Rewriting, Growth, and Rejections: by Shannon Vannatter

Since I started writing, I’ve heard so many authors say they have old, horrible manuscripts of their first attempts moldering in a drawer. And that these manuscripts will never see the light of day. I don’t believe in that.

Yes, I have badly written manuscripts that I didn’t know were bad when I wrote them. But after studying the craft of writing for twelve years, I know how to fix them now. So why leave them there?

Rodeo-Queen-coverBy 1999, I’d finally figured out that the story playing in my head—since I was a teenager—could be a book. And I had a computer. So I wrote it. No, I’d never taken any writing courses—not since that 3rd grade Creative Writing class I loved. I’d never been to a writers’ conference. And I’d never attended a writers’ group or even met another writer. I just wrote the book.

Fifty two rejection letters later, I wrote another book and got fifty-two rejections on it too. My third book got nine rejections and an acceptance by a Print on Demand publisher. I didn’t know what Print on Demand was. I soon learned that no editing was done on my book, copies were only printed when someone ordered one and no one knew to order one because they weren’t in stores, and it was priced too high.

All of this taught me, that you don’t just write a book and expect it to get published. So, I joined two writers’ groups, attended two local conferences a year, and bought books and magazines on writing. In 2005, I discovered American Christian Fiction Writers, attended each year, joined a critique group, and entered some national contests with feedback from the judges.

Finally, in 2009, I got my first contract. Five published books later, my imprint sold to Harlequin and they published the final two books in my contract. I learned through my agent that one of the editors liked my book and wanted to know if I had anything similar to submit. I knew I could create a book around one dangling character to continue my series. But I’d married everyone else off in the series.

I could give the dangling character a sister and maybe a cousin. Now for storylines? My thoughts turned to my moldering, badly written manuscripts. I knew what was wrong with them now and how to fix them. I still loved that first book I ever wrote. I knew the characters and storyline by heart. It was originally about an interior decorator with a stalker in rural Arkansas—where I live. Along came a private detective/bodyguard to save her day.

Since my current series was set in the Fort Worth Stockyards, I moved my heroine there. She became a blingy western clothing store owner and the queen at the Fort Worth Stockyards Championship Rodeo. Her protector morphed into a Texas Ranger. And her cousin became the interior decorator from another old, moldering manuscript. But that’s another story.

I went to work and instead of resurrecting the old manuscript and trying to fix it, I started from scratch and completely rewrote the old story using the knowledge gained from the last twelve years. Rodeo Queen releases this month and the first book I ever wrote morphs into my 8th traditionally published book.



Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. Vannatter has won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award in the short contemporary category, The 18th Annual Heartsong Awards 3rd Favorite New Author and #1 Contemporary Award.

Her books are available at,,,, and Learn more about Shannon and her books at and check out her real life romance blog at Connect with her on Facebook: and Twitter: @stvauthor

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