Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Getting the Call: Lori Sjoberg

Last summer, I participated in a grand speculative fiction marathon of critiquing chapters on AQC. (If you’re interested look here, then apply to become a member of the Speculative Fiction forum.) We post a chapter a week starting in June and running through August. It’s a marathon indeed and super helpful! (Really, I advise everyone who writes a form of fantasy to check it out.) Anyway, there was a lot of great work posted during the marathon, but I remember one lady’s work stood out.
Lori Sjoberg has such an easy flow to her writing. Her effortless style was a joy to read. And her characters popped from the page. I’m happy to say that her first book will be released, hopefully if things go as planned, this December!   

I’ve had my fair share of rejection on the path to publication. For my paranormal romance, Grave Intentions, I queried fifty-eight agents and editors, received twenty-seven form rejections, twenty no responses, four requests for partials, and seven requests for full manuscripts. The one that hurt the most was from an agent who requested the partial and then the full, and then declined to offer representation about six weeks later. The letdown was so crushing I thought about giving up. I probably would have, if not for the kind words of encouragement from my husband, my friends, and my fellow writers.
Still, the rejection stung. I stopped querying and focused my efforts on tightening my manuscript and joining a new critique group. In the meantime, I had a number of outstanding submissions, (one with an agent, and three with editors) so I sent follow-up emails to all four.
Much to my surprise, I received an immediate response from the editor at Kensington. He said he was in the process of reading my manuscript, enjoying it so far, and would let me know when he finished. So I waited. And waited. (Actually, it wasn’t that long, but it seemed like FOREVER.) About a week later, I had a mild coronary when he sent another email. After a couple deep breaths, I clicked on the message.
To paraphrase, he liked my story but didn’t like the ending. He offered some suggestions, and asked me to let him know if I was open to the drastic revision.
Of course, my initial reaction was a resounding “Hell, no!”  How could he possibly ask me to change the ending? I worked hard on that ending! I LOVED that ending!
Following my husband’s advice, I thought about it over the weekend. I reread the editor’s email another thirty or forty times, and came to realize he actually wasn’t asking me to change the ending, just the way I reached the story’s conclusion.
Okay. I could work with that.
It took the better part of an afternoon, but I created a rough outline for an alternate ending that maintained the integrity of the story. Whew. I emailed the editor back, letting him know I was open to a revision, and that I’d love to talk with him about my ideas.
The next day he responded, wanting to know a good time to call.
Two days later, I’m waiting by the phone for his call. I let it ring twice – didn’t want to appear too eager, you know– and then picked up.
Much to my dismay, he didn’t sound very receptive to my idea for the alternate ending. So I kept talking, about how the scene would play out, how it would tie in with events from previous chapters, and how it would bookend the opening scene and showcase the character arcs of the hero and heroine. And the more I talked, the more enthusiastic he sounded.
When I finally finished talking (rambling), he asked me if I was working on anything else. I told him about the sequel featuring one of the secondary characters from Grave Intentions. His response was something along the lines of, “Well then. In that case, I’d like to offer a two-book deal.”
Cue heart palpitations. And the urge to squeal like a little girl.
So I guess the moral of the story is to keep an open mind when an agent or editor recommends a revision. You may not always agree, but sometimes it works out for the best. Now that it’s written, I have to agree with my editor. The new ending is much stronger than the original.

 You can find Lori on facebook:


  1. Awesome!!! Congratulations again Lori!! And, as always, thanks for these posts Michelle - I always enjoy them!

  2. And it is definitely for the best. I can never say it enough Lori-I am SO happy for you <3

    This was nice Michelle, thanks. Now I've added a new blog to my list :)

  3. Awesome story!! I'm glad you the ending better now! Thanks so much for sharing :)

  4. Thanks so much, ladies! And a huge thanks to Michelle, for giving me the opportunity to share my story. :)

  5. Love your story, Lori!! So excited for you!

  6. I'm so excited for you. You are a great (and generous) writer. Thanks for sharing your journey!