Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Importance of Persistence by Susan F. Craft

Susan F. Craft
I could be the poster child for persistence (some might call it hard-headedness). I plugged away at writing for 35 years, honing my craft at more writing conferences and reading more books about writing than I can remember. Finally in 2011, my first novel, The Chamomile, was published and received the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick Award. The second and third books, Laurel and Cassia, sequels to The Chamomile were published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Sadly, the publisher of The Chamomile passed away. But happily, LPC re-released The Chamomile this year, and the three novels have become The Xanthakos Family Trilogy.

I wrote professionally for over 45 years until I retired this past October (Yay!). Granted, some of it was, I told myself at the time, not what I really wanted to be writing—articles for agency publications, informational materials, speeches for the agency director. It was “my day job” that I couldn’t quit because I couldn’t get anyone interested in my novels.

Any writing hones your craft—the thought processes required to come up with an idea; the utilization of resources to research thoroughly; the time to learn correct grammar and spelling; the willingness to learn from the masters; the discipline to sit in the chair and work; the development of thick skin in order to learn from, and not resent, criticism; the humility that comes with rejection; and the absolute joy that comes when someone really likes what you’ve written and says those magic words, “I couldn’t put it down.”

There are many things one can do while they are persisting:

  • Join a critique group, preferably with people who write in your genre. (Or find a critique partner.)
  • Attend as many writers’ conference and workshops as you can. They can get expensive, so check them out for those that sound helpful to you and your level of writing. Most conferences offer 10 to 15-minute face-to-face meetings with publishers and/or agents. The networking is invaluable.
  • Read – a lot, especially the great writers. You’ll soon come to recognize what excellent writing is.
  • Enter writing contests; sometimes you get tremendous feedback from judges and you get name recognition, awards, and rewards if you win or place.
  • Volunteer to work at your local Book Festivals. They are the ones who will invite you to speak once you’ve been published. You’ll meet some fine people and network with published authors who usually have good advice.
  • Then there’s the responsibility of building your “platform”: creating a website; creating and consistently posting on a blog; regularly contributing to other blogs; having a presence on FaceBook, Twitter, and Pinterest. For example, on my Pinterest boards, I posted a picture of the dress and veil my character, Lilyan Xanthakos, would have worn at her wedding in 1780.

Many famous authors persisted in the face of rejections. F. Scott Fitzgerald once received a rejection letter for The Great Gatsby that read: "You'd have a decent book if you'd get rid of that Gatsby character."

Jack London’s estate “House of Happy Walls” has a collection of nearly 600 rejection letters from his early years.

Zane Grey had difficulties getting his first novel, Betty Zane (1903) published. When it was rejected by Harper & Brothers, he lapsed into despair. He finally self-published it.

Beatrix Potter sent her manuscript to six publishers, but was rejected by all of them. In September 1901, she decided to self-publish and distributed 250 copies of a renamed The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Little Women would never have seen the light of day if Louisa May Alcott let rejection hold her back. The editor of Boston’s The Atlantic magazine, James T. Fields, told Alcott’s father, “Tell Louisa to stick to her teaching; she can never succeed as a writer.”

If writing is your passion, it will bring you joy in the doing of it. So, please, keep on keeping on dear friends.

About the Author
I’ve lived in Columbia, SC, since I was five. Forty-five years ago, I married my high school sweetheart, and we have two adult children, one granddaughter, and a granddog. I’m a history nerd who enjoys researching for my novels, painting, singing, listening to music, and sitting on my porch watching the rabbits and geese eat my daylilies. I recently retired after a 45-year career as a communications director, editor, and proofreader.

I write inspirational historical romantic suspense. My publisher is Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (LPC). I currently serve on the LPC Heritage Beacon Imprint publication board and work for them as a manuscript editor of historical fiction. My literary agent is Linda S. Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency.

To assist authors to “get it right about horses in their works,” I worked with the International Long Riders’ Guild Academic Foundation to compile A Writer's Guide to Horses that can be found at www.lrgaf.org.

Cassia
The Xanthakos family’s sea voyage from South Carolina to the North Carolina Outer Banks turns ugly after they pressure their ship’s captain to rescue a pregnant woman thrown overboard from a
Cassia
by Susan F. Craft
slave ship.

When the slave contracts smallpox, the captain maroons her, Lilyan and Nicholas and their children, Laurel, Paul, and Marion, on an island.

After Nicholas and Marion leave to seek help, Lilyan and her children and the baby, whom they have named Cassia, are captured by pirates and taken to their island hideout under the command of the vile Captain Galeo (The Shark), but Paul escapes along the way.

Galeo is attracted to Lilyan and orders her and Laurel to dine with him where reveals his plan to make Lilyan his own and auction Laurel to the highest bidder and where he forces them to witness a mock trial and a hanging.

Heartsick to see her child exposed to such evil, Lilyan rekindles her long-dormant courage and forges an escape plan. Meanwhile, Nicholas faces his self-perceived failure to protect his family. He must abandon the life of a vintner and once again call upon the skills he honed as a captain in Francis Marion’s militia.

Together they face the hardest challenge to a parent, watching as life tests the mettle of their highly sheltered and beloved children. Bolstered by their faith, they realize their strength isn’t enough to see them through and that God is in control.

Will the Xanthakos children withstand their trials and learn to be as tough as their parents? Will the family be united and return to their peaceful Blue Ridge Mountain home?

8 comments:

  1. Persistence and God's timing - I'm a big believer in both. Encouraging post, Susan!

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    1. Thank you, Sandra. My plans for me may be excellent ones, but the plans God has for me, if I wait for them, are glorious!

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  2. I'm right there with Susan, persistence and God's timing. Why can't I convince Him to go with my timing? LOL

    Rejection is tough and I wish I could say it got easier, but I think it's always hard.

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    1. Terri, I have a friend who is a wonderful writer, and he says he has enough rejection letters to paper his office walls. It still surprises me some of the books that have been published and some that haven't.

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  3. Great advice, Susan. Waiting on God's timing will produce a great read. Patience is the key.

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    1. Thanks, Chappy, you're and great encourager.

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  4. Thanks Susan, Perhaps there's hope for me. I've been at it for 30 years.

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    1. Keep at it, Janet. I'm sure it will happen for you. I'm not saying there weren't times when I wondered why I was beating my head against the publication door. It helped me to be a part of a critique group. Going to the meetings and hearing other authors' works and being around creative people helped me through those slumps. And prayer. Lots of prayer that God could use me and my writing in some way.

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