From High to Low

Lucky me, I got an R for the Never Ending Story this morning. And I’m really annoyed about it. I’ve worked for 11 months on that story with the editor. Got the synopsis reworked, the character bios, the partial rewritten twice, and to not even get a request for a full is just so disheartening. Makes me question whether I know what I’m doing at all. Whether what they want from me is impossible to do.

The response was lovely, don’t get me wrong. Very encouraging. But the reason for the R was because it was too much about the sex. At least the partial was. Now, I can see what the ed means and while I was editing the story, I thought I would have to go back and layer in some more emotional stuff. But lowering the emphasis on the sex is easy, it’s the conflict that matters. At least I thought that was the most important part. And it wasn’t the conflict it was rejected for.

Problem is, in this story my characters don’t want an emotional connection and will fight it. So for them, sex IS all it’s about initially. In fact, they’re determined to think it’s just physical for as long as possible. Perhaps it’s that approach that makes it not suitable. Then again, I’ve read lots of other one night stand stories in MH where it’s all about the physical initially, and it seems to work for others.

Sigh. Anyway, the ed told me to put it aside for a while and come back to it later so I guess it’s not a complete waste of time. But I am going to email her and ask her for clarification on the issue.

Right at the moment though, I feel as if I have to write an absolutely perfect, no revisions necessary kind of partial to even warrant being asked for more. Which is beyond irritating when the last requested full had no conflict, lots of stereotypes, pacing issues and all sorts of other problems that this one didn’t have.

Okay, so thanks for letting me vent. Funnily enough I’m not as gutted as I thought I’d be. I’m just frustrated as to what it is they want from me. Oh well, good thing I have sub number eight waiting to go. πŸ™‚

50 thoughts on “From High to Low”

  1. Jackie, I’m very proud of you. I’ll tell you right now, if the level of perfection that is required of you were required of me before I sold…well, I wouldn’t have sold.

    But keep your chin up. Look at your New Voices chapter! Look how many people believe in you. I certainly do. And I will elbow people out of the way to get my hands on the first Jackie Ashenden book when it hits the shelves.

    Hoo will be fighting me, hard, for that honor.

  2. I feel your frustration I know I would be too. I’m gutted for you but I’m really thrilled that you have another submission to go. That’s the right attitude. You DO know what you’re doing and what you’re doing is fabulous. Look at your NV, all the readers want more. We might revolt.

    You send that next submission and then go find yourself a great big box of chocolates (no sharing!).

    Where’s Hoo with the martinis?

  3. Maisey – thanks hon. You don’t know what your support and that of the Sisters means to me. I really do feel that I’m held to a standard that seems to be waay to much for me fulfill.
    The NV chapter is all that’s keeping me up to be honest. Though at this rate, I’ll probably stuff that one up too. Groan.
    Anyway, don’t forget, Hoo has more arms than you. πŸ™‚

    Bec – tell me about it. I think if I’d been asked for more and then R’d at least it would feel like I’m moving forward. Not this.

    Lacey – thanks lovie. You’re such a sweetie. I do have another sub but now I’m terrified THAT’s too much about the sex too. Honestly, I just don’t get it.
    Ah well, nearly martini time here. I need Hoo!

  4. Jackie, I’m devastated for you πŸ™ After 11 months of slog and waiting it must be so hard. I absolutey feel for you, I’d be a patheric wreck if I was in your position. I’m so glad that you’re getting a wonderful, positive response from the NV Comp to remind you that you do have talent and it is worth persuing this writing gig.
    Don’t give up.

  5. Jackie, all I can think of is that you must have written that sub while channelling someone else because the chapter you entered into NV is fabulous. Spectacular. Stupendous. Yes I could go on but I will leave some adjectives for the rest of your legion of fans (yes there are that many of us – just look at how many people have read your entry!) Gurl you rock. Never forget that and I’m joining the queue lining up for your first book because I KNOW it’s just around the corner. In the meantime, I’ll pick up a nice pair of cyber shoes for you during my shopping excursion (oh and what size does Hoo wear?)

  6. Jackie – you know how fab i think you are – really really fab, but just in case you don’t know it, I’ll tell you again. And I am sooo lucky to have you as my CP and with each growing day, more and more people are loving your work!!

    As Maisey said – chin up, there are soooo many that beleive in you.


  7. Oh, Jackie (((HUGS)). That sucks BIG TIME. I can understand how disheartening this must be for you after all that waiting and hard work.

