Janis Silverman Won a Free 1000 Word Manuscript Critique

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

“Janis Silverman Won a Free 1000 Word Manuscript Critique” by Joan Y. Edwards

There were four people who left comments on  7 Ways to Add Surprise to Create a Best Seller That Readers Crave

  1. Linda Martin Andersen
  2. Janis Silverman
  3. Nisha
  4. Carole Hopkins Balent

Random.org chose number 2, therefore, Janis Silverman, you won the free 1000 word manuscript critique.  Congratulations! You may send me your pitch, query letter, and manuscript not to exceed 1000 words.

Thank you to everyone for reading and commenting on my blog posts!

Never Give Up



7 Ways to Add Surprise to Create a Best Seller That Readers Crave

Image Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

Image Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

“7 Ways to Add Surprise to Create a Best Seller That Readers Crave” by Joan Y. Edwards

Readers crave surprise. That’s the element that helps a reader stick to a story from the beginning to the very end. Therefore, every good story has the element of surprise. The books that incorporate the most surprises are best sellers.

A surprise is when something unexpected happens that is far from what the reader thought would happen. It adds tension and excitement and keeps the reader actively engaged and committed to your manuscript. Any surprise element must present an image in the mind of the reader. If a reader can’t see the image, they won’t see the connection you are counting on to make your story sell.

Many intriguing two-sentence pitches, hooks, loglines, and short summaries or trailers for books and movies, include or allude to one of these seven elements of surprise.

L. K. Hill quotes Marion Jensen’s view on surprise:Surprise in literature is something unexpected that evokes an emotional reaction in a reader.”

Beth Hill suggests that “you, the writer, include a revelation, introduce a new character, or devise an unforeseen event that is so unpredictable that it even surprises you.” So include unexpected consequences that surround your characters and have the element of surprise in them.

Tracy Richardson shows the powerful and surprising beginning of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love:

  • I wish Giovanni would kiss me.

Tracy points out that this first sentence hooks you right away and her next sentence is a perfect contradiction.

  • Oh, but there are so many reasons why this would be a terrible idea.

This beginning shows a good use of surprise.


Here are seven ways to add an element of surprise to your story:

  1. Humor is when you exaggerate the unexpected and sometimes using the power of three to create a funny situation. Humor is shown in action, reaction, consequence, dialogue, and description.
  2. Shock is when you exaggerate the unexpected so much that what happened is the complete opposite of what a reader thought was possible. It can be positive or negative.
  3. Contradiction is action, reaction, consequence, dialogue, and description that shows when opposite emotions are present at the same time in a character or situation.
  4. Irony is action, reaction, consequence, dialogue, and description which is the opposite of what a reader expects under similar circumstances.
  5. Twist is action, reaction, consequence, dialogue, and description which is the opposite of what a reader expects in this genre under similar circumstances. I think of a twist as having to do with the plot.
  6. Revelation is when you reveal secrets or previously unknown information in your story.
  7. Introduce a new character who is unpredictable in a way that adds tension and validity to the theme of your story.

Here are seven three best-selling books that are filled with surprises:

  1. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
  3. The Witness by Nora Roberts
  4. The Firm by John Grisham
  5. Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in Her Pocket by Barbara Park
  6. Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, Betsy Lewin, and Randy Travis.
  7. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Readers crave surprise. Incorporate the elements of surprise in your stories and you will have a best seller because it has what readers crave!

Here are three mostly true stories from a few encounters in my life. They are first drafts. I hope you enjoy them. Each of them contains at least one element of surprise. Maybe more.

Expected and Unexpected

While I was in college during the summer months, my grandmother in Ohio loved for me to come unannounced. One Friday afternoon I left Western Carolina College in Cullowhee, North Carolina at 2:00 p.m. and arrived in Eaton, Ohio about 2:00 a.m. about five hours longer than I planned.

I knocked on Mother Meyer’s front door. Several minutes went by. I didn’t hear any sounds from inside the house. Then I heard a key turn as someone unlocked the door. As I stood there with my overnight case, a man I had never seen before peeked through the open door.

“Hello. Is Mother Meyer here?” I asked.

“No, she’s not.”

I proudly stated, “I’m her granddaughter, Joan.”

He looked at me like so what.

“My daddy is John Bernard Meyer.”

No signs of recognition on that man’s face. I thought maybe he’d know my Mother. Therefore, I tried again. “My mother is Ethel Meyer.”

The man with slightly balding hairline crossed his arms, “I don’t know them.”

I pointed to the first door on the left. “Mother Meyer usually lets me sleep in that room.”

I wasn’t getting anywhere. Visions of the nearby motel Mother and I stayed in with bugs crawling everywhere loomed in my head. My face grew white as a misty fog.

“I am John Campbell, your Aunt Betty’s husband. We got married last month.”

“Is Aunt Betty here?”

“She’s asleep.”

“Oh,” I said emotionally wilting into a small pile of rocks and sticky briars.

Then a warm smile donned his face. “Mother Meyer went to visit her daughter, Bea for the weekend. She’ll be back on Sunday. I see that you have your suitcase so you must have planned to spend the night. So come on in.”

I said, “Thank you very much.”

I moved quickly in the bedroom and closed the door. I shouted on the inside, “Thank you, Lord. I don’t ever want to do THAT again.”

That was my last surprise visit to my grandmother’s house.

Who was the most surprised person in this story?

Did I learn my lesson about surprise visits? My lesson came in two installments; one for each side of the family: Meyer and Bruffey.

