Thursday, December 11, 2008

Guest Blogger - Juliet Burns

Juliet Burns has been a great friend to the Playground! If you haven't checked out the article she shared with us several months ago or the interview up this month you need to! She is a font of information and has always been generous with her time and experience. We're very excited to have her on the swing set today.

Never Give up! Never Surrender!
That quote from the movie Galaxy Quest has always stuck with me.

Like most people, I’ve had some adversities in my life to overcome. An abusive boyfriend, the loss of a baby, teenagers… (hey, don’t underestimate the heartache they can cause)

My mother used to say “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.” That quote, from a popular song when she was a child, was her generation’s version of “Never Give up, Never Surrender.”

And sometimes we all have to choose, when we’ve been beaten down by life, whether we’re going to pick ourselves up and start over, or whether we will surrender.
Being a writer puts that choice to the test almost daily. Whether you’re published or pre-published, challenges are ready to knock us down. It could be a scathing rejection (or any rejection) from an editor or agent. It might be a scene you’re working on that’s just not coming out right, or it could just be life interfering with your writing time.

Because I sold the first book I ever wrote, I had only received 2 rejections before becoming a published author, and some might ask, what do I know of rejection? But becoming published doesn’t stop the rejections. It took me 3 years to sell my first book. It took me another 3 years to sell again. 3 long years of rejections. Rejections where I really got my hopes up. Where I was completely shocked because my editor had asked for revisions and told me she loved the story, but ultimately it just didn’t work for the senior editor. I had to pull the knife out of my heart on that one. Curl up and cry and eat lots of chocolate.

But eventually, we have to Un-curl ourselves from the fetal position and get back to the keyboard. That’s the only way to make it in this business. Almost every writer friend I know has done so as well. From putting a beloved manuscript under the bed and starting over with a fresh story, or completely reinventing themselves with a different publisher after their house closed a line. And I did, too. And lived to tell the tale. I made 3 new sales in 07, and the writing has been going well until recently. Lately it’s not been rejections, but rather, family (teen) troubles that have set me back in my writing.

One of my all-time favorite authors, the grand dame of gothic romance, Phyllis Whitney, died recently at 104. I remember the excitement of going back to the library for her next book, and curling up to read every book I could find of hers in the summers of my youth.
When I received an email with a link to an article about Phyllis Whitney’s life and legacy, memories washed over me and I realized she was part of the reason I became a writer. Then I read the last paragraph of the article and it seemed like Phyllis was speaking to me.

“Ms. Whitney ascribed her success as a writer to persistence and an abiding faith in her abilities. “Never mind the rejections, the discouragement, the voices of ridicule (there can be those too),” she wrote in “Guide to Fiction Writing.” “Work and wait and learn, and that train will come by. If you give up, you’ll never have a chance to climb aboard.”

Ok, Phyllis, I’m listening. Never give up! Never Surrender!

Thanks, Juliet for visiting with us today. And be sure to check out her latest release, Secrets Volume 26, available now. And don't forget to visit her website and blog


Anonymous said...

Welcome Juliet,
I have never read any of your publications but I do enjoy the opportunity to learn of new writers. I will plan to visit your website and pick up one of your books to read over the upcoming holiday time off. Continued good wishes in your writing endeavors and your teenager(s) as I have a teenager myself and can definately relate.

Problem Child said...

Very inspirational, Juliet. And welcome to the blog!

Last year, I adopted a new mantra -- "The Universe is unfolding as it should." Now, as a complete control freak, this is very difficult for me to handle. Would the Universe like a List? Can I provide an Agenda? A Timetable? Some assistance?

Accepting the Universe's plans helped though. If editor A hadn't rejected me, I wouldn't have queried editor B and found my home in the line I did. And it's working out wonderfully there -- I'm happy. They "get" me in a way the other eds didn't. Would I have been happy in the other place? I dunno. But I think I landed in the right spot -- where the Universe wanted me -- and so far, I'm very pleased.

However, I'm still a work in progress. The Playfriends often have to remind me of my mantra when I break out the clipboard and morph into Control Freak. :-)

Smarty Pants said...

I love Galaxy Quest.

The Playfriends are good at keeping the ego up when we can't keep it up for ourselves. I'm just the most impatient person in the world. Wrong business for that, I think...

Playground Monitor said...

