Sunday, May 22, 2011


Do you love your book? I wrote ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS very quickly, in about three months. I knew the characters, I knew the plot, and I sat down and just wrote. And wrote, and wrote. When I thought it ready for someone to read, I entered the first chapter in a contest. Although I did not place, I did receive nice compliments…except for a few negative comments. “The opening needs to be deleted. Have Cynthia and Ricardo meet in the first paragraph.” “Under no circumstances have Cynthia musing to herself.” “POV is all over the place. Clean that up, and you might, just might, mind you, have something to work with.”

Suddenly, I wondered if my story was as good as I thought. In reality, I became insignificant as a writer, and I wondered if I was good enough to continue. I was afraid to ask anyone read it, as I had all my other rambling stories. But…I loved my story. I could see it in book form.

I loved my book, whether anyone else did or not.

Did your mother ever say to you, “You’d better change your attitude, young lady!”
Ohhh, mine did, especially during my teen years.
Usually, I obeyed relatively well, and life generally ran smoothly in the Davis household.
Sometimes, when she asked me to do something difficult, I might reply with a dramatic whine, “I caaan’t!” Her answer? “Can’t never did anything.”
A good attitude shows our positive side. As an author or writer, “attitude is everything.”

Do you love your book? Do you believe in it, even if an editor or publisher doesn’t? Does a rejection letter seem personal, as if the words on the page describe you? “Sorry, not good enough.” (Interpretation: Sorry, you’re not good enough.) “We like your book, but we don’t love it.” (Interpretation: We don’t love you.) “Your manuscript might be good, if you re-write the entire 300 pages. Make your hero the villain, kill off your heroine, because she’s not worth the paper she’s written on, and while you’re at it, think up a new plot.” Ugh, you say, this goes in the trash.

However, if you write a story that contains three key elements—urgency, intensity, and drama—soon you will sell your book to an editor.

I grew up as the middle sister. Daddy wanted us three girls to look pretty every day. He’d tell Mother to curl our hair, buy new dresses (she made all of them), and tell us to “act pretty.” Since he told us every day we were pretty, I believed it, and although I was shy, I still thought well of myself. I had confidence even as a child.

Confidence is Job Number One for success in the writing business. It means you are a good writer, and you feel competent. You take pride in each accomplishment. If you keep this attitude about yourself, soon you’re willing to take scary risks to reach beyond who you are now. Confidence is acting that way, even when you are not.

Keep telling yourself, “I’m good, and my book is, too.”

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas 


  1. Celia, what a lot of wisdom you have packed into this one blog. I wish every new or timid writer could/would read it and take it to heart.
    I love my books, I love my characters, even the flawed ones. Espeically the flawed ones! And I have slogged on through many, many rejections and negative critiques and difficult situations in the world of publishing. But the one word I live by is persistence. If you keep on doing something long enough and well enough, you will see positive results. I'm looking at mine.

  2. Good post Celia-- Do I love my books? Oh boy, if I tell you how much I love my books and adore my heroes you'll think I'm the most conceited writer on earth. Yes, I love my stories. An editor from HQ Mills& Boon told me that there was so much passion in my stories it jumped at the reader. I told you, if I start, I won't stop.

    But I'm going to disagree with you on one point: urgency, intensity, and drama produce good emotion but are not enough to sell a book. There is so much more, the voice, the characaters are as important.

  3. Linda--Persistence. Yes, I do understand that, and I think I learned much of it from you. You are my role model, you know, my lighthouse to watch for in the turmoil, and I appreciate you so much.
    I, too, love my flawed characters, but you know what I've learned? Flawed characters who are really, really difficult to reform will not get you a Five Star Review. Nope--won't happen. The reviewer will point that out almost every time..."I just couldn't warm up to __ until the very end." Don't they understand?
    Ah, well...I can't stop. Neither can you, I don't think. Celia

  4. MONA--good for you that you adore your own characters! Okay, you caught me on that one.
    I do agree with voice and characters, but aren't they in a different category from urgency, intensity and drama? Know what I mean?
    But I have said, in answer to every question about what drives my stories, I always, always, say....the characters. Thanks! Celia

  5. A writer has to live with the expectation of some rejection, and not all will be kind.
    James Lee Burke’s wonderful The Lost Get Back Boogie garnered more than 100 rejections before it was finally published and went on to be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
    Obviously he believed in the book. More important, he KNEW it was as good a book as he could make it. That doesn't remove the possibility he might have taken the advice of one or two of those rejecters and made changes.

  6. Actually, yes, I do love my books. By the time I'm finished, every character is real to me. I know their likes, dislikes, what makes them tick. I write what I like to read. Hey, rejection hurts us all, but the trick is to get back up and try again - and again.

  7. Celia, ditto - tons of words of wisdom and the one of the things I've learned in my writing journey is that I've got to learn to take critique - even if it sounds harsh because their might be merit in it. I love my book and I want to make it the best it can be.


  8. All excellent points, Cecila. We can love our books all we want, but if we don't include urgency, drama and intensity, no one will care.

    Contests are a trip, aren't they?

    So glad you persevered.

  9. Everyone says write what you know, but I say write what you love. And I have.

  10. Good post, Celia, and I agree. If we don't love what we write, how can we expect readers to do so?

  11. Enjoyed this post, and yes, I love my books or I wouldn't write them, and I agree if I don't love them, how can I expect others to? I'm very passionate about my writing. I'm an avid reader and passionate writer. My favorite genre is romantic suspense. BJ

  12. J. R.--I love stories of a famous author who received a hundred rejections, then became a best-seller with that same book. It all seems unlikely, but I've read too many instances for it not to be true.
    I admit, some rejections I got were warranted, but some were not because I turned right around and another publisher took it. Sometimes it's because of the publisher's specific guidelines. I'm learning more about that, and it helps.

  13. P.L.--yes, get up and try again. There are some though, that don't, and I wonder how good they might have been if they'd continued.
    I write what I like to read, too. And I re-read my own novels! I hate to admit that, but sometimes I like my own better than something else I'm reading.

  14. STEPH--taking criticism is one of the hardest things. None of us like it, but it's a measure of growth when we at least learn to do better.

  15. lynne--Contests are a trip, as you say. I only did those to get the critique sheets, then I made a spread sheet of my strengths and my weakness, based on the scores. Believe me, it was valuable. I also learned that judges most often are consistent within the ranks. I'll go further and say judges are more likely to judge a ms in like ways, more than reviewers do. In other words--reviewers sometimes can vary greatly on the same book. But judges don't for the most part.
    Now I judge one a year--8 entries. I always look forward to them. Celia

  16. Amen, M. K. Very wise words. Celia

  17. Caroline--that's the whole point, in a nutshell. Thanks! Celia

  18. B.J.--I guess most authors are avid readers. I know I was, still am when I have time. Thanks for commenting--Celia

  19. Celia,

    Excellent points!

    I do love my stories. Every character is so real to me and I want to introduce them to the world. lol

    If a rejection comes in, it hurts, but it can't stop you. You have to keep trying again - and again.

  20. KAREN--good solid advice. It's odd, isn't it, how our characters are so real. It's almost like we really do know them. Celia