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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Rejection Letter

The Rejection Letter... the great fear of every author out there. I finished doing the edits on my manuscript so thought I'd test the waters a little bit with some queries to agents. I sent out 10. Not a huge amount, just enough to get a feel if there was interest in the story.

Last night, I was about to go to bed (it was about 1am) and I thought... just check your email Hannah.

I was too lazy to boot up my laptop so I grabbed my iPhone and logged into my email. There, sitting in my inbox, looking all innocent, was a reply to one of my queries. Keep in mind that I'd only sent them out a few hours previously and wasn't expecting to hear anything back for a several weeks.

I stared at it for a long time, no longer tired, and then after I'd built up the courage, I opened it. It was a rejection. But it was a very nice rejection. The agent said that while the work was good, it didn't fit with what she was currently looking for. I guess, if you have to have a rejection, that's the kind you want right? It means that even though it wasn't accepted, the work isn't bad.

For about 3 seconds I was shattered. I'm not embarrassed to admit that I've had fantasies about all the agents wanting the story and there being a bidding war (I think ALL authors secretly hope for this) but then I thought rationally and told myself that every author has had rejection in their career. JK Rowling was rejected something like 50 times before Harry Potter was picked up.

So, surprisingly, I handled the rejection well. I lay in bed (no longer tired) and thought about the agents I'd sent my work to. I thought I had done a lot of research into finding the perfect agents, but perhaps I could have narrowed the field a bit more. This agent (who I don't want to name because it doesn't matter who she is and she was very polite about it) had said that she wasn't looking for something like my work... but that doesn't mean that other agents won't like it and really, I only need ONE who likes it enough to sign me.

So, I woke up this morning with a new enthusiasm for my work. I've had my first rejection and you know what, it wasn't so bad. I took it gracefully and am moving on. I'm sure there will be many more rejections in my career but it's comforting to know that I've taken one and survived. It doesn't mean I'm a bad writer or that my book is bad. I just have to find the RIGHT person who loves it as much as I do.

I'd also like to thank the agent for her soft rejection. It may have been a standard response so as not to hurt author's feelings, but even if that is the case, it was still nice to read that she thought my writing was good, just not right for her.

So, onwards and upwards and as promised last week, here is a snippet from my manuscript. Needless to say, I own this and reproduction is not allowed without written permission from myself.

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Sneak Peak of The Time Walker by Hannah Downing -


“Today you’re going to learn a lesson that can’t be taught in a book. You have to experience it firsthand. It will be difficult for you so be prepared,” he warned.

I took the watch back from him and checked the date he’d set. It was the day Grams had died. I looked up at him in alarm.

“You’ll see when we get there,” was his only explanation. “Are you ready?”

“I’m ready.”

Liam closed his eyes and his watch started to glow red almost instantly. I hoped that with practice I would become as good as he was. It was easier for me this time, as if each time I used the watch it adapted to me a little bit.

“You did better this time. How is the dizziness?” he asked.

 “Not as bad as before.”

“Good. It will get easier each time,” he said, heading towards the front door. “Let’s go.”

“Just a second,” I said, also standing, but going to the kitchen instead.

On the bench were the makings of tea and toast, just as I had found them before and it dawned on me that Grams might still be alive right now. If we could make it to the book store quickly enough, we might be able to save her.

“Come on!” I said excitedly, rushing past Liam and out the front door.

“We have some time to kill, I thought we could take a walk through the park,” Liam called out to me as I power-walked down the street.

I stopped and looked at my wristwatch. Grams was going to die in just over an hour. If Liam wanted to kill some time then he intended for us to watch it happen, not stop it. I spun to face him.

“You won’t let me save her.” It was a statement not a question.

He nodded his head and stopped walking when he had caught up to me.

“It’s a hard lesson, but all Time Walkers have to understand how important it is to allow some events to happen. If we were to save Sophia now, you might never have discovered your destiny and you are far too important for us to lose.”

“More important than Grams’ life?” I demanded.

 “I’ll be with you the whole time, just try to remember that you’re not really losing her because she’s already gone.”