Surprising Aunt Martha

One Friday in October, I decided to visit my Aunt Martha Bruffey in Kinston, North Carolina. She loved for me to surprise her by coming out of the bedroom in the morning.  Aunt Martha and Uncle Vernon always left the doors unlocked so I would come in through the back door and sneak quietly into my cousins’ bedroom. I’d sleep on a cot there and in the morning, I’d come out of the bedroom into the hall. Aunt Martha would give me a great big hug and say, “What a nice surprise! I am so glad to see you.”

I drove nine or ten hours from Cullowhee, North Carolina to get there. I parked my gray 1950 Plymouth in the driveway and carried my overnight case around back to enter through the back door.

When I got around back, there was a new garage attached to the house. The back door I used to sneak through was hidden inside the breezeway structure that joined the house and the garage. The garage had a door so I twisted the doorknob to the right and pushed it, but it was locked and did not budge a millimeter.

Feeling a little frustrated, I walked to the side door, turned the knob, and pushed on it. Much to my dismay, it was locked, too.

But wait, there’s hope for me. There was still the possibility that the front door was not locked. When I turned the knob and pushed on it, it was locked tighter than a fat lady in a thin girdle.

I didn’t savor the idea of sleeping in my car because wire springs had sprung through the cushions and were not very comfortable. Surprising Aunt Martha wouldn’t be as much fun if I banged on the door and woke her up. She might be a bit grumpy. I didn’t want to scare my three girl cousins, so I stood in front of the four boys’ window on the side of the house. All four of them were sound asleep.

I took a deep breath and knocked on the window.

My oldest cousin woke and said, “My gosh, what’s going on out there?”

He shined a flashlight and saw me standing outside the house lonely and sad.

I spoke softly so I wouldn’t wake up Aunt Martha or the girls. “Please unlock the front door so I can come in.”

When the lock on the front door clicked, he opened it and said, “Joan, what a big surprise!”

“Not as big a surprise as I was to find all the doors locked.”

My cousins fixed up a cot for me so I’d have a place to sleep.

The next morning, Aunt Martha was thrilled to see me. She gave me a big hug and said, “What a nice surprise! It’s so good to see you.”

I was the most surprised person during this visit. The locked doors put a brake on future unannounced visits to relatives. But, I went many times after I told them I was coming.

What was the irony in this story?

Who did I surprise?

How do you think my grandmother and my aunt felt when I didn’t surprise them with visits again?

The Most Nervous Person at the Airport

One time, my friend, Henry, flew into Charlotte to help his boss determine the value of his latest acquisitions for a coin show. Larry asked me to meet him at the airport the next day. He told me his American flight to St. Louis took off at 2:10 p.m. and asked me to meet him about 1:00 p.m. so we could visit before his flight.

I left home an hour early to take notes on the body language of the most nervous person at the airport while I waited for Larry to arrive at his gate of departure.

Men, women, and children of varying ages amused me with their talk and their movements, but they was no sign of nervousness. Instead, moods of calm and excitement filled the air.

One o’clock came, but Henry didn’t.

One-fifteen, no Henry. I listened carefully to the messages over the intercom. None of them said, “Would Joan York please come to any agent at American Airlines?”

One-thirty, no Henry. I paced back and forth near the gate. I anxiously checked the long hallway for a man running to catch his flight. Everyone walked leisurely like they had more than enough time to get to their gate for take-off.

One-forty-five, no Henry. My heart beat a little faster.

As each moment passed, my thoughts went haywire. “What if something’s happened to him? What if he’s been in a car wreck?”

Two o’clock, no Henry. I patted my foot.

The gate clerk called passengers to board the airplane, no Larry. My saliva was so thick, it almost choked me.

The plane took off.  It watched it taxi away from the building without Henry.

They changed the flight numbers on the bulletin board. I twisted my pen like it was a baton. I wrote below “Who was the most nervous person I observed at the airport?”

The answer was “Me.”

Larry called me the next day.

I said, “Where are you? Are you okay?”

He said, “Early yesterday morning, my boss asked him to stay an extra day.”

My response was choppy and sharp, “Why didn’t you call me and let me know? Why didn’t you have the airlines page me?”

Larry said, “I called American Airlines and asked them to tell you.

“Humph! I listened with keen ears to all notices from American Airlines pages. None of them had my name in them.” I didn’t believe him.

“I’m going to take the same flight tomorrow. Will you meet me there at one o’clock?”

“No. The only place I’ll meet you is if you come to my house.”

He said, “That’s a fine way to treat a friend,” and hung up.

I never saw him again. He called wondering if he could spend a week with me while he went to a coin show.

I’m sure you guessed my answer. “Indeed not.”

All was not in vain because I learned many signs of nervousness and I had the wisdom to follow my gut feelings to end that relationship and any others in the future that made me nervous.

What emotions do you think usually precede, follow or go side-by side with nervousness?

What body language means nervousness to you?

What solves nervousness or makes it go away?

I hope my three stories helped you see how an element of surprise can hook the reader’s attention in a story. I hope it sparks an idea to use with your own stories. I think writers may crave surprise, as much as the readers. Let your imagination run around the possibilities. Readers crave surprise. Give it to them. Put multiple surprise factors in your manuscript. “If you put surprise in your story, readers will come.”

FREE GIVEAWAY (This offer is over. Please check later blogposts for more giveaways)

I am offering a free critique of the first 1000 words of a manuscript as a gift for responding with a comment about this blog post. Tell me your favorite surprise, shock, contradiction, twist, an unexpected consequence, or irony in my stories and/or your favorite book or movie between now and midnight Thursday, October 2, 2014.  Random.org will choose the winner. I will announce the winner in a new post on Friday, October 3, 2014.

Believe in you and your writing.
Celebrate all that you’ve accomplished: both the big steps and the little ones.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards


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12 Affirmations for Writers.



