Monday, November 8, 2010

Chasing The Dream

Never be afraid to dream. Dreams are the doorway to Reality.~Sylvia Danzo

My guest is romance author Beth Andrews. She is a RITA winner and won for A-Not-So-Perfect Past, which I enjoyed reading. I can also see why it won.

What I admire the most about Beth is her persistence. It's hard, as a writer, to face those rejection slips. Even though we try, there is a twinge that says we've been rejected and it stings.

I like how Beth puts it:  "... rejections are a part of this business...I vowed to work harder, write better and to never give up." I like that philosophy.

I attended my first RWA National Conference in 2002 in Denver where I got to sit in the reserved seats at the RITA/Golden Heart ceremony. I wasn’t finalist—I didn’t even know what either award was about—but the published author who’d generously sponsored the conference scholarship I’d won was up for a RITA. Since she couldn’t attend she asked me to accept on her behalf should her name be called.

I’m what you might call…unassuming. Quiet. Watchful. Not someone who’s comfortable accepting an award in front of two thousand people. But while I ended up not leaving my seat that night, by the end of the ceremony, after watching all the talented, gracious women accept their awards, my viewpoint changed and I was certain of one thing:

I wanted to be up on that stage accepting my own award.
So I did what anyone would do in my situation. I wrote a book (my second) and entered it in the next year’s Golden Heart contest. It didn’t final. Neither did either of my two entries a year later. Or the year after that. Or the year after…well, you get the picture. I wrote more. I revised. I found some fabulous critique partners. Most importantly, I found my voice. And I entered the Golden Heart once again.

That year I was lucky enough to be a double finalist in the GH. I had a blast at the National conference in Atlanta, meeting my fellow finalists for the first time, proudly wearing my GH ribbons and buttons. There was a champagne reception for both RITA and GH finalists, rehearsals and finally, awards night.

I honestly didn’t expect to win and therefore didn’t experience more than a twinge of disappointment when my name wasn’t called. After all, it was an honor just to final and I was determined not to be eligible for the GH again. I was ready to sell.

Yeah, I hear you all laughing out there.

I knew it didn’t matter that I was ready to sell, what mattered was that an editor was ready to buy me (or in this case, my story). But I thought my story was good. And while the editor I was working with agreed, it wasn’t good enough to buy.

Not one to let a bit of bad news get me down, I forged ahead, entered the 2007 GH, and hoped that lightning could strike the same place twice. It did.

With that third final came the same excitement as the year before, along with healthy doses of relief, gratitude and, to be honest, a sense of validation that perhaps I was going in the right direction after all. I truly thought that this story, a story I’d worked so hard on, a story I’d received an eight page revision letter for, a story that had been sent up to the senior editor with a recommendation to buy, was THE ONE.

And then, a week before the conference, I—or rather, my story—was rejected.

It hurt. Oh, did it hurt. But, since rejections are a part of this business, I didn’t let it get me down (the hot fudge sundae I had for supper that night helped, too). Instead, I focused on making that conference the best ever. I was inspired by stories of authors who wrote for five, ten or even fifteen (yes, I said FIFTEEN) years before selling. Awed by their persistence, determined to achieve my own success and unable to imagine not writing, I vowed to work harder, write better and to never give up.

But by Saturday afternoon, the combination of too little down time and way too little sleep caught up with me. As I waited alone for a friend, the doubts hit. What if I was fooling myself? What if I never sold? How many times would I be able to push on after the door’s been slammed in my face again?

It was pitiful. I was pitiful. And I hate being pitiful.

That night at the awards ceremony, I was shocked and humbled when the presenter announced my title and my name.

I learned I can speak in front of 2,000 people and not make a total fool of myself. A partial fool, maybe, but not a total fool. Back at my seat, staring down at my shiny new Golden Heart necklace, I knew I would defeat those pesky doubts that had invaded my brain earlier in the day. Not because being a GH finalist or winner guaranteed I’d get published, but because I’d realized that no matter how hard this career might be, no matter how disappointing, I don’t want to do anything else.

A month later, I sold that book to Harlequin Superromance and this year I was lucky enough to get back on that stage to accept the RITA for A-Not-So-Perfect Past.

My GH win gave me a boost, an ego stroke if you will, but mostly it taught me to appreciate the steps along the way. To celebrate my successes and mourn my failures (for short amounts of time) and to never stop writing, believing or dreaming.
  • What inspires you to keep going when things get tough? How do you like to celebrate your successes or the good times in life?

A MARINE FOR CHRISTMAS Book One in The Diamond Dust Trilogy

It’s a wonderful life…?
Growing up in her perfect sister’s shadow wasn’t easy. Especially because JC Montgomery had been in love with Liz’s boyfriend for as long as she could remember. Brady Sheppard, a a guy who thought of her as only the kid sister. But that all changed when Liz married somebody else and Brady ended up in bed with JC! It was like a dream come true.

Except now JC’s pregnant. And Brady’s a wounded marine, so it’s going to be difficult for him to get down on one knee and tell her she’s his reason for living…But he will. Because she still believes in Santa Claus. Excerpt


Beth Andrews loves Christmas, wine and chocolate - though not necessarily in that order. During the writing of A MARINE FOR CHRISTMAS she listened to hours of Christmas carols, visited a local winery (several times) and made many, many homemade truffles. All for research purposes, of course.

Beth is a Romance Writers of America RITA ® Award Winner and a Golden Heart Winner. She lives in Northwestern Pennsylvania with her husband and three teenagers who claim they are her children, but are a far cry from the sweet, quiet babies she gave birth lo those many years ago.

Her plans for the summer include finally reading The Harry Potter series, learning how to bend metal into pretty shapes for jewelry and writing the second book in her new Diamond Dust trilogy for Harlequin Superromance.

