Literary Links

January/February 2001


Good News and Announcements

Chicago-North RWA--Fire & Ice Contest--Chicago-North RWA is pleased to announce its 3rd Annual Fire & Ice contest. Send your first chapter where the hero and heroine meet. Enter one of two categories--Contemporary or Historical. There's a $50 1st place prize, $25 2nd place prize and $15 3rd place prize for each category, and editors will judge the final round. Check out the contest rules at the chapter web site: http// The winners will be announced at the RWA National Conference in New Orleans, LA this year.

The Golden Network--Golden Pen Contest--The Golden Network chapter of RWA is pleased to introduce its Golden Pen Contest.  The contest is open to unpublished RWA members not contracted by April 2, 2001.  Entries consist of the first 20 pages of your manuscript.  There are three categories--Contemporary, Historical and Other.  First place in each category will receive a gold pen engraved with the author's name and book title, and a $20.00 cash prize.  Runner-up in each category will receive $20.00.  Acquiring editors will judge the final round.  For more information, visit the Golden Network website at:

RWA Pro--RWA National has adopted a special program to recognize unpublished members.  For more information, see the RWA National web site.

RWA Favorite Book of the Year--Did you vote for 2000 Favorite Book of the Year? If so, check out the results on the RWA National web site. Click Here.


New On Literary Liaisons

There are many new additions to Literary Liaisons. After reading about them below, check them out on the web site.



Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul edited by Jack Canfield

Daily Life in Victorian England by Sally Mitchell

Daily Life in a Victorian House by Laura Wilson

The Nine Muses: A Mythological Path to Creativity by Angeles Arrien

On Writing by Stephen King

Queen Victoria: A Personal History by Christopher Hibbert

Suffer and Be Still: Women in the Victorian Age by Martha Vicinus

The Writer's Online Marketplace by Debbie Ridpath Ohi


Featured Title

Daily Life in a Victorian House by Laura Wilson

RWA Chapters On-line

Long Island Romance Writers

Southern Louisiana (SOLA)

Researching the Romance

Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul edited by Jack Canfield

Daily Life in Victorian England by Sally Mitchell

Daily Life in a Victorian House by Laura Wilson

The Nine Muses: A Mythological Path to Creativity by Angeles Arrien

On Writing by Stephen King

Queen Victoria: A Personal History by Christopher Hibbert

Suffer and Be Still: Women in the Victorian Age by Martha Vicinus

The Writer's Online Marketplace by Debbie Ridpath Ohi


Writers' Resources Online

Daily Almanacs


Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market

The Tea Council

Saint Valentine's Day

Sussex Archaeology and Folklore



Feature Article 

Was It Good For You?  Making the Most of Rejection--Part One

By Myrna Mackenzie

Picture this.  It's two-thirty in the afternoon.  You rise from your computer and make your way to the front door wearing your torn jeans, your "Don't Mess With Me" T-shirt and a serene smile.  The work is going well.  All's right with the world.

As you open the door and step outside, you reach into the mailbox and…you pull out a thick, brown envelope.

Suddenly the day turns dark, the message on your shirt seems somehow wrong, way too cocky for a person like you.  For you have received a rejection, and all of us who write know what that means.  You are a FAILURE, a FRAUD.  You have NO talent, not so much as a speck. You shouldn't even be allowed near a computer--ever, and even worse than that, NO ONE but NO ONE likes you and never will again.

It's definitely time to turn in your computer, your printer, all your paper and pencils and even your paper clips.

Or is it?

Is there life and work and success after rejection?

Obviously.  We've all been there and done that and we'll do it again.  But the real question, the more important question is: are we making the most of those rejections?  Can something good come out of what is, essentially , a writer's version of the nether world?

Yes, Absolutely.  The fact is that rejection is and always will be exceptionally painful.  It is a humiliating experience that makes those of us who are a bit neurotic (who me?) doubt ourselves and our abilities.  It can get a real stranglehold on your productivity and creativity if you let it.

So how do you use that rejection? How can you make it work for you?

