A Prepublished Novel in the Process of Revisions and Rewrites

Friday, October 17, 2008

Please Welcome today's guest, Erotic Author, Cari Quinn!

To Be or Not To Be...Published

Thanks so much, Dayana, for allowing me to blog today. It's been a great month of posts so far and October still has two weeks left!

Most authors come to another author's blog to talk about their latest release, but I don't have a release yet. I'm still waiting for "The Call" or "The Email" or however that special moment should arrive. Not only that, I can't claim a whole slew of rejections to prove how hard I'm working to change that fact because I've yet to submit anywhere. That's right - two and a half years since I started "writing seriously" and I still haven't swallowed my nerve enough to submit.

I've entered two contests, though: the romance industry's biggie for the unpublished masses, the Golden Heart, and the Virginia Romance Writers' Fool For Love contest, which I won in the Short Contemporary category with my manuscript, Virgin Territory. Winning my first (and only) chapter contest was a terrific experience in a lot of ways. For not much money, I got two detailed critiques from published authors, then a third when my manuscript ended up needing a discrepancy judge because of the wide variance between my scores. I got some positive feedback, and some not so positive. But it taught me something any writer who has battled in the trenches knows. Writing ain't for the faint of heart. It's just not. If you can't stand the idea of your "baby" being dissected by strangers, it's going to hit you pretty hard to know not everyone will get your jokes, or think your hero's as wonderful as you know he is. It hit me hard after I got the judges' scores back. I even stopped writing for a few days. But I started again - hey, nothing can keep me from writing too long, because it's in my blood - and I'm still going.

Actually, I think that contest was the perfect microcosm of a book's reception by the public. Sometimes people get your voice and your characters. Your book resonates with them and they eagerly anticipate your next release. Someone else can read the same book and have an entirely different response. And that's okay. I heard a piece of advice once that a writer wants to have a voice that incites great love and yes, maybe even strong dislike, because that voice means you're different and being different is what will get you sold.

That's MY theory, anyhoo, and I'm sticking to it.

I'm still learning. Still struggling. Still enjoying writing the kind of stories I like to read. Still waiting for that moment when my Call or Email comes, so that I can start fretting about a whole new set of problems: contracts, actual deadlines, pleasing my editor, thrilling my fans...

Having fans. Whew. There's a heady thought.

Next week, I'll be submitting my baby to my dream publisher. Okay, one of my babies to one of my dream publishers (I have a lot of dreams!) But regardless of what happens, I'll have joined the ranks of those fearless enough to put their work out there, and I'm proud of that. I just started a new blog-cariquinn.blogspot-where I'll be posting book reviews and chronicling my journey to publication. Hope you'll stop by to say hi. I love to meet fellow writers and readers.

Before I go, I want to give a shout out to someone else who won a contest recently: The Wild Rose Press's bestselling author of the Scarlet rosette Seduced In Seoul, Helen Hardt. She took first place in the Colorado Romance Writers' Heart of the Rockies contest in the erotic category and second AND third place in the short contemporary category. Congratulations, Helen! She'll be blogging here on Monday, October 20th.

Thanks again for having me, Dayana. It's been a blast! And thank you to YOU for reading.

Cari Quinn


  1. Hi Cari, it's great to see you here at Dayana's blog! First, thank you for the shout out about my contest wins, and many congratulations to you for your contest win!

    I'd like to say a few words about contests, actually, because they can be a marvelous tool for a writer. I've entered three, and I bombed in the first one. Totally got my humility handed to me on a silver platter. Yes, it stung. Bigtime. But after I scraped my ego off the floor, LOL, I dissected the judges' comments and learned from them. I did much better in the next contest, though I didn't final. I continued to self educate, and in the third contest, all three of my entries finaled. So for me, contests have been a terrific learning experience, and this is how I view them. They can certainly lead to publication, but to me, are much more valuable as a learning tool.

