Thank you, Coffee Time Romance & More, for hosting me today.  I’ve thought long and hard about what to write for my guest post.  At first, I was planning to write exclusively about my first novel, SAVE AS DRAFT, that was released by Simon & Schuster on February 1, 2011 (there you have it – my shameless plug for the book, LOL).  (Oh, AND there’s a giveaway at the end of this post, how ‘bout them apples?)  But then I thought – will a post about SAD (as it is appropriately called for short) really impart any wisdom to you aspiring writers and readers of fiction?  Sure!  But a post about a more practical subject that we all have to deal with, sometimes everyday, would be even more beneficial.  So, here’s what I’ve come up with:

Rejection

Rejection… Gasp… No!  Valentine’s Day was just four days ago, and we’re already talking about rejection?!  Let’s talk about love or writing or something, anything, other than rejection!!

Hold on there, ladies, gents, and aspiring writers and readers of the literary world.  I promise this is going to be a productive and positive post… promise.  Bear with me.

So, why rejection?  Well, because I wouldn’t be writing to you today on Coffee Time Romance if I hadn’t experienced a little bit in my 33 years, and I have a feeling you may have experienced some, too.  Hopefully, it’s what’s gotten us to where we are right now, and it’s rejection that will continue to push us forward. 

A little about my personal rejections to get us started…

Prior to being a writer, many moons ago (well, not really, more like fifteen years ago but it feels like many moons) I was a struggling actress in Hollywood (yes, Hollywood).  I graduated from UCLA’s School of Theater with visions of winning an Oscar in my head.  I truly believed that my knowledge of such classics as Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde would propel me to the top of every casting director’s wish list, and I brought my Bachelor of Arts degree to all of my auditions like it was my script.  I made sure every producer knew I was the smartest actor in the room (and sometimes I was), although maybe not the prettiest (I usually was not).  Three years tops and my name would be thrown around in the same sentence as Meryl Streep, right?

Wrong.

I was completely rejected by Hollywood (except in the waiting tables department) and not just once.  I was rejected nearly every day for five years (that’s how long I lasted post-undergrad).  When I say “rejected,” only a real-life example can get the message across:

One day I had six different auditions during which I was told that I was “too cute” at the first one, “not cute enough” at the second one, “too thin” at the third, “not thin enough” at the fourth, “too funny” at the fifth audition, and “not funny enough” at the sixth one.

Ouch is right!

Hollywood:  my first big (and slightly expensive) rejection.

After five years of that, I moved on to Plan B:  law school.  On a side note, I did not give up my dream to be a famous actress; instead I decided I wanted more than what I was (not) getting in Hollywood and, much more important, after so many starving years (because all actresses must be really, really thin), I wanted to eat… food!!  I picked up a drumstick and never looked back.  In fact, I moved as far away from my home state of California as I could to attend University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law. 

To say I studied more than any other student in my 1L class would be an understatement.  I was “that girl” who studied on Friday and Saturday nights, who turned down invitations to parties in favor of memorizing flash cards, and who gave up alcohol because I thought it might have a negative impact on my brain retention.  The result?

A 2.4 GPA my first semester.

In case you don’t know what that means, translation:  I got a C- in every class. 

Huh?  How did that happen?  I think I actually studied too hard… if that’s even possible.  Law school was almost my second (and even more expensive) rejection, but it wasn’t… because after that I lightened up a little and started to enjoy life.  I stopped studying as hard, made some amazing friends, drank a couple glasses of wine here and there, and graduated three years later with a 3.4 GPA.  More than that though I started to appreciate the rejections, to learn from them, and, most important, to write them down.  I started to write…

And that brings us back to today. 

After having heard about my missteps above, it should come as no surprise to you that my first novel, SAVE AS DRAFT, erupted from a rejection, the biggest rejection of all –

A broken engagement.

Two and a half years ago, I was engaged to be married, and then I was suddenly not.  I decided to write about it and to include little tidbits from all the rejections that made up my life so far that brought me to where I am today – rejection-proof, just kidding, more like stronger, wiser, and more capable of handling any other rejections that may be thrown my way.  I wrote and wrote and wrote, and then I edited down all of the rejections that I had experienced into a story about life, love, and loss.  It became… a novel. 

When I finished writing it, I sent it to some agents.  And by “some,” I mean 250.  Almost immediately I received about 50 rejections.

Ah, shucks, c’mon, throw a girl a bone!

Nope, not so lucky. 

So, I kept writing.  I made my story better.  I edited some more.  And I didn’t take “no” for an answer. 

About 25 more rejections landed in my Inbox.

Again, I wrote some more.  I added about 50 pages to the book.  I remembered how hard Hollywood was; I recalled my struggles with law school; and, most important, I kept writing.

On July 6, 2009, an agent (my now agent) called and said: “yes.”  It felt like the first “yes” I had received in fifteen years (it nearly was, haha), and it made all the “no’s” so worth it.  Two months later, Simon & Schuster bought my book.  A year and a half later (or two weeks ago), SAVE AS DRAFT was released. 

I blew a kiss to Hollywood and high-fived my 2.4 law school GPA!  I also put away my $4000 wedding dress (the one I never got to wear).

Oh, and I wrote a guest post on Coffee Time Romance to top it off.  🙂

Seriously though, whether you’re a writer or reader, think about how much truth there is to the age-old adage:  “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”  Think about the books you’ve read that prove it:  To Kill a Mockingbird, The Old Man and the Sea, Harry Potter, to name a few.  That which does not kill us truly makes us stronger – stronger writers, stronger readers, stronger people. 

So write them down, strong ones!!  And, I hope I’ll be reading your books in the very near future!!

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