We’re pleased today to have a guest blog by up-and-coming fantasy author Rinda Elliott. I ran across Rinda on Twitter and read some of the samples of her work (which you will find links to at the bottom of the blog post) and really thought she had a compelling, funny story, with great characters. Check it out by clicking at the link at the bottom of the post.
Rinda Elliott: I’m honored to be a guest here at Fantasy Literature. Thank you for the invitation!
Since I don’t (yet) have books of my own on the shelves, I’m going to instead give away a copy of my critique partner, Rachel Vincent’s, new book in her young adult series about bean sidhes! (Releases this week!) Just comment here and I’ll let the trusty RNG choose.
When I asked Stephen Frank what a “still on submission” UF writer had to offer readers here, he asked me to share the story of my journey to this point. It’s a LONG and BUMPY one. But hopefully, interesting.
I started in romance and submitted books on my own without an agent for years. Hit a few speed bumps, but got close several times. I even had one editor request rewrites on two books. It had taken several years of back and forth submissions with her to get to that point, so when she left the publisher before I got those rewrites back to her, I felt like I’d hit a pretty big roadblock.
During those submission years, most of the speed bumps were comments about my heroines being too strong. I wrote strong male protagonists, too, but they were smart enough to know when to stay back. I got notes about that ruining the romantic fantasy and also about my work being too, um… dark.
I grew discouraged and took a break. I still wrote, but mostly short fiction. I published stories in confession magazines for a time and I continued to enter writing contests — racked up a bunch of first and second place awards. I lived off the success of those contests. Then, after one horror story did particularly well, I bit the bullet and submitted it. It was an odd one — I call it my homage to the heavy on narration Lovecraft and Poe — but it was acquired by the very first magazine.
I took this as a sign that maybe I should try again.
Around that time, I picked up a book by Kim Harrison called Dead Witch Walking and a whole new world opened up to me. Here was a genre where my strong heroines and dark subjects would fit right in! Ironically, half the romances I’d written had fantasy or paranormal elements. My second completed manuscript featured a shape-shifting hero cursed because of his Viking ancestors.
The publishing bug hit me again. Hard. I already had part of a story written with a kick ass, mythic heroine and a smarmy vampire sprite sidekick. I ditched the sidekick since it was a little too close to Harrison and finished Dweller on the Threshold (DOTT). (Though, the sprite smarmed his way into book two, Blood of an Ancient.)
While working on DOTT, I met Rachel Vincent. She’d given me a crazy topic challenge and loved the result, so we became critique partners. Rachel invited her agent, Miriam Kriss, to speak at a mini conference our local RWA chapter held. The editor who came showed some interest in DOTT so when she returned to New York, Miriam pulled DOTT out of her submission pile and called me the next day. I had another wonderful agent take some interest in DOTT that very same week. After working so long at this, I’ll share that week was the most exciting week ever. I thought that was it. The years would finally pay off, and I’d have a book on the shelves within a year. Both agents were at the top of my list, but I went with Miriam since we’d just met in person and seemed to hit it off.
Here is where the title of this blog post kicks in. Yes, I worked for years to break in on my own, and yes, I took a break. But that desire to see your books on the shelves can be strong. When I took the plunge again, I knew it was for keeps this time around and I’d have to develop thicker skin. My two year anniversary with Miriam is this coming March and she’s still submitting my work — still believes in it. Having her back me up has kept the path well lit for me.
So, while waiting for DOTT to find a home, I wrote some short pieces (Sold one that will be out in an anthology in March, a couple of novellas and another book. In that book, I took my life-long love of Norse mythology and apocalyptic fiction and wrote the first in a young adult trilogy. It’s full of action, fantasy and romance. My faithful agent said I knocked this one out of the park, so I’m doubly hopeful now.
Tenacity, patience and drive. I believe those are the keys to success in this business. Yes, the desire to tell stories has to be there from the beginning, but to make it, you have to be willing to dig in to the next project while the last is out of your hands.
It hasn’t been easy, but I wouldn’t trade my journey. I’ve found a place in the world of fantasy literature and built up an incredible support system of authors and friends through groups like OKRWA & Romance Ink! I’m also a part of a wonderful group of authors called The Deadline Dames. We are nine urban fantasy authors who kick deadline butt and share what it’s like from the trenches. Check us out! And if you’re curious about the books I have on submission, I’ve posted long snippets of both. DOTT’s here, and the two from my young adult, Foretold, are here and here.
Hope you enjoy them and thanks again for inviting me!
SB Frank: Thank you, Rinda. Readers, remember to comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of the just released, My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent. Vincent’s YA series is on my to-read list because her werecat series is one of my UF favorites. Kelly reports that My Soul to Take, the first book in the series, is “solid.”
Thanks for dropping by, Rinda! I can’t wait to read your stuff, and I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read of Rachel Vincent’s.
