Reflecting back on the journey.
See Jane Publish is about the journey, so as I consider my goals for 2014, I wanted to share some very private writing highs and lows from my past years. It is my hope these snippets will allow you to get to know me better. And if you can relate to any of the steps of my journey, all the better!
2008. I think I want to write romance novels. I tell my parents and they think I’m crazy because I have a good job as a multimedia consultant. I tell them not to worry; it is merely a “hobby”. I attend my first RWA in San Francisco and I enter my first contest, the Maggies in Atlanta. I get the call in August telling me I’m a finalist. I’ve never been more excited in my life. Mom goes with me to Atlanta and I take 4th Place. Mom is now a believer.
2009. I find it hard to write full length manuscripts with the day job, but I manage two 50,000 word stories about a hotel baron and his family. My mother and my sister-in-law are now my beta readers. RWA is in Washington DC and everyone I talk to gets a book deal at the conference. I have my first, 1st Place finish in a contest. I frame the certificate and hang it on my home office wall.
2010. When I’m called and told I’m a Golden Heart finalist for LAURA TAKES A LOVER, I refuse to tell anyone until it is posted on the RWA website. Then, of course, I’m sure it is a mistake. I get to wear the pink ribbon on my badge at RWA held at Walt Disney World. Expectations are high for an agent. Each one rejects me, telling me I write too many genres and am unfocused, but I think they are starting to know my name!
2011. I final in seven more contests, but my heart isn’t in it. My mother has been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. She receives her diagnosis one week after reading my manuscript, CHEMICAL ATTRACTION. The story is about a heroine seeking revenge on the owner of a chemical company responsible for her brother’s death from lung cancer. I think life is imitating art and I hate the manuscript. I’m in New York for RWA when my mother gets test results that show her cancer has spread to her lungs. The only bit of happiness I have this year is when an agent keeps requesting and eventually reads four of my manuscripts, which she tells me she “loves”. Four months later, she rejects me. It appears to her that I’m unfocused. I hate this year and I can’t write anything.
2012. In early March, my mother says, “Don’t you ever stop writing! You’re going to make it. I just know it.” My mother dies on March 24. On March 26th, my father and I are staring at the backyard watching squirrels eat nuts he’s left out for them. In an hour, my brother will arrive and we will go pick out a crypt for my mother. My cell phone vibrates; CHEMICAL ATTRACTION is a 2012 Golden Heart finalist. It is one of the worst days of my life. I sit next to Cherry Adair at the RWA awards ceremony in Anaheim that July and tell her I can’t write. She tells me to get off my ass and write a damn book. I write a book that takes me sixteen months to complete. It is terrible and I fear I’ve lost my passion and my ability. I’m #2 in digital sales for my company at the day job. Maybe I’m not meant to write.
2013. I miss writing. A co-worker refers to my writing as a “hobby” and it bothers me so much that I’m tempted to ask her if child rearing is a “hobby”. I have too much time on my hands. I have nine completed manuscripts. Maybe it is time to self-publish. Before I do, I need to make one last effort to get an agent. I stop entering contests and start studying agents. At RWA in Atlanta, I meet with an agent I’d met in Seattle in 2011. She remembers my manuscript and offers to have another look. By August, I have been offered agency representation or as I like to call it: THE day I got THE CALL. The manuscript is rejected in October, but she tells me she didn’t sign me for what I’ve written, she signed me for what I’m going to write. By December, I’ve written a new manuscript in four weeks. I can write again. I’m back.
2014: Feels good. :)