Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cast a Wide Net by Sandra Merville Hart

Sandra Merville Hart
I had the privilege to meet Sandra Merville Hart at ACFW last year and was so blessed by her humble spirit. I was so thrilled to hear that she'd sold her first book and asked her to share a some of the things she'd learned along the way. Here's some wise words from a sweet friend. ~ Angie

Someone once told me, "You're not a writer until you've been rejected." Though this author obviously meant to encourage me, it did not remove the sting of a rejection recently received -- the first of many.

If you're a writer, your thoughts likely already traveled back to that first painful rejection. Perhaps the most recent one sprang to mind. Receiving refusals doesn't seem to grow easier.

A seasoned author gave me a bit of advice when I began writing. These words of wisdom probably saved my sanity in the past few years. What was this sage advice? Cast a wide net.

Those weren't her exact words, but that's what it has come to mean to me.

When I first began writing, I wrote a short story, devotion, or an article. After researching for magazines looking for this type of writing on the Internet and my trusty writers guides, I submitted it to one editor at a time. Waiting to hear from that one publisher agonized me. Once the rejection letter arrived, it took weeks to summon the courage to send it to the next name on the list.

My friend encouraged me to submit to several publishers at a time, at least to all who accept simultaneous submissions. There's always a feeling of hope and possibilities when submitting. Once it has been sent, she advised me not to wait idly. Write something else. Revise it. Polish it. Make it the best you know how to do. Whenever that work is ready, send it out after researching potential editors. Then begin the next writing project.

The rejections that come in typically don't hurt as much when other possibilities exist. In the meantime writing skills improve with each task, increasing our chances of publication. It's like the basketball player who practices throwing hoops day after day. Continuous practice adds finesse and polish to already familiar tasks.

Will rejection always hurt? Unfortunately, it probably will. Some have crushed me. Shifting focus to learning to be the best writer you can be may be the key.

If you are continuously applying all you've learned thus far to each new writing project, you will improve. You'll be submitting your best work each time because you're not the same writer as a year ago or even six months ago.

And someday your best will be good enough.

Click to Tweet
Cast a wide net and more writing advice by Sandra Merville Hart. Click to Tweet
Write something else. Revise it. Polish it. Make it the best you know how to do. Click to Tweet

About the Author
Sandra Merville Hart loves to find unusual facts in her historical research to use in her stories. She and her husband enjoy traveling to many of the sites in her books to explore the history. She serves as Assistant Editor for DevoKids.com where she contributes articles about history and holidays. She has written for several publications and websites including The Secret Place, Harpstring, Splickety Magazine, Pockets Magazine, Common Ground, Afictionado, and ChristianDevotions.us. Her inspirational Civil War novella, A Stranger on My Land, released on August 21, 2014. Her book is available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Stranger-My-Land-Sandra-Hart/dp/1941103278/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405606746&sr=1-1&keywords=A+Stranger+on+my+land.

Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find a wounded soldier on their land after a battle which later became known as "The Battle Above the Clouds." Adam, a Union soldier, has been shot twice in the arm. Though Carrie is reluctant to take Adam to their cave where her family hides their livestock from both armies, she cannot turn her back on him.
A Stranger On My Land
by Sandra Merville Hart
But her Aunt Lavinia, bitter over what Yankees have done to their land, urges Carrie to allow Adam to die. Carrie refuses, but cannot remove the bullets. Adam's friendship with Jay softens her heart toward him. It's not long until his gratitude and teasing manner spark a friendship between the young couple. Even though Carrie's father fights for the Confederacy in far-off Virginia, her feelings for the handsome young soldier begin to blossom into love.

When Adam's condition worsens, Carrie knows a Union surgeon is needed to save his life. How can she accomplish this and keep her family's hiding place a secret?


  1. Ah, a Secret Place buddy. Wow! A blast from the past! Sounds like we've taken a lot of the same roads (and we have the same name!). This is spooky.

    Good advice, Sandra. There's not enough time in life to sit around waiting for responses--good or bad--without moving on.

    Congrats on your book! I'm so glad they chose the red. :)

    1. Sandra, it does look like we have much in common!
      Yes, it's agonizing to wait for busy editors to respond. Keeping busy in the meantime definitely helps.
      Sounds like you saw the Facebook thread about choosing a color for the book cover! Yes, I agree, the red banner was the one that jumped out at me, too!
      Thanks for your well wishes and your comments. Good luck with your writing.

  2. I agree, Sandy. The red band and the faded/sepia tones really make the cover look rich. What a great scene!

    My favorite tip is the title of the piece, "cast a wide net." I usually tend to focus all my energies on one piece at a time. If I have others that I've submitted, that would really take the pressure off (and give me a positive answer to the question, "Do you have anything else?"

    Thanks for visiting with us today, Sandy!

    1. Angie, I'll bet a lot of us are like that. I wrote submitted one piece at a time for the first year or two before I received this helpful advice.
      I'm glad you like the red banner of the cover, too!

  3. Awesome advice, Sandra, especially the part about hitting send and then not sitting back to wait! Waiting can be excruciatingly painful. A STRANGER ON MY LAND sounds great!

    1. Dora, I agree - waiting is the hardest part!

      And I'm glad the story of my Civil War romance appeals to you. I'd love to have you join us on the Book Launch. It's just two days away, Yikes!

      Good luck with your writing!

  4. Great post, Sandra, with a terrific reminder that there WILL be a comfortable home for our works. It might take a while, and even when we "find" a place, it may be necessary to move along to another publisher. The Lord indeed presents many opportunities and He will hold our hand when those rejection letters strike our hearts. Cry for one day, then let it go LOL.

    1. Tanya, it's a lot of hard work, isn't it? Success comes easily to a few, but most of us have to face repeated rejections.

      One of the greatest blessings of this writing journey has been the friends I've made along the way who understand the struggle.

      Good luck with your writing!

  5. Sandra - I feel like you've been looking over my shoulder this padt year. Rejection hurts, but I'm just trying to learn from the rejection letters and growing in my craft. Editors are editors for a reason, their feedback is invaluable.

    Congratulations on your debut!

  6. Terri, I absolutely agree. I've never sent something to an editor that I didn't think was ready, but as I learn more, I look back at earlier works and think, "It's a good thing they rejected that."
    Knowledge builds on itself. The longer we write, the more we learn.
    Good luck with your writing!


We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!