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 firstname.lastname@example.org.