle with it again.

I deleted a lot. I added new stuff. And then I let it sit. I was considering some other publishers, but just wasn’t sure if I was brave enough to try again, and then Harlequin ran a Carina Press pitch contest.  I submitted my two-paragraph blurb and was chosen as one of five to pitch my story to Angela James.  I was crazy nervous, but Angela was wonderful.  When I finished my pitch, she asked to see the full manuscript. I was elated and terrified at the same time. My fabulous critique partners helped me make sure it was as clean as could be, and I sent it in.

You’d think the road would end here, but you’d be wrong. Because rather than a sale, I got a revise and resubmit request. In a way, a rejection, but the best possible kind of rejection. We like it, but it needs work. If you’re willing to try to fix it, we’re willing to look at it again. 

I felt like I’d won the lottery.  Deborah Nemeth, my editor, had incredible ideas on ways to strengthen and expand the story.  I took my time, played around with it, got advice from my crit partners and, holding the longest breath I’ve ever held, sent it back in again.

This time, I got an offer.  The editing and revising didn’t end there by any stretch, but now it was being guided by Deb, a wonderful editor who understood what I was trying to say and helped me make sure I was getting that across.

And the rest is history—history I’m hoping to repeat in the very near future as I finish up the first story in a set of three— though I’d appreciate a straighter road this time. Please and thank you for whoever may be listening.


Please Note: By the time this posts, I’ll be on a cruise ship, without access to social media and the internet for most of it. I’m hyperventilating just thinking about it, but I’ll catch back up with you all in a week!


Twists and Turns in the Road — 4 Comments

  1. That’s a wonderful story, Jodie. I love your thoughts regarding a revise and resubmit request being “the best possible kind of rejection.” That’s true. Especially when the editor is kind enough to give you editorial notes an guidance as to what might make the story stronger.

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