Don't Write The World's Best Novel by Beth Fantaskey
When I first got serious about writing – and hopefully selling – a novel, I joined Romance Writers of America, on the advice of a friend who was a successful author with Harlequin. That was a great suggestion – but it was something she said after I was a member that made all the difference in my career.
We were at the national RWA conference in Atlanta, and I hadn’t signed up in time to get a room at the main, ritzy hotel that served as headquarters. I was in this dive down the street, so every morning I had to schlep over to where all the “real” authors were staying, getting all hot and sweaty, because it was the South – in July. Then I’d attend these workshops where it seemed as if everyone knew more than me about writing, and the marketplace, and networking. I was supposed to be getting inspired, but I never felt like my goal was so far away.
And things got worse when I attended a panel discussion by literary agents. It was held in a ballroom – a HUGE ballroom – and it was PACKED. That was the first time I really understood how many people shared the same dream. What were the odds of ever standing out? Of selling anything?
Then my wise friend, Mary Leo, shared some life-changing words, telling me, “You have to be the person who never gives up. Half the people in this room will quit with their first rejection. The next rejection will take out fifty more. And so on, and so on. You have to be the person who’s still standing at the end.”
I’ve always liked solitary, endurance sports. Running and biking. I understood that advice, and I sort of realigned my goal. I didn’t have to write The World’s Best Novel. I had to be the mentally tough person who had the guts to get knocked down by rejection, pick myself up, and try again.
Oddly enough, I didn’t really get tested that way until after I was published three times. I’d written Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, Jekel Loves Hyde, and Jessica Rules the Dark Side – but then I wrote a novel that I believed in, but which my editor hated. In fact, I wrote it three times, and it got rejected three times.
It got to the point where my publishing house and I basically parted ways. It was amicable. They told me that I was welcome to submit a manuscript in the future, but there were no guarantees.
I spent about a week reeling. Then one day, I was on the treadmill, doing my solitary endurance thing, and I decided to look at this rejection as something positive. I was no longer bound by a contract or a genre. I could write the book of my dreams. So I did.
I didn’t know if anyone would want to publish Buzz Kill. I just sat down every day at my computer and told myself that if I wrote something that made me laugh, or cry, or get excited, I’d had a successful day. In fact, success would not be in “getting published,” it would be in dealing graciously with the setback. A few months later, I sent the manuscript to my agent and editor – and they loved it.
I’m probably more proud of Buzz Kill than I was of my first novel, even. While I was excited about Jessica’s Guide, I didn’t work as hard to see it published. With Buzz Kill, I had to wake up every morning and say, “I can still do this. And if I do somehow fail, I can’t let that define my life.” That was a challenge for me, because I’m a Type A person who likes to succeed.
And that brings me to another great piece of advice that I got, one day when I was really stuck in the middle of a manuscript and getting way too upset. My husband walked into my office to find me on the brink of tears, and he asked, with all sincerity, “This is supposed to be fun, isn’t it?”
He was right. If it wasn’t fun anymore, why was I doing it? That sort of became my mantra. If I wasn’t having fun creating a world and the characters to populate it, what was the point?
These days, I write where my heart takes me, and if it ever starts to not be fun again, that’s the day I’ll walk away, knowing I’ve done my best and proud of the books on my shelf that bear my name.
About The Author
2. My second-biggest fear is public speaking… but I’m a college professor (who sometimes teaches public speaking!)
3. I have two 8-year-old kids - who AREN’T twins.
4. My weirdest work experience was helping to “tan” deer hides using cow brains. (I was actually writing a magazine story about it.)
5. I’ve only been fired once, from a job as a bookstore clerk.
6. My best educational experience was doing research in India on the Dalit (“untouchable”) struggle for human rights. (See maarpu.org)
7. My worst experience, ever, was getting food poisoning while riding my bike from the Missouri River to the Mississippi. (My friend told me the chicken tasted strange…)
8. Whenever I visit a new country, I try as many ketchups as I can. (Best: Poland, Worst: China)
9. I am an uncommonly bad volleyball player…ask the team that ALMOST won a championship.
10. I also suffer from mild “ichthyphobia,” or “fear or fish.” I don’t bother trying to overcome that one!
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About The Book
Putting the dead in deadline
To Bee or not to Bee? When the widely disliked Honeywell Stingers football coach is found murdered, 17-year-old Millie is determined to investigate. She is chasing a lead for the school newspaper - and looking to clear her father, the assistant coach, and prime suspect.
Millie's partner is gorgeous, smart-and keeping secrets
Millie joins forces with her mysterious classmate Chase who seems to want to help her even while covering up secrets of his own.
She's starting to get a reputation…without any of the benefits.
Drama-and bodies-pile up around Millie and she chases clues, snuggles Baxter the so-ugly-he's-adorable bassett hound, and storms out of the world's most awkward school dance/memorial mash-up. At least she gets to eat a lot of pie.
Best-selling author Beth Fantaskey's funny, fast-paced blend of Clueless and Nancy Drew is a suspenseful page-turner that is the best time a reader can have with buried weapons, chicken clocks, and a boy who only watches gloomy movies…but somehow makes Millie smile. Bee-lieve it.
Pair with Fantaskey's best-selling Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side.
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