Guest Post – Susanna Ives on her Release Day!

Susanna Ives has written a Regency Romance with an unusual title–Rakes and Radishes. Right away, you know you don’t have your typical Regency. I am reading and enjoying Susanna’s book. Here she is on a seemingly unrelated topic. But like I’m discovering in her novel, Susanna likes to play with her reader. Her blog is fun, too!

~*~

Eating Out with my Cousin Heather
by Susanna Ives

I had been staring at the computer screen. Writing sentences, deleting them then writing new ones. Nothing seemed to work. You see, I told Tia I would write about the changes Rakes and Radishes underwent during editing. In a nutshell, my novel went from a volcano of raw emotion to a smooth, well-paced book thanks to the keen eye and patience of my Carina Press editor. However, I was drawing a big blank in expounding upon this basic idea.

So I gave up. I called my cousin Heather and asked her to meet me at the Chinese restaurant we’ve been frequenting since we were children. This is actually a rather momentous occasion considering tonight is the eve of my book release. You see, Heather was instrumental in the development of Rakes and Radishes from the beginning.

Let me back up. Once upon a time, I entered a writing contest with my very first MS and came in dead last. (I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure. I got a “special” letter.) So the next year, when the contest came around, I vowed to avenge myself. I should tell you that there is something special about Heather besides being my fabulous cousin and Manga expert. She is also the kickass manager of a Borders bookstore. So I told her that I would buy her dinner at the Melting Pot fondue restaurant (our favorite restaurant), if she would edit my contest entry.

With a pot of Traditional Swiss on the table and Heather’s edited pages stacked in a pile beside me in the booth, I said that my new baby needed a title. My story is about a restless woman named Henrietta and a gentle farmer named Thomas, Earl of Kesseley. Henrietta wants to turn Kesseley into a rake to win the heart of Lady Sara, who is Henrietta’s rival for the affections of Edward.

“So it has to have ‘rakes’ in the title,” I told Heather.

She looked at me from over her fondue fork loaded with French country bread that was smothered in melted Swiss cheese. “Rakes and Radishes.”

Tonight as I ate my shrimp and Chinese vegetables, I marveled at how those early chapters became the novel that is being released tomorrow morning by Carina Press. A story that grew up over a year of eating out with my cousin Heather.

Here is the back cover blurb for Rakes and Radishes. You should read the book because in my cousin’s expert opinion, it is as delicious as the Flaming Turtle chocolate fondue dessert at the Melting Pot.

When Henrietta Watson learns that the man she loves plans to marry London’s most beautiful and fashionable debutante, she plots to win him back. She’ll give him some competition by transforming her boring bumpkin neighbor, the Earl of Kesseley, into a rakish gothic hero worthy of this Season’s Diamond.

After years of unrequited love for Henrietta, Kesseley is resigned to go along with her plan and woo himself a willing bride. But once in London, everything changes. Kesseley, long more concerned with his land than his title, discovers that he’s interested in sowing wild oats as well as radishes. And Henrietta realizes that gothic heroes don’t make ideal husbands. Despite an explosive kiss that opens her eyes to the love that’s been in front of her all along, Henrietta must face the possibility that Kesseley is no longer looking to marry at all…

~*~

Tia here. Rakes and Radishes is available starting today!

I, for one, am astonished that contest coordinators would be so cruel as to figure out who came in last, and then send a special letter. Reminds me of the very first story I sent off to a well-known magazine, and I received a personal and scathing rejection in response. They say it never happens, but it did to me! I learned years later that the magazine  was new at the time, and I have concluded that the editor was new to editing. Do you have a particular bruising rejection or contest story? If so, vent in the comments!

43 thoughts on “Guest Post – Susanna Ives on her Release Day!

  1. I do so look forward to reading Susanna’s debut. Regarding the evil editors/contest people, two things: (1) Karma; and (2) In a weird sadistic way, it motivates us to prove them wrong.

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  2. Liz, I agree. I guess it’s appropriate to reflect a bit on all the hard knocks I encountered on the journey to this day. But, I have to say, this book is better for those knocks, albeit justified or not. My first contest entry from my very first book deserved its low ranking and the letter was very nice and encouraging. But were other occasions not mentioned here that brought me to tears. But today I feel it all flow behind me.

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  3. I entered a contest once where the coordinators did personalized letters for each entrant, and while I know the intentions were good, I’d advise coordinators against it. In my case, I got two quite high scores and one very low, and the coordinator assured me that the three finalists all had average scores higher than my highest score. Looking back, I can tell what she was trying to say was, “Yes, we noticed that really low score, but it didn’t trigger discrepancy judging under our rules.” But how it read to me at the time was, “You may think that 92/100 is an impressive score, but actually, it’s not. You still suck.” OK, I knew the coordinator wasn’t saying I sucked. But that’s how it felt. Which is why if I was running a contest, every single non-finalist from the near-miss to the lowest score would get the same form letter. :-)

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    • Don’t forget we can have inline replies–like this one! Just click the reply link in the comment you are replying to.

      I have not entered many contests. When I finish a work, I usually immediately think markets, agents or publishers, not contests. I think I’ve entered 2. One was local.

