We’re pleased today to have a guest blog by up-and-coming fantasy author Rinda Elliott. I ran across Rinda on Twitter and read some of the samples of her work (which you will find links to at the bottom of the blog post) and really thought she had a compelling, funny story, with great characters. Check it out by clicking at the link at the bottom of the post.
Since I don’t (yet) have books of my own on the shelves, I’m going to instead give away a copy of my critique partner, Rachel Vincent’s, new book in her young adult series about bean sidhes! (Releases this week!) Just comment here and I’ll let the trusty RNG choose.
When I asked Stephen Frank what a “still on submission” UF writer had to offer readers here, he asked me to share the story of my journey to this point. It’s a LONG and BUMPY one. But hopefully, interesting.
I started in romance and submitted books on my own without an agent for years. Hit a few speed bumps, but got close several times. I even had one editor request rewrites on two books. It had taken several years of back and forth submissions with her to get to that point, so when she left the publisher before I got those rewrites back to her, I felt like I’d hit a pretty big roadblock.
During those submission years, most of the speed bumps were comments about my heroines being too strong. I wrote strong male protagonists, too, but they were smart enough to know when to stay back. I got notes about that ruining the romantic fantasy and also about my work being too, um… dark.
I grew discouraged and took a break. I still wrote, but mostly short fiction. I published stories in confession magazines for a time and I continued to enter writing contests — racked up a bunch of first and second place awards. I lived off the success of those contests. Then, after one horror story did particularly well, I bit the bullet and submitted it. It was an odd one — I call it my homage to the heavy on narration Lovecraft and Poe — but it was acquired by the very first magazine.
I took this as a sign that maybe I should try again.
Around that time, I picked up a book by Kim Harrison called Dead Witch Walking and a whole new world opened up to me. Here was a genre where my strong heroines and dark subjects would fit right in! Ironically, half the romances I’d written had fantasy or paranormal elements. My second completed manuscript featured a shape-shifting hero cursed because of his Viking ancestors.
The publishing bug hit me again. Hard. I already had part of a story written with a kick ass, mythic heroine and a smarmy vampire sprite sidekick. I ditched the sidekick since it was a little too close to Harrison and finished Dweller on the Threshold (DOTT). (Though, the sprite smarmed his way into book two, Blood of an Ancient.)
While working on DOTT, I met Rachel Vincent. She’d given me a crazy topic challenge and loved the result, so we became critique partners. Rachel invited her agent, Miriam Kriss, to speak at a mini conference our local RWA chapter held. The editor who came showed some interest in DOTT so when she returned to New York, Miriam pulled DOTT out of her submission pile and called me the next day. I had another wonderful agent take some interest in DOTT that very same week. After working so long at this, I’ll share that week was the most exciting week ever. I thought that was it. The years would finally pay off, and I’d have a book on the shelves within a year. Both agents were at the top of my list, but I went with Miriam since we’d just met in person and seemed to hit it off.
Here is where the title of this blog post kicks in. Yes, I worked for years to break in on my own, and yes, I took a break. But that desire to see your books on the shelves can be strong. When I took the plunge again, I knew it was for keeps this time around and I’d have to develop thicker skin. My two year anniversary with Miriam is this coming March and she’s still submitting my work — still believes in it. Having her back me up has kept the path well lit for me.
So, while waiting for DOTT to find a home, I wrote some short pieces (Sold one that will be out in an anthology in March, a couple of novellas and another book. In that book, I took my life-long love of Norse mythology and apocalyptic fiction and wrote the first in a young adult trilogy. It’s full of action, fantasy and romance. My faithful agent said I knocked this one out of the park, so I’m doubly hopeful now.
Tenacity, patience and drive. I believe those are the keys to success in this business. Yes, the desire to tell stories has to be there from the beginning, but to make it, you have to be willing to dig in to the next project while the last is out of your hands.
It hasn’t been easy, but I wouldn’t trade my journey. I’ve found a place in the world of fantasy literature and built up an incredible support system of authors and friends through groups like OKRWA & Romance Ink! I’m also a part of a wonderful group of authors called The Deadline Dames. We are nine urban fantasy authors who kick deadline butt and share what it’s like from the trenches. Check us out! And if you’re curious about the books I have on submission, I’ve posted long snippets of both. DOTT’s here, and the two from my young adult, Foretold, are here and here.
Hope you enjoy them and thanks again for inviting me!
SB Frank: Thank you, Rinda. Readers, remember to comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of the just released, My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent. Vincent’s YA series is on my to-read list because her werecat series is one of my UF favorites. Kelly reports that My Soul to Take, the first book in the series, is “solid.”