And thanks for reminding me of what I love about urban fantasy. There’s a lot of it that’s formulaic (there’s crap in any genre, after all) and it’s easy to take for granted that, hey, we have a genre where women can kick lots of butt, and where authors can play with a lot of really dark ideas while still having room for triumph and humor.
Rinda, I enjoyed reading about your “journey” so far. Best wishes to you!
Loved reading about your journey into writing, Rinda! Provided some insight on how unique every authors journey is. :) Love it when dark writing and themes are combined with humour.
Hey, Rinda. Thanks for sharing your journey. I know that once you hit, you’ll hit big. You have an amazing talent and the tenacity it takes. Here’s to 2010 being the year it happens! Best of luck…
Thanks for sharing your journey with us and I am glad that UF opened up a new door for you. I know as a reader, it opened up my eyes! I love it! I have read Rachel’s YA series and loved it, and I have the first of this series that I am holding until I get this book! Can’t wait to read it!
Best of luck in 2010!
Loved the post. :D You didn’t have an easy journey and I’m inspired how adamant you stuck through this process, that must be/have been really frustrating for you. I’m still at the start of the journey, but I’m starting to prepare myself for it and these posts help a lot!
That said, I LOVE strong heroines, I grow quite angry with the soppy ones that let everything happen to them and want to jump into the book to smack them. *g* Having strong characters, should really not be a reason for a rejection!
I wish you the best of luck and that 2010 will be your year! =) You can do it!
Rinda thanks for telling us your story. I admire your stick-to-it-iveness. Best of luck for the future. Your Norse myth apocalypse trilogy sounds brilliant
Great post Rinda! Your story and tenacity are inspiring. Thanks for sharing snippets of your stories. Cheers and all the best for 2010!!!!
I was flabbergasted to hear that a strong female and darkness were drawbacks in the romance genre. I think it’s a testimony to your talent that you landed perhaps the highest profile urban fantasy agent. Having read exerpts of your stuff, I predict you will soon take the next step. I still haven’t looked up your short fiction, but it’s on my ever growing to-do list. Have a great 2010. SB Frank
Thanks for sharing your journey so far, I look forward to reading your work from the bookshelves.
Stephen, it seems the darker stuff and stronger heroines are more welcome these days. Plus, I was trying to write category romances and shoving way too many mainstream elements and action scenes in a little space. LOL!
My young adults are short and full of action and mythology, but so far, I’m getting a lot of compliments on the romance, too-which I find wonderfully amusing!
I’m glad everyone is finding my story inspiring. Hopefully, I’ll have a nice, happy ending to share in 2010. Or would that be a new, happy beginning? ;)
Thanks for sharing your journey with us (readers) I wish you the best of the best! :-) It helps me keep my hopes up, and inspires me to keep going in order to achieve my dream ;-) THANK YOU!
It’s always interesting to see the paths that different authors had to take to finally getting published. Glad that you never gave up and that things are just getting started for you (in a sense)… TDD is one of my other favorite sites.
Here to a wonderful beginning in 2010 :drink:
What a neat “how I did it” story. I’m always interested in how authors make it to the top of the heap. It’s good to know that perseverance really paid off!
Always great to hear about new UF authors. I’m off to Deadline Dames to find out more.
I enjoyed reading about your journey to seeing your work published. I’ll definitely be looking out for any of your work as it comes out.
Hi Rinda :)
Thank you for sharing your journey here.
It re-inspired me to continue my own journey to publication.
Here’s to a magical 2010!
Thanks for sharing your journey with us! Good luck :)
Thanks for sharing your journey with us! Many wishes for 2010! Happy new years to you and everyone here! :drink:
Judging from the number of blog posts I have seen by first time authors, it surely seems like one needs a LOT of perseverance and perhaps a bit of luck to get that first book printed and out there.
Best of luck to you with your endeavours and hope 2010 is good for you.
So cool to read your story. It always charges me extra positively to be in the audience, when something as wonderful happens. Thank you for sharing!
I’m a loyal follower of the Deadline Dames, but I knew little about your journey. It was so interesting to read how you never gave up. And I’ve been dying to get my hands on Rachel’s My Soul To Take!
Thanks so much for all the good wishes! Hope my little story helps to inspire someone in the future who might end up with a similar struggle.
Hi Lisa B! I’ll link my next Dames post to this interview. I’ve had confused emails from readers who couldn’t find my books, so this might clear the air a bit. ;)
Rinda, thank you for sharing with us your journey.
Thanks for the great review! I am looking forward to the new book coming out. It sounds really good! Sounds like you have had a crazy journey to get here.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by to comment and wish me luck. I appreciate it!
And the winner is… the sixth poster, Carolin S! Congrats Carolin! Send your mailing address to [email protected]!
I have the first book in this series and I plan on starting it this week. I’m so glad you found your niche! I just loved Dead Witch Walking. It was a wonderful beginning to a fantastic series.
Ladytink, I could barely move while reading that book. Couldn’t put it down. I owe Kim Harrison a big thank you someday for giving me that nudge to jump back into the deep end. ;)