Always shoot for the stars – Jenny Hale

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By Jenny Hale

One night, I sat, cuddled up with my husband on the sofa, reading a novel, when I put it down on the table and said, “I think I could write one of these. I might try.”♥

My sweet and supportive husband looked at me, the person who had no formal writing training, the person who had never written anything other than a few poems, and said, “Okay.”

I got up and went to our computer, opened to a blank document and started to type.

When I finished, I stared at it. It had about 80,000 words. It had a basic plot, a beginning, middle, and end. Was it good enough? I picked up reading again, but this time, something happened: I started to notice what the authors were doing in certain places in their books. And I detected things I might have done wrong. I bought books on writing, on publishing, and on query letters. I devoured them.

Then, I wrote again.

Armed with what I’d taught myself, I pulled together a second novel. That novel was Coming Home for Christmas.

When I finished, this time, I wondered if I might just have something. I cracked open those books I’d bought and started querying. I made a spreadsheet of ten open submissions and kept detailed notes about when I’d hear from each agent or publisher. When I got feedback, I listened. When I got a rejection, I marked it down on my sheet and sent out another query.

This went on for two years. I’d started writing a third book by this time. Discouraged by the lengthy amount of time it was taking to publish, I almost submitted Coming Home for Christmas to an unknown publisher in the hills of Virginia where I hadn’t heard of a single one of their books. My husband stopped me. He said, “Wait. Is that what you want?” I didn’t. So I deleted that email. From then on, I reached for the stars.

Unsure how long to continue submitting, I was ready to put Coming Home for Christmas into a drawer and consider it just practice. But one night, I felt optimistic. I decided to send it away for one more submission. I wanted to see if I could get any feedback from the UK, wondering if maybe my story would be better received there. I sent it off to a publisher called Bookouture, and focused on my third novel.

I got a contract offer.

And so began my writing career. Now, four years later, I’ve quit my full time job to focus on writing, written eight novels, I’m writing number nine, pitching number ten, and I’ve sold the TV rights for Coming Home for Christmas. It will be part of the 2017 Christmas lineup on The Hallmark Channel.

In a nutshell, here’s my advice to those just starting:

1. When thinking of agents and publishers reading your story, it can be daunting. All they can say is “no.” Submit. People around you might all think you’re crazy, until you have success. Then, you’re brilliant. Ha.

2. The time will pass whether you do it or not. So do it.

3. Always shoot for the stars.

When Jenny Hale graduated college, one of her friends said, “Look out for this one; she’s going to be an author one day.” Despite being an avid reader and a natural storyteller, it wasn’t until that very moment that the idea of writing novels occurred to her. While she didn’t start straight away, that comment sowed a seed and several years, two children, and hundreds of thousands of words later, she completed a novel that she felt was worthy of publication. The result was Coming Home for Christmas, a heart-warming story about friends, family, and the magic of love at Christmas. The rest is history. Her latest novel, The Summer House, is out now.


  1. Tanya

    July 4, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks I needed this advice. I started attempting to write a book yesterday but realised last night it was rubbish. Will scrap it and start again. I need some support though as hubby just said oh. I need to think of a plot.

  2. Melinda

    July 4, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    Proud to call you my cousin !

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