  1. “Add a Twist to a Story,” http://www.wikihow.com/Add-a-Twist-to-a-Story.
  2. Annie Gracie. Writing Romantic Comedy,” 2001, http://www.annegracie.com/writing/comedy.htm.
  3. Beth Hill. “Include Surprises in Your Stories,” April 16, 2012, http://theeditorsblog.net/2012/04/16/include-surprises-in-your-stories/.
  4. Bronwyn Hemus, “Hook Your Readers, Six Tried and Tested Tips,” March 7, 2013, https://www.standoutbooks.com/hook-your-readers-six-tips/.
  5. Cheryl Klein. “Springing Surprises,” http://www.cherylklein.com/surprise.html.
  6. Christie Craig and Faye Hughes. “Add the Element of Surprise,” http://www.netplaces.com/writing-a-romance-novel/the-last-polish/add-the-element-of-surprise.htm.
  7. Elizabeth Spann Craig, “The Element of Surprise,” Mystery Writing Is Murder (blog), August 18, 2011, http://mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.com/2011/08/element-of-surprise.html.
  8. K. M. Weiland, “5 Ways to Write Killer Plot Twist,” July 28, 2013, http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/2013/07/5-ways-to-write-killer-plot-twist.html.
  9. L. K. Hill. “How to Use the Element of Surprise to Better Your Writing,” http://lkhill.blogspot.com/2012/09/how-to-use-element-of-surprise-to.html.
  10. “Make a Surprise Ending to Your Story,” http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Surprise-Ending-to-Your-Story.
  11. Susan. “How to Use Humor Effectively,” http://www.write-out-loud.com/how-to-use-humor-effectively.html.
  12. Tracy Richardson. (First Sentences) “Where It All Starts,” Article Archive, Just about Write.com, 2010, http://www.justaboutwrite.com/A_Archive_WhereItAllStarts-Richardson.html.
  13. Victoria Mixon. “5 Ways to Make Your Novel Unforgettable,” http://victoriamixon.com/2010/09/13/5-ways-to-make-your-novel-unforgettable/.
  14. Zara Altair. “Twist the Predictable: Create Plot Twists to Enrich the Story Line,” December 20, 2010, http://storybodyguard.com/2010/12/20/twist-the-predictable-create-plot-twists-to-enrich-the-story-line/.

Karen Cioffi Won a Free Critique from Anne Duguid!

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

“Karen Cioffi Won a Free Critique from Anne Duguid!” by Joan Y. Edwards

Dear Friends,
Thank you to the five people who kindly left a comment on Anne Duguid’s guest interview:
1. Mona Pease
2. Linda Martin Andersen
3. Karen Cioffi
4. Kathleen Burkinshaw
5. Wendy Labarner

Random.org chose the number 3…so Karen Cioffi, you won a free 1000 word manuscript critique from Anne Duguid.

I’ll send you Anne’s email address so that you can forward your manuscript to her.

Thank you to each of you for making Anne feel welcome here.
Thank you, Anne for being a guest on my blog. Be sure and let me know when FriekWeek goes live and I’ll add a link so people can purchase it if they like.

Never Give Up

Interview with Anne Duguid – Teacher, Journalist and Freelance Editor

Anne Duguid Copyright © 2014

Anne Duguid
Copyright © 2014

“Interview with Anne Duguid – Teacher, Journalist and Freelance Editor”

Part of the  Interviews on Authors I Admire Series

Thank you, Anne Duguid, for being a guest on my blog.

I am glad to be here.


  1. How did you do in English as a kid?

I loved English and was always top of the class in my primary school. I read long before I went to school and must have been an appalling PITA. Fortunately, my teachers all had book cupboards and sent me off to read when I was being too much of a know-it-all.

  1. When did you decide to become an author?

I remember the day. I was eight and saw my name in print under a poem in the school magazine. I decided to build on the success and write my first children’s book in the school holidays. The leading character was an elf imprisoned in a cardboard box. Sadly I found no way for him to escape and that was the end of that.

  1. What’s your favorite book? Why?

No, sorry, can’t answer this at all. I read seven to ten books most weeks and the favorites are those which leave me feeling bereft when I’ve finished.

  1. Are your characters based on real people?

I have photos pinned on my cork board to remind me of physical characteristics of my longer-running characters—some of them have been hanging around for years waiting for me to finish their story, poor things. Good job that Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author never found me. They’d still be wandering round. My characters are mostly second-hand, with quirks taken from actors portraying real people.

  1. Did you outline and plan your books before you wrote them or did these stories flow on their own?

I flew by the seat of my pants for the first few books and loved how the characters took over to sort out their own problems but the resulting novels had flaws even I could see, most of them fatal. Now, I outline and plan but not rigidly. There is always leeway for characters to use freewill.

  1. How much research did you have to do for writing and/or publishing your books or manuscript in progress? What helped you in doing your research that others could benefit by your experience?

I try to write from experiences I know about. As a national journalist, I learned how to research quickly, who to go to rather than what to read. This makes the research much faster. There are many Internet sites set up to link authors and journalists with experts in their field, for instance http://www.experts.com/Consultants/Categories

  1. Did you cry while writing one of your books?

Only when I wrote something unbelievably bad and couldn’t work out how to make my words match the image I saw in my head.

  1. Do you have trouble saying goodbye to your characters when the book is finished?

Both when writing and editing, yes. Some characters stay in the mind like friends forever. This is why writing a series is a good option for me. It’s also a proven way to build readership rather than writing stand-alones.

  1. What’s your favorite book you’ve written?

The one I’m writing or editing at the time. So now it’s ShriekWeek—a novella for a Halloween Anthology—but it’s also coming out as a single title in mid-October. It was a challenge to write a cozy mystery in 15,000 words. There are a few unresolved issues but this leaves the way open for later books to fill in the gaps.

