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  1. #1
    Senior Member Victoria's Avatar
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    Exclamation July 25-29 Author Seminar: Special Guest Carole Bellacera

    Please join me in welcoming this month's Writers.net Guest Author!

    Carole Bellacera (nee Foley) grew up in Pittsboro, Indiana, and graduated from high school in 1971 at Pittsboro High.

    Her first novel, Border Crossings, a hardcover published by Forge Books in May of 1999, was a 2000 RITA Award nominee for Best Romantic Suspense and Best First Book, and a nominee for the 2000 Virginia Literary Award in Fiction. It was also a 2000 finalist in the Golden Quill award and the Aspen Gold Award and won 1st Place in the Volusia County 2000 Laurel Wreath Award.

    SPOTLIGHT, her second novel, was a 2000 RIO Nominee in the Dorothy Parker Award for Excellence in Fiction (Best Romantic Suspense), a 2001 Holt Medallion Finalist for Best Mainstream Novel and a 2001 Booksellers' Best Awards Finalist.

    Carole's latest romantic suspense novel, East of the Sun, West of the Moon, was released in hardcover by Forge Books in August 2000.

    Carole Bellacera's work has appeared in magazines such as Woman's World, The Star, Endless Vacation and The Washington Post, as well as various anthologies such as Kay Allenbaugh's Chocolate for a Woman's Heart, Chocolate for a Couples' Heart and Chicken Soup for Couples.

    Blogs
    Visit Carole's travel blog
    Visit Carole's MySpace page
    Visit Carole's blog
    Author's Den Blog

    Carole will be joining us during the last week of July. I'll open the thread a few days prior, so you can get started with questions!
    Writers.Net Moderator



  2. #2
    Senior Member Victoria's Avatar
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    Thread's open, if anyone wants to start out with a question!
    Writers.Net Moderator

  3. #3
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    Hello Carole, and welcome.

    I have written a children's book and received a offer from a Publisher. What is the standard percentage that Publishers receive?

    Thank you
    Jeannee` DeWolfe

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victoria View Post
    Thread's open, if anyone wants to start out with a question!
    Hello, everyone. Thank you, Vicki, for inviting me to Writer's Net. I'll be happy to answer any questions about writing in general, my work, and my career.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeannee` DeWolfe View Post
    Hello Carole, and welcome.

    I have written a children's book and received a offer from a Publisher. What is the standard percentage that Publishers receive?

    Thank you
    Jeannee` DeWolfe
    Congratulations on your sale, Jeannee. It's not easy to sell fiction for children these days. Back in the 90's, I sold a picture book to Doubleday, (which never came out--long, sad story), and I'm not sure I still have that contract. But I think the percentage that publishers receive is around 92%. It I remember correctly--and we're talking a long time ago--I would've received 8% royalty on each sold book.

  6. #6
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    Thank you Carole. I'm getting a really good deal then, because it's more than that.

  7. #7
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeannee` DeWolfe View Post
    Thank you Carole. I'm getting a really good deal then, because it's more than that.
    Wonderful!

  8. #8
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    Okay, let me try and get this thing going. I think a good way to tell you about myself and where I am in my career today is to share with you an article I wrote for RWA's Romance Writers Report a few years ago. I know there are a lot of struggling writers out there trying to get published. I remember what it was like-I was one of them. And I don't want you to make the same mistakes I did. That being said, here's the article, "Crushed by the Biz." It's raw, it's emotional, and it's 100% true.

