Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Warrior Wednesday: Tales of the Unpubbed Welcomes Calisa Lewis

Hi All! Welcome to another segment of Warrior Wednesday. I am tickled pink to introduce to you my critique partner Calisa Lewis.

Thank you for having me here Melinda.

I’m Calisa Lewis. I’ve been reading the other Warrior posts each week and nodding my head so much my husband thought I had a crucial screw loose! Man can I relate with the others when it comes to the long road to publication.

I don’t have a tall stack of rejection letters yet, but I have my share. The thing is- if you don’t finish a manuscript, if you never send it in and get those painful scars racked up- you won’t learn. What’s that saying? If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not doing it right.

My writing began very early though, and pain free. Picture it. 10 years old, Mr. Matthew’s fifth grade class, Connell elementary in Washington State. I was bored in class one day and decided to write instead of listening to lessons. On plain note paper I wrote my first book. I think it was only eight to ten pages about bubblegum—with pictures drawn by yours truly. I took that book to the school library and donated it. I was thrilled that the librarian actually put the book on a shelf as a loner! I checked it out one day just because I could!

I got to thinking about that little ‘book’ a couple of weeks ago and looked up the school and called them. Cathleen, the woman I spoke with, agreed to research and see if my little book has somehow survived the years somewhere on school property. I don’t hold much hope, but if it is still there she agreed to help me retrieve it, or at least a copy.

I’ve always loved horses, ranches and cowboys…yum! But when I was younger those things were nothing more than a part of life. The cowboys I hung out with were more pest than hero because I was ‘one of them’ and knew who they really were. Or so I thought. So back in my early writing days I wrote poetry that had nothing to do with heroes and heroines, or even love. Then I graduated when I discovered boys. Love entered the poems and I found music in a deep way. Moreover, I discovered the cute men who sang. I started writing again because of those cuties. All of my stories then revolved around musicians on summer vacations and long weekends.

Then my cowboys had resurgence. I realized a very important fact- I was no longer ‘one of them’. They are hot, sexy men who no longer seemed pesky—and now do sinful things to a pair of Levis!

I still have those early pathetic efforts in my office. I pull them out now and then and read just for the pure joy of it. I don’t cringe over the horrendousness of non-craft or head hopping (I do have to close my eyes to those things though). I go back in time to when my writing bug hatched. Will I ever revise those into ‘real’ manuscripts? Probably never happen. I will move forward.

My first attempt to ‘really write’ took a year from a thought I’d had once, and after my daughters were all mostly grown. I had scratched a beginning and that was it. I pulled out those scratchings and wrote Contract For Love. I found authors Brenda Nyveld and Robbie Grady (before Robyn agented up or sold her first Modern Heat or Desire) on eHqn when they offered to become my first critique partners. I can’t tell you how much I learned from those two literary angels during that year of edits! On July 3rd, 2005 I mailed my first ever 3-chapter partial, with synopsis and query letter, to Silhouette Desire. I received a request from the editor to send a partial to Silhouette Special Edition and then, also to send the full to Desire. Within 3 weeks I received my first rejection letter from SSE. I called the Desire editor almost 2 years later and was told that she’d ‘passed the full to another genre editor’. I never got a rejection from Desire because somewhere along the way the full was actually lost and not passed on.

Heads up Warriors- it happens. One thing I learned about that is to follow up after a reasonable amount of time. You may need to resubmit a lost submission. I currently have a second cowboy story partial with SSE, and will soon be sending a follow up query since it’s been seven months with no word.

In August 2010 Melinda came to my new and wonderful CBC crit group with a challenge. HQ Medicals was running a fast track special event. Why don’t we write a chapter and submit just to see what happens. I struggled for two weeks and came up with one chapter. Two days later the editor asked for the first three chapters…as yet unwritten. I spent a month writing two chapters that shouldn’t have taken me a week to write. I sent those off. Two weeks and one day later the editor emailed. When I get the full ms written, she wants it!! I spent the next two months writing Perfect Doctor Viv. On Dec. 18th I sent it to her. I was shocked when just five weeks (Jan 24th) she sent me a five page revision letter! So I struggle now, not just to write, but to make this promising story sell. Melinda has asked me to remember the spelling of her name. I won’t forget Mel!

I am determined this is my year to leave the ranks of struggling, aspiring writer as a graduate to still struggling, published author! Can you imagine how much my little Bubblegum book might one day be worth when I’m a NYT bestselling author!?! Wooot

Thank you Calisa so much for guest blogging! To continue to follow Calisa on her journey to publication, click here.


  1. Hi Melinda, Hello Calisa,

    It was great learning somethings new about you, my new friend, Calisa.

    Hopefully will see your name on books very soon on a shelf near me!

  2. Great post Calisa, it was neat leaning more about one of my Cp's.

  3. Great post, Calisa. I wish you all the best this year! I'm sure you'll be on the shelf soon.

  4. Hi Calisa, great post and so true. A publisher once lost my submission and they had already published me before. It happens. I've read your work (love it!) and I'm sure you won't remain unpubbed for very long. Hugs Gale xoxoxo

  5. You're welcome Mel. I loved doing this!

    Charmaine, Nas, Alyssa- I loved sharing more of myself with you! Just goes to show...just when you think you know someone, they pull out another gem. Not that this is a gem, or anything. Layers. That's what I am! Yeah. We'll go with that one.

    Thank you Ciara (love your name). I'm trying to keep a positive attitude as I revise.

    Gale- thanks girl! Glad you like my writing-loves yours too- and won't be one of the few-so-far to read my work.

  6. Great post, Calisa. I have no doubt this will be your year. Thanks for sharing your journey and I'll be watching and waiting to see you take that next step into pubbed author.

  7. You have a great story, Calisa, and I just know it's gonna sell...and then we'll all say 'i knew her when....'

  8. Thanks for the votes of confidence Christina and Kristina! I can't wait to say 'I knew her when' for all of you too! I feel a great BIG year ahead for some wonderful writers!

  9. Great post, Calisa. Yep, this year is your year, sister! :-D

  10. Wonderful post and you are SO right. If you don't take that plunge and risk rejection, you might never feel the sting of a "fail" but you'll DEFINITELY never discover the JOY of a success.

  11. Thanks everyone for stopping by!

  12. Thanks Twinkie LC. I need that support sister!

    Hi Maeve. I agree. (Happy belated birthday yesterday lady!)

  13. Hi Calisa,

    Great to meet you here :) Hiya (from one to-be warrior to another warrior)!

    As usual, as we read everyone's journeys, it is awe inspiring and makes us feel connected. And that we aren't alone....
    Fingers crossed for those immediate revisions and to the NYT best seller list!

  14. Hi Ju! Thanks for stopping by. I love that we aren't alone. I can't wait to read your post soon!

  15. Lovely post Calisa. I enjoyed it so much.