Friday, January 9, 2015

When At First You Don’t Succeed by Heather Woodhaven

Heather Woodhaven

Are you filled with expectation that new doors may open up for you in your writing life? Or are you feeling discouraged because they seem to be not only locked, but bolted? Author Heather Woodhaven shares her personal journey and offers encouragement. 
~ Dawn 

When At First You Don’t Succeed

I love January.

Not because of the cold or the gray skies or the bills from Christmas or the time to do taxes…wait. Why do I like January again?

Oh, yeah. It’s reminder of new beginnings to me. Last January that’s exactly what happened.

I’d always wanted to write novels but after umpteen rejections, I put down the desire to write fiction and found success in writing non-fiction articles for websites and magazines. Still, the yearning to tell stories only grew. Over a decade later, author Lisa Phillips dared me to write and enter a Love Inspired Suspense novel to the Happily Editor After contest.

So I did.

And received yet another rejection.

This time when I went back to my non-fiction it almost felt painful. It wasn’t until my friend, Becky Avella, also received a rejection from the same contest that my eyes were opened.  The feedback from the editors to both of us made me realize that these editors really did want to publish us, but we weren’t giving them what they needed. Yet.

So I studied the twitter feeds of the editors for the line. I picked an editor and read books that she edited and took notes. I essentially wrote a synopsis for the books she’d edited and then…I completely rewrote my own manuscript, submitted, and waited.

A month later I dragged myself to a department store to buy a new pair of jeans. (I hate clothes shopping.)  While in the dressing room, I received a call from New York. I couldn’t stop myself from answering. I was jumping up and down while the editor spoke and after I hung up, I cheered.

I opened the dressing room to find not one but two employees eager to see the perfect pair of jeans that I must’ve found. Despite the embarrassing moment, it was worth it. (And I’m wearing the jeans right now.)

So if you’ve been met with rejection, I encourage you to try again. Study and revise. 

Even now, after three books sold, whether I’m writing romantic suspense or humorous women’s fiction, I still take time to read books in my genre and take notes. The analyzing helps me remember what I love about storytelling.

Oh, and my friend, Becky? She got the call as well a couple months later. 

Have you ever studied your favorite novels? How did it change your storytelling?

Accountant Victoria Hayes never would have thought discovering fraud in her office would put her life at risk. When her house catches fire, destroying the evidence she's collected, it seems the mastermind will do anything to keep Victoria from disclosing what she knows. Unsure what to do, she turns to her charming supervisor for help. But without much evidence, Jeff Tucker is reluctant to believe Victoria…until they both become suspects. Now they must work together to prove their innocence…and stay alive. With an unpredictable—and deadly—criminal after them, each step could be their last.

Heather Woodhaven earned her pilot's license, flew a hot air balloon over the safari lands of Kenya, assisted an engineer with a medical laser in a Haitian mission, parasailed over Caribbean seas, lived through an accidental detour onto a black diamond ski trail in the Aspens and snorkeled among sting rays before becoming a mother of three and wife of one. Now Heather spends her days celebrating laughter, adding to her impressive list of embarrassing moments, and raising a family of aspiring comedians who perform nightly at her table. She channels her love for adventure into writing characters who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances—whether running for their lives or battling the insanities of life.

You can learn more and connect with Heather here:



  1. Enjoyed your story, Heather. It's so easy to allow the sting and discouragement from rejection letters keep us from seeing the truth, isn't it? Glad you didn't give up because CALCULATED RISK sounds intriguing! Thanks for sharing, and congratulations and all the best wishes for your journey.

    1. Yes it is easy to allow that--even now. Thank you, Dora!

  2. Such an encouragement, Heather. Thank you. :) Those are great strategies to "give the editors what they want."

    I'm glad you didn't give up, too!

  3. Heather, I'm cheering for you now! I can't wait to read your book. I love LIS. So thankful you didn't give up. I need to borrow your method.

    Your post is just what I needed to read today. Thanks for the encouragement.

    Just one question, how can anyone not love shopping?

    1. LOL! I seriously think I must be doing it wrong, Terri. The only part I like is the reward of getting a pretzel (if I'm at the mall). Ha!

  4. I love reading your story, Heather, and I'm so happy for your success. Your book is next up on my TBR pile.

  5. Someone said once that the only thing more important than writing ability, is perseverance. That's been my mantra :) Stories such as yours are always nice to hear...and most every author as one--or more.

    1. Angela, mine too. A friend just posted this quote on FB this morning. I wrote that onto a scrap of paper years ago and kept it as a reminder.
      “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
      —Richard Bach

  6. I had to laugh. My husband just pointed out that your title is "When at first" instead of "If at first". That about sums it up ;)

  7. Thanks for your encouragement to all of us who want to contribute in a meaningful way to this generation. I write fiction for tweens so regularly read in that genre. It helps keep the mind young and nimble. The only problem is now I can't see a movie without looking a the plot and seeing what's wrong if it's a little off. Like great cooking, once you begin learning to cook, you can detect the spices and ingredients. I'm hoping my writing shows the right seasoning, too! The key, in fiction and nonfiction, I believe, is in being open when you get meaningful feedback. Best wishes in your work!

  8. This is a great encouragement!


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