​What happens when you don’t give up

I couldn’t believe it. Someone had sneaked into my office and in the middle of my manuscript had written:

You are making a mistake.

You are a missionary. You should be spending your time evangelizing, not writing fiction.

You are wasting God’s time.


And frankly, right then…I thought they were right. See, hubs and I and our four children were living in Siberia, working as church-planting missionaries. Sharing the gospel, assisting short term mission teams and helping local bodies of believers build church buildings. I was homeschooling our four children and teaching ESL to Russians using the Bible.

And, I was trying to get published. I’m not sure why—I loved my “job” as a wife, mother and missionary. But God had ignited inside me a desire to tell stories of faith, romance and adventure, and I couldn’t seem to douse it.

Still, I was getting nowhere. I’d written four novels. All got rejected. I’d recently sent in a novella to a contest, but with the mail service in Siberia, it probably got thrown in some circular file.

He was probably right. Rude, but right.

There comes a time in our writing life when it feels like we’re getting nowhere. We’ve written manuscripts that our friends love…and publishers reject. Or maybe we’ve indie published and we’re getting no traction with readers. We’ve written and rewritten and right now…well, maybe we need to admit we’ve made a mistake.


We could press on, believing that our moment, our dreams, will come to fruition.

Because if we do…we might just get here:

Image result for nick foles super bowl trophy

In case you’re not a football fanatic, (like me), that’s Nick Foles. The BACK UP Quarterback for the Philadelphia EAGLES. The guy who just led his team to a Super Bowl Victory. The MVP of the team.

Last year, Nick Foles almost retired from football. Because, see, although he played football at the same Austin, TX high school as Drew Brees, although he was a Pac-12 stand out QB for Arizona, (coming off the bench to score his starting spot) he wasn’t recognized as a NFL superstar. Although he had good ratings when he got in the game, football seemed to conspire against him. Injury, second-team starts, trades to the Rams, then the Chiefs, and finally as a backup QB again for the Eagles. He got his chance when starting QB Carson Wentz went down, injured in week 14.

Let me just add that, on average, Foles won games. He completed passes. He was very good at his job. (in other words, he told a great story!)

He just never got his chance to shine.

When the Chiefs released him as a free agent 2 seasons ago, (that’s football talk for a publisher’s rejection), he thought seriously about giving up.

Reflecting on his career crossroads on the biggest night of his career, Foles, 29, said: “I think as people, we deal with struggles. And that was a moment in my life where I thought about it, and I prayed about it. I’m grateful that I made the decision to come back.” (Evening Standard,02/05/18)

Yeah, I’ll bet.

I have always said that getting published isn’t magic—it’s hard work. It’s not giving up. It’s seeing the big picture that your journey is worth the fight.

Nick Foles, by the way, is a Christian. As is Carson Wentz, as is Zach Ertz, (who made the winning touchdown), as is the coach of the Eagles (as are others on the team). And they all thanked God for the win yesterday. Does God care who won the Super Bowl? I don’t think so. Does He care who gets the glory? You bet. I don’t think it’s a leap to suggest that Foles trusted in God’s plan for his success, and that God used his trust to do something amazing.

Do you believe that you’ve been called to do this? If so, then don’t listen to the rejection, the discouragers, the people who think: You could be doing something better with your time.

There’s no time better spent than the one following God’s call on your life.

Keep honing your skills. Keep playing. Be ready to be put in the game.

Congratulations, Nick Foles and the rest of the Eagles. Well done. Keep saying YES to God.

Your story matters! Go, write something brilliant!


Susie May

P.S. If you’re working on a story that contains romance—whether it be a thread, or a full out story—you need to know HOW to build it. Did you know that a great romance is layered on top of regular story structure? Or that knowing the 2 basic romantic structures can streamline your entire plot? Learn this and soooooo much more in our 6 hour seminar, Learn how to write a Brilliant Romance. ON SALE UNTIL VALENTINES DAY for $100 OFF! (and yes, we have a payment plan!) Get the BRILLIANT ROMANCE SEMINAR here.(Click on the Link. Or use the coupon code: LOVE18 at checkout!)


