Thursday, August 25, 2016

Dealing with Rejection

I've been rejected... A LOT. Nearly 150 times. And that's just querying. I've entered contests I haven't gotten into. I've gotten into contests and not gotten requests. I've gotten requests from contests that ultimately turned into rejections. And that's just my writing. That doesn't count the jobs I've been rejected for, auditions I've failed to get, leadership groups I haven't gotten into, awards I've been nominated for and didn't get and on and on. Rejections happens everywhere in life. It hurts. It shouldn't be personal, but it sure as shit feels like it sometimes.

I've watched people I've come up through the writing ranks with get agents, book deals, and see their books get published. I've cheered for them and helped them. I've watched people that started after me succeed. Get agents, get book deals, get published. I've cheered for them as well. I love watching people succeed. But that still doesn't change the fact that rejection hurts. A LOT.

I've watched people explain their path to success. Y person entered x contest 3 times and finally got in. (I did too and didn't). So and so got his or her agent on their third manuscript (I'm on my fourth, third that I'm looking at querying). That person got a book deal without an agent (I have no book deals.) and on and on. It's so hard to keep going when you feel like you're behind people. And it's even harder to not compare yourself to others.

I've been thanked in so many books I've lost count. I appreciate the recognition and I'm so glad I was able to help so many others succeed. But that doesn't change the fact that I have a goal. A goal to see my name on the cover of a book, to walk into a book store and see my book on the shelf, to sign books for excited readers, to get fan mail, and one day maybe some fan art for the characters and worlds I've created.

But every time my email goes off my heart sinks. Is this another rejection? Or maybe it's just email. And the silence hurts more. Did they even get my email? Are they ignoring me? Are they ever going to respond? Who even knows anymore. It all hurts so much sometimes.
As a look back on where I started though, that's where thing start to make a little sense. I made mistakes. LOTS OF THEM. I started my first book with someone waking up and staring at themselves in the mirror and describing themselves. I didn't even finish that book.

Then euphoria, I finished a book. I proved to myself I could do it. I researched querying and then the rejections started flowing in. No requests. I entered contests and didn't get in I researched some more. I entered more contests got into a couple. No requests. How embarrassing... I got more feedback and did more research and BAM some partial requests. I never made it to fulls.

Another idea, another manuscript. I proved to myself I could complete more than one. I entered contests I got interest, but didn't get in. Then I got into a contest and actually got requests... for fulls. And I queried and got more requests for partials and fulls. And then the rejections started rolling in. I didn't get much feedback and felt lost. How do I fix this? Is it subjective? Is there something else wrong? I got more feedback from CPS. I rewrote, I queried some more. Got some more requests that also ultimately turned into rejections. Still no usable feedback. I pushed the MS aside.

I wrote another manuscript. Hey I'm getting pretty good at this. I got some feedback. I edited. I entered a contest and wasn't picked. More hurt and pain and wondering what I'm doing wrong. The answer might be nothing. But my gut tells me there's something I'm missing.

So now what? More research? More feedback? Into the query trenches for ultimately more rejections? I have to go with my gut and dive in for more feedback. But what's even the point? I haven't achieved my goal, and I've watched so many others pass me up.

The journey. I've grown so much as a writer and if I'm being completely honest, writing has helped me grow as a person too. In each step I've learned something. I've gotten a little further down the road. I've met more amazing people. Will my next manuscript be the one? Who even knows? But I have a choice, leave the path forever and never reach my goals, or continue down it and see where it takes me.

I'm the curious type so I'm going to continue down the path. And one day, maybe, I might see my dreams come true. I might get to hold that book with my name on the cover. And to me that image makes it all worth it.

Until then, I keep wandering along the path. Will you join me?

Friday, July 1, 2016

Pitchwars Bio - 2016

Hi all you happy Pitchwars folks! I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself.

I'm Jamie...

I'm a giant nerd!
Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:
 Exhibit C:

Exhibit D:

In real life...
I love space!

and love superheros!

And sci fi...
to name just a few... (otherwise we might be here all day!)

