Jane’s Journey – Part 1 by Susan Lute

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do in order to have what you want.”

This quote by Margaret Young is one of my favorites. It sounds like something I’d say.

You must first be who you really are—And who might that be, you ask? Trick question.

This morning I watched a little angel try to crawl. She almost had it. She rocked on all fours—then scooted backwards for all she was worth.

That perfectly describes the new train of self-publishing. Many of us are learning to crawl. We’re rocking on all fours. And we’re scooting backwards, or in plain words—publishing our back list—published or not, because we all know there have been some fabulous stories written that never got published for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is a changing marketplace. Which brings me to the topic of today’s post.

I’ve been asked to tell the story of Jane’s journey. You can read part of that journey at Maggie Jaimeson’s blog, Behind The Book. But this is really the story of two Jane’s. Gunnery Sergeant Jane Donovan. And daughter of a Marine, author Susan Lute.

Jane’s Long March Home was born literally from my heart, back in the day when the only game in town was publishing with a New York publisher. E-publishers were in their infancy, publishing predominately erotic stories. Self-publishing wasn’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eye.

In its earliest incarnation Jane won Rose City Romance Writers Golden Rose, but never found a publishing home. Shortly thereafter, I sold Oops…We’re Married? to Silhouette Books. Oops… went on to become a Reader’s Choice Nominee and Holt Medallion Finalist. Jane languished on my computer, and Susan, author extraordinaire, spent a number of years honing her craft, until one day—

I said, “The hell with it! It should not be this hard to find a fitting home for my voice, or to get a novel published!!!”

This was right after I’d gotten yet another rejection. The economy was tanking, and along with it publishing and the mid-list. By this time, of course, I’d rewritten Jane half a dozen times, completed two women’s fiction novels, and wrote proposals for a dozen or more new stories. I loved Jane (the novel) and couldn’t give up on it, but perhaps it was time to let her go peacefully into the sunset. And maybe, Susan, the author, as well.

So, I’m on a plane to Norman, Oklahoma, right? And that’s when I say, “The hell with it! etc, etc.”

My crazy solution: take my favorite heroine, my favorite hero, and my favorite place, and write the same scene in multiple genres. The purpose of this exercise? To see where my voice fit best.

So—my fav heroine—a thief. Fav hero—a mercenary (a good mercenary). Fav place—surprise, surprise, a bar scene. I chose paranormal for my first effort, convinced I couldn’t write that kind of story, and at least would get that genre off my bucket list pretty quickly.

Who knew? I kept writing, and writing, and writing. All through the weekend visit with the Mr. (he was in school in Norman), and on into the weeks and months that followed, until I finished the book. That experiment became The Dragon’s Thief. You can read that first scene on my website.

Now, I know what you’re saying. What does a dragon book have to do with Jane and her long ride into the sunset? And what does it have to do with being who you really are? And what the heck does any of this have to do with self-publishing?

I’ll tell you next week. Hint:  Marines never quit. Neither Jane or Susan ever took that ride into the sunset.

Ciao for now,

Susan

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About Susan

Author, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, dreamer.

Posted on July 20, 2011, in General and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’m so totally there with you, Maggie. I will always be one of those who wants to hold a book in my hand. Just love the feel of it. And I LOVE seeing my book on the bookshelf. But I also am so glad for the opportunities opening up in today’s market place. Readers are eager to find new authors and read books in all formats. A new publishing model will come out of these changes, and like you, I’m relishing the freedom 😀

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  2. Su, You are an example of someone who didn’t give up and followed her dream. I admire you for that. AND I absolutely loved Jane’s Long March Home. Your paranormal sounds amazing as well. It’s beautiful to see your multi-talented self blossoming.

    Until the ebook revolution over the past two years, I didn’t realize how much publishing was changing while I was trying to follow the traditional route. I couldn’t understand how my books could win contests, get requests for fulls, get “great” rejections and still not find a home. I now know that everyone–publishers, agents–was/is running scared. Scared of change. Scared that the only way to keep their job was to find the next bestseller. Anyone who wasn’t deemed a possible bestseller had little chance of finding a home. While traditionalists weren’t willing to jump until they already knew which way the wind blew, there were others more agile who moved in. And I’m so glad they did.

    I was always told by other authors who read my work that all those rejections did NOT mean my books were bad or that there was no readership. It only meant that the agents/editors couldn’t fit it into their narrow slot. Of course, I thought they just didn’t want to tell me the horrible truth–that I had no talent. But now, with self-publishing and the boom in e-publishing, everyone–agents, editors, and writers–realize that the readership is here for a large variety of experiences. Now, I know not only my books, but many good writer’s books can have a home and find a readership AND make money with or without the traditionalists.

    I think the traditionalists are beginning to come around. They now see the world is changing and have taken the first step of acknowledging that it is changing. However, most still don’t know what to do about it. Most still don’t want to jump in the water until they are sure how to make it work for the most money as quickly as possible. (the curse of American companies who think toward next quarters earnings instead of strategic, long term goals). I think they’ll get there, but it’s going to be painful. In the meantime, all of us writers can now move forward with a boatload of choices.

    I love having the option of self-publishing, small press, and big 6 publishing. I love the option of not having to fit my multi-angled book into a square hole, and still having the option to write a square book and sell it. I love that no one person or publisher can control my career. It’s a bright day for writers and I think once we’ve tasted that freedom and know our own power it won’t easily be taken away.

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