Well, we're all different.  Some of us get angry and use that anger.  Some of us get humble and determine to "try harder."  Whatever the emotions that course through you in those awful days after the 'big R" falls on your head, it helps tremendously to have a plan, a goal, direction at a time when you feel as if you may be driving backwards down the highway.

If you don't have your own plan, try the following procedures.  While I can't guarantee doing so will get you published, you will, at the very least, emerge on the other side of rejection feeling a bit more knowledgeable, a bit more in charge.  You will have moved on and hopefully up.

Acknowledge the Rejection

Allow yourself to grieve in whatever way suits you for a LIMITED AMOUNT OF TIME.  Set those limits in advance and stick to them. (i.e. I will have a good cry, then pamper myself shamelessly for forty-eight hours, after which I will get back to work; I will eat one five-pound box of chocolates while blubbering constantly and then I will get back to work; or I will allow myself one day to cry and one day to whine and then I will get back to work).

Notice the "get back to work" part.  Mourning is important, but the time limit is equally so.  Giving myself a set day when I must be back at work provides me with a sense of control in a situation where it is all too easy to feel helpless.

Then, determine what type of rejection you've received.

Form Rejection

If you have received a form rejection, it may be time to take a closer look at you work and at the marketplace.  Study the line you've been targeting.  Is your book similar in tone, in amount of emotional intensity, and in sensuality to published books in that line? Have you sent them an idea that simply doesn't fit or that's been done too many times in recent history? If you can't answer those questions, then you've probably sent your baby out into the cold without a coat, so to speak. You haven't done your homework and it's time to do some serious reading. Immerse yourself in that line, skim back issues of review magazines to find out what topics may have been overdone.  Make very sure you are sending your work to the right place.  This type of research can be fun and you'll come out of it knowing you've become an expert on your line.

If, however, after all is said and done, you still can't understand why your book came flying back to you with little or no explanation, then the problem might be more basic.  Given the human factor in publishing, good books probably do get rejected now and then, but if you're receiving a steady diet of form rejections, then it's time to examine the quality of your work.  There's no shame in this.

Almost every writer has to face rejection now and then. We're all constantly working to improve our skills, and with effort and a positive attitude, we can do just that. When you have a setback such as this, take your work to a critique group if that feels comfortable, make changes if you like, but above all, keep writing. 

If this book merits another chance and there are other markets to send it to, by all means don't pass up those chances, but also be open to the suggestion that this just may not be the book that's going to do it for you. Don't fall into the "I have to sell this book or die" attitude.  I firmly believe that after a book has been revised too many times a writer begins to spin her wheels.  Years from now you may pick that book up again when it seems fresh and you can look at it with new eyes, but there does come a time then you need to admit that a book served you well as a learning tool that may never see print. A new book can be a chance to reach out, try something different, and begin to grow again. You gained important knowledge in writing that first book even if you didn't make a sale, so build on that as you move forward and begin your next project.

In the end, a form rejection can teach a valuable lesson if you use it as an impetus to learn something about your craft. It is a badge of honor, something you can be proud of. After all, you've done what millions of people of never done.  You have completed a book and sent it out to face the music. That's a genuine accomplishment.


Next issue: Part Two--The Personal Rejection Letter


Myrna Mackenzie, winner of the Holt Medallion Award honoring outstanding literary talent, is a former teacher turned writer.  Her first professional foray into the writing arena was in the form of penning greeting card verse, primarily for Oatmeal Studios, but she always knew that her real goal was to publish a romance.  In 1993, she finally achieved that goal when her first book, THE BABY WISH, sold to Silhouette Books.  It was originally published in 1994, was a finalist in both the HOLT and Reader’s Choice contests, and was reissued in 1999 in a hardcover version by Mills & Boon.  Subsequent hardcover editions have followed for PRINCE CHARMING’S RETURN and BABIES AND A BLUE-EYED MAN. 

Her second book, THE DADDY LIST, won the Holt Medallion.  Since then, she has gone on to sell twelve more books.  Her books have sold worldwide and have been translated into French, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Greek, Japanese, German, Hungarian, Czech and Portuguese.