His arm went around my shoulder and he pulled me forward, continuing to walk down the street. We strolled through Washington Square Park but I felt like I was moving on auto-pilot. My mind was racing, trying to think of a way to save Grams without Liam being able to stop me.

I knew that once we got to the store he wasn’t going to let me out of his sight so my only option would be to try and break away from him now. I hadn’t brought my cell phone with me from the present but if I could get to a pay-phone and call Grams she might have time to get out of the store.

“I didn’t get to eat my breakfast and I’m a little hungry, could we stop and get something to eat?” I asked, hoping I’d be able to sneak away while he was ordering.

Liam looked at his wristwatch and nodded. “We have a little time.”

 “I might just soak up some of this sun. Can you order me a latte and a bagel?”

“Okay, I’ll be right back,” he said.

A part of me couldn’t believe that he was actually going to leave me alone. I had thought it might be harder to get away from him, but he seemed to trust me. As soon as he was inside the cafe I started strolling up and down outside the window, just in case he was watching. I wanted it to look like I was wandering aimlessly outside the store. When I felt like enough time had passed and he was distracted by the waitress, I bolted. My feet hit the pavement hard as I ran down the street and turned the corner. I couldn’t hear anyone behind me but I kept running; I had to get to Grams before it was too late.

I made it to the store and looked back over my shoulder, Liam wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Feeling proud, I jogged down the alley that led to the back of the store and let myself in.

I could hear Grams talking to a man as I made my way through the backroom where I had spent the past few weeks studying. It sounded like they were fighting.

“Where is she, Sophia?” the man growled.

“Leave her out of this. She knows nothing of our ways,” Grams said forcefully.

 “And the list? I know you have it,” the man added.

“Somewhere you will never find it,” Grams said, sounding a little smug.

 “You will give me the list or I will hunt down your precious Holly and-”

“Don’t threaten me!” Grams yelled, sounding more ferocious than I’d ever heard.

Having her there, just a few feet away, cemented my resolve. A plan began to form in my head. I looked around at how the bookcases were arranged in the store and wondered if I could make them fall like dominoes if I were to push one over. Best case scenario, one would land on the man and allow Grams and I to escape, but at the very least it would be a distraction and would hopefully give Grams time to run. I just had to make sure my timing was right.

“We used to be friends, Phillip,” Grams said sadly, the viciousness gone from her voice.

“We used to be free too, Sophia, until you abandoned us,” the man spat back.

“And you left the cause to fight for the winning team,” Grams said, disappointment lacing her words. “I thought more of you.”

“We were getting killed off, one by one, it was the only way to stay alive,” he protested.

I felt movement behind me and I looked over my shoulder to see Liam looking at me with a sad expression.

“I’m not mad,” he whispered as he came up behind me.

“This is something I have to do,” I replied, turning back to Grams.

“You know I can’t let you.”

His words sent a chill down my spine because my task was going to be that much harder now. Grams only had minutes left to live and now I had to carry out my plan while trying to avoid Liam’s blocks. I didn’t want to fight Liam, but if he got in my way, so be it.

I searched the room in front of me but couldn’t see Grams anymore. Panic shot through me and I tried to step out from my hiding spot to look for her. Liam’s arms wrapped around me and he linked his hands, pulling me back against his chest. I struggled, but he had my arms pinned by my sides and I couldn’t break free.

“Let me go!” I demanded.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, laying his forehead against the back of my head.

“No!” I cried out, but barely any sound escaped my lips because at the same time an anguished sob broke from my chest.

I tried kicking him, but his grasp never wavered. I was trapped.

Grams screamed from somewhere in the store, and there was a crashing sound.

“You made me do this!” Phillip yelled angrily.

“No!” I sobbed, thrashing as hard as I could against Liam’s iron grasp.

He kept whispering, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” over and over while I cried.

He didn’t let me go until the bell above the front door jingled, letting us know that Phillip had left. Finally free, I ran between the shelves and dropped to the floor next to Grams’ body. She was curled up on her side, blood pooling under her ribcage where she’d been stabbed. I felt for a pulse but there was nothing, she was already gone. I had failed.

Hugging her to me, I cried freely. Liam stood silently behind me, not approaching. When her body started to go cold I let go and stood up, tears still streaming down my cheeks. Liam stepped closer and tried to take my hand but I pushed him away, I didn’t want him to touch me.