Beth loves to hear from her readers. Please email her at



~Sia McKye~ said...

Beth, welcome to Over Coffee. Congratulations on your RITA win. I watched your acceptance speech on your website.

I love your attitude. Although it is hard to have your stories rejected, if you give up, guaranteed you'll never be published. Focusing on writing better is the right way. Each step brings you closer.

I've gotten my share of rejections. I get back up, dust myself off, and go at it again. I do have a good support system of published and aspiring authors that hand me Klenex, lots of chocolate and a boot in the ass when I need it. What would we do without them?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia and Beth - Beth what an amazing journey .. not for the fainthearted! - well done too .. it's the practise that counts?! But more importantly the stories we get to tell afterwards ..

Congratulations though .. and here's to many more .. all the best & have good weeks .. Hilary

Beth said...

Good morning!

Sia, thank you so much for having me back to Over Coffee *g* And thanks for the congrats on the RITA :-)

I think you have the right attitude when it comes to dealing with rejections. That's not to say that rejections are easy to accept - they're not. But we can learn from them and often times they can make us even more determined to keep going *g*

A good support system is so important! I don't know what I'd do without my friends. They inspire me, encourage me and sometimes, push me out of my comfort zone. All good things!

Beth said...

Hi, Hilary! You're so right - this business isn't easy *g* But it is worth it when we get to share our stories and have a career doing something we love :-)

Thanks for stopping by!

Jo said...

This story of Beth's makes me think of a question I was posing this weekend. What make's a best seller? I was reading one of Stieg Larsson's books. Why did his only books hit the best seller list? They were great but not any better than other books I have read which still don't hit the big time. Is it the editors, the publishers, what? With your experiences both Beth and Sia, do you know?

PJ said...

Hi Beth! Thanks for sharing your journey to publication with us. I'm so happy you were determined to keep writing and not let the rejections stop you. Because of that, we readers now have the privilege of reading your wonderful stories. And they are wonderful! I recently finished reading A MARINE FOR CHRISTMAS. Let me just say it won't surprise me one bit if I see your name on the RITA finalists list again in 2011!

Beth said...

Hi, Jo! Great question and one I wish I knew the answer to *g*

I do think that success comes from a combination of factors including hard work, talent, being at the right place at the right time (or having a book or song or movie etc released at the right time), word of mouth, luck and a few things I can't think of quite yet *g*

So for a book perhaps it's a combination of publisher backing, word of mouth or maybe being picked by Oprah. Or maybe it's a totally new concept or one that's being told in a brand new way.

This actually brings to mind a discussion my husband and I had over the weekend. He's reading a very interesting book which brought up the question: Would Bill Gates have had as much sucess if he'd been born 10 years earlier? 10 years later? If he hadn't had the resources which enabled him to attend Harvard (even though he dropped out)?

I don't think we can ever predict the success of something but we should always strive to produce the best product we can and make the most of any opportunities we're given :-)

Beth said...

Hi, PJ! Thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed A Marine For Christmas. I learned a lot about my writing process during that book *g*

VA said...

What keeps a person going? Great question, and honestly, what other choice does one have? I mean quitting is an option, but one can't quit everything, at some point you dig in for the long haul and go for it!

Off to read the excerpt. Thanks for the great tale of perseverance and endurance Beth.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jo, I think many would like to see some magic formula that would place them on the bestsellers list.

I'm no expert either, but I'd say a book that catches the public's interest enough to want to buy it--either grassroots groundswell or the book presents a story concept in such a way that it grabs the interest of readers. Buying has to be high volume because it's a numbers game. Like Beth mentions, the publisher also has a big play in this process. Many authors, once reaching that list, tend to hit it again because of the publishers promoting the name and there is enough readers that are waiting for the next in the series or next story from the author.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Vivian, so true. Honestly there are those that quit any time they have to stretch to real a goal and that goal requires work to achieve. I'm with you, even when pulled out of my comfort zone, if the goal is something I really want, I'll keep putting one foot in front of the other to get where I want to go. I might have to regroup a few times, but give up? Not an option for me if it's something I really want. Plus, most of the things I have accomplished in my life have been as a result of hard work, regrouping, revamping and trying again.

Olivia Cunning said...

Inspiring story! Congratulations many times over, Beth.

What kept me going? Stubbornness. It was enough.

Beth said...

Good point, VA *g* I do think there are some things we want more than others and, therefore, are willing to work through the hard times to achieve them. And sometimes we work toward a goal or dream only to realize it wasn't meant to be or maybe, wasn't the goal/dream we should be pursuing, and it's easy to let them go ;-)

Beth said...

LOL, Olivia! Stubbornness has kept me going, too. Despite the fact that I'm fairly easy-going, I'm very stubborn :-) Guess I needed to be to achieve my goals!

Beth said...

Thanks again to Sia for having me today! Hope you all have a great night :-)

Dana Fredsti said...

What a great inspirational story to share, Beth! I'm a day late here, but am so glad I stopped by 'cause I needed a kick in the pants like this! A NICE kick, mind you!

Beth said...

LOL, Dana! Glad I could be of help in the kicking department. There are times we all could use a gentle nudge to get us motivated *g* Thanks for stopping by!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Morning Beth.

My brain is mush, I'm telling you, mush. 50k of words in 30 days? piece of cake, right? If so, WHERE'S MY DAMN CAKE.

I'm having fun with my story but I swear it's gonna kill me. Blood will flow, but probably belong to my inner critic. Murder's fair in that situation, right?

So, I had to come by and get some Beth type inspiration again. Be stubborn and never give up.

*rolling up the sleeves, I'm goin' back in Ma...

~Sia McKye~ said...

Dana no worries sweetie. Beth's article/thread is open for comments until I post the next article. That will be tonight. Sure glad you stopped by. :-)