    Your R puzzles me somewhat. Maybe they know you can write a full ms no problem, so don’t need to request the full now unless you have all the elements right? You mentioned in another post that MH seems a difficult line to break into. I think you’re spot on with that comment.

    On a positive note, everyone loves your NV entry – so the eds have to sit up and take notice. Hang in there.

  8. Kerrin – thanks for that!

    Jo – awww, thank you too! Yeah, it’s been VERY hard after so long. And for something that IS fixable. The NV has been my saving grace really. If I don’t get through, at least I’ll have had a week where everyone thought I could do it. And I have got another story up my sleeve.
    BTW, I have to say, I thought your chaper was fabulous. You have such a great voice!

    Elissa – You are a star! Thanks heaps for your lovely comments. Yeah, I’m not sure what the deal is. I’m going to email the ed to clarify some things but I really thought the ms would work.
    Anyway, some cyber shoes would be grand, and Hoo takes size 10 (Octopus size. Yes, he’s got large feet).

    Janette – thank you lovie. You’re the best. Some days I don’t feel fab which is why I have lovely CPs like yourself. Crossing fingers for you – the last of us with subs out!

  9. Jackie πŸ™ You know I am just so sad for you! I really don’t understand either but I think you need to remember that it’s not necessarily the story but the LINE that is wrong (or so they think)! Plenty of people have read that sub (lucky me included) and it’s fab! So go on… send it to BLAZE!!!! xxooxoxxo

  10. Dear Jackie,

    so sorry to hear about the ‘R’, but DO keep going!

    I agree with the other Rachael, send it off to Blaze and see what happens.

    And,I KNOW I probably shouldn’t say it, but there are (gulp)other publishers out there. Stamp your foot, don’t be disheartened and email it off to A.N.Other. I would!

    Lots of love,


  11. Rachel, thanks so much for the lovely comment! I have to admit to being put off Blaze simply because it’s all hardcopy and the wait is even loooonger. Such a wimp eh? Oh, and I’d have to rewrite it too probably. However, will have to reconsider I think.

  12. Hugs Jackie. As the others have said your popularity on the NV site should hopefully keep the crows away (and if it doesn’t let me know and I’ll shoot them for you).
    Having been lucky enough to glimpse some of the new WIPs you’ve been working on I know it’s only a matter of time …

  13. Jackie,

    You have every right to feel frustrated and confused. Ugh, sounds like an ad in the lonely hearts column! Anyway, after you shared the comments from your email I got to thinkng. Emotional connection in first two chapter? Maybe, depending on character I guess but don’t the eds want us to create characters that we can identify with, relate to, cheer on? Well I’ve got to say that if one of my friends from ‘real’ life started thinking love and marriage and babies and so forth after one/two meetings with her new guy, I’d be inclined to think she was a lunatic.

    In the beginning, yes you’re so right, it is about the sex. The tension, the chemistry, the urges, the absolute craving to share something physical. One night stands have been around since the beginning of time (I’m pretty sure Adam & Eve never tied the knot either) and in the 21st century women are not afraid to enjoy sex without the emotional apects, at least not right away.

    I strongly suspect that had I mentioned my ’emotions’ to Andrew on our second or third date that I would be still be a single lady.

    You’re one hot writer, you have oodles of talent, you have balls of steel for getting back up every time and that alone Jackie makes you very lovable Kiwi. Now, get back to the writing, we’re going to want to see chapter two online very soon.

    Lots of love,

  14. Lorraine – yay for you and your continuing support, m’dear! Here *hands Lorraine a gun*, shoot away. πŸ™‚

    Aideen – yes, indeed, you’re right about that. First time round they were too self aware so this time round I was trying to make them less so. Too less! I’m wondering if the key was having them realise ‘something’ was going on but then making them deny it to themselves so that the reader is aware there’s something more than sex going on. In which case that’s an easy fix. But still, I think you’re absolutely correct – that’s what one night stands are all about. And what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with emotional love developing from that? I don’t know, I guess the ed will let me know.
    Thanks for your support, m’dear. It was muchly needed today. And the lovely Irish curse-words were deeply appreciated. πŸ™‚

  15. Hugs on the R, Jackie. But as others have said, just keep thinking of your NV sucess right now. And Heidi Rice’s inspiring comments.

  16. Hi,

    That’s a pig of an R after so much hard work! The reality is, that M&B move goal posts all the time, because in truth there’s only so many novels they can churn out in a month/year and the list of signed authors is immense (all looking to financial gain)and each one getting four or six novels written within a year, so where are the openings? Unless one or two pop their clogs there are limited spaces!

