Today I’m welcoming Nicole Helm, author of Flight Risk, which comes out tomorrow with Samhain Publishing, to the blog to talk about her new book!
(FYI, I’m scheduling this on my friend’s laptop. I still have no internet and won’t until after the 31st. Bear with.)
The Evolution of This Book
First of all, I want to thank Alexandrina for inviting me to guest post on her blog during the release of my third book, Flight Risk, a contemporary romance set on a small antique airfield featuring a reformed bad girl airplane mechanic, and her goody goody FBI agent best friend. There’s kissing. And swearing. Mostly from the heroine.
Anyway, Alexandrina invited me to talk about the evolution of my book and how it came to be published.
Let me start by saying I’m a lifelong writer. For as long as I can remember I’ve made up stories and people in my head and translated them to paper. I finished my first completed novel in college (with the help of NaNoWriMo), wrote a few manuscripts that will never see the light of day, then in 2012 the fifth book I wrote to completion was published.
Flight Risk was the sixth completed novel I wrote…kind of (though worth noting it was written long before book 5 was published). I first wrote Flight Risk to enter in Harlequin/Mills & Boon’s inaugural New Voices contest. In this competition, first chapters were posted for all to see and vote on. So, I wanted to open with a bang to grab people’s attention.
So, it started with the heroine getting in a bar fight. This did not go over well with the romance readers of the competition. In the end, their distaste for the scene was spot on, not because bar fights aren’t a great opener–but because it was a fight for the sake of a fight–for the wow, look at me factor. Not well motivated by either party.
In the end, after letting the book sit while I wrote something else, I decided to rewrite the novel completely. Toning down the fight scene, working on the character’s motivations. Then a few months later I submitted the full through another contest. The feedback was positive, but a rejection because my story had one fatal flaw: not enough conflict.
I set it aside again, worked on something else, thought about conflict. Then, started all over…all over again.
This third version is the version you’ll see if you pick up Flight Risk now (mostly). Not every book I’ve published has gone through three complete rewrites before it has sold, but I was still very much a romance writing newbie at this point and had a lot to learn about motivation and conflict. Setting the book aside and working on something else helped me learn and grow enough to come back and make the story something that could sell.
This new version did not come without rejections, though. A few agents requested a partial but ended up passing, and I had rejections from a publisher as well before I submitted to Samhain, who ended up being my publisher on this project.
It took almost six full months from submission to getting the email from my editor that she wanted to acquire Flight Risk. Then another four months to get cover and cover copy. Then another month before edits started rolling in.
My edits were mainly focused on tightening up the pace. No major plot or character changes, just delete a lot of scenes and inner monologues that aren’t necessary. I talk about this to prove that a lot of times in publishing, rejection isn’t about good or bad. right or wrong. It’s about finding the right editor who sees something special in your story.
I think sometimes in the pursuit of publication we’re told not to discuss our failures. Someone important might see and judge you based on that, but stories of failure are always what gets me through my own moments of failure. That we all can fail or be rejected or misunderstood, and then move on and up so that we succeed, get an acceptance, speak our story clearer.
I kept rewriting Flight Risk in the beginning because I loved the characters, but knew I hadn’t told their story well enough yet. I kept submitting that third version despite rejection because I believed the story was good enough and that those rejections were not for us rejections, not not for anybody rejections.
I like sharing my story, especially with other writers, because it’s always good to remember that rejections don’t define us. That everyone’s journey looks different. If you’re a writer, there are only two things you MUST do.
1. Keep learning. I learned a lot from the feedback I got. Sometimes it was: this person just really isn’t the reader I’m trying to reach. More often though it was: okay, they didn’t get this…how can I change it so they do?
2. Keep writing. Always. No matter what. Forever and ever. Over and over and over again.
Thanks for having me today. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll try to answer them. You can also find me on my website: www.nicolehelm.wordpress.com, Twitter: @nicoleThelm, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorNicoleHelm.
If you’re interested in learning more about Flight Risk click here: http://nicolehelm.wordpress.com/flight-risk/