  1. What is your favorite genre?
    Only one? Mystery—preferably with historical background.
  1. What’s your advice for outlining a compelling plot?

I start by reading everything there is about plotting lol. The first method I ever used was the Snowflake method and that was an excellent start. I use James Scott Bell’s Revisions and Self-Editing. We recommend it in the Savvy Authors’ EditPalooza workshop to check that everything is in place and fits together.

For the novella I’m writing now, I did a mathematical summary for the outline which I’ll share after the book is released as a free report for subscribers to my blog. It’s a composite of novel and screenwriting plans and it keeps me on track when my characters try to take off in all directions.

  1. Tell us about your job as an editor?

I love content editing, which has to do with the plot development rather than the grammatical nuts and bolts, and freelance for two of the best Indie publishers in the business.

  1. Any hints for writers?

Writers nowadays have to be totally professional, follow submission guidelines and be prepared to be flexible.

If you want to publish without changing a word, use self-publishing. Editors are in place because they know the market and know what sells.

Start the story with the problem that sets everything in motion and move forward from there. Keep back story to the minimum. Filter it in only as and when needed.

  1. Are there submission guidelines for the publishers you work with? Give us links, please.

The competition for acceptance at both The Wild Rose Press and MuseItUp Publishing is high.

Read about each of their imprints carefully to select the right line for your query. Read what is requested and follow the directions carefully.

  1. Who or what has been the most help and inspiration to you as a writer?
  • This would make a book of acknowledgements in its own right! If it had not been for PubSubbers— www.joanyedwards.wordpress.com —making me feel so guilty and chivvying me along never to give up, I might never have submitted my novel at all. (Thank you. I am so glad Pub Subbers helped you. Hip Hip Hooray for you.)
  • Lea Schizas and the presenters of the Muse Online Writers Conference http://themuseonlinewritersconference.com spring to mind for all the great advice and support.
  • Holly Lisle at www.hollylisle.com whose courses are very comprehensive and she gives great advice and support.
  • Marg. McAlister with her tips and challenges at http://www.writing4success.com,
  • Ruth Barringham of www.writeaholics.net.
  • Reading, reading, reading also helped me.
  • I once had an unnecessarily nasty put down in a critique group which felled me for a bit, but now sits in the back of my mind as motivation to succeed.
  1. What are your favorite blog posts?

Blogs which offer great value and unstinting help to their readers are an outstanding way to increase marketing potential.

  1. Please tell us more about your new book that is coming out October 13, 2014.

ShriekWeek (one word), which I wrote as Anne Knol, was written in answer to a Wild Rose Press call for Halloween themed ​​stories of no more than 15,000 words. The deadline date was six months away so I figured I’d write 1,000 words a week(!) and have two months left for revision. That, of course, did not happen.

I sent in a detailed synopsis, strong with a goal, motivation, and conflict for hero, heroine and villain and a blurb ( one paragraph for heroine’s goal, one for hero’s goal and a final paragraph for the conflict.)

The editor approved them, but changed them as the story developed. My original synopsis was too complicated to develop in a few words and I was forever tweaking blurbs.

In the end I probably wrote twice the number of words needed and spent my revision time cutting back. I hit the deadline at the very last moment.

I read cozy mysteries all the time. Agatha Christie is a great proponent of the cozy mystery genre. Think of Miss Marple or Poirot. The murders take place in the main off-stage, any violence is, for the most part, described, not enacted. The murder is not solved by an official figure, but by a member of the community where it takes place which could be a traditional small town, village, theatrical cast, or a golf club. There is often a sweet romance element, too.

I knew my characters, knew my synopsis, made a file card system for characters and events and still I struggled. The first three chapters came easily but I could not tie all the threads in the final chapters. I was forever forgetting to plant the necessary clues. I just had no idea how difficult it was going to be.

I have a marvelous editor in Nancy Swanson who suggested I write a series to resolve the unanswered questions readers may have after reading ShriekWeek so several of the characters are now to have a book of their own, provided I attract enough readers (hint, hint.)

As an incentive to any writers who buy the book–watch my blog in mid October–I shall share my synopsis plans, blurb thoughts, writing plans/muddles for my second novella as it progresses in a free mini Write Your Own Novella course. I’m going for a summer story so suggest, unless you’re self-publishing, you also choose that time of year or later.

I do recommend keeping an eye out for requests for themed submissions–Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day, and Easter are often requested–and remember that your ideas need to be in at least nine months before your chosen date.

And if you’re a slow writer like me, you may find that limiting your word power makes it easier to write more.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Anne, for a wonderful interview filled with great advice and powerful information Cozy Mysteries and about submitting manuscripts to publishers.

Anne Duguid is a teacher, journalist and freelance editor who has been encouraging writers and talking to imaginary friends for a very long time. She blogs at http://slowandsteadywriters.blogspot.com


Anne is offering one reader a free critique of first 1000 words of a fiction or non-fiction manuscript as a gift for responding with a comment between now and midnight September 16, 2014.  Random.org will choose the winner. I will announce the winner in a new post on Wednesday, September 17, 2014.

Believe in you and your writing.

Celebrate you.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards


220 Subscribers (Thank you.)

Please subscribe to Joan’s Never Give Up blog by email from the left-hand column. You’ll receive new blog posts filled with inspiration and information in your inbox as soon as she uploads them.

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12 Affirmations for Writers.



Submit Again, The Right Publisher Awaits

Image Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

Image Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

“Submit Again, The Right Publisher Awaits” by Joan Y. Edwards

#2 in Series – Famous Writers Recovered from Rejection, So Can You

Would you return an advance and a contract if the publisher wanted you to change the ending of your story?

If 27 publishers rejected your story, would you throw it into the trash in despair?