    I’ve just posted this at the web site, but it’ll vanish from sight within seconds and I doubt eds will notice.

    * There are loads of first chapters that drew me in straight off. I used to get paid to review books/movies for a magazine and believe me, I’ve read M&B titles for years for relaxation and a little smoochy romance escapism, but of late I’ve read less and less for the following reasons:

    1) Too often when reading a 200 page novel I think I’m reading a novella simply because Mcs meet in the first chapter – and yes there’s immediacy to that – but I don’t see that kind of meeting as a hook. A writer may as well get the pivotal moment over with in chapter two, and by chapter three have them walking off into the sunset. Hence story told, Job done, get out the next novella!

    2) What I want in chapter one is build-up, reader torture (edge-of-seat nail-biting angst of “will they won’t they?”) and cliff hanger ending of no they didn’t so they must in chapter two! If they get it off (sex) in chapter one I won’t bother reading on, and I’m no Prude by any stretch of the imagination.

    3) In chapter one and two I want to be drip-fed background info on the MCs, I want to know a little about them before they get down and dirty, if not I’m just reading about two people meeting and thinking “Wow” (fem) “Whoa” (male) and then getting it on. So what, do I care, NO!

    4) By chapter three I want at least one MC besotted the other smitten but wary, or both wary due to inner angst yet overcome by the heat of the moment. These are the sort of characters that keep me reading, because by now the heroine will have endeared me (maybe even annoyed me) for various reasons. Also my heart will be utter stolen by the hero, who equally may have driven me to distraction.

    How many of you can name the lead characters in “Gone With The Wind” and Pride & Prejudice” – without looking it up on the Internet?

    How many of you can remember the names of lead characters in “Titanic” without referring to the Internet?

    Your answers will reflect taste in reading ie., beginning, middle and end!

    Forgive the long post but the following is an example of what I expect from a good romance:

    Take “Talking Dirty With The CEO”, we have a classic case of a virtual meeting via Internet chat. That’s fun not to mention the sexy aspect of the interaction, and also the reader is drip-fed a little info about each character. That for me is a great opening, and although they meet in the real world there’s the “will he won’t he” guess who the heroine really is aspect? Great Hook and cliff-hanger!

    Take “An Affair to Remember”, where the MC’s don’t meet in chapter one, yet although the heroine has never met the hero she knows what he looks like because a portrait of his father painted thirty-years beforehand is said to be the image of the son. Already smitten by the portrait the heroine knows the hero has irresistable eyes. Will she be able to resist, as she must, any advances he might make toward her? Great Hook and Cliff-hanger!

    Take “Gossip, Secret & Lies”, again a great opening chapter where the MCs actually meet, and despite magnetic attraction between them there’s air of heroine frustration at his inconvenient arrival. Nice hook and Cliff-hanger!

    I’m a straight-talking broad, no time for bullshit!

  17. Jackie, my heart sank when I read about your rejection. I have to say that I loved your chapter at New Voices. I definitely would have kept on reading. Your voice is strong, fun, and sassy. You can write, girl.

    Have you considered submitting the storylines that aren’t fitting into category (or are too sexy) to a reputable e-publisher? Perhaps even Carina if you want to stick with Harl.?

    Fingers crossed on your next submission!

  18. Sheesh, at times this whole subbing thing seems like an enigma wrapped inside a paradox and bowtied in a mystery, doesn’t it, Jackie? Hugs on the R. I was really shocked to read your post because I thought this one would be it! That said, I know you haven’t lost your touch because your NV comp entry is truly fab. Keep your chin up, dear. It will happen!!!

  19. Like Maya I was shocked to hear your news, Jackie. Huge hugs on the R, I really can’t believe it. Your new voices entry really rocks, though, so all the best with that – all the readers (including me!) love it. The only thing I’d say is that you’re nearly a year past that sub – a year in which you’ve worked, improved, and honed your craft. If they can send you an R, I’m expecting one for my current partial, thats for sure, as I’m not in your league at all as a writer, you’re much better.
    Chin up, pal. I’m so glad you’re getting such great feedback from NV!

  20. Hugs, Jackie, huge ones. So shocked and heck I’m frustrated for you too.

    I decided a year ago that I’d obviously no idea what MnB want after my crash and burn R so I know how ya feel. But…the sting fades. And lots of pubbed authors talk about how for ages they beavered away and then click…the perfect ms did it. You’re an awesome writer so keep on truckin! Faith, faith and loving the game. jx

  21. I’m so sorry to hear this, Jackie. But I know you’ll get there eventually. You have the talent and the determination, and that’s all you need. Really–it’s just a matter of time. It took me 11 years from the time of my first sub–I’m sure it will be a shorter journey for you πŸ™‚ Hugs, though!