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  4. Love the title, it really grabs your attention. The story sounds wonderful. I do feel for you about the contests. Been there, done that, although I never got the “personalized letter” from a contest. Now from editors . . . :-)

    Good luck and wishing you many sales.

    Kathy

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  5. Susanna Fraser,

    Feedback is so hard because it can be taken so many different ways. The best intentions get mangled. I’m totally with you on form letters.

    I think contests are great for showing you how your work plays on different readers. Plus, they really help sharpen your craft. Overall, I’ve had great contest experiences whether I was a finalist or not.

    I think 92/100 rocks and your book “The Sergeant’s Lady” is getting all kinds of great reviews.

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    • Eleri,

      Thank you!

      I think entering multiple contests is useful because you see trends in the feedback. But I agree with Susanna F, you can go overboard. But contests are a great source of feedback from somewhat anonymous readers.

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    • For me, it’s a time thing. I have so little of it, so I go straight for the submission. So far, I have relied on my wonderful beta readers (who, by the way, were hard to find, so I treasure each one) to provide feedback. Once I feel I can’t edit it any more, I find a market and send it off. The one local contest I entered was very time consuming to enter (multiple copies, weighing it and mailing it off, etc), but nowadays, with everything being by email, it’s probably easier.

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      • I haven’t entered a contest in a long time. However, I tended to stay away from contests that required you to mail a printed copy. I had small children then and waiting in the notoriously slow lines at the post office was a special kind of torture.

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  6. I love the line in the blurb about Gothic heroes not making ideal husbands. :) This book sounds great, and I love the title.

    I’ve only ever entered one contest. I came in fourth but didn’t realize it until two years later when I came across the letter again and actually read beyond the `sorry, better luck next time.’ Then I felt really stupid because it was too late to write something for the contest’s next running. (I don’t usually write short stories. They always come out sound like a chapter of a novel.)

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    • Chicory,

      That’s odd. They should have written congratulations. Sorry.

      Short stories are hard for me, as well. It’s not my natural pacing. What do you write? Do you read many historicals?

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      • I write fantasy (strictly other world. I read a little urban fantasy now and then, but I’ve never tried to write it.) I don’t read a lot of historicals, mostly because I burned out on wagon train stories when I was a kid, but if a book is set in the Victorian or Edwardian period, or if it involves Shakespeare I will usually give it a try. Oh, and I love anything Gillian Bradshaw writes. She usually sets her stories around the Roman Empire, which is fascinating. (Or at least, she makes fascinating -perhaps because she stays away from gladiators.)

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        • What? No gladiators? LOL. I like Victorian novels. That era is a ready “setting as character.” A few months ago, I finally read “Mary Reilly” which is Jekyll and Hyde told from a housemaid’s POV. I loved it. I think Julia Roberts was in the movie version years ago.

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  7. I’ve never entered a contest, but there was the time an editor sent me a ranting rejection because she didn’t like the way I handled a theme in the story. Um, if it wasn’t your cup of tea, why not just pass with a form rejection? If you can’t say something nice…. ;)

    I like the cover of Rakes and Radishes. It’s good to see e-books with great covers. Kudos to Carina Press for packaging their authors’ novels so well.

    And the premise is interesting, too. :)

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    • Thanks Jenny!! I tortured my poor cousin with all sorts of horrible first drafts. I would read them aloud like those awful oral interpretation competitions from back in High School. She is very patient.

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      • A good editor is worth their weight in gold, or fondue as the case may be.
        You really should steal her, she’s very nice.

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          • Just finalising contract with pirate. Kidnapping scheduled for tomorrow, midday. I did argue for the traditional midnight mayhem, but the parrot (you know, the one on the pirate’s shoulder) complained that it wouldn’t be able to see at night. *sigh* these birds. So bossy. So best reassure Heather that the pirate in the bookstore tomorrow has been security checked and cleared for kidnapping purposes.

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  9. Congrats, Susanna! It sounds like a lovely book.

    I spent a year or more entering RWA chapter contests and actually found much of the feedback helpful (although not all of it, for sure!). And I won the EMILY “Best of the Best” that year, which kept me going through many an agent rejection :-)
    [Hey--I'm the best of the best...surely SOMEONE will want me...]

    Of course, one of my first rejections came from an agent who started out by saying how excited she had been by my query, but then scolded me for disappointing her so dreadfully with my partial. She said specifically that she found my protagonist “incredibly unlikable.” And yes, that would be the protagonist I based (not all that loosely) on myself :-)

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  10. I still remember the earlier drafts fondly, and I’m looking forward to the finished book! Mom loved the first chapter when she read it at my house. She kept laughing and slapping her knee. She said, then, that she would wait for the finished book because she just knew it would be published! Congrats on your release! We’ll work out the details for your signing/reading party very soon!
    (For those who want to steal me…food and drink work best!)

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    • See, my cousin Heather is awesome!

      Night-night y’all. Thanks for helping make this a wonderful release day. Try to stop by the Carina press blog tomorrow to learn more about Rakes and Radishes.

      Thank you Tia for letting me come and play on your blog.

      Susanna

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