    Also, what you said about subjectivity in your blog is so true. It hasn't escaped my mind that a different panel of judges might have had completely different opinions about my writing, and I might not have finaled. All writers continually work to improve their craft. I know I do. Each author's voice is unique, and to me, that's part of the beauty of what we do.

    Wonderful blog, Cari, and I have no doubt that you'll be published soon!


  2. Hey Cari...lets see if this works for the second time today! Great post...glad to see you're graduating to the submission stage...girlfriend, you can't get pubbed, until you've subbed! LOL...good luck with your upcoming submission and keep me posted on your success!

    Juliana Stone

  3. If you keep up your efforts it will happen. Network. I wish you the best of luck, but when you final in a contest that says a lot. You're on your way girl!

  4. Hi, Cari!

    Like you I started out entering lots of contests. I even won a few early on. But as my writing got better, I found I had that love/hate relationship with contest judges. I'd always get one who raved about my writing, while another in the same contest hated it. I agree with you. Having a strong voice is a good thing.
    Best of luck and get those stories out there so we all can read them.

  5. Thanks so much for stopping by, Helen! I really appreciate your wise and kind words. Congratulations once again on your contest wins and I'm looking forward to the release of your next story!

    Jules, you rock! I can't wait until your first book is on the shelves so I can fangirl you like I do Jeaniene Frost. :)

    Mary, thanks so much for the encouragement. I appreciate it!

    Susan, it's not the easiest thing for a new writer to understand how subjective this business is. The value of art is truly in the eye of the beholder. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Good luck on starting down that submissions path! Just getting to this point is an amazing accomplishment.

  7. Welcome, Cari! It's nice to have you hear and I really am glad for you subject matter. Every author no matter who they are now has experienced the fear of putting their work out there. I entered contests in the beginning as well. I won a few nothing big early on. I got notification of getting through first round on one and never heard a word again. I remember how disappointed I was each time winners were posted. I would say to myself, "why can't I place or win just once?" I remember feeling so discouraged at times I just wanted to throw in the pen, LOL

    It took me three years to get up the nerve to submit my first book and I was so nervous wondering what the agents/editors would think of it. I even submitted the first chapter to Reni Browne for a critique and was basically told it was the same old story and I should find a new way to tell it. The book is a crime suspense romance. Anyway, in the end I got it published and can paper my office walls with all the rejections I'd gotten before doing so.

    That all said, my words of wisdom are this. Don't jump at the first pub house. Research. I have good reason to tell you this. As I said, I did publish my first novel and I signed a two year contract--blah, blah, blah. But the publisher was really not known for romance and took a chance on my book because they were considering breaking into the genre. Consequently, it really didn't do well, so bottomline, I've since pulled it and will be submitting it to publishers that are more fitting to the content and genre.

    Getting that first acceptance letter is so unbelievably wonderful. You just walk in the clouds for months and can't believe you actually did it. But don't make the same mistake I did. Do what is right for your baby, that project that you have lovingly nurtured for so long. Make your decision based on what will best showcase you and your work. After all, your blood, sweat, and tears have gone into it and its worth a bit of patience to find the perfect fit.


  8. Helen,

    Hello! Great to see you back:) Congratulations on your contest winners. That is wonderful!

    I have to agree with both you of you and Cari on the contest front. After all, even as it is with reviewers, as well, it is only the opinion of the person reading the work. What one person loves another person may absolutely hate. It's all a matter of individual preference much like the difference between vanilla and chocolate. Simple, but so true.

    The problem is that we, as artists of the written word, put our hearts and souls out there as well as our stories, and it hurts to have someone rip it apart. But on the other hand, it feels so darned good when someone loves it!

    I guess it all works out in the end.

    My two cents...


  9. Cari!

    I loved your post. Yes, putting your work out there is scary as hell and I'm proud of you for taking the plunge!

    Winning that contest was great to get the experience of critiquing, even though I remember how hard it was for you to get that feedback.

    I can't wait to hear what HQ says about your MS.

  10. Cari, congrats on winning the contest! And good luck in subbing your baby to your dream publisher!