If publishers said your story is too disturbing, would you write a different story and intentionally make it even more disturbing?

Who do you think did each of these things? Would you do it?

Read the following stories of ten famous writers who recovered from rejection, to find out who did these things. Follow my suggestions for action afterwards. Go ahead. Guess what my suggestions are. You can check at the end and see if you’re right.

Charlaine Harris published several mystery books. When she tried to get her vampire story, Sookie Stackhouse published, Alexandra Alter stated in the Wall Street Journal, SpeakEasyher blog article that 12 editors turned it down. There were 13 books in the Sookie Stackhouse series that sold more than 32 million copies globally. HBO made a “True Blood”series with Sookie that ran for six years and had 80 episodes.

Charles Shaw’s Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison is a novel about an American marine shipwrecked in the South Pacific. In Book of Lists, David Wallechinsky and Amy Wallace state that virrually very Australian publisher and 20 British firms rejected Shaw’s humorous novel over a three-year period.

In 1952, Crown Publishing Group in New York took a chance on it. By 1957 producers made Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison into a movie with Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum. It is a war classic and received several Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Writing.

Chinua Achebe sent “Things Fall Apart” to several publishing houses; some rejected it immediately and claimed that fiction from African writers had no market potential. Even, Heineman educational publishing executives hesitated until Donald MacRae, an educational advisor persuaded them to publish it with these words: “This is the best novel I have read since the war.”

In 1958, Heineman published 2,000 hardcover copies, It has sold over eight million copies worldwide and translated into over 50 languages. It is a milestone in modern African literature written in English, and is one of the first to receive global acclaim. Time Magazine selected it for its list of “100 Best English-Language Novels from 1923 to 2005.”

Chuck Palaniuk first tried to publish his novel Invisible Monsters. Publishers rejected it because it was “too disturbing.” Palaniuk showed them by concentrating on his seven-page short story “Pursuit of Happiness” about a Fight Club and intentionally made it even more disturbing. When Palaniuk expanded it to novel length, changed the name to Fight Club, W.W. Norton published it in 1996. They made a movie from it starring Brad Pitt in 1999.

After Fight Club had sold many copies, Palaniuk was able to publish Invisible Monsters in 1999.

C. S. Lewis. Aaron Earls said on Wardrobe Door.com that publishers only rejected Narnia one or two times, not 800 times as internet poses.

Daniel Keyes wrote Flowers for Algernon. Twelve publishers rejected it. What is interesting about Daniel Keyes and his book is that several publishers sent him a contract and advance money and demanded that he change the ending. Keyes rejected their offers and returned their money advances. Harcourt Brace published it in 1966. They made a movie from it called “Charly” (1968).

Darcy Chan’s story goes from the slush pile to a huge success in self-publishing to being published by a traditional publisher. Her experience is almost unique. In 2011, her self-published novel “The Mill River Recluse” appeared on the bestseller’s list.  And, still, she never found a publisher. Chan sent her novel out to over a hundred literary agents, and twelve publishers, and they all rejected it. She decided to publish it and sold more than 400,000 copies.

In 2014 Chan chose to let a traditional publisher, Ballantine Books, to republish The Mill River Recluse and to publish its sequel: The Mill River Redemption. In an interview with David Njoku on Indie Authorland.com, Chan states that she signed a contract with a traditional publisher to help with editing, research, legal issues, and because they could reach more people than she could with her self-publishing.

D. H. Lawrence (David Herbert Lawrence). André Bernard said in Rotten Rejections that publishers told D. H. Lawrence “For your own good, do not publish Lady Chatterley’s Lover.” According to Biography.com, in 1928 Lawrence’s graphic and highly sexual novel was published in Italy, but it was banned in the United States until 1959, and banned in England until 1960.

Dick Wemmer’s obituary in the New York Times says that publishers rejected his book, Irish Wine 162 times during a period of twenty-five years. Mercury House published it in 1989.

Dr. Seuss. Publishers rejected And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street twenty-seven times because it was too different from the other juveniles on the market to warrant its publishing it. It has grossed more than $75 Million.[17] #25 (Rotten Rejections by André Bernard)

Michale Winerip’s New York Times interview with Guy McLain who is the director of the Museum of Springfield History says “The publication of Mulberry Street is a lesson in perseverance.” Twenty-Seven publishers rejected it. Dr. Seuss was about to burn it in 1937 when a classmate from Dartmouth, who was new to the children’s book publishing business, bought it.

Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Here’s a three-week plan to get your manuscript, query, cover letter, and/or proposal in gear. Week 4 gets you to celebrate and write another story.


Pub Subbers Join today.

Week 1 Send manuscript off for final critique before submission. Choose publisher or agent. Print Guidelines.

Week 2 Write pitch, query, cover letter, proposal, etc. to make a good impression.

Week 3 Proof read everything. Submit this week.

Week 4 Celebrate life. Write another story.

27 Publishers Who Accept Unsolicited Manuscripts updated August 17, 2014 Now has 27 publishers)

18 Literary Agents Who Are Looking for You

Good luck in your publication. Believe in you and your writing.

Celebrate you.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

References in the order in which I used them.