JUST PRETENDING – part of the Montana Maverick series – a four book direct mail series published in October 2000 – still available by contacting customer service at  THE BILLIONAIRE IS BACK – Silhouette Romance – May 2001

BLIND-DATE BRIDE – Silhouette Romance – June 2001

A VERY SPECIAL DELIVERY – Silhouette Romance – October 2001 (part of a 3 book Maitland Maternity spin-off )



Editor's Note

Hello everyone!  It's hard to believe another year has come and gone.  But with the way weather has been this past December, I'm happy to just put the year behind me.  Unfortunately, that probably won't happen until the spring thaw.  Meanwhile, I can dream about green grass and daffodils. There have been some changes here--some obvious, and others invisible.  Design has changed on a few pages.  Look for more as my daughter tests out her new Paint Shop software.  We've also changed servers.  It wasn't a smooth transition, but it is done nonetheless.  Hopefully you've all found your way to our new home and have settled in. There's a nice mix of new web sites and books here for you.  Some of these books were presents this holiday season, and so are special to me.  Hopefully you will be inspired by them as I was.  After all, now that the holiday rush is over, it's time to get back to writing.  I await your good news!

---Michelle Hoppe


Q&A Column

Q:  If you could recommend reference books for the beginning writer, what would they be?

A:  This is a difficult question, considering there are so many good books out there, and many I haven't read yet.  Also, there are few which cover every aspect of writing. For characterization, I recommend Building Believable Characters by Marc McCutcheon.  If you don't have sympathetic or believable characters, your readers won't care.  For plotting, I would have to recommend Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon.  You should get yourself pointed in the right direction before writing one word.  Finally, for editing, I recommend Make Your Words Work by Gary Provost.  This book will teach you how to tighten your work simply through word choice.  


Historical Calendar of Events


Jean Leon Jaures--French socialist politician

William II--German Emperor

Arthur Conan Doyle--English novelist

A.E. Housman--English poet

Jerome K. Jerome--English author

Alexander von Humboldt--German astronomer and explorer

Cass Gilbert--American architect

Georges Seurat--French painter

Pierre Curie--French physicist



King Ferdinand of the Two Sicilies

King Oscar I of Sweden

Prince Metternich

Leigh Hunt--English author

Washington Irving--American author

Thomas de Quincey--English author

Thomas B. Macaulay--English historian

W.H. Prescott--American historian


A Treaty of Alliance is signed between Sardinia and France.

The Treaty of Zurich brings peace between France and Austria.

Francis II, aged 13, ascends to the throne of the Two Sicilies upon the death of Ferdinand, his father.

Charles XV of Sweden accedes to the throne upon the death of Oscar I.

The German National Association is formed, aimed at uniting Germany under Prussia.

Lord Derby resigns as British Prime Minister, and is succeeded by Lord Palmerston.

Otto Bismarck becomes Prussian ambassador to St. Petersburg.

Oregon becomes the 33rd State of the Union. 

Queensland is separated from New South Wales, naming Brisbane as its capital.

Port Said, Egypt is founded.

President Buchanan orders that New Mexico Territory lands be surveyed and set apart as a reservation.

March 7--The Supreme Court upholds the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 in the case of Ableman v. Booth, reversing the 1854 Wisconsin court decision that called the act unconstitutional.

The Georgia state legislature votes to permit free blacks to be sold into slavery if they have been indicted as vagrants.

October 16--John Brown leads a raid on Harper’s Ferry, Va., seizing the town and its federal arsenal as a signal for a general slave insurrection that will establish a new state as a refuge for blacks.  October 18--Federal troops overpower Brown. He is convicted of treason and hanged December 2 at Charlestown at age 59.

Britain’s House of Commons gets its first Jewish member--Lionel Rothschild.  

