Friday, March 21, 2008

Guest Blogger Susan Macatee

Today our guest blogger is Susan Macatee. I met Susan during a contest. I read and loved her enchanting story, Erin’s Rebel. I was so disappointed when she didn’t final but Susan just dusted herself off and moved on to the next phase of her writing career. When I found out she’d been picked up by The Wild Rose Press, I was thrilled and asked her to please share with us her journey from contests to publication. So put your fingers to the keyboard and welcome Susan Macatee!

Believe In Your Story

First off, Anitra, I'd like to thank you for inviting me to talk about my book sale on your lovely blog.

I signed the contract for my full-length Civil War time travel romance, Erin's Rebel, on February 7th with The Wild Rose Press. And this just after I'd sold them a short vampire story, Eternity Waits, also set during the American Civil War, in December.

I first started submitting Erin's Rebel five years ago. I wrote the story after completing my young adult historical, Under the Guns. I'd written UTG in a writer's workshop under the guidance of two published authors. Erin's Rebel was the first book I'd written entirely on my own. I didn't join RWA until after I'd completed the manuscript.

At the time I began submitting ER, I was also entering the opening chapters and synopsis in RWA's many chapter contests. Although I had a couple of initial wins, the judge's comments I was getting made me realize I had a lot of work to do to make this story marketable. I dove into RWA and other on-line workshops and learned all I could. I decided ER needed a major revision if I was ever going to sell it.

I started at plot level. I'd written the story by the seat of my pants and, since I'd taken workshops on plotting, I went back and re-plotted the story, then discarded half the manuscript, because it no longer fit the new plot. I moved chapters around and wrote a whole lot of new material. After this major revision, I tried a few more contests, but couldn't win or final to save my life. I always seemed to get one judge who loved it and one who hated everything about it. In one contest, I had a judge give me a perfect score, while another one treated me like an amateur and seemed to hate everything about the story. After that I stopped entering it in contests, although I still have that perfect score sheet.

I also consider myself lucky to have found a great critique group. They're all members of my group blog, Slip Into Something Victorian. They helped me through all the negative judges' comments and the 'thanks but no thanks' rejections I was getting from publishers. My latest rejection was just last fall after I'd gotten a request for the full. This happened after I'd added material to make the publisher's minimum word count. When I decided to submit to The Wild Rose Press, I realized it was now too long, so I had to cut 20 pages before querying.

But now after a five year wait, everyone will be able to read Erin and Will's story and I am thrilled.

Thanks again, Anitra, for letting me share my story of perseverance. And for all of you out there, if you love your story, never give up on it. Do whatever you have to do to make it the best story ever and you, too, will find that editor who loves it as much as you.

For more on me and my books visit my website:


Anonymous said...

Tenacity is definately the key to getting published. An author who is willing to make changes for the betterment of the story will get published, and Susan has proved that.

I am her editor at Wild Rose, and we are currently working away at the second round of edits.

I fell in love with her story, and especially her hero Will, the first time I read it. And if you like spunky heroines, you will love Erin.

Susan is definitely a rising star. She tells a great story, and her books will be definite "keepers." Make sure you visit her webpage every now and then to watch for the release of Erin's Rebel. You will definitely want to purchase a copy.

Allison Byers

Cynthia Owens said...

Great interview, Susan. It just goes to show that, with a little perseverence, that "book of your heart" will find a home.

Susan Macatee said...

Thanks, Allison!
And I have to say how much I'm enjoying working with you on this project.

I think you'll definitely bring out the best in my writing and this book.

Susan Macatee said...

Thanks, Cynthia!
And thanks for being there through those rejections and lousy judge's comments.

Lexie O'Neill said...

Thank you for blogging with us, Susan! And how cool that your editor joined us--says something very good about Wild Rose. I love historicals--will check out your web page and the book!
Lexie O'Neill, one of
the Title Magic Ladies

Dorothy McFalls said...

Great blog post, Susan!

It also took me 5 years to get the book of my heart to be contracted by a publisher. The book got so very close to selling many, many times. I had pretty much given up on ever finding a home for it. And then 5 Star/Gale offered a contract for it this past December!

As Allison has already pointed out, tenacity is key. If you believe in your story and it is truly your best work, someone else out there will too.

Dorothy :-)
THE NUDE May 2009 (Five Star)

Denise Eagan said...

Can't wait to read Erin's Rebel, Susan. Just not enough Civil War era romances out there!

Susan Macatee said...

Thanks, Lexie, Dorothy and Dee!

I've thought about giving up on this book so many times and am so glad I held on.

lainey bancroft said...

Way to hang in there and believe in your story, Susan!
I've had the same sort of experiences with contests, where you wonder if the judges even read the same story??? I gave them up!

I'll definitely watch for Erin's Rebel. Love Civil War romance!!

Nicole McCaffrey said...

Fantastic interview! It's so true that persistence pays off, I loved reading about how you changed and reworked things and never gave up. Believing in your story and characters is so important.

Susan Macatee said...

Thanks, Lainey and Nic!
When this book comes out, I'll be shouting it from the rooftops!LOL.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your thoughts here. As writers, I think we sometimes tend to be dwell on the negatives; reminding folks to perservere, and believe in themselves is wonderful. Congrats to you, I can't wait to read your work! Nancy
Nancy Lindley-Gauthier,

Mel Hiers said...

Hiya, Susan! Welcome to Title Magic, and thanks for sharing your story. The inspiration means a lot to those of us who are still working toward publication!

Marlene said...

All of us at the Scandalous Victorian site are so proud of Susan's accomplishments. Shows you can never give up. It's a great story.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Susan, how cool to read comments not only from your fans but from your editor as well! Congratulations on seeing all that "keep at it" spirit pay off. :)

Laurie, still excited about the Civil War-vampire combo

Anne Carrole said...

Very inspiring Susan and I can't wait to read the story!Anne Carrole

Susan Macatee said...

Thanks so much, Nancy, Mel, Marlene, Laurie and Anne!

And Laurie, your great workshops helped me revise and rework this book to make it publishable.


Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

I just wanted to say thanks again for joining us here on Title Magic. I find great energy in success stories! P.S. I love the cover for Eternity Awaits--very eye catching. :)

Susan Macatee said...

Thanks for inviting me, Anitra!

And I love that cover, too! My biggest thrill will be when it comes out as a new release on The Wild Rose Press site.

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Susan, late again to the party. Had to fix a big gaping hole in my gravel drive. Luv that cover too for Eternity Waits.
Congrats on your perseverence and your publishing success. Sharing your story helps and inspires us all. And way cool that your editor joined us. The Wild Rose Press is another notch up in my estimation. And I've already had a good experience with one of the other editors.
The Civil War has always been one of my favorite eras of American History. Will look forward to your novel. Mucho success!

Susan Macatee said...

Thanks, Savanna!
I love the Civil War period and am grateful The Wild Rose Press is actually looking for romances set there.

Aithne Jarretta said...

Hi Susan,

Great interview. ;o) It's nice to another Rose doing so well. Good Luck with Erin's Rebel.


Susan Macatee said...

Thanks, Aithne!

Holli Bertram said...


Great blog. The Civil War was a period of so much conflict - personal, familial, societal - that it's a fascinating time to set a love story. I'll definitely be watching for your book.

Susan Macatee said...

Thanks, Holli!

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Susan, thank you for your inspiring tale of perseverence. I totally sympathise with your experience with judges' comments. I've had the same happen: one judge loves it another hates it. Your book sounds fascinating. Lots of luck with your story and may it be the first of many!