Hi Juliet! I still remember you telling about your first sale on the cata-romance loop and I read (and reviewed) it on the old Writers Unlimited site. I love a good cowboy romance and hate that Desire moved away from those. But I'm so excited you found new homes and I'm looking forward to your Blaze.

You are one big lesson in perseverance and everyone would do well to adopt your attitude.

Hope the teen problems work out. Lordy, don't you just want to sell them to the gypsies sometimes? Thankfully mine came out the other end as decent human beings and I maintained enough sanity to keep going.

Juliet didn't mention it, but she's offered a year of mentoring for the Jo Leigh auction. That's pretty unselfish to offer a year of your time to help someone else.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hi, Juliet! Great story and message. I've often thought of that Galaxy Quest line when I've been wallowing in rejection or the fear I'm not good enough.

It was the thought of persevering that led me to enter the Harlequin Presents contest. Winning put me on the fast track to publication, no doubt about it. Without that win, I'd still be writing suspense and trying to find a home for it instead of looking forward to my first book coming out next year.

And I tell myself that just because I got inside the door doesn't mean it's easy street now. Must keep persevering.

Good luck with the teen! I gave my parents some gray hairs, I'm sure, but it worked out in the end. My dad still loves to tell people how I came to him as an adult and said, "OMG, you were *right* about all that stuff you were telling me when I was a teen." It'll happen someday. Hugs for now, though. :)

Juliet Burns said...

Robertsonreads, thank you fro the good wishes and I'll keep you and your teen in my thoughts as well.
Problem Child, I too, like to control my universe. I make lists, I plan things out to the last detail, I leave nothing to chance. And then the Universe laughs at me and my puny attempts. I blogged about this too. Learning to "LET GO". Ugh. It's not easy.

And Smarty Pants, I SO agree. I wouldn't be published w/o my writing buddies, my critique partners. They understand, they keep me going. They never let me give up. And I never let them either.

Hugs everyone,

Kathy said...

Hi Juliet! Ah, so you've written a pirate story? You're my kind of writer. ;) I'm an historical writer and am finishing up my own pirate romance.

I grew up on reading Kathleen Woodiwiss too. I have 4 kids, two are still teenagers and one is driving me crazy right now. In light of the chaos, how do you get past the anxiety to focus on your writing goals?

Also, I'm curious how you've written an historical is such a short format. How different is the process, other than focusing on your major characters?

Thanks and enjoy your day at the playground with the gang!

Juliet Burns said...

Lynne, what's the title of your Presents and when will it be released? I'm so excited for you!

And the PLayground Monitor didn't mention that she recently won the NANOaward for most words written in a month! 50,000!!

Juliet Burns said...

Hi Kathy!
Oh yes! I'm so excited about my Pirate story! It was supposed to be released in July of 09, but they pushed it back til December for marketing purposes.
Ooh, my pirate is SO Alpha!I think he's the most alpha hero I've ever written.
As to getting past anxiety to focus on writing? I'm afraid...I don't sometimes. Last Feb was the worst. My 15 yo daughter skipped school with her boyfriend, and then ran away when we grounded her for it. It took me 5 months to get out 2 proposals. Pretty sad. My only saving grace is that my editor is so swamped with work, she doesn't seem to mind me taking my time as long as I make deadlines on projects already bought. So, it will--once again--be a year or more between sales, but, sometimes, family has to come first. It's a fine balance. Sometimes (like when I have a looming deadline) my work comes first.
Writing Historicals in 25,000 words was just what I needed. I tend to write short. Forget secondary characters, and I think the main thing is to keep the conflict BIG but easily solved. LIke in my pirate story, the hero and heroine both have a short term goal, something they can acheive in a few days and as long as they KILL the bad guy. Hmm, I just realized in both my novellas, The SPY and my Pirate, that the bad guy meets a brutal fate at the end at the hands of my heroine. I DO love a strong heroine. grin

Lynn Raye Harris said...


And you don't look old enough to have a 15 yr old, btw. :)

Juliet Burns said...

Alas, Lynn, she'16 now. And thanks, but it's all the fat in my face. It's better than botox. :)

I'll be sure to look for your book in Aug!
Are you coming to DC and will you be able to sign it?

Kathy said...