The Arts

"Macbeth" by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot

"The Angelus" by Jean Millet

"At the Piano" by James Whistler

"The Absinth Drinker" by Edouard Manet

"Le Bain Turc" by Jean Auguste Ingres

"Heart of the Andes" by Frederic Church


Diary of a Witness of the War in Africa by Pedro Alarcon

"On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection" by Charles Darwin

"Critique of Political Economy" by Karl Marx

"Self Help" a manual on how to succeed in life, by Samuel Smiles


A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Adam Bede by George Eliot

La Legende des Siecles by Victor Hugo

The Ordeal of Richard Feveral by George Meredith

"Idylls of the King" by Alfred Lord Tennyson

"Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam" by Edward Fitzgerald

"The Thunderstorm" by Aleksandr Ostrovsky opens on November 16 in Moscow's Maly Theater

"The Octaroon, or Life in Louisiana" by Dion Boucicault opens on December 5 in New York's Winter Garden Theater


"Faust" by Charles Gounod opens in Paris on March 19

"Un Ballo in Maschera" by Giuseppe Verdi premieres on February 17 in Rome

Popular songs:

"Dixie" by Daniel Decatur Emmett

"La Paloma" by Sebastian Yradier

"Ave Maria" by Charles Gounod

"Nearer My God to Thee" by Lowell Mason


Daily Life
The Baseball Club of Washington, D.C. is organized.

French tightrope walker Charles Blondin crosses Niagara Falls on a tightrope.

Rocky Mountain News begins publication, the first newspaper in what will soon be Montana Territory. 

Boston’s Public Garden is established on 108 acres of filled land owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The New York State Legislature authorizes acquisition of land for Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

The world’s first children’s playgrounds open at Manchester, England, where horizontal bars and swings have been installed in Queen’s Park and Philips Park. 

Civilized America, published at London, ridicules Americans for calling a cock a rooster and using similar euphemisms.

The A&P retail food chain has its beginnings in the Great American Tea Co. in New York.

July 1--The first intercollegiate baseball game ends after 26 innings with an Amherst College team defeating a Williams team 73 to 32 on the grounds of the Maplewood Female Institute at Pittsfield, Mass.

The Cachar Polo Club founded by British colonial officers stationed in Assam, India, is the world’s first polo club.

November 12--The world’s first flying trapeze circus act is performed at the Cirque Napoléon in Paris by Jules Léotard. Safety nets will not be introduced until 1871 and Léotard meanwhile uses a pile of mattresses to cushion possible falls.  


The Anthropological Society, Paris, is founded.

Bunsen and Kirchhoff begin experiments with spectrum analysis.

The first oil well is drilled at Titusville, PA.

R.L.G. Plante produces the first practical storage battery.

The steamroller is invented.

Work on the Suez Canal is begun under the direction of de Lesseps.

Telegraph promoter Samuel F. B. Morse agrees to the formation of the North American Telegraph Association as a near-monopoly.

Last year’s gold strike in the Colorado Rockies of Kansas Territory brings 100,000 prospectors determined to reach “Pike’s Peak or bust.”

The Comstock Lode discovered on Mt. Davidson in Washoe, Nev., is a vast deposit of silver and gold that will yield $145 million worth of ore in the next 11 years and $397 million by 1882.  Comstock sells his claim for almost nothing but others make fortunes, including Missouri-born prospector George Hearst, whose luck has been poor in California.

New York’s Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art opens its first building at Astor Place and Fourth Avenue

Electric home lighting has its first U.S. demonstration. Salem, Mass., inventor Moses Gerrish Farmer, 39, lights two incandescent lamps on his mantelpiece with platinum strip filaments powered by a wet-cell voltaic battery

Paraffin wax, a by-product of kerosene produced from petroleum, will be used to seal Mason jars used for preserving foods

Cocaine is isolated from coca leaves brought home from Peru by Austrian explorer Karl von Scherzer, but physicians show little interest in the drug’s potential.

The Steinway Piano has its beginnings in an improved grand piano developed by German-American piano maker Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg.  He established a New York piano factory with several of his sons in 1853, but will not call himself Steinway until 1865. 

Louis Pasteur disproves the chemical theory of fermentation advanced by the German chemist Baron von Liebig. 

Pasteur, whose daughter Jan dies of typhoid fever in September, also disproves the theory of spontaneous generation.

The British clipper ship Falcon launches a new method of shipbuilding.  The Falcon is made of wooden planking on iron frames, is much smaller than the American clipper ships, but longer lasting and more economical to operate. 

Brink’s Express is started at Chicago by a Vermonter with a horse and wagon who in 1891 will begin moving bank funds and payroll money to start a business that will grow into the leading U.S. armored truck money-transport company.

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