“But there was light at the end of the tunnel. In August 2013, I signed with a new agent and within days accepted a two book deal with Penguin Random House. From my lowest low to my highest high in less than a week.”
Once upon a time…a friend told me, with a rather strange expression on her face, that not everyone hears voices. Or makes up stories in their head. Or imagines one day the world might also laugh and cry over the imaginary lives created.
That was the summer of 2011 and in November of that same year I discovered an enormous group of like minded people converging in the cybersphere in something called NaNoWriMo. And yes, I had to google what the heck that meant.
There were groups and chats and boards and posts, enough you could get lost in the bustling community of it. But one message was clear throughout, write. So I wrote and wrote and wrote, stumbling along the way, feeling guilty and down about the days I didn’t get much done, especially those days when there was absolutely no excuse. But in NaNoWriMo, I found accountability and interest in my progress, something a closet writer doesn’t have. I developed a habit of writing everyday and I learned it’s not about mood or inspiration. It’s about work, plain and simple. No matter how may words you get down on paper, you have to work. Every. Single. Day.
November passed and I continued, some days more seriously than others. In 2012 I discovered RWA, Romance Writers of America, and in July I joined another group of like minded people in Anaheim, CA for a four day writers conference. I met with agents, editors, and hundreds of other writers, published and unpublished, and returned home to Tennessee full of fire.
My single most important goal became completing my manuscript in time to enter the 2013 Golden Heart, a contest held by RWA for unpublished authors in the romance genre. Calendar deadlines, I found, are my best friend.
I met that goal in January 2013, relaxed for about twenty-four hours, and then much to my family’s shock and dismay, started my next book. In addition to writing, I submitted query letters to agents and editors. Some I’d met at the conference in California, others I’d only googled. And then I waited.
And then I got rejected.
Some rejections were a generic Sorry, but, no and a few were politely detailed No’s. Same result, though maybe less sting. I took heart in knowing the average, for the romance genre at least, is four to five completed manuscripts before getting published. I revised a bit based on the feedback I received and entered several smaller contests which I placed in. Whether entrance dates or finalist announcement dates, I like having things on the calendar. It fills the great white void of WHEN will I ever be published.
Several months later, I received an email from an agent requesting the entire manuscript beyond the first three chapters I’d submitted with my query. I didn’t expect to hear anything for a while, but I did. The very next day! She’d read the entire book overnight and loved it. But…
There were a lot of very large buts. The excitement of someone in the industry being interested in my work overshadowed everything else. And hey, I’m a newbie, what do I know, right?
I signed with her and her agency and began a very long, very painful revision process. A lot of buts turned into even more buts, and everything changed. I went through a dark time, shut off from friends, mired in the muck of my writing cave. And it wasn’t fun anymore. I questioned every decision, second guessed every word, and drove myself crazy. The dream of being published was suddenly real, maybe too real and I almost cracked under the pressure and the uncertainty.
But there was light at the end of the tunnel. In August 2013, I signed with a new agent and within days accepted a two book deal with Penguin Random House. From my lowest low to my highest high in less than a week. And I think that’s the way it goes in this business.
Things can change so fast there’s no sense in getting buried in the inevitable crap that comes with life. All you can do to be a writer is write. Thus the message of NaNoWriMo. Learn, listen, but in the end know that the story inside you can’t come from anywhere or anyone else. Keep going, keep writing, and believe in yourself.
Everyone, even Stephen King and Nora Roberts, starts with a blank page.
You can find updates of my writing progress, book excerpts, and ridiculous pictures on my Facebook page. Add a post or message me. I’d love to hear from you. I’m no expert, but I’m happy to help in any way I can.
Worth the Fall (publication date June 2014)
Navy SEAL, Matt McKinney, struggles to walk away from a pregnant widow and her children after a week at the beach. His promise to a dying friend threatens to cost him everything he’s finally found. After finding her mother in a blood filled bathtub at age six, Abby Davis begins a life of confusion and abandonment. She’s learned being alone is better than being left behind. Can a man win the heart of a woman who’s been left all her life when all he does is leave?