Juliet, I love alpha heroes! ;)

I'm terribly sorry about the problems you've been having with your daughter. My problems aren't the same but there is a girlfriend involved. Life was so much easier before boyfriends and girlfriends appeared in my kid's lives. (sigh) Sometimes all we can do is pray that our children don't get hurt or have their heart's broken while they try to find their way.

I love the Galaxy Quest quote and loved the movie! What other advice do you have for unpublished writers?

Juliet Burns said...

Other advice... well, I have a "Top Ten things to do to Get Published" list on my web site, but most important, I think, is to keep writing. Every day. One doesn't learn to play a violin really well in a few weeks or even a few months. It takes years of practicing. And writing every day, even writing crap, helps you learn the craft, but more importantly, it helps you learn what works for YOU. Learn your voice, your tone, your style. Your process.
My voice tends to run dark. My tone serious, and my style...I'm still learning that. I've also learned a process that works for me. I start with a basic plot idea first because I'm plot-driven. Then the hero and heroine come to me pretty quickly, but not fully formed. I have to do all kinds of character sheets and TALK about them with my CPs (both of whom are Character-driven writers) and maybe, by the end of the book, I know my characters really well. My CPs do a lot of "But WHY did he do that?" And I say, "Because I need him to for the plot." He has to have a reason, Juliet.
However, us plotters come in handy when my CPs' pesky characters start meandering all over the book without a plot. :)

Problem Child said...

"my CPs pesky characters start meandering all over the book without a plot. :)"

*MY* CP is feeling your pain...

Diana Cosby said...

Wonderful, inspirational post. So true. I wish you every success! Happy holidays!

Diana Cosby
His Captive/Alexander MacGruder
His Woman/Duncan MacGruder - 4 star Romantic Times review!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I will be in DC, Juliet! Don't know about signing, though. I'll know more as we get closer. :)

Love the thoughts on process. But I'm the writer whose characters meander a bit in search of the plot. :)

Jane said...

Congrats on the new release and all your success, Juliet.

Sherry Werth said...

Hi Juliet, sorry I'm checking in late today but sometimes the day job has to come first!
I really enjoyed your post. I also popped over to your website and I'm looking forward to your Blaze coming out. Hmmm, did I sense a second book there with McCabe and Alex? :D

Instigator said...

Welcome to the Playground, Juliet! I'm sorry I didn't post earlier - I had a major battle with blogger this morning and thought I had. Sigh.

I love the advice that you've given us. Sometimes it is so hard to just keep going. There are so many reasons pushing us to stop. Thanks for reminding us the most important thing is to just keep going!


Juliet Burns said...

Sherry! You must have EXTRA sensory powers. YES! I just mailed out a revised proposal to my editor for the next 2 books in my Vegas trilogy. Mitch McCabe and his best buddy Alex do indeed feature as hero and heroine in the next book. It was so much fun to take a Tomboy female fighter pilot who's always been "one of the guys" and give her a stellar makeover to "do-me" heels and a tight red dress. McCabe, meanhile is paying on a bet he lost and must remain celebate for a month! Poor guy.
The thrid book is about their uptight commander and a ditzy herbal aroma-therapist lady he must get a massage from to pay off his bet.
I hope they sell!

Hello Instigator! Sorry about your blog problems. Sounds like we might need to call in the Half-nekkid Cabana Boy to bring you a PIna Colada and make it all better. Oh, cabana boy...

Juliet Burns said...

Diane Cosby!
I put all the names of those who posted here today into a bowl and my daughter drew the winner's name out.
Diane, if you could email me at and send me your snail mail address I'll send you a copy of Secrets Vol 26 BOUND BY PASSION.
And thank you to everyone who commented today. I really enjoyed speaking to you all!

Diana Cosby said...

Anonymous Juliet Burns said...

Diana Cosby!
I put all the names of those who posted here today into a bowl and my daughter drew the winner's name out.

~Wow,what a great way to start the morning! Thank you so much!

Diana, if you could email me at and send me your snail mail address I'll send you a copy of Secrets Vol 26 BOUND BY PASSION.

~:) Thank you so much again!

And thank you to everyone who commented today. I really enjoyed speaking to you all!

~I enjoyed your blog, and look forwad to reading Bound By Passion! I wish you every success. Take care and have a wonderful holiday season!

Diana Cosby
His Captive/Alexander MacGruder
His Woman/Duncan MacGruder - 4 star Romantic Times review!