(And, if you want to read more about the Eagles and their faith: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900009342/nfl-players-using-super-bowl-spotlight-as-a-platform-to-share-their-christian-faith.html)

When it just isn’t fair…

You know that feeling you have when your best friend gets asked out by the cutest guy in school, the one you’ve been in love with since second grade?

Or gets picked for the promotion, or the cool project, or is awarded the teacher of the year award, and you’ve been doing exactly the same thing, working just as hard…or harder than your friend?

I remember watching, my heart sinking, as my son struggled year after year to inch his way ahead of a friend/competitor in track. He’d always lost just by a hair.

Even though they were both half a track ahead of everyone else.

And the worst part was, my son worked harder than his friend, giving every morsel of talent he possessed.

It just wasn’t fair.

This past year, we’ve had quite a few MBT/Novel.Academy authors who’ve inked new deals, first time deals or won accolades.

My best friend got a starred review from Booklist. And made the NYT for 7 weeks.

I love it.

But when those happy accomplishments pass you by, it’s hard not to say… really, what’s wrong with me?

Why am I not getting published? Winning awards? Landing on the NYT?

And of course you’re truly thrilled for your friend. But even while you’re cheering, the negative voices inside say…you’ll never be enough.


You could remind yourself that publishing is not magic…it’s hard work. And that there are seasons for your career, including the season where you simply do the work, no accolades, no awards. You just keep running.

Keep believing.

And you don’t criticize yourself for not attaining what your friend attained. Yes, you look at your work and ask…can I write better? If so, give yourself some goals. (This self-evaluation is not a bad thing, if you don’t let negative voices shout the loudest!)

But, if you are putting in the time, learning the craft and writing, then you are doing everything right.

By the way, when you’re writing your story and you’re looking for a way to motivate your character through Act 2, try adding this moment in for your hero. A scene at the beginning of ACT 2 where he sees a friend achieve what he wants. My guess is he’ll dig a little deeper, fight a little harder.

I’ve learned that the good will you give others will come back to bless you, someday.

And, if you’re a person of faith, you get to add in the ingredient that there is a plan for your good, even if you have to wait for it.

Waiting doesn’t mean you sit on the sofa with the remote. Waiting means training so you are ready for that moment when it’s your turn to ink the deal.

With my son’s hard work, he eventually went to the State track championship in two events.

This week, I found out my latest book had earned a Publisher’s Weekly starred review.


But even more awesome, now I get to turn around and cheer those running with me.

No, life isn’t fair. But maybe that’s okay. Because it requires us to dig deep, self-evaluate and keep training. Stick with it, and your time will come.

Train well. Write well. Win well.

Your story matters.

Go! Write Something Brilliant!

Susie May




P.S. Sometimes you just need some storycrafting advise to get yourself started. We have a FREE Starter Kit for Aspiring Novelists!

And, if you need help plotting your novel, try The Story Equation. “The Story Equation is pure genius.” — Randy Ingermanson, author of Writing Fiction for Dummies

I ain’t gonna quit yet…

Happy Monday morning! It’s going to be a great writing week!

So there we were sitting in the bleachers for the first home game of the season. The sun arched high, hot on our skin, the fans ignited by the thrill of a new season of football, the smell of the tailgate grills stirring our need for a burger…

And our boys on the field were falling apart. After a fantastic first half, they’d come out and handed the game away to our rather nasty opponents until the moment, with 1:35 left in the game, we fell behind by six points.

I mentioned that we had 1.35 left in the game, right? We got the ball on the 25 yard line and a thread of despair filtered through the crowd.

You know what happened next. Like any great football story, the team rallied. They threw a 25 yard pass. Ran the ball, threw another pass and made a quick dash for the end zone.

We were on our feet for the extra point, already cheering our win.


Except, to our horror, a defender got a hand on it and our dreams died as the ball alley-ooped wide of the goalpost.

