I sold a book to Harlequin Love Inspired!!!
Yes!! I. Sold. A. Book.
The current title is Her Wedding Hero and will be released in April 2015! Amazing!!
|Signing my contract!!|
I don't know about you, but whenever I hear a writer sold her first book, I'm curious about her writing path. Let's go back, shall we?
1992 - I throw a romance novel across the wall, mutter "I can do better than that," and decide I will. I write twenty-two pages of a dippy romance where the hero and heroine have no problems and go on fun dates. It hits me that characters need problems or the book ends at page twenty-three.
1996 - Browsing a bookstore, I find How to Write a Romance and Get It Published by Kathryn Falk. I'm mesmerized. A manual? For a job I never dared dream about? I'm in! I devour this thick book.
1997 - Nine months pregnant with our first child, I quit my job. My husband and I agree I'll be a stay-at-home-mom. I announce my next career will be writing romance novels for--wait for it--Harlequin!
2004 - After years of putting writing on hold, I'm itching to get back into it. Our youngest will be in pre-school soon. I join a local writing group and get very excited about our assignments. Publishing feels real again.
2007 - I join RWA. My youngest will enter Kindergarten, so I begin writing full time. I finish a romance novel--a delightful kidnapping/private island contemporary. Imagine my giddiness when Harlequin Romance requests a partial! This is it! I'm on my way! (On a side note, I believe this was when I said, "I'll give it a year. If I don't get published, I'll find a job." *snort*)
2008 - We move to Michigan. I join MVRWA, a local RWA chapter. A form rejection for my first book arrives on our anniversary. Depressing, yes, but I've written another romance. I send the query. Surely, this book will be the one!
2008-2009 - More books, queries, rejections. I finally take the rejections for what they are--indications I need to study the writing craft. Additionally, I start this blog. I eat up every piece of writing advice and craft book I can find. I join ACFW. Get very active in MVRWA. Meanwhile, I write constantly. Revise. Critique and be critiqued. Query. Repeat.
2010 - I get the call in October from Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Agency. She wants to represent me! *fist pump*
2011 - Another rejection. Great. Now I'm the dud client Rachel's going to regret signing. But wait...Rachel's amazing. She believes in me and urges me to expand the book to full length. I agree. For the first time, I write both category and full length romance novels for the Christian market. However, I can no longer walk into book stores. Every time I do, I cry. This dream has become raw. Real. And heart-breaking.
2012 - Bad start to the year. Every editor rejects both books I have on submission AND I find out my dad has dementia. I seriously consider quitting. Instead, I study the market for a month and jump back into my normal full-time writing routine. I have to push myself to meet my daily word count goals. I find I don't have to feel good to write well.
I get a call from Susan May Warren. I'm a Frasier Contest finalist! (My Book Therapy sponsors the Frasier!) The contest is a bright spot in a dreary few years.
I've had six novels rejected at this point. I'm not sure I have what it takes. Talent obviously eluded me. I'm no longer as excited to blog and keep up with social media. I begin to feel like a has-been who never was.
We move out-of-state again. This makes three states in five years. Everything I'm clinging to slips away. I have to trust God to hold me together. Sometimes I fall apart.
I attend my first ACFW conference. I'm so blessed to meet old friends and make new friends, but after two so-so pitch sessions, I spend a lot of time crying in my room. Oddly, I take this experience as a sign God wants me to keep writing. I sense He's breaking my spirit for a reason. I started this journey so confident and excited. I'm now humble. Numb.
2013 - I do not think about my submissions. No dreaming. No excitement. Just prayers. Pleading prayers. Rote prayers. Prayers I'm not sure I believe in anymore. Publishing prayers. Since 2011, I've teared up when I see good news by someone I don't know. That's terrible. I feel guilty. How can I be such a jerk? Their success has nothing to do with me. But it still hurts. And I continue to get sad when I see good news that isn't mine.
I enter an online pitch contest through Harlequin Love Inspired, called Happily-Editor-After. Shana Asaro seems like the ideal editor for my work. I sign up to pitch to her. I'm desperate, but I have a blast plotting the new book. That's the thing, I've always loved writing. Shana requests a proposal. Yes!
I get a call from Ann Mulligan. I'm a Genesis finalