Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Brush With Rejection

I painted the kitchen the day I gave up writing. Anything to keep me from the stories nobody wanted to buy. Rejection letters were pouring in like rain, and I was drowning.

I don’t remember the exact date I reached saturation point, but it was at least five years after my last sale. I’d had two books published by Silhouette Intimate Moments in the early 1990s, both containing as much mystery as romance. Since they were the second and third manuscripts I’d completed, I thought I was on my way.
Boy, was I wrong.

So I painted the kitchen, then I took on the living and dining rooms. By the time I got to the upstairs halls, even the possibility of rejection was preferable to throwing on another coat of paint!

I had an idea for a romantic comedy, a completely new genre for me. The story flowed from me; then I wrote another. And another.

Within a year or so, Harlequin Duets called with an offer for the first story. In November of 2000, almost exactly seven years since I’d last had a book on the shelves, FORGET ME? NOT was published by Duets.

That’s not the end of my story.

I kept selling – to Duets, Dorchester Love Spell, Avalon and Harlequin Temptation until finally landing at Harlequin Superromance. AN HONORABLE MAN, my May 2010 release from Superromance, is my 29th published book. My 30th book will be out in October, also from Superromance.

Ironically, I’ve come full circle. I may go back to comedy some day but AN HONORABLE MAN contains a mystery, just like my early books from Silhouette and some of those rejected manuscripts.

So if anybody out there is feeling rejected, take some time to wallow, then keep on writing. I wouldn’t have made sales three through thirty if I hadn’t persevered.

Man, am I glad I hate to paint!


  1. Darlene,
    Thanks so much for your wonderful blog! I, too, am glad that you hate to paint. It is so encouraging hearing that authors who apparently have it all (ie a contract and a backlist) didn't always have that. That you, too, had to work through rejections - even after the success of having books published. And yet by sticking to your goal (even with a few diversions to Home Depot for paint), you have managed to forge a very successful career for yourself.
    Thanks so much for visiting us this week!

  2. Thanks, Marjanna. I wrote about my past writing life because I hoped it would be inspiring. I learned the hard way that rejections are just part of the business but it was a valuable lesson!

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  4. Darlene ~ Great post. Thank you. This is such an encouragment to those of us who are still in the aspiring stage. Good words to live by. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. :)

  5. Darlene, such an encouraging story! Thanks for sharing it with us. You've inspired me to pick up a paintbrush - or better yet go after my publishing goals with new vigor.

  6. Darlene--I was out of town the week your blog posted, so I'm late commenting. But thank you for sharing such an inspiring story. I got all teary-eyed when you talked about this at the retreat, and again when I read this.