    I remember the exact moment I reached the pinnacle of my writing career—and it wasn’t when my first book was nominated for two RITA awards. It happened at the RWA National Conference in New Orleans in 2001. My second book, SPOTLIGHT, was a Booksellers' Best Awards Finalist, my latest book, EAST OF THE SUN, WEST OF THE MOON, had made the cover of Romantic Times, and I’d just signed with a new high-powered agent who was over-the-top excited about my latest proposal.
    I sat in the bar with my new agent, discussing whether or not I should turn down the option offer from my publisher or shop the proposal around to others.
    “It’s a gamble,” he said. “But I think if we shop it around, we could get a six-figure advance for this book.”
    Of course, at the time, I had no idea I’d reached the pinnacle of my career. I was so full of confidence and good self-esteem and ambition. I’d known since grade school that I was a born writer. I wrote my first full-length romance at the age of 16, and sent it off to Doubleday without a glimmer of doubt that it would be published. Of course, it wasn’t—and yes, I allowed that rejection to put my writing career on hold for…oh, about 19 years. But when the writing bug bit again, I dove into it head-on, and when I sold my first article a few years later, there was no looking back. Ambition, sharp and gnarly and tenacious and cruel, burned inside me.
    After I finished writing my first novel, Border Crossings, I knew it would sell. And even through two different agents and upwards of 25 rejections, I never gave up on it. I never wavered in my confidence, refusing to believe that the book wasn’t worthy—that I was chasing a pipe dream. And my tenacity paid off. My second agent sold the book in a hard/soft deal, and it went on to win accolades with reviewers and several award nominations, including the Rita’s. So, at that moment, sitting with my agent in the New Orleans bar, I hadn’t a clue that I’d reached the ceiling of my dramatic rise to the top, and that my descent would turn into a free-fall.
    My agent began shopping my proposal in August. Nothing happened for a month. And then, once New York recovered from the traumatic events of 9/11, the rejections began pouring in. I honestly don’t know if things would’ve been different if that horrible day in history had never occurred. Maybe the rejections had nothing to do with it. Whatever, our plans had fallen through, and defeated, we went back to my publisher to ask if they were still interested, and they were—at a lower advance.
    It was downhill from there. My editor left the company, and any support I’d had there disappeared with her. My fourth book came out with little fanfare—and a tiny print run—barely making a blip on any radar screen. During the 2003 RWA Conference in New York, I made rounds to every Barnes & Noble in Manhattan—and didn’t find one copy of my new book on the shelf, just a month after its release. That’s when I knew things were dismal.
    Of course, my publisher didn’t buy my option book. My numbers were horrible, they said. In fact, they were so bad that they decided not to put my previous book out in paperback. I think the news about this was my lowest moment.
    But still, I was determined not to let all this bad news crush my creative spirit. I wrote a new proposal. My agent said it “didn’t work” for him. And I knew my association with him had come to an end. I think it was a relief to both of us.
    I quickly found another big name agent who was over the moon about my new proposal, convinced she’d sell it in no time. Even my poor numbers at my former publisher didn’t daunt her. “I like a challenge,” she said with great confidence.
    Six or seven rejections later, her e-mails became sporadic. Ten rejections later, she didn’t return my phone calls until days later. And sadly, I knew I had to move on.
    I decided to go it alone for a while, and not even bother searching for a new agent. Instead, I began sending proposals of my option book to the major publishers, and the rejections began to flow in. I’m guessing once they discovered how horrible my numbers were, they probably didn’t give my proposal more than a glance. For a short time, I had some interest at Mira (which I’ve always thought was the perfect publisher for my books), but that fizzled; again, I think my numbers may have had something to do with it.
    That’s when I decided to take a year or two off—not from the writing, but from the business. I would go back to basics—and just write. But I found it wasn’t that easy. Every time I walked into a book store, an insidious voice began to whisper in my brain. Who are you to think you can compete with all these writers here? Why do you think anything you have to say is good enough? It got so bad, I had to quit going to book stores.
    Back home at my computer, it wasn’t any easier. I felt like I had the proverbial critic sitting on my shoulder, usually in the guise of an agent or an editor. “You can’t write that,” they’d hiss. “There’s no chance in a blue moon that will sell.”
    Sometimes, the voices became so harsh I was convinced I’d never written those first four books at all—that another more talented, more creative personality had taken over my brain and produced those books, and now, she was relaxing on a beach in the Bahamas with a cool tropical drink, surrounded by half-naked guys fanning her with banana fronds. I began to truly believe I had no more books inside me. That the well had gone utterly and completely dry.
    It was during this extremely low point in my life that I was saved…by a book, of all things! That book was Marianne Williamson’s “Return to Love.” She had many wise things to say in this beautiful book, but the chapter on careers was the one that really hit home for me, and in particular, this one section, “The highest prize we can receive for creative work is the joy of being creative…the issue is whether we’re working for money, or working for love. What we need to investigate is which one is the more abundant attitude.”
    That resonated in me. There, in that one line--the highest prize we can receive for creative work is the joy of being creative-- was the essence of why I’d started writing in the first place. Because I love it. I love getting lost in the world of my imagination—bringing these characters to life and allowing them to act out their stories on my manuscript pages. When I first began writing, it wasn’t because I wanted to make money and be a huge success. Ideally, that would happen eventually, but for me, at that time, writing for the sheer joy of it was enough in itself. How had I lost that? How had I allowed the business of writing to crush that creative spirit in me?
    I knew I had to go back to square one, and find that passion for writing that had once burned so brightly inside me. I had to do that, not only for my sanity, but because I was fortunate enough to be blessed with this gift of creativity, and to throw that away would be like throwing away a part of my soul.
    Remembering that I do have that gift—from God, the Universe, the Great Creator…whatever you want to call it—I was able to sit down at my computer and swat that annoying “editor” off my shoulder and go back to doing what I knew I was meant to do.
    I began writing a new book, inspired by my late mother. It’s the first book of a trilogy that begins in 1952 rural Kentucky about a young woman’s coming of age and how she grows into an independent woman in the 60’s. I’ve written the entire novel--not a proposal--and soon, I’ll begin the task of shopping for an agent. And I won’t give up, no matter how many “no’s” I hear…because this book deserves an audience. I’m not kidding myself that it will be an easy task to get this book published. I’m thinking a 1950 setting in rural Kentucky is probably not “what’s hot” right now. But guess what? I don’t care.
    Yes, I’d like to see it published. That would be a wonderful tribute to my mother’s memory. But bottom line—it’s not going to destroy me if it doesn’t sell. What’s more important is that I put my heart and soul into writing this book, and in doing so, I rediscovered the joy of writing again, and that, alone, is enough for me. Writing this book not only brought me to a better understanding of some of my mother’s life choices, but eight years after her death, it has brought her spirit closer to me. Anything else I gain—publication, awards, money--will be icing on the cake.
    Whatever happens—or doesn’t happen—with my career in the future, I vow to never let that joy of writing be taken from me again. I won’t allow the publishing business to crush my creative spirit, and make me doubt my talent.
    Wait. I just had a revelation as I typed that last sentence. A true epiphany.
    It wasn’t the publishing business that crushed my creative spirit and made me doubt my talent. I did that to myself. I allowed other’s opinions—and their rejections—make me doubt my self-worth, my talent and my purpose for being on this Earth. That was my choice, no one else’s.
    That will never happen again.