  22. Jackie, there aren’t enough words in the English language to express how gutted I am for you.

    Sub, sub, and sub again.


  23. Jackie, HUGS!!! This is a tough biz and anyone who hangs in deserves all the support available. I know everyone here has said keep at it. I’m adding my voice to the crowd. You have talent. You have the drive and dedication you need to make it. My suggestion is to spread the love around to a few more lines while continuing to pursue MH. Stretching your voice in new ways will help you grow as a writer. It will provide an outlet for all the stories bottled up inside you. And it helps take your mind off the one sub you want to sell the most.

    A year and a half before I sold, I was as frustrated as you are right now. I decided to try something new. I wrote a YA and dabbled a bit with a historical and tried my hand at a paranormal. It helped my peace of mind and gave me a chance to grow as a writer.

    You’re awesome. Keep on keeping on!

  24. Jackie: I know this doesn’t help, but so much of getting published is just plain dumb luck, and when I say dumb I mean DUMB. The rest of it is hitting the publisher/editor on the right day when all the stars and planets are aligned in the universe. I’m still waiting for that day myself.

    I am curious though, you talk about your editor – if you don’t mind me asking – are you talking about an editor with the publisher you’re subbing to? Or are you talking about an independent editor, helping you with your career? Just curious.

  25. I’m gonna go head and second what Wendy said about luck. Right editor, right MS, exact right moment. I certainly feel luck played a huge role in me getting published.

    Had I not had an editor who believed in me, and pushed me, and pushed me, and pushed me, it wouldn’t have happened.

  26. Hi Jackie

    It’s a long time since I’ve sent you a message, sorry, have been moving house/being pregnant with 3rd child/generally rushed off my feet.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your R, it totally sucks. I loved your NV entry and as everyone says, you certainly are a talented writer. I’m sending you lots of luck for the comp/next sub. Here’s hoping it’s the breakthrough one.

    Lots of love

  27. Hi Jackie

    It’s a long time since I’ve sent you a message, sorry, have been moving house/being pregnant with 3rd child/generally rushed off my feet.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your R, it totally sucks. I loved your NV entry and as everyone says, you certainly are a talented writer. I’m sending you lots of luck for the comp/next sub. Here’s hoping it’s the breakthrough one.

    Lots of love

  28. AWWWWW MASSIVE HUGS Jackie – I really mean it. I think I speak for all in blog land who are following your “journey” when I say I’m gutted for you. But on the +ve side you NV entry rocks – it really does. Caroline x

  29. Romy – yes, Heidi was lovely. And the NV was definitely unlooked for – does make things easier.

    Francine – thanks heaps. And great comment and advice, thank you.

    Rula – thank you. Yes, I have thought about other publishers. I’m too damn stubborn though. I want to crack this one first! *sulks*

    Maya – you got that right, m’dear. I had probably over-worked that story to death, that being said. There is merit to the whole ‘write something fresh’ thing.

    Sally – thanks to you, hon. Don’t worry about your sub. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, you can’t compare yourself to others. There are lots of other factors there so keep your chin up huh?

    Judy – you’re a star. Well, at least I know why they didn’t want it. But I would like to know what else about the ms didn’t work. Still waiting to hear about that. But yeah, keep on keeping on.

    Kate – thanks heaps for your lovely comment. Eleven years? Wow, that’s an awesome testament to determination. What an inspiration! Definitely won’t be giving up after this.

    Amy – thank you,lovie. Yep, doing the sub thing again. What else is there to do?

    Cat – What a lovely thing to say! You’re pretty awesome yourself, m’dear! Yeah, good advice re trying something else. I keep meaning to. I think I’ll polish up my next sub, finish the MH WIP I have and then give something else a go.

    Wendy – dumb luck is right. It truly is. Actually, I had a feeling this MS wasn’t going to be the one after it took me so long to rewrite. Sometimes you just know.
    The editor I’m talking to is the one I’ve been working with at M&B. I’ve been working with her for a while now (keep thinking she’s going to give me the old heave-ho at some point).

    Maisey – I think we all want your editor. πŸ™‚

    Kristy – hey there! How are you doing? Busy from the sounds of it. Thanks for the hugs and lovely words re my NV chapter. My next sub is one close to my heart so maybe that’s the key.

  30. Jackie, I’m gutted. And shocked.

    But when your call comes your victory will be all the sweeter for all this suffering.