  1. Charlaine Harris.com, http://charlaineharris.com/.
  2. Alexandra Alter. “Charlaine Harris the Vampire Series Slayer,” May 7, 2013, 8:45 a.m. EST, http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2013/05/07/charlaine-harris-vampire-series-slayer/
  3.  “True Blood,” accessed September 1, 2014, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_Blood.
  4. The Editors of Publications International, Ltd. “14 Best-Selling Books Repeatedly Rejected by Publishers,” How Stuff Works.com, Info Space, LLC., http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/arts/literature/14-best-selling-books-repeatedly-rejected-by-publishers.htm/printable.
  5. David Wallechinsky and Amy Wallace, ed. Book of Lists: The Original Compendium of Curious Inforamtion, Canongate, p422
  6. One Hundred Rejections.com, “Famous Rejection #76: Chinua Achebes,” June 2012, http://www.onehundredrejections.com/2012/06/famous-rejection-76-chinua-achebes.html
  7. Time Magazine’s Top 100 All-Time Novels,” Book Guide at Lincoln Libraries.org, http://www.lincolnlibraries.org/depts/bookguide/lists/times100alltime.htm
  8. Famous Rejection #47: Fight Club,” May 2011, http://www.onehundredrejections.com/2011/05/rejection-47-fight-club.html
  9. Aaron Earls. “Was C.S. Lewis Rejected 800 Times before Being Published?”The Wardrobe Door.com, January 13, 2014, http://thewardrobedoor.com/2014/01/was-c-s-lewis-rejected-800-times-before-being-published.html
  10. “Famous Rejection #33: Flowers For Algernon,” March 29, 2011, One Hundred Rejections.com, http://www.onehundredrejections.com/2011/03/rejection-33-flowers-for-algernon.html
  11. “Flowers for Algernon,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flowers_for_Algernon
  12. Steve Holland. “Daniel Keyes’ Obituary,” The Guardian, June 18, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jun/18/daniel-keyes
  13. “Famous Rejection #64: Darcy Chan,” One Hundred Rejections.com, http://www.onehundredrejections.com/2011/12/famous-rejection-64-darcy-chan.html
  14. David Njoku, April 6, 2013, “Interview with Darcie Chan, Author of the Mill River Recluse,” http://www.indieauthorland.com/archives/2916/Kindle-eBook/interview-with-darcie-chan-author-of-the-mill-river-recluse/
  15. “D. H. Lawrence,” Biography.com, http://www.biography.com/people/dh-lawrence-17175776
  16. Dennis Hevesi, “Dick Wimmer, Whose Persistence Got Him Published, Dies at 74,” May 24, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/25/arts/dick-wimmer-74-irish-wine-author-is-dead.html?_r=0
  17. Seussville.com, http://www.seussville.com/
  18. André Bernard. Rotten Rejections: The Letters That Publishers Wish They’d Never Sent. New York: Pushcart Press, 1990.
  19. Michale Winerip. “Mulberry Street May Fade, but ‘Mulberry Street’ Shines On,” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/30/education/dr-seuss-book-mulberry-street-turns-75.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
  20. #1 Famous Writers Recovered from Rejection, So Can You.


Flip Flap Floodle, a happy little duck whose song saves him from mean ole Mr. Fox’s belly.
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12 Affirmations for Writers.


Focus to Get the Max out of a Writing Conference-2014

Focus on what you want

Focus on What You Want
Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards

“Focus to Get the Max out of a Writing Conference-2014″ by Joan Y. Edwards

I hope that by reading my blog post or attending a conference, you’ll learn a writing skill or technique to inspire you to believe in yourself as a writer or illustrator and never give up.

Before the Conference

  1. What skill do you most want to improve? Attend the workshops that will help you improve that skill.
  2. Visit the webpages of at least three of the presenters that interest you. Check out their books at the library or on www.Amazon.com.
  3. If you have specific questions for presenters, write them down on 3×5 note cards or on a sheet of paper and ask them at the conference. Most websites list a contact page with an email address, in case you don’t get to ask them at the conference, you can contact them later.
  4. Get business cards with your name, address, phone number, email address, website, and blog. Many people put an image and link to their published books on the back. Use  www.VistaPrint.com, www.Gotprint.com, www.BCEofNC.com, or local print shop. You can also handcraft your own using your computer.
  5. Get bookmarks printed: www.VistaPrint.com, www.Gotprint.com, www.BCEofNC.com. You can also handcraft your own by hand or on your computer.
  6. Buy a new spiral notebook with a bright colorful design or a composition book with a black and white cover. This way all of your notes are in one place. You can put it in front of your computer when you get home, and transfer your handwritten notes to your computer. You can add information from handouts by scanning them into your computer, or by typing what you want to remember from the handouts.
  7. Buy two pens that write just the way you like a pen to write. Put them in your pocketbook to take with you.
  8. Write a pitch for three of your manuscripts.  You can print out your pitches on 3×5 cards. If it doesn’t fit on the 3×5 index card. It’s too long. Carry two copies of each pitch with you to the conference. Put one copy in a folder and the other in your pocketbook. Practice giving your pitch in front of a mirror. Use eye contact. Memorize it. (See 10 blog posts in Resources to help you get one to attract publishers and agents.
  9. Take comfortable clothing to wear in your favorite colors to keep your spirits high. Take a sweater or blazer, in case the air conditioning is too cool for your inner thermostat. If you’re hot, you can take off the blazer. Jeans, a shirt, and a blazer are good work attire for writers. Linda Rohrbough says that you want the editors to think you just left your computer to meet with them.
  10. Check your laptop, iPad, or other digital device. Charge its battery. Purchase a portable disc drive or flash drive or thumb drive for your laptop. Most of them are USB port compatible. Copy your full manuscripts of the Works in Progress and other pertinent information you may need for the conference.

At the Conference

1. Take notes using your new spiral notebook or composition book or take notes on your laptop or other device. When you get home, edit your notes and add information from your handouts. You can copy or scan pertinent information from the handouts into a computer.

2. Hand out business cards to everyone you with whom you talk. Ask for their business cards, too. This will give you resources to check after the conference. The more you do this, the more comfortable and natural it will be for you. Set a goal to give away 5, 10, or 15 cards. Ask for business cards of other people, too.

