Sign Up for My Newsletter and Cure Breast Cancer!

Okay, okay, you probably won’t cure breast cancer singlehandedly, but you can make a difference :).

As many of you probably know, my fellow romance writer and friend, Jennifer Haymore, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. In support of her fight and that of so many other women, I’ll be donating a dollar in Jennifer’s name to Susan G. Komen for the Cure for each person who subscribes to my newsletter during the month of May. (Note: If you’re already subscribed, you don’t need to sign up again. If you’re not sure–and I couldn’t blame you if you’re not, since I haven’t sent one out yet!–you can try it as you won’t wind up being subscribed twice unless you use a different email address than you did the first time.)

ToSAlso, as serendipity would have it, I wound up with two copies of Jennifer’s latest release, A Touch of Scandal. One of them’s mine, mine, all mine, but I’ll be giving away the other to one lucky newsletter subscriber. I’ll draw the name of the winner on May 15th, so the sooner you sign up, the better.

The 7 Stages of Grief as Applied to Rejection

In honor of all authors who’ve recently experienced a series of rejections, whether from agents or editors, I offer the following somewhat tongue-in-cheek (and somewhat NOT) overview of the process of moving on.

The Seven Stages of Grief

  1. SHOCK & DENIAL

    You read the rejection letter for the third time. Then a fourth. And it really IS a rejection, not an offer disguised as one. You double-check the envelope. Maybe it was meant for Mrs. Hinklemeyer, who lives next door. Granted, it’s unlikely she also wrote a romance novel titled LOVE IN THE TIME OF DYSENTERY, but then, they do say there’s no such thing as an original idea. But no, the envelope is definitely addressed to you. But still, there must be some mistake. This just can’t be right.

  2. PAIN & GUILT

    After the shock wears off, you feel like crap. Plus, you get five paper cuts from reading and rereading that damn rejection letter. You start to second guess yourself. Maybe you shouldn’t have killed your hero off on page 5 of the manuscript (but hey, you did resurrect him on page 15!). Maybe you shouldn’t have used the word “turgid” quite so many times. And trying to write a historical paranormal comedic thriller horror mystery romance might not have been the best idea, but damn it, it seemed like the right thing to do at the time!

  3. ANGER & BARGAINING

    What do these publishing professionals know anyway? They wouldn’t know a good book if someone hit them upside the head with it. They’re all a bunch of risk-averse weenies who wouldn’t buy the Bible if God submitted it for publication. But hey, what if you sent chocolates with your submission? Or maybe if you promise you’ll give up chocolate…

  4. “DEPRESSION”, REFLECTION, LONELINESS

    Aw hell, they’re right. Your book sucks used tea bags. You’re a complete loser who couldn’t even write the phone book. You lose all hope and motivation. Writing is a waste of time, effort, and emotion. You feel like a whiny crybaby and refuse to log into any of the social networking sites or your email for fear someone will ask you how you are. Or worse, announce they’ve just sold in a ten-book deal for seven figures.

  5. THE UPWARD TURN

    Just when you think you’ll never write again, you get a glimmer of an idea. Something so good, you can’t NOT write it.

  6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH

    You slowly put the pieces back together. You start writing because you have to. With some help from your friends and critique partners, you realize that there are a lot of reasons your previous manuscript was rejected, and none of them are that it was actually bad. Plus, the only way to be sure you’ll never sell a book is to quit. And that’s just not an option.

  7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE

    You put your much-rejected manuscript in the Magical Mulch Pile* under the bed. The publishing world just isn’t ready for it yet. But wait until they get a load of your new project, a historical paranormal comedic thriller horror mystery young adult romance. Working title: LOVE IN THE TIME OF ACNE. Yeah, this time, you’ve got it nailed!


*Magical Mulch Pile is an UNregistered trademark of Erica Ridley, my friend and author extraordinaire of Too Wicked to Kiss.

