Last week I signed a publishing contract and received an agent rejection the same day.

On the scale of things, the balance is tipped in my favour – a contract beats a rejection any day, right? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. I celebrated with Prosecco that night and filed the agent rejection away in my Folder of Resilience.

But on the subject of rejection …

Alexandra Rose and her Ice Cold Toes is the first story I ever submitted to a publisher, way back in 2004 (I sent it complete with detailed illustration suggestions – cringe).

In fact, until 2015, when I submitted a short romance for an anthology (which was published in Rocky Romance, Alexandra Rose and her Ice Cold Toes was the only book I’d ever submitted to a publisher.

Obviously the publisher (a big one with a name starting with S) rejected it.

I still have the letter somewhere. It said something like … no. I can’t remember the exact words, but all I saw was NO. It might have been no thank you, but politeness aside, it was still a resounding no.

And that was that. Life was challenging at the time and I didn’t have time to get worked up about it, so I shoved the manuscript back in a drawer and got on with getting by.

Somehow that manuscript survived three moves and when I next found it, I immediately understood why it was rejected.

The idea was good, but it needed more oomph (such a vague but useful word). In my head, Alexandra Rose was a cute and cheeky four-year-old with bed-tangled hair and a penchant for waking people with cold toes.

On paper, she was cute but not memorable.

And the thing is, Alexandra Rose is based on a memory. My Uncle Klaus delighted in reminding me of the time I put my ice-cold bare feet on his belly while he was snoozing … and apparently my three-year-old self thought it was funnier at the time than he did.

By the time he told me about it, he saw the funny side, and I admit only to you, that I still think it’s funny to put my cold feet on people. “People” being my husband, because really, no one else would put up with that.

And that’s what I wrote about – Alexandra Rose’s delight in doing something she thought was hysterically funny, even if no one else did.

Alexandra Rose rubbed her ice-cold toes until a super-dooper, ever-clever, arty-smarty, wake-up-fast idea grew … and grew … and grew.

Last year, when my uncle suddenly passed away, I decided to rewrite Alexandra Rose and her Ice Cold Toes and focus on finding a publisher.

I read the revised version to kids at a Book Week 2018 event and they gave it a big thumbs up, which made me more determined to make it happen. And now it is – Alexandra Rose and her Ice Cold Toes is set for publication in March 2020 and will be illustrated by the talented Katharine Rattray of Kat & Fox.

I can’t wait to see her concept of Alexandra Rose (I do remember drawing a picture of Alexandra Rose back in 2004 but I know better now than to tell the illustrator what to do).

In the meantime, I’m going to keep working on my adult fiction and maybe one day (sooner rather than later, I hope), there’ll be some good news on that front too.

Uncle Klaus, this one’s for you (it always was going to be).

This image and feature image by rawpixel from Pixabay






Monique Mulligan

Monique Mulligan

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