Putting yourself out there by Candi Wall

September 26, 2011



OH! Super cool update! Laura Bradford confirmed she’ll be here for our November Agent Shop since

gremlins messed with our last run of e-mails and this Agent Shop was cancelled. She’s a stellar lady peeps!

“This is wonderful. I could feel everything your character was experiencing!”

“You’ve got a strong voice and the writing was sublime…”

Oh, yeah. You all know what I’m talking about. The big grin, the heart thumping that goes along with opening your e-mail, contest scores, comment section, twitter, or whatever venue you use to put your writing out there, and reading something like that!

It’s like CRACK!

More, more! Gimme more!

‘Course, the negative comments can be just as intense .

“You really should pick an author you like and try to emulate them.”

“Your characters felt cardboard to me, and your villain was nothing more than a clichĂ© device to throw in some failed tension.”

Kill me now!


Okay, so it’s not that bad. As with everything, we have to take any and all comments with a grain or bucket of salt.

As writers, we’re going to come across every personality, like, dislike, good day, bad day, that our readers have. We’re going to be held high by a reader that just adored everything we put into words, and we’re going to be knocked so low, getting back up will be a Herculean task.

Color me a glutton…

But I’ll probably keep putting my work out there, through contests, groups, sharing sites and of course my Beta readers and Crit partners.

Wanna know why?

Simple. Feedback, friendship and the chance at winning!

And believe it or not, that’s the order of importance I take when I enter any contest. Feedback is gold.

As most of us do, I started this journey alone. Through contests, writing groups, and networking, I’ve found the most amazing people and am lucky to have them. I don’t believe for a moment that without them, I would be as far as I am today. And that in itself is enough reason for me to feel justified in encouraging any writer, at any stage of their craft, to get out there, take a chance, let others see what you write and learn what you can from what you get for feedback.

Soak it up like a sponge, retain what you need, and let the rest evaporate.

I took my first tentative steps into networking waters by joining Charlotte Dillon’s Romance Writers Community. Best choice I ever made. That’s where I met Jenn, Marie-Claude and John. I took a chance, they took a chance, and we found a solid foundation of friends to share our journey with. That friendship and professional connection remains today!

Marie-Claude stepped WAY out of her comfort zone and entered Dorchester’s American Title V contest and WON! But if you ask her, she met and remains friends with numerous other writers to this day, and that’s something even winning can’t compare with.

My first public contest was Dorchester’s Next Best Celler contest. It was hell. Pure and simple. Vote tarting sucks, that’s all there is to it. There was some back biting, some down voting, oh – it was tough, but again, out of the great, not-so-great, and sometimes questionable comments, I gained a group of ladies as my friends, all of whom will give it to me straight when I’m doing well, or writing crap.

‘Kinda makes you feel all mushy inside, don’t it?

Yeah, me too.

So I’m on to my next contest.

The Mills & Boon New Voices contest

I’ve met one stellar writer already, and I know she’ll be a friend way past this contest. I’ve read some great entries, left what I hope are seen as constructive comments and gained some as well. I’ve been down voted too, and it’s still early in the competition. but I’m looking forward to it just the same, because regardless of the outcome, I’m coming out of it a winner. Either with feedback, friends or (fingers crossed) a win.

New Voices is open to any writer who hasn’t been published. the deadline is Oct. 10th, so swing in and enter!

So, have any contest experiences you can share, good or bad? I’d love to hear about them.



December 28, 2009

Agent Shop is over for December and I’m happy to say there were TWO requests this time around from Ms. Lyon.

For the authors who received requests – WHOO HOO! And make sure you let us know how you made out. There is an open invite to anyone who pitches to come back for an interview if our little corner of the cyberworld in some way helped you find your agent!

For those of you who didn’t get a request – GET BACK ON THAT HORSE!

This tidbit of advice is near and dear to me right now. Many of you might know that I was entered in Dorchester’s Next Best Celler contest. ‘Was’ being the operative word here.

As of Dec. 11th, the final five contestants were chosen and I’m happy to announce that I wasn’t one of them…

“Happy?” you say.

Certainly. When faced with such talented writers, months of grueling promo, a huge new network of authors and readers, and some great new friends along the way, how couldn’t I be happy?

Sure, I would have loved to continue on, that was the purpose of entering after all, but rejection comes in every form in this industry. We either roll with it, learn from it and move past it, or we stop writing. Since quitting isn’t an option for me, I’m chalking it up to more experience under my belt, a great time, and some serious exposure!

There are so many ways we can receive rejection.

As aspiring and published authors alike, we learn to shield ourselves and our feelings from:

Harsh critiques
Form rejections
Agent rejection
Editor rejection
Contest scores
Bad reviews

Ugh, there are any number of ways we could potentially lose faith in our ability to write, not to mention our want to write.

But not giving up is what takes us back to that old saying,
“You’ve got to get back on the horse.”

It’ll throw us over and over. Just like life, just like work, the same as any other venue of our life, but we keep plugging along. As it should be.

  • Use what you learn from every rejection to strengthen your ability as a writer.
  • Don’t take everything to heart. Opinions vary, so look out for repetitive issues that are pointed out and see if that is truly a weakness.
  • Read what’s current and in the genre you write. That doesn’t mean you have to follow a trend, but it keeps you informed on what’s hot, what’s not and where your writing would fit in the grand scheme.
  • Sign up for classes and workshops – ‘Nuff said.
  • Join writer’s groups & critique groups – So many people are willing to share their knowledge. Utilize it!
  • Beta readers can be wonderful! They read for pleasure and are usually very willing to let you know what didn’t work for them.
  • Network, network, network! This is a wonderful way to keep current on industry news and events as well as support.
  • Do your research. Not just for your story, but for your agent/editor. There’s enough rejection out there without submitting to the wrong agent/editor, which will just bring you the rejection you hope to avoid.
  • READ, READ, READ and read some more.


Don’t let the set backs get you down. Keep on keepin’ on.

Even the most popular authors had to go through the same rejection. But they didn’t let it stop them. They got back on the horse and I guarantee, they’re happy they did.

Happy writing for the coming year!

Candi Wall