Tuesday Trash Talk: When You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

Remember what your mother told you? “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

One of the upsides to the Internet–the ability of just about anyone to say just about anything in a public forum at just about any time–is also one of its major downsides.

Take, for example, the author who goes off the rails when her book gets a poor review (we’ve seen this enough times recently that I don’t think I need to provide any links to this phenomenon). Believe me, I understand how hard it is to stomach a negative review, especially when you think it’s just plain WRONG, but honestly, authors HAVE TO learn to sit on their hands and not respond at all unless it’s to say, “Thank you for reading my book. I hope you like the next one better.” Because beyond that, there’s pretty much nothing you can say that won’t make you look like a raging lunatic.

But it’s not just authors who are victims of this phenomenon. Apparently, there’s an event on Twitter called #queryfail, wherein agents who tweet apparently take turns posting snippets from the bad query letters that they’ve received and/or rude follow-up correspondence they sometimes get from authors they’ve rejected. All of this is done under the auspices of “teaching” unagented authors “what not to do” when querying agents. This also crops up from time to time on agent’s blogs, the most recent installment I’m aware being of here.

What’s the problem, you ask? After all, these agents are just trying to help authors learn from others’ mistakes.

Well, in a nutshell, it comes down to this: You don’t post people’s private correspondence without their consent. It doesn’t matter whether that person is a rude asshat who didn’t learn the aforementioned rule about saying nothing from his momma, and it doesn’t matter whether the letter is filled with hilarious gaffes in word choice, punctuation, grammar, or anything else. Unless the writer has specifically given you (be you agent, author, reader, or none of the above) permission to share and dissect his or her communication, what is shared with you in confidence should be kept in confidence. Just because it’s easy to lift passages from an email and it’s digital doesn’t mean it’s any less private.

(Note: This is distinct from something shared with multiple people on a Yahoo loop or other more public forum. Although I don’t necessarily think it’s okay to repost something originally intended for a closed circle of people, either, at least in that case, the writer doesn’t have a true expectation of privacy when sharing a communication with multiple people.)

But more than that, I’m bothered by the presumption that posting these sorts of things is helpful to the writers who actually take the time to read agent blogs or follow #queryfail. Because frankly, I doubt that. The writers who are paying attention to these things are not the sorts who send rude, abusive letters when they receive rejections. They are very unlikely to be the sorts of authors who send out form query letters addressed to “Dear Agent.” And while they may not be writing query letters that can hook agents into requesting pages, the egregious, atrocious ones do little to demonstrate how to correct this problem.

Moreover, I have a suspicion that most agents know this. So why are they posting this stuff. In all honesty, I think it’s because they can. And particularly when it comes to rude or angry correspondence from rejected writers, I think there’s a healthy dose of self-pity and defensiveness involved, just as there is when an author pops off after receiving a bad review. “See how mean people are to me? See what I suffer?” It makes us feel better when other people sympathize with us and tell us we’re right and the other guy is wrong.

Moreover, in the case of agents, my bet is that a lot of the sympathy such venting receives in the online environment is more self-serving than genuine. Because what unagented author is going to do anything BUT sympathize with the agent and agree that the author in question is sadly delusional/rude/whatever? The last thing any author seeking representation wants is for an agent to remember him/her as the person who suggested that posting private correspondence for public dissection without the sender’s consent might be at best morally ambiguous and at worst completely unethical.

But seriously, should we EVER do this in public? Does it ever make us look good? I say no, it doesn’t. No matter who you are, belittling other people only makes you look smaller.

Your mother was right. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

A Call to Writers of Short Fiction

Since my recent sale to Spice Briefs (see post below), it occurred to me that a lot of writers out there might not be aware of the opportunities that are available in the short fiction, particularly romance and erotica. I’m thinking of writing an article (which I plan to submit to RWA’s trade publication, Romance Writer’s Report, for consideration). But since I don’t want to rely solely on my own experience, I’d love to find a few others who’ve made a career of writing short stories or novellas (40k or less) and who are willing to share their experiences in some detail in such an article.

