Oh, you got a book deal? Awesome. Really. (What to do with envy!)

You know what I’m talking about, right?

You work your tail off on a great story, your fourth amazing story, still unpublished, and while you’re piling up rejections, your friend, who’s written one (or even more) book lands a three-book deal from a major publisher.

You’ve critiqued her work. And yes, it’s good.

You’re just as good.

Your story is just as powerful.

And frankly, it’s not fair.

You’re trying to cheer her on; trying to smile and be patient but frankly, it hurts. And you think…what’s wrong with me? What did I do wrong?

That’s a little how to feels to be a Minnesota Viking fan right now. Because the Super Bowl is coming to town and we’re all supposed to put on our big girl pants and be nice to the opposition. Who are coming to cheer on their team.  And frankly, deserve to celebrate their team’s success.

Image result for minneapolis super bowl preparations

So I thought I’d talk today about envy. What do to with that dark little voice inside you that says, it’s not fair, and…what about Smead? (You get extra points if you get that reference)

Five ways to deal with envy in publishing:

  1. Acknowledge that the envy exists. You don’t have to be nasty about it—just…wow. I’m happy for you, but I’m envious. Take a breath, cheer them on, but allow for the fact you want it, too. Let it motivate you, and even encourage you. If it can happen for them, then it can happen for you too.
  2. Don’t compare (and drag the other person down in that comparison.) Whether they are as good as you as a writer doesn’t matter. You both have skill, clearly. But their time is now…and your writing journey will be different.
  3. Look at the big picture. If you’re a person of faith, it helps to consider that God has a timeline for you, too. For Christians, envy takes us out of the paradigm of trusting God for our future, and with our dreams. Regardless, publishing isn’t magic, it’s about hard work. Do the work, and your story will find a home. (and you might consider whether your personality/voice and stories are a good fit for indie publishing)
  4. What can you learn? If you’re getting rejections and your friend isn’t, maybe it’s time to take a good look at why. Unpack your proposal—is the concept relatable, timely, and a good fit for that publishing house? Is your story fresh, with solid structure and compelling characters? Does your voice draw in the reader?
  5. Turn your emotions to your story. Do you have a moment in your story where your character is defeated? (you should, by the way). Even a moment when others have succeeded, and he hasn’t? You have some emotional fuel now to add to that moment. (And by the way, these moments, for your character, create powerful character revelation and motivation, so seek ways to incorporate them into your story!)

It’s not easy to watch Eagle (or Patriot) fans come to town when you feel like you should be the one in the game. But when you remember that everyone’s dream is valuable, and that life is NOT a competition (although football is), and frankly, in the economy of God, there is room for the wild success of everyone, it’s time to say…


I’m cheering for you.

And I trust God for my own Superbowl, someday.

Your story matters. Go, write something Brilliant!


Susie May

P.S. So…we are seriously considering making this year’s Deep Thinker’s Retreat the last one. I know—it’s a really hard decision. But with our staff’s publishing careers taking off, and expenses going up, it feels like we are at that place. So, if you want to join us for this epic, final year, there are just a couple spaces left. Your story matters—we’d love to help you reach the finish line. Check it out here: http://learnhowtowriteanovel.com/product/deep-thinkers-retreat-2018/

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

Remember to Exhale

I spent the last five days in Florida.

Exhaling two very busy months. Inhaling time with my husband as we celebrated his birthday. Reading fantastic books (James L. Rubart’s The Long Journey to Jake Palmer, Rachel Hauck’s, The Wedding Shop, Betsy St. Amant’s (with Katie Ganshert and Becky Wade) To Have and to Hold) and an exceptional book byAllen Arnold, The Story of With: A Better Way to Live, Love & Create.

We also did some fun stuff. Swimming in the ocean, jet-skiing, SCUBA diving. Experiencing life.


I’ve discovered that the busier I get, the more I need time to just breathe. To remember my WHY. To hear my thoughts, as well as others.

We need this in our stories as well. In writer’s terms, we call them scenes (fun) and sequels (breathing). Or Action and ReAction Scenes. Those places where the characters slow down, look back, respond to what just happened and consider their choices. AKA, regroup.

And, right in the middle of the book, we need a moment of WHY. (James Scott Bell explains this in his fantastic (short, and inexpensive!) book called Write Your Novel from the Middle.) It’s that moment when your character takes a powerful and realistic look at himself in the mirror. It’s this moment–it’s what he sees–that motivates him to continue the journey. Maybe he sees his inadequacies. His failures. Maybe he sees what he WANTS to be.

Hopefully he sees that to get where he wants, he need to change. Grow.

But he won’t get there without a moment to hear his thoughts. To ponder his WHYs.

To exhale.

If you’re stuck in a story today…or in life, GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION to exhale for even just an hour. Take a walk. Sit on the porch and listen to your thoughts. (and do it without your phone!)

Make a delicious meal and savor it with a loved one.

You don’t have to go to the beach to exhale. (But admittedly, it helps.)

But, you do need to do it if you hope to write great fiction.

(By the way, Bethel Football won their game Saturday!)

Your story matters. Make time to hear it.

Go! Write something brilliant!

Susie May

P.S. THE STORY EQUATION is now up for PREORDER on Kindle! Are you struggling with HOW to put a story together? So was I…until I discovered that you could plot and write an entire book by asking ONE question. It all unfolds from there–and I show you how (and all my secrets). Preorder now: out October 11!

“The Story Equation is pure genius.” — Randy Ingermanson, author of Writing Fiction for Dummies

Through the Storm

I read something this week that gave me pause:

Your greatest test is when you are able to bless someone else while you are going through your own storm.

I pondered that for quite some time. It permeated my heart because life has wonderful moments of peace, joy and rapture sandwiched between the storms of life. It’s easy to get caught up in the trial of the moment and miss out on the blessing of reaching out to help another human being in need.

Or even worse, instead of reaching out, you could lash out at others when they share their teenie tiny little challenge with you. Doesn’t it always seem that right at the second you get the fortieth rejection letter, your crit partner calls and fusses because they only got a four book deal when they just knew they’d get six?!

In the midst of the storm, it’s easy to miss opportunity to help others. When that happens, two people lose: You and the person you were intended to bless. Life is going to happen. Storms are going to crop up. If you live in Florida in August, they’d pop up out of nowhere in an instant. What you do during the storm is entirely up to you. You and you alone have the choice of what you will do in the storm. No one else. You.

While on the mission field in Guatelmala, I suffered a serious fracture to my lower forearm. It was excruciatingly painful. To make matters worse, there were two additional factors I had to consider. First, I was in full clown costume. Anyone who laid eyes on me was expecting me to be, well, happy. Which brings me to the second thing. Moments after the injury occurred, I was surrounded by an ocean of children who’d turned out to see Rebo the Clown.

I was in quite the storm but I prayed and mustered all my inner strength. By God’s grace I was able to minister to these little ones in the midst of my own storm. I shudder to this day to think what memory they would have had of a sad, crying, hurting clown.

You’re probably going through a storm of some sort right now. Hopefully, it’s not a broken bone but perhaps equally as painful. But in the midst of the storm you’re battling, if you can just look out around you, you’ll see opportunity to be a blessing. And blessing others will give you the strength to get through the storm. I promise.

Look beyond your storm. Bless others in the midst of your storm. Things will change.

Have you been a blessing during your own life storm? How did that make you feel? Share it here!