In my free time (what free time?) I dance...
And cosplay... :D
Rey cosplay

Stargate cosplay
Roy Harper from Arrow cosplay

Me in the STL comic con costume contest as Violet Parr from the Incredibles

I also love to read YA and MG!
My dog Sophie
And of course I'm a writer! I write MG and YA scifi and fantasy.
(don't act so surprised by the genres :-P)

And for Pitchwars I'll be subbing a MG fantasy about a girl... who can change into...
BUT... she doesn't want anything to do with being a dragon...

So I'll leave you there... for now...

But I will say, with each manuscript I've completed and queried, I've learned more and more about the process and improved each step of the way. I've gotten full requests that ultimately turned into no's and I just didn't quite connect enough's, so I really want to work with someone to make sure my manuscript is at that next level and has that "it" factor. I'm ready and willing to make my manuscript shine no matter what it takes.

All in all, I'm really looking forward to getting to know the Pitchwars mentors and participants, maybe swapping some chapters, hopefully really improving my manuscript, geeking out over books, and just saying hi. So hit me up on twitter and make sure you...
and that's me... in my tiny car...

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Strong Female Characters

First, I know I haven't blogged in forever. No I haven't forgotten, but to say life got a tad bit busy is the understatement of the century. That said, I wanted to take a brief moment to talk about something extremely impactful that happened to me this weekend at comic con. Yes, I said comic con.

I've always believed strong female characters and their representation are super important. I'm an aerospace engineer. A women in a male dominated field. I spend a lot of my time trying to defend women in STEM fields, and serve as a role model for future females pursuing STEM fields. It's not an easy task. It seems to be never ending.

But starting at comic con this weekend, I witnessed some interesting things with respect to strong female characters. It started with a lovely discussion about strong female characters at a leading ladies panel Friday night at comic con. And no one in the room denied that strong female characters are not only critical, but they are necessary. We named strong female characters, and the qualities that made them so. It seemed so obvious to me then. But I don't think I had a full understanding of how essential strong female characters are until I showed up to comic con in my Rey cosplay and started walking around in the crowds.

First, I must note, that Rey was by far one of the most popular costumes at comic con. And while that isn't overly shocking, it's Star Wars, it's a fairly easy costume, and she's awesome, keep in mind only a handful of those Rey cosplays were adults. That's right, most of the 25 or so Rey's I saw, were young girls.

Every time I passed one, they smiled so hugely at me, and as I waved, they waved back. Without a doubt, it's an amazing thing to see that many young girls identifying with a character enough to want to portray her.

But of bigger note was the number of girls, who ran up to me and asked to take a picture. Including these two, who without any inhibition ran up and hugged me then told me how Rey was their favorite character.

And I see some of you rolling your eyes through your computer screen right now, but it wasn't just girls who responded to Rey. Let's talk about this little Kylo Ren, who I only had to hold out my light saber before he lunged at me ready for a fight. He didn't care that I was bigger than him, that I was girl or about the standard female stereotypes we often face when it comes to female heroes. The only thing that mattered was he knew Kylo Ren and Rey were supposed to fight and I held out a lightsaber. So he went for it and loved every minute of it!

There was also this boy who really wanted to take a picture with two strong female leads, but was so afraid to ask. So I asked him if he wanted a photo and he nodded shyly. You can't beat that grin on his face. He clearly loved being able to pose with two awesome female characters.

And I wont even go into the number of adults who screamed REY at me all weekend or smiled widely as I walked by. People love her and it's for so so many reasons. She's strong, she's a fighter, she's caring, she's a pilot, she's a budding jedi, she's so many wonderful and amazing things. She feels real. She feels human.

So after all of this, the excited young boys and girls, and enthusiastic adults, why are we still having to defend strong female characters? Why are we having to fight to get our female lead movies?

There's clearly a love for these kinds of characters. There's an audience there. We need to keep giving these examples to children. Girls need these role models. They need strong women to look up to. They need to know women can do anything. Boys need these role models. They need to see strong women are amazing. That they aren't a threat to them.

The more we see them, the more normal they are in the world. Their representation is important.


After this weekend, I know how much impact one strong female character can have. Let's flood the world with them in any way possible. Recognize them, write them, draw them, defend them, whatever it takes. Let's make a difference.

Who are your favorite strong female characters and why? And who is missing from the big screen? Let's bring these awesome characters to the surface.

And if you have strong female REAL LIFE role models, I want to hear about them too. Sound off in the comments. :)