Without saying another word to Liam I knelt down and kissed Grams on the cheek, whispered goodbye, and walked out the front door. Liam was behind me, I could hear his steps, but I didn’t wait for him. I walked back to the apartment slowly. Liam walked a few yards behind me, allowing me to have some time alone but still watching over me.

I let myself into the apartment and left the door open for him, but I went straight into my bedroom and closed the door, hoping for some privacy. Curling up on the blanket, I let myself cry. A shadow passed underneath the door and I knew that Liam was standing outside, probably listening.

“Go away,” I croaked, throwing a pillow towards the door.

He didn’t say anything but the door opened and he came inside, moving across the room silently and sat next to me on the bed. I flinched away from him but he didn’t leave.

“I wasn’t going to risk you being hurt,” he said. “I’m sorry you had to see that and I’m sorry that I held you back, but it was necessary.”

“You’re not sorry,” I accused.

He had taken me to the store with full intentions of having me watch Grams die. He couldn’t claim that he hadn’t wanted that to happen.

“It was a lesson that you needed to learn. I wish I didn’t have to put you through that, but it’s an important part of the training.”

I wiped the tears that were still running down my cheeks before rolling onto my back so that I could see his face. His expression was grim and it looked as if he truly felt bad.

“Would it have been so bad if Grams had lived?” I accused.

“It would have been wonderful for you, but I have to think about the Rebels. We need you, Holly. We need you and what you can do, and we’ve also discovered the scroll which could make all the difference to our people.”

“How?” I asked, sitting up and hugging the other pillow to my chest like a shield.

“You wouldn’t have recognized the names on the scroll, but I did. Many of the leaders of the Traditionalists had family members who started the Rebels and that scroll is the proof.  If I can get it to our leaders, it may have the ability to unite us all and end the war.”

“I thought you said it was dangerous and that it could lead to the annihilation of the Rebels?” I questioned.

“It has the potential to do either. The point is that it may never have been found if Sophia had lived and kept it hidden. I’m not trying to say it’s a good thing that she died, I’m sorry you had to lose her, but can’t you see that in the big picture there is some good to come out of this tragedy?”

 “Good things for the Rebels,” I said bitterly.

 “Isn’t us meeting a good thing?” he asked, sounding a little sad.

I softened. Of course it was a good thing that Liam had come into my life.

“I care about you too much to risk never having met you,” he added.

I leaned forward and hugged him, wrapping my arms tightly around his shoulders. Even though I knew he would probably be leaving soon, I couldn’t deny that I agreed.

“Meeting you is the only good thing about losing Grams,” I admitted.

 “Don’t cry,” he said softly.

I turned my head to the side to block his view. He turned my face back to his and before I could take in what was happening, his lips were approaching mine.

A part of me rejoiced and wanted to lean closer to him, but the rational part of my brain, the part that was grieving the second loss of Grams, stepped in and pulled me back.

“I can’t right now,” I apologized, leaning back.

“It’s okay,” he whispered, smiling. “You’ve been through a lot today. Why don’t you rest?”

I did as he suggested and rolled onto my side, pulling my knees up to my chest. I knew that I had already lost Grams and said goodbye to her at the funeral, but being there and witnessing it firsthand had been unbearable.

The bed shifted as Liam lay down and wrapped his arms around me.

“We were really close,” I choked out. “When I was a child it was really hard for me. The other kids would tease me for not having parents and even though Grams did everything she could to try and make my life normal, it wasn’t the same as having a Mom and Dad.”

Liam moved closer, holding me against his chest.

“Sometimes Grams would let me sleep in the bed with her; those were the only nights that I would have a good night sleep, having Grams there made me feel protected and loved. Those were the only times I wasn’t alone… and now that she’s gone...” I trailed off, unable to finish the sentence.

“You’re not alone,” he whispered.

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I hope that piqued your interest and I would love to hear what you thought. Next week I'll be posting about something VERY exciting. An interview with author of 'The Light Series' and musician - Jennifer DeLucy. This is a real treat and I'm thrilled to get to interview her.

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