Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Success Versus Failure: Pick One If You'd Like, I Did by Margo Hoornstra

"You can accomplish anything you set your mind to."

Those special words were spoken to me by my mother, almost every single day as I was growing up. That late, great lady never missed a chance to boost my confidence and build my self esteem. Her positivity worked beautifully too.

For the most part.

If I wanted something bad enough to really go after it, whatever 'it' was, was mine. Cool! Gaining the above average grades I'd strive for in elementary school, high school and college. Obtaining just about every job I went after in the work force. A successful marriage, four happy, healthy, well adjusted kids.

Then one day I decided to write a book and get it published. Oh, if only we could receive our fondest desires by sheer will of striving and wanting.


Suddenly the people I encountered (read agents and editors) sang a decidedly different tune.

Obviously, they'd never spoken to my mother. They also didn't actually sing to me either. Didn't even communicate face to face. I can't tell you how many times I'd read those many, many thanks but no thanks responses and be sorely tempted to contact 'those people' again.

With a slightly different type of pitch that would go something like this.

Okay, people, listen up. I'm not sure you're fully aware who you're dealing with here, much less the woman who raised me. According to her, I want this, I've worked hard for this. My mother said, if those two conditions were met 'this' was mine. So, go ahead, reconsider what must have been your hastily formed decision to reject my work. I'll wait.

Yeah, right. Very professional. That behavior would have certainly gotten my foot in the door of any number of publishing houses. Don't you think? More like said foot firmly lodged in my mouth and half way down my throat. Or firmly placed somewhere else by those I was striving so hard to impress.

Eventually, I did find a publisher for my work, an amazing The Wild Rose Press with my first book Honorable Intentions, scores of short stories and a number of novellas.

Now I'm on the hunt again.

Perseverance, determination, desire. All successful authors have that. The stories of how so many successful authors 'did it' abound. Doctor Seuss was rejected 27 times. John Grisham faced numerous rejections until a small press picked up his first book for a 5,000 run printing. Even Nora Roberts didn't score her first time out. Janet Evanovich either. Not hardly. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

In addition to perseverance, determination and desire, large doses of self esteem are necessary, along with a smattering of insanity. With all due respect to writers everywhere, Albert Einstein said it best. "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Well call me insane, because I'm at it again. Going the cold call query route, seeking a home for STOLEN TRUST, my latest completed work.

I've even come up with a tag line.

A parolee hides her past from a bounty hunter set on revenge.

Here's an excerpt:

Brad Collins rolled the old half-ton Bridges for Hire pickup to a stop in front of the sorry looking colonial and immediately questioned the wisdom of using small town handyman as his cover.

He had so hoped to keep this operation simple. Not take on what looked like the biggest remodel job in Upper Michigan history.

White two-story with a wrap-around porch was how the lady on the phone described the house. When they discussed a porch renovation and, according to her, other minor repairs.

Minor repairs my ass.

Jamming his left foot down to set the parking brake, he snatched the ripped piece of notebook paper off the seat beside him. This was the address he’d written down.  He checked the numbers on a partially rusted mailbox. Same number.

There was no turning back now. Arriving in Cascade Lake, his old partner's lead, one Harlan Bridges, was shamelessly simple to find and pump for information. Brad concocted a story he’d heard about the place from friends and wanted to check it out. Turned out Rest Easy’s owner had just called the contractor about finishing some old repairs. Bridges went on to lament the fact he was already short-handed, soon to be over extended.

One thing led to another, and damned if the man didn’t offer him a job on the spot.

Brad’s scowl twisted into a smile. What were the chances he’d run across someone willing to hire an outsider on a handshake and little else? No background check. No intrusive questions.

Making a fist, he crushed the paper into a tight ball he tossed to the truck floor. Most people in these out of the way towns were just too damned trusting for their own good.

Lucky for me, my mother, her positive attitude and precious words of encouragement still live in my heart, guiding me to success.

My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and my stories, please visit my WEBSITE


Leah St. James said...

Great message, Margo. Your mom sounds wonderful! I might add to your list of must-have attributes: a thick skin!

Liz Flaherty said...

I loved this post, and that's surely the way it is, isn't it? I always thought having a book punished would open the door for more--ain't necessarily so!

Good luck with your new story. It looks great!

Jannine Gallant said...

Quite frankly, I loved your pitch to the editor. Maybe we should all present to them like that. "Listen up, people, publish this or else!" Your mom sounds like an awesome woman. We all need someone to tell us we can do anything! Stolen Trust is terrific. You'll find it a home.

Alison Henderson said...

My mom was never that kind of cheerleader, but I've always tried to be for my daughter. We all need that. I admire you for going out there again with Stolen Trust. Fingers crossed that it will land on the right desk at the right time!

Diane Burton said...

Perseverance & determination. That's the key. Best wishes with Stolen Trust.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Leah. Thick skin is right. For us, it needs to darned near puncture proof. And, thank you. My mom was one wonderful person.

Liz. Ain't necessarily so indeed. Which is why we have to MAKE it so.

Jannine. Fingers crossed. Thank you. If not for your great editing, it wouldn't be half as good. Wouldn't you just LOVE to grab an editor's attention that way?

Alison. Thanks for the positive vibes. I hope I've encouraged my own kids as much as my mother encouraged me.

Diane. P & D. You got it. Best wishes accepted with thanks.

Alicia Dean said...

Hahaha, Margo, love this post! My parents were both the same way, telling me my entire life, 'You're smart, beautiful, talented, you can do anything you set your mind to, etc, etc.' It's odd that I grew up with low self esteem, but I thought they only said that because they loved me. From an author's viewpoint, I applaud your fantasy response to the publisher. As an editor, I would have said, 'Then perhaps you should submit your work to your mother' LOL. Your new story sounds fabulous. The tag line is extremely catchy and intriguing. Best of luck!