Not because it is easy, but because it is hard

I write historical romances in an unusual time period — 8th century China. It’s from all those costume dramas I used to watch growing up. I love the honor and the melodrama! People always say write what you love, right?  But now that I’m trying to get published, there’s the other side of the scale. Is it actually marketable?

My setup isn’t that unusual. No more unusual than vampires or shape-shifters once were in romance. And romances are now being set in ancient Rome and Egypt and South America, all over the world and in all sorts of time periods. Jade Lee has a whole series set in 19th centry China.

I figure even if I wrote something “popular”, there’s always the risk of “There’s too much of that out there” or “No one’s buying X anymore.” Pick your poison. 

When I was writing my first manuscript, another author told me exactly the thing I needed to hear. It’s going to be a difficult time period to sell, but if the writing is phenomenal, it could be groundbreaking. If the writing is phenomenal. So whenever I get low marks on a contest or harsh critique or editor/agent feedback on a rejection, I never dismiss it as “oh, this just wasn’t for them”. I blame my writing every time; it’s just not good enough yet. My writing is the one thing I can fix.   

So I continue to write and have anyone who will read it critique me and then I revise and revise. Nothing else feels so good as when I’m writing these stories with these heros. I may never publish this particular genre of work, but heck, I have a day job.  I spend money and countless hours on contests and submissions and conferences because it’s all part of the journey and I love the journey.  I better, it might take a while. 😉 

There are times when I think this is unsellable and I should just move on, but then I realize, I’ve hardly begun to fight. Sherrilyn Kenyon received 156 rejections one year. Who am I to give up at a mere dozen? So I’m going to keep on writing in this genre and querying my way toward my 100 rejection goal.

I know it won’t be easy, but no one I know strives for publication because it is easy. So I titled my inaugural blog post with my motto. Hopefully it will help me stay on track whenever I take a hard look at the market and wonder if there’s any place for what I write.

Here it is in a nutshell: I write swordfighting historicals set in ancient China because it’s what I love. I do it not because it is easy, but because it is hard. I’m stubborn.

What’s your stubborn muse?


  1. briaq
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 09:00:33

    Wow, can I just agree with everything you said.

    The TRADITIONAL Fantasy world of YA – I hear the same sort of stuff and every tweak to MB gets it closer (hopefully)

    Don’t give up, you tell beautiful stories!!!

    More blogging please.

  2. Kai
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 09:01:09


    I hear you there! And your post was very inspirational. What you’re pushing is different, so even though it may not be seen as “marketable” it’s something that will make your manuscript stand out!

    I strive to be different, unfortunately the genre I write is very common so I have to think on crazy new ideas and ways to do it. I want to be a sore thumb (sore in a good way?) when my manuscript finally makes it to an editor’s/agent’s desk.

    Good luck with it, and I wish you well!


  3. gwen hayes
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 09:02:00

    Welcome to blogging!

    My muse believes that teenagers are smarter and funnier than a lot of people give them credit for. I dig my feet in, though, when other people question it, “Would a teenager really say that?” I don’t know ask Buffy or Veronica Mars or any one of Meg Cabot’s characters.

  4. jeannielin
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 09:17:05

    Bria –

    Thank you! You are the first person to ever comment on my blog! Okay, the novelty of all these “firsts” will wear out soon.

  5. jeannielin
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 09:19:50

    Kai –
    I think regardless of whether you write in an unusual genre or one that’s believed to be “crowded”, our struggles are really the same after all. I love your comment about wanting to be a sore thumb on the editor’s desk.

    Go big or go home, right? Good luck!

  6. jeannielin
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 09:28:43

    Gwen –
    I think it’d be a lot of fun speaking to your muse.

    I believe people don’t give teenagers enough credit. This makes me think of “Ender’s Game”. People would complain that children and teenagers wouldn’t think that way, but Orson Scott Card wrote it when he was a teen so obviously, he thought that way.

  7. Crystal Jordan
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 09:33:43

    I’m kinda hoping I wasn’t the author who told you that it would sell if the writing was phenomenal. It sounds like some I would say…and it gave you a complex 🙁

  8. jeannielin
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 09:38:28

    Crystal –

    It wasn’t you, but this is actually a good complex. No matter what, we should aim high right?

    Publishing is pain. Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something.

  9. Inez Kelley
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 09:40:18

    I like sweeping tales of hard life and harder love. I like laughing through tears and crying through laughter. I like taking one single moment, one choice and extrapolating an entire story from that.

    I like doing all the above at once. HA!! I need Prozac…and an agent.

  10. Debbie Mumford
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 10:25:17

    Welcome to blogging, Jeannie…and with such a beautiful first post! I’m going to print this our and keep it close by:

    “I spend money and countless hours on contests and submissions and conferences because it’s all part of the journey and I love the journey. I better, it might take a while.”

    Sigh. Truer words were never written.

  11. kirsten saell
    Nov 24, 2008 @ 10:28:04

    Heh, my heroines have been unapologetically bisexual hired killers with a death wish, whores, rape victims, freedom fighters, thieves, bourgoisie orphans, tavern girls pregnant with who knows whose baby, murdering soldier/slaves fighting for the bad guys, and bastard cross-dressing daughters of noble jerkwads.

    Oh, and one queen. Who is 39, and married to a man barely twenty.

    Don’t even get me started on my heroes…

    The difficult books are the best ones, IMO.

    Go Jeannie! I want your book!

  12. Lisa Whitefern
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 16:57:04

    I had a rejection from a certain publisher saying “while your story was well written and the story was very well done we decided it was not right for us. I wished they had given a clue as to why it was not right for them.
    I did wonder if it was because most historical erotic romance is Regency, Victorian or viking. And mine is set during the Salem Witch Trials.
    Good luck with your 8th century Chinese stories. I’m sure they are beautiful.

  13. Kim Knox (aka) Kim Rees
    Dec 09, 2008 @ 12:12:24

    Wonderful first blog 😀

    I tried to ignore characters wanting to get it on in my stories, wanted to ignore my need to stuff romance into the story as the places I subbed to didn’t want it.

    Then I gave in and let my characters have the romance and the HEA they demanded. After suffering the torments of hell first, naturally. The whole point of writing is to make your characters lives a nightmare *grin*

    Contemporaries were easy. Then I gritted my teeth and put sex into fantasy and finally my all-time- favourite-genre, science fiction. And how flooded is that market, lol? But I have to do it.

    Now I can’t write a sf/f wip without romance and a serious dose of naughtiness *grin*

    And btw, 8th century China sounds like an incredible setting 😀

  14. jeannielin
    Dec 28, 2008 @ 01:09:31

    Sci-fi and romance…two great tastes that taste great together. I’m going to have to pick up a title or two for my snazzy new e-book reader.