Never Give Up

By Pepper Espinoza

Thanks for inviting me to write something!

I think it was around December 3, 2005 when despair set in. I hit a major slump. I won’t say I got “writer’s block”—I wouldn’t know. I never tried to write anything. For the entire month. Meanwhile, I collected three rejection slips on projects that really meant a lot to me, and one of the contests I entered pushed back the announcement by a full six weeks. At one point, I even convinced myself that I should withdraw my submissions, or at the very least, never submit anything again. You see, I believed that I had American Idol Syndrome—I wasn’t self-aware enough to realize I sucked, so chances were, I probably sucked.

But a few things happened to change my thinking. First, two of my short stories were accepted by Whiskey Creek Press Torrid ( for their Torrid Teasers Line. That was a healthy boost to the ol’ ego! Healthy enough that I could at least consider submitting again.

Then my second full-length novel, “The Zebra Wore Fishnets,” was released on Jan 2. (…refishnets.htm) It’s a good novel. I like that novel. So I thought to myself, “Self, you have another novel that’s finished. Why sit on it? That novel deserves a chance!”

So the next day, January 3, I prepared a submission for Samhain Publishing ( I targeted Samhain because I am really impressed with their website and their other releases, and it seemed like a company I’d like to be a part of. Meanwhile, I emailed Raven at Liquid Silver ( and asked for an update on a revision I had sent her in October.

Of course, the stage was now set for horrible heartbreak. If they both turned me down, would my confidence be able to take the blow? I figured I had some time to prepare myself.

Except that I didn’t.

Two days after I emailed Raven, she replied that she liked the revisions and she would accept “California Stars.” Oh, Happy Day! I have been trying to sell that novel for over a year now!

Three hours after that email, I received one from Samhain Publishing. As soon as I saw the mail alert, my heart sank. You get rejections back in two days, not acceptance letters. With a trembling hand and a faint heart, I opened the email…to find an acceptance! She loved “Be Thou My God” and wanted to offer a contract! Now, this acceptance was gratifying for a couple of reasons—namely this particular novel has caused me nothing but grief from day one. I liked the idea and I liked the characters, but they didn’t like me, and it was a struggle to make them behave. I didn’t believe I’d ever finish it, much less get it to the point that it’s publishable!

But here we are. Three years since I started “California Stars” and two years since I started “Be Thou My God.” The point of this story? Just don’t give up. Don’t give up on yourself and don’t give up on your work.