If you’re interested, please reply in the comments or email me at jackie at jackiebarbosa.com.

Thanks :).

Announcing…(wait for it)…a Sale!

You know the old saying: “Good things come to those who wait.” I think a writer must have dreamed that one up, because it often seems to me no one waits more than writers. Every writer I know is in a perpetual state of waiting, whether it’s waiting for an agent to make an offer of representation, waiting for editors to make offers for publications, waiting for the book to come out, waiting for the sales numbers to come in, and then doing all of it (hopefully less the agent step) all over again. Who knew waiting could be so exhausting?

It’s mildly ironic then that, after what felt like eons of waiting, my latest sale call came a mere ten days after submission. When I picked up the phone and my lovely agent, Kevan Lyon, announced herself, the last thing I was expecting to hear was that the short story we’d submitted to Harlequin Spice Briefs less than two weeks before had received an offer for publication. (Oddly, it also didn’t occur to me that she was calling to tell me we’d had an offer on a proposal we’ve had out for much longer from one of the two houses we hadn’t yet heard from.)

And so, I’m thrilled to announce that Grace Under Fire, will be released in April 2011. Another story, Taking Liberties. will follow.

Here’s the blurb for Grace Under Fire followed by a brief excerpt from the opening pages.

Lady Grace Hannington is the most inaptly named debutante in all of London. Cursed with two left feet, hands that are nothing but thumbs, and a stutter, she’s certain to spend the next five years on the wall and the rest of her life on the shelf. Or so she believes, until her clumsiness pitches her literally into the arms of Lord Colin Fitzgerald and his best friend, Atticus Stilwell.

Colin and Atticus have been inseparable since a shared boyhood tragedy brought them together more than twenty years ago. Though it raises eyebrows, they share everything…including women. This particular quirk has made it all but impossible for Colin, whose title and lands will revert to the crown if he doesn’t have a legitimate heir, to find a respectable lady who’s willing to be his wife.

When a stroke of good fortune—and little intervention from a well-placed foot—gives the two men a golden opportunity to show the lovely and lonely Lady Grace she’s not quite so gauche as she believes, they play it (and her) for all they’re worth. But once she’s discovered her true talents lie not on the dance floor but in the bedroom, Grace must decide whether a scandalous marriage that’s sure to ruin her reputation is what she really wants.

Excerpt:

It was a truth universally acknowledged that Lady Grace Hannington was the most inaptly named young lady in all of England, if not all Christendom. Within two months of her debut, she had ruined at least a dozen gowns—none her own—and half as many cravats by spilling tea, wine, or some sort of sauce upon them, trod heavily upon many a gentleman’s slippered toe, and broken the nose of one unfortunate chap with a misplaced elbow during a reel. That list of missteps did not encompass the full measure of the lady’s sheer gracelessness, however, for she was forever nursing some sort of self-inflicted injury, ranging from a sprained wrist and a stubbed toe to this evening’s glorious and ill-concealed black eye.

Atticus Stilwell wondered from his vantage on the opposite side of the crowded ballroom how she had come by that shiner. Not that it mattered. With or without the swollen, bluish-purple tinge beneath her eye, she was by far the loveliest woman in the room. Oh, perhaps not in the classic sense of a delicate English rose, but then, she stood a head taller than any other lady in the room—and fully half the men—and her hair was an entirely too flamboyant shade of red for traditional beauty.

In fact, everything about her was lush and flamboyant, from the blazing color of her unruly curls to the ripe red of her too-wide lips to the plump mounds of her generous tits. Though he could only guess at what lay beneath the loose folds of her high-waisted gown, he imagined a slender waist curving into broad but perfectly proportioned hips and from there into shapely legs that would go on forever. Though she was consigned by her ungainliness on the dance floor—and nearly everywhere else—to the role of a perpetual wallflower at Society events, Atticus saw the woman she could blossom into if only she were freed from the expectations of fashion and propriety.

A woman who was more than enough for not one man, but two.