We lost in overtime.

Crushing, after our rally. And, our second defeat of the season. The sun suddenly seemed a scorcher, and we become well aware of our sunburns and empty stomachs, defeat bitter in our gut.

It feels a little like that moment when you hear a publisher is bringing your book to committee, trying to decide if they want to buy it only to hear that they passed. Or worse, rejected it with “some revisions” and you work furiously with the wild hope you might get picked up next time.

Only to have them say no.

Or maybe you’ve worked hard on a novel only to have it panned by reviewers even though your beta readers loved it.

Or you’ve written an entire story for the first time in your life—only to have an editor say, “it needs more work.”

Whatchya gonna do?

Do you want it? Enough to let your bruises heal, get your head back in the game and go to work again? Because that’s when you look inside and say…WHY? Why do I want this?

Hopefully its because you know your story matters. Remember, getting published isn’t magic—it’s hard work.

But here are some truths the might help you get back up.

  1. No one can write the story that you’ve been given. Only you see the unique view, only you can tell from the truths you’ve learned.
  2. If you don’t get back up and keep fighting, you’ll never discover the truth you’re meant to learn in the journey. And you’ll never realize the feeling of knowing you did something that your heart called you to do.
  3. And, if your story is destined to be published and you never find the strength to give it to the world, the truths in it will never find a home in a reader’s heart. They will never be changed. Or blessed.

Your story matters. And the journey to writing your story matters.

Get back up. Get your head in the game. Don’t give up.

Because next time, you just might win.

Go write something brilliant!

smw sig without background




Susie May

P.S. This week in Novel.Academy, we’re going to be talking about how to take your dreams and put them into a workable plan for true impactvitiy. Join us for Fall enrollment for only $20/mo. ($20/month or $200/year) Check out Novel.Academy and get the tools to write a brilliant novel!

Keys To Handling Rejection

Hi Everyone,

It’s been awhile but I’ve experienced tremendous growth since the last time I wrote.

You see, I got a rejection letter. Yeah, and the email came through on Valentine’s weekend. Needless to say my husband was at more than a loss.

Can I just admit? I took some time to cry and wonder why in the world a successful businesswoman in her own right would ever subject herself to this crazy publishing world?

We all process things differently. I did your standard sit-in-shock cry and—in typical me fashion—said a prayer and went to bed. Everything always looks better after you sleep on it, right?

I woke up, and the email was still there with a resounding “pass.” After wallowing for 24 hours, I sent off an email to my mentors and went back to my day job—the day job in which I put in fourteen hours, on Valentine’s weekend. (Are you feeling sorry for my husband yet?)

Here’s the reply I got back from one of my mentors: “Best rejection ever!”


You got it. It’s exactly what she sent me via email. And you know, after my mouth hit the ground and I stared at the screen awhile, I saw that she was right.

Perspective, people. Perspective.

I wrote my first book, went to conference, got contracted with an amazing agent and submitted my work. I had accomplished something. I went back and re-read the rejection letter—and while I wasn’t jumping for joy, it could have been a lot worse.

Then I got my second perspective check. My agent said, “No = next opportunity.

So, I dusted myself off and started plotting a new story to be ready for the next opportunity.

I learned four important things that weekend:

  1. Allow yourself time to be upset, but move on. In that short twenty-four hours, I had friends praying and my family surrounded me with love and hugs and the ceremonial offering of Blue Bell Ice Cream.
  2. Pick your friends and mentors carefully. If I’d sent that email or contacted “certain persons,” they would have killed my dreams. They would have enjoyed saying, “What were you thinking?” Choose your friends wisely. Listen to the right voices.
  3. Get out of your head. You are your worst critic. Don’t live there. Get out and move on.
  4. Redefine no to yourself. No = next opportunity.

Oh, and I should tell you that my husband showed up at my work with a steak dinner for two that night. Yep, I will keep him.

So tell me, what wisdom have you gleaned from rejection letters?