    Your NV chapter is just stunning, I enjoyed it so much.

    Spoil yourself today – you deserve it. And then tomorrow, straight back in that saddle.



  31. So so gutting for you Jackie, hugs aplenty from across the globe.
    You have a great attitude though and your moment’s coming – most probably through the NV comp I reckon!

  32. Jackie, just adding my voice to the chorus… you really are fabulous both as a person and a writer! Thank goodness for the timing of NV because that validation is just what you need right now.

    Cat and Sean WILL get their day in print, but they’ll have to get in line behind Studman and Naughtygirl. πŸ™‚

  33. Jax.. I was gutted on hearing the news.. so many of us were waiting with fingers crossed..
    But then, hog on chocolate martinis and whatever you want for a couple of days..and wow them with your next sub..
    Your NV chapter was fab πŸ™‚ beautiful and left me wanting for more.. Now that I’ve got a taste of your writing.., I’m all the more eager to see your name in print !!! Hope it’s soon..very soon..

  34. I’m sorry this wasn’t the one, Jackie, but after reading your NV entry I have no doubt you’ll be pubbed one day soon. The waits are definitely tough – it’s been almost 10 months since I sent off my full to Blaze – but since then I’ve written and had 3 other novellas accepted. Doesn’t help with the wait but thank goodness there are so many alternatives nowadays.

    Girl, seriously, your NV chapter is amazing! I wish I could buy the complete story! The day when your name’s on the front cover of a book is so much closer than you know. πŸ™‚

    Sending you lots of hugs!

  35. Ju – thanks heaps! Yeah, it was gutting they didn’t want more. Ah well, I’m over it now, though (must have been all the chocolate martinis). πŸ™‚ Thrilled you liked the NV chapter. I won’t tell you how much of a pain chapter two is proving to be though. Lol!

    Cari – Aw, such a lovely thing to say, m’dear. Thanks to you too, both for the hugs and the encouragement. So pleased you liked my chapter. I should get on to writing the rest I guess. πŸ™‚ Let’s hope they want more of that…
    Crossing fingers for your Blaze. You rock btw.

  36. Hey Jackie,
    What a time to move house – no internet and no idea where anything is…

    Needless to say, all the support and belief in you speaks for itself. Your composure has been admirable – kudos to you. Just think of the response you’ll get when the call comes through…!

    cheers and days of sunshine

  37. Hey Jackie, sorry to hear you got an ‘R’, but glad you finally know where it stands. Perhaps they’ve had too many of the ‘one night stand’ stories lately? You know it’s hard to speculate on the ‘why’, but getting clarification is good. Use the frustration and channel it into something positive and get your next one out there!

  38. Jackie, sorry I missed this when it broke, I’ve been MIA on the blogs for a few days – both working and catching up on sleep! – and all I can say about your R is what a terrible shame. I agree with everyone here about your NV entry. It’s sharp, sassy, original and snappily written. But I guess it’s a tight market and there are many hundreds of good new writers vying for the next sale to M&B. What you need to demonstrate is X factor, perhaps. And perseverance.

    So I’d get that new sub polished and sent off as soon as possible. Get back on the horse, girl!

    But don’t forget I’d be happy to look at your ms at Embrace too. There’s no reason not to publish in other places while you wait for M&B to pick you up, and it could help you develop as a writer. You don’t have to be unpublished to be accepted at Harlequin via the traditional routes, and indeed many writers who publish with Harlequin were published elsewhere first – and still publish other things under another name once in the fold. It’s a free market!

    Meanwhile, good luck in the NV contest!!

  39. Veronica – thank you! One day. πŸ™‚

    Kaily – it was the lack of emotional connection, with the emphasis too much on sex. The ed actually suggested passing it on to Blaze.

    Jane – Thanks so much! They actually liked the characters and the set-up which is a plus and it’s not a flat out no, just a ‘not right now’. I need to clarify some things about it before I think about what I want to do with the ms. Blaze is the other option. Thanks for the offer – Embrace is definitely an option. I just want to see if I can get some answers from M&B first then go from there. πŸ™‚

  40. Hi Jackie,

    Coming in late with the commiserations – it can be a rough road at times. But wtg you on your NV entry and I’m hoping you’ve taken a good look at your next sub and are about to send it off already!!!
    Keep on going and you’ll get there πŸ™‚

  41. Natalie – yeah, I’m okay actually. Asked a few questions about the last sub and have pitched the new one to her. Will see what she says. I’ve got it ready to go in any case. πŸ™‚

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