Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


What if we considered rejections a win?

How much would that change things?

This year, I’m planning to get my priorities straight.

As writers, we hear over and over again that we must write. Everyday. We must have a routine! And so on and so forth.

Can writing daily make you a better writer? In many cases, yes. It can definitely make you a more prolific writer. But once you’re at a certain skill level, what writing everyday really gets you is more books.

I used to beat myself up when I missed a day of writing. My focus was always on writing more–more frequently, more words, longer writing sessions, etc.

Until I hired a life coach who pointed out one teeny problem with my strategy.

Writing more books would help me hone my craft, but it wouldn’t get me published.

Rewriting and marketing those books might. (For the indies, marketing might mean editing, formatting, designing, and hitting publish. Same deal, slightly different method.)

At that point, I had 4.5 novels in the can, but I hadn’t sent out a query letter in five years. I always meant to submit my work, but if I only had enough hours in the day for writing or marketing, writing always won.

I began to submit my work again last year, but it was a slow process. Still, with what I did manage, I got a publishing contract for my novellaThe Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave will be published by Samhain Horror this May. Clearly, my life coach was on to something.

In 2015, it’s time to step it up. Now I have six books to market, a few of which still need some rewriting and polishing (another task that used to get pushed further and further down on the ol’ to-do list).

I’ve resolved to collect 100 rejections this year. A different life coach, Tiffany Han, inspired me to do this. She has a program where writers and other creative types cheer each other on in the pursuit of 100 Rejection Letters (I’ll be interviewing Tiffany on this blog later in the month).

Rejections can be tough, disheartening, rude, and downright ugly, but what if you were striving to collect 100 of them? The idea of turning it into a game appeals to me. When you take away downtime for the holiday season, obtaining 100 rejections means submitting something twice a week–and that’s assuming you don’t get a single acceptance. So far, I’ve managed double that and I’m excited about the possibilities.

I’m not saying writers shouldn’t write. But if you’ve written a lot and you’re not marketing, why not? Assuming you want to be published, what’s holding you back?

Who wants to shoot for 100 rejections with me? Imagine all the acceptances this kind of contest could bring!

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  1. Anita

    Methinks I could use a life coach 😉 That’s amazing about your novella coming out from Samhain in May! *high five* They have a great stable of horror authors who are big on cross-promotion, so make sure you get in on that 😉 I’ve been pushing myself to submit more of my work out there and to collect more rejections, so we’ll see how that goes 😉

    • J.H. Moncrieff

      Thanks, Anita! If there’s enough interest in this, I’d consider starting a 100 Rejections Facebook group to keep us all motivated. Not everyone can afford a coach–it gets expensive, although I’m glad I took the plunge for a year.

      There were four of us chosen for the anthology, and three of us have been in contact and will cross-promote. The fourth hasn’t been in touch with anyone. But the other two have been great! They’ve been published by Samhain before and are Bram Stoker winners or nominees.

  2. Stephanie Faris

    So exciting that your novella is coming out in just a few months. You’re definitely right–we not only need a writing plan but a plan to get that work out there, where it can be read by agents and editors.

    • J.H. Moncrieff

      Thanks, Stephanie! Whether due to fear or procrastination, the marketing plan tends to fall by the wayside with a lot of authors. I’m thinking of this as the “NaNoWriMo” of marketing. 🙂

  3. Elle

    I want to be supportive but I really hope you fail at this and sell all your books before you hit the 100 mark. You’re talented enough to do it! Go get ’em.

    • J.H. Moncrieff

      Now THAT would be an awesome way to fail! I’m counting pitches to magazines and contest entries in my 100 rejections, if that helps. 🙂

      Thanks for the words of encouragement! I’m doing a last edit on The New Girl now.

  4. Donelle Lacy

    It’s really hard to find the right balance for yourself when everyone is trying to encourage you to do what’s right for them. There are countless blogs telling writers how to do things, which is why it’s important for individuals to tune out the noise and follow their own path. I’ve had a struggle with this since I haven’t found anyone who’s doing it like I am.

    I’m glad you’ve found a way that works for you. Congratulations on the contract! I agree with Elle that I hope you get picked up before you reach your 100 rejections. That’d be the best!

    As far as priorities in the new year, my plan is to submit illustrations to Spectrum fantasy magazine with a deadline at the end of this month. Then I’ll be querying more agents with my portfolio. My plans after that are to draw more and write more. If I want to be an author/illustrator, I need to produce. So I’m pretty much doing the opposite of you now. I need to dial back the promo.

    I had a big win in self-promo recently that let me know it’s not how often you do it, it’s the way you do it. I chose a celebrity who inspired me and drew him. No one had drawn him before, and he was very happy with it, so he shared the drawing all over the place. The people who faved and commented on the drawing spread the word for me. 🙂

    • J.H. Moncrieff

      For sure, Donelle, how you do it counts, but there are lots of writers who aren’t submitting their work at all. I’m glad this isn’t something you struggle with, but there are certainly lots of people who can write all day and never submit a thing (like me, for instance.)

      Congrats on your recent win! That’s awesome. Everyone has to do what works for them. I’m glad you’ve found what works for you. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Steven

    Chasing rejections – that’s a good way of looking at it. Instead of getting upset that you were rejected, it will spur you on to reach that goal, which means you won’t slow down on your submission process. It’s all in how you frame things, that’s for sure. Success is ours for the taking, but we must actually take it instead of expecting someone will hand it to us.

    • J.H. Moncrieff

      Exactly! I’m really hoping this change in mindset will help me approach it in a more positive manner, the way the phrase “Each no is one step closer to a yes” never has.

      Thanks for commenting! So far, I’ve made seven submissions.


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