  9. #9
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    Carole,

    I just wanted to thank you for your wonderfully inspiring post. Too often, we forget about why we write. We write because we love the craft, because we love literature, or because it fills an empty spot in our souls. And then, when the rejections come--as they do to all of us--we become focused on the trappings of success. We give up the creative pursuit to write the perfect query letter or find the magic bullet that will give us an "in" with a publisher. Marketing is an important aspect of a writing career, but the push to be published can drain you of your ability and desire to write.

    If you believe in your work, you should try to find a market for it. However, seeking publication should not be the first and/or only reason you write, for that ultimately leads to failure.

    I've been shopping a novel to agents that has a story about a tricky subject. The book has been a finalist in a few independent competitions, and I've had a few requests for partials and fulls. But no one has made the leap to represent it or publish it. I believe in the book. I will keep querying and submitting, but I've also shifted my main efforts to writing a new book, one that I adore and know is even better than the one I'm shopping. That creative work sustains me whenever I receive a rejection (yesterday a reject on a full).

    I wish you the best of luck with this new book, and I admire your tenacity and determination. May all of your writing endeavors bring you equal joy.

    Jeanne

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeanne Gassman View Post
    Carole,

    I just wanted to thank you for your wonderfully inspiring post. Too often, we forget about why we write. We write because we love the craft, because we love literature, or because it fills an empty spot in our souls. And then, when the rejections come--as they do to all of us--we become focused on the trappings of success. We give up the creative pursuit to write the perfect query letter or find the magic bullet that will give us an "in" with a publisher. Marketing is an important aspect of a writing career, but the push to be published can drain you of your ability and desire to write.


    If you believe in your work, you should try to find a market for it. However, seeking publication should not be the first and/or only reason you write, for that ultimately leads to failure.

    I've been shopping a novel to agents that has a story about a tricky subject. The book has been a finalist in a few independent competitions, and I've had a few requests for partials and fulls. But no one has made the leap to represent it or publish it. I believe in the book. I will keep querying and submitting, but I've also shifted my main efforts to writing a new book, one that I adore and know is even better than the one I'm shopping. That creative work sustains me whenever I receive a rejection (yesterday a reject on a full).

    I wish you the best of luck with this new book, and I admire your tenacity and determination. May all of your writing endeavors bring you equal joy.

    Jeanne
    Thanks for sharing that, Jeanne. You are SO right. We must never give up! (Sorry about yesterday's rejection; they always sting. Always will.) But as I tell my writing students (I teach for Long Ridge Writers Group) perseverance is probably one of the most important qualities you can have as a writer. My first novel, BORDER CROSSINGS, (now available on Kindle for only .99 cents) was rejected more times than I can remember. It took me several years and two agents to finally sell it. I even got a rejection from an agent for it AFTER it was published. That was the only rejection that actually made me laugh. I wanted to write the agent and tell her it had not only sold, but had been published, but of course, I resisted that urge.

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