  1. Do you feel lonely and out of touch with people? Plan to talk to the people who sit beside you in the workshops. Exchange names, email addresses, and business cards with them. Here are possible questions to start your conversation:

“What are you writing?”

“Are you in writing group? Is it online or face-to-face?”

 “How do you find time to write?”

“Do you write best in the morning or at night?”

4. If you happen to meet an agent or editor in the elevator or at lunch, remember he/she is human, like you. Ask one of these questions or one of your own:

“What is your favorite project right now?”

“How do you know when a book is right for you?”

“What’s your advice for writers?”

5.  After your question for an editor or agent, there is a great possibility he/she will ask you, “What kind of writing do you do?” This is a perfect lead in for your pitch. Hold your head high. Look the editor/agent in the eye. Pretend he’s your best friend and tell him your pitch.

  1. Take a short walk for exercise in between sessions.
  2. Get plenty of sleep.

  3. Eat healthy fruits, vegetables, and proteins. This will keep you alert and focused.

  4. Enjoy yourself and learn as much as you can.

  5. List twenty things for which you are thankful each morning before you get out of bed.

11. Thank the presenters and the organizers for what you liked about the conference. Make suggestions for improvements.

12. If a book inspires you, buy it or order it from your public library.

After the Conference

1. Sleep, if you’re tired. Accept yourself and others as you are. Focus on what you want. Be thankful for what you have. Be grateful for where you are. Put the fun back into your writing.

  1. Read and organize your notes from each workshop. Write at least three major things you learned from each workshop. You can write down more details if you want.
  • Make a top ten list of things that you learned at the overall conference.

  • After this information soaks into your mind, body, and spirit, write/revise three writing goals using the skills and information you learned. (Be patient with yourself.)

  • Writing Skill/Genre Goals

  • a) Read ten books in your chosen genre and three books on the craft of writing and/or illustrating.

    b) Revise your favorite manuscript and submit it to an editor or agent on the third Friday of the month (PubSub3rdFri).

    6. Marketing Goals

    a) Learn a new technology.

    b) Submit manuscripts/sample illustrations to different agents and/or editors. (See my Pub Sub 3rd Fri blog posts)

    c. Join Pub Subbers Yahoo Group to encourage you to submit your manuscripts.

    d) Create a blog tour for your book.

    e) Prepare a book presentation for schools/organization.

    f) Prepare a proposal to present a workshop for a writing conference.

    g) Prepare a pitch for a manuscript. Go from a page summary and then focus on the words to hook readers. Keep shortening your pitch: 200-100-50-25 words. The ultimate goal is a pitch that is 140 characters long (approximately 25 words) that fits in Twitter. If you have all these different lengths, you will have a pitch to use in your cover letter, proposal, and for the rave blurbs for the back cover of your book. Your pitch is the magnetic tool that will entice people to buy your book.

    h) Prepare a post card, business card, bookmark, signature for email to promote you and your writing. Use your book titles and pitch blurbs.

    7. Networking Goals

    a) Create a website and/or blog.

    b) Join a writer’s critique group.

    c) Create a Google Plus profile. 9 Reasons to Use Google Plus+

    d) Create an author/illustrator page on Facebook and post news of your publishing journey.

    e) Collect Images for Fun and Research – Use Pinterest.

    f) Create a Twitter Account. Twitter your blog posts and your publishing news.

    g) Create a TweetDeck account to better organize Twitter, Facebook, and/or Linked-In.

    h) Create a Glog (Big Poster) on Glogster: http://www.glogster.com

    i) Visit the website of three people who gave you a business card.  Email them. Here are possible points to include in your email. Remind them of how you enjoyed talking with them. Thank them for sharing a resource. Congratulate them on their manuscript or book. Compliment them for being brave if they read their story at open mike. Thank them for giving you a new way to look at a problem. Communication is the key.


    My Pitch Blog Posts
    Here are 10 of my blog posts to help you get you pitch in shape to captivate editors, agents, and readers:

    a) A Selling Pitch Is Short with a Strong Emotional Tug
    b) How to Deliver a Short Gutsy Pitch to Entice Editors, Agents, and Readers
    c) How to Entice an Editor/Agent with a Pitch (Logline)
    d) How to Write an Effective Selling Pitch for a Romance Novel
    e) How to Write a Pitch, Summary, and Synopsis That Sells
    f) Pitch Exercise #1 – Would you accept or reject these pitches?
    g) Pitch Exercise #2 Romance – Would You Accept or Reject These Pitches?
    h) Results of Pitch Exercise #1 – Which Pitches Did 12 Responders Accept?
    i) What Is Pitch Corner USA?
    (Still looking for editors and/or agents to help me do a monthly pitch submission)
    j) Which of These Best-Selling Romance Pitches Is the Best? Why?

    Four Articles to Help Get the Most Out of a Writing Conference.

    Thank you for reading my blog. I hope it leads you to have more faith in yourself. I hope you experience success in every way imaginable.

    Please leave a comment. I value your opinion.

    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

    Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards


    Flip Flap Floodle, a happy little duck whose song saves him from mean ole Mr. Fox’s belly.
    Joan’s Elder Care Guide, Release December 2014 by 4RV Publishing
    Website-Gospel-related devotionals, puzzles, and skits for children
    Facebook Author Page

    Linked in 


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    Please subscribe to Joan’s Never Give Up blog by email from the left-hand column.

    You’ll receive new blog posts filled with inspiration and information in your inbox as soon as she uploads them.

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    12 Affirmations for Writers.



    Famous Writers Recovered from Rejection, So Can You.

    Image Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

    Image Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards

    “Famous Writers Recovered from Rejection, So Can You.” by Joan Y. Edwards

    #1 in Series – Famous Writers Recovered from Rejection, So Can You

    Thank you, Riley Amos Westbook, (sonshinegreene), one of my latest subscribers, for telling me he would like to know more about how many times famous writers got rejected. I had no idea that little seed of curiosity would lead to a whole series of posts about this topic. There are over one hundred authors I found with information about their rejections before they were published.  I put them in alphabetical order by first names to help you and me find them easier.


    1. Agatha Christie tried to get The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring the character of Poirot published for 5 years without success. She got it published in 1920. The Guinness Book of World Records lists Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time. She published 85 books according to Wikipedia as noted by Passive Guy in “Ten Best Selling Fiction Authors of All Time

    2. Alex Haley wrote short stories and articles and sent them to magazines and publishers back in the United States. Although he received mostly rejection letters in return, they published a handful of his stories which encouraged Haley to keep writing. His book and movie “Roots” told the story of his ancestors.

    3. Alice Walker. Literary Rejections stated in “Best Sellers Initially Rejected” that Little, Brown & Company passed on a two book deal for Alice Walker. When complete her novel The Color Purple sold 10 million and won the The Pulitzer Prize. Her Official Website stated that she was the first African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize.

    4. Allen Loeb. Kyle Buchanan’s article on The Vulture quoted Allen as saying, “[I was] the baby writer at the lowest rung within the system, who has just enough rope to hang himself. That’s what I lived and breathed for seven, eight years.” Undercover, Escape From New York, Rock of Ages, Just Go With It, and countless other films.

    5. Amanda Hocking. Ed Pinkington relates that in March 2010 Amanda needed $300.00 to go to Chicago for a Muppet exhibit. Here’s how she got her $300.00. She self-published one of her many novels that had been rejected by umpteen book agents and publishing houses from 2001-2010 on Amazon and other digital eBook websites  She thought surely, she could sell a few copies to her family and friends. She was right. By October 2010, she not only raised $300.00 but she sold 150,000 copies of her books. She published My Blood Approves on March 17, 2010 and My Blood Approves, Book 2 called Fate was published April 15, 2010.

    6. Andy Warhol. The Guardian says in its blog,In a way, he was not a writer at all. All his books were either dictated or transcribed from recordings, and in this respect he was part of a curiously old-fashioned tradition. In the LA Times Culture Monster blog, it shows a letter from the Modern Museum of Art(now known as the New York Museum of Art) in which they reject the copy of The Shoe drawing that Andy offered to donate to them for free. The museum official, Alfred H. Barr, Jr. wrote “I regret that I must report to you that the Committee decided, after careful consideration, that they ought not to accept it for our Collection.”

    7. Anne Frank. John Noonan states in his article on Finding Dulcinea.com that after the holocaust was over, Anne’s father, Otto Frank found her diary. He typed it in German and shared it with family and close friends, who convinced him to share it with the world. He took it to a publisher, which released the first copies of the diary, titled “Het Achterhuis,” or “The Secret Annex,” on June 25, 1947.

    David Oshinsky states in his New York Times Book Review that The Diary of Anne was rejected by Frank Knopf and 15 others before Doubleday published it in 1952. Now it is one of the best-selling books in history. According to one publisher, The Diary of Anne Frank was scarcely worth reading: “The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.”

    8. Audrey Niffenegger. In Jessica Strawser’s interview in Writer’s Digest.com, she stated that Audrey Niffenegger spent four and a half years writing The Time Traveler’s Wife and had 20 or more agent rejections before it was published in 2003.

    9. Ayn RandOne Hundred Rejections.com says that Rand did not enjoy real success until the publication of The Fountainhead in 1943 which was rejected 12 times. Gradesaver.com states in its Biography of Ayn Rand that many people consider her last novel, Atlas Shrugged (1957) to be her masterpiece

    10. Beatrix Potter.  One Hundred Rejections.com says that Beatrix sent her tale to six publishers, but was rejected by all of them because of the lack of colour pictures, which were popular at the time. She self-published Peter Rabbit in 1901 because she was fed up with rejection letters.


    I can’t find where Barbara Kingsolver was rejected, but Barbara Kingsolver gives you great advice if you are rejected.

    Barbara Kingsolver. The Poisonwood Bible is one of her best-selling novels. One Hundred Rejections.com says in “Famous Rejection #36: Barbara Kingsolver’s Advice” for writers about rejection is: This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address.’ Just keep looking for the right address.”

    Famous writers recovered from rejection, so can you. Submit again.

    Here’s a three-week plan to get your manuscript, query, cover letter, and/or proposal in gear. Week 4 gets you to celebrate and write another story.PubSub

    Pub Subbers

    Week 1 Send manuscript off for final critique before submission. Choose publisher or agent. Print Guidelines.

    Week 2 Write pitch, query, cover letter, proposal, etc. to make a good impression.

    Week 3 Proof read everything. Submit this week.

    Week 4 Celebrate life. Write another story.

    27 Publishers Who Accept Unsolicited Manuscripts updated August 17, 2014 Now has 27 publishers)

    18 Literary Agents Who Are Looking for You

    Good luck in your publication. Believe in you and your writing.

    Celebrate you.
    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

    Copyright © 2014 Joan Y. Edwards




    Flip Flap Floodle, picture book: a little duck whose song saves him from the belly of Mr. Fox.
    Joan’s Elder Care Guide, Release December 2014 by 4RV Publishing
    Website-Gospel-related devotionals, puzzles, and skits for children
    Facebook Author Page

    Linked in 


    211 Subscribers (Thank you.)

    Please subscribe to Joan’s Never Give Up blog by email from the left-hand column.

    You’ll receive new blog posts filled with inspiration and information in your inbox as soon as she uploads them.

    Never Give Up image
    12 Affirmations for Writers.




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