Lyn Gala

One writer's journal through one version of reality

Winds of Rejection


Rejection sucks.

Some might argue that personal rejection hurts worst, but for a writer, professional rejection feels pretty damn personal.  I sent out a proposal for a piece I’m doing, and my baby was rejected before taking its first breath.

“BDSM is a hot genre, and we found your premise of a hostage situation turned sexy very enticing. We also enjoyed the idea of a hot m/m set against the lush backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains,” said the publisher’s response… but wait for it.

They followed up with, “we felt the romantic development was too subtle. The majority of scenes between Stunt and Alex only hint of their mutual attraction. Although there is plenty of conflict between the two men, that conflict seems more focused on the suspense aspects of the story rather than on the romantic development that our readers demand.”


I guess it would hurt less only the parts they don’t like are the very parts of the story I do like.  I write for myself first and foremost, and the problem is that I’m clearly out of sync with the rest of the world.

A reader recommended Joey Hill’s vampire books because I adore femdom.  Love it.  But the problem is that I didn’t love Joey Hill’s books.  Lyssa is a thousand year old vampire who is facing death, political dissent that threatens to undo the vampire hierarchy she designed, and a vamp who once raped her and is scheming against her now.  She also has Jacob, a human who has a deep and destined love who tries to push into her life.

I read the first two novels, and they have so much going for them:  Jacob’s streak of self-sacrifice, Lyssa’s hard heart with that Tootsie-soft center, the danger… it should be perfect for me.

But it wasn’t.

I kept wondering how the hell Lyssa had survived for a thousand years when she spends more time worrying about Jacob’s ass than the dozen vampires trying to destroy her.  Seriously… what is up with that?

And there were so many sex scenes that I found myself skipping over them because I wanted to know how these two could form a united front against the world.  I didn’t need to see two fronts uniting over and over (or a front and a back, or a mouth and a cunt).

So my problem is that I could take my story and focus the story on the romantic conflict instead of the “suspense aspects,” but I don’t want to.  In my story, Alex has lost his brother.  If his reaction to that death includes having sex with Stunt on very available surface, I’m going to think less of him. I just am.

So the rejection feels so very personal.

Too late, I remember why I don’t do proposals.  The creativity required to write is a tissue-paper flower.  It’s easily frayed and ripped.  The petals threaten to fall off at the least breeze, and I put it out in a storm.

Okay, so it was more of a brisk wind because that was a particularly kind rejection, one that even asked me to come back if I could write something that conformed to their guidelines better.

But a tissue-paper flower doesn’t handle brisk winds well.


Author: lyngala

Lyn Gala started writing in the back of her science notebook in third grade and hasn't stopped since. Westerns starring men with shady pasts gave way to science fiction with questionable protagonists which eventually gave in to any story with a morally ambiguous character. Even the purest heroes have pain and loss and darkness in their hearts, and that's where she likes to find her stories. Her characters seek to better themselves and find the happy ending (or happier anyway), but it's writing the struggle that inspires her muse. When she isn't writing, Lyn Gala teaches history part time in New Mexico and constantly prays for that one big breakout novel that will let her leave the classroom behind forever. She loves teaching, but she loves writing more.

8 thoughts on “Winds of Rejection

  1. “we felt the romantic development was too subtle.”
    That’s one of the things I really enjoyed about you story! The romance genre is full of stories where sexual tention arrises in the most inapropriate, unbelivable and often slightly rapy scenarios. I loved that you took your time letting the guys get to know eachother before the feelings started running high. I actually feel it is extra impotant when the story is about BDSM.

    I much doubt I am the only one who feels that way.

    • I think some of us are out of step with the rest of the world because I have certainly read things that made me stop and go… um… how is that different from rape? Now, that’s not to say that others’ kinks are wrong, but I certainly don’t share them. I do prefer a slower start. I’m starting to think I should have sent them In the Weeds. At least the two guys started having sex off the bat in that one.

      • I agree with what the others and yourself are saying here. I guess the book just didn’t fit their genre. I notice that (at least in the excerpt) they never criticize your writing, only the fact that the romance isn’t in the forefront. And as you said yourself, that just doesn’t fit with your story or your characters, at least not yet.
        I think you should continue your story and submit it to someone else when it’s finished. It could be that the book is harder to sell with only the first chapters written because it is a slow build-up.

        Personally I love a slow start too. It tends to make things more believable, and so much more enjoyable when the couple finally get there.

        The book does fit my genre, but that doesn’t help you much in getting it published.

  2. I completely understand – because writing *is* personal. It’s as personal as personal can possibly be. For what it’s worth, I personally agree with your storytelling priorities and think that this publisher is as wrong as wrong can be.

    • Writing is entirely personal. I’m glad you enjoy my stories, and while I don’t think the publisher’s POV is wrong, it’s not the right choice for many of my characters.

      • I sure as heck think they are wrong for rejecting you because your skills are far and above that of the mass of writers out there these days. They truly are.

  3. Another professional writer friend of mine recently posted about rejection letters and how all pro writers can paper several rooms with them. Also, when you get advice from an editor it should be given attention but not necessarily heeded. Especially in a case like this where they are telling you to tell a different story from the one you want to tell.

    You are a fine writer, tell the story you want to tell and then find a market that wants that story (in final or proposal form).

    • Oh trust me. I have the rejection letters. But you’re right that the part that makes me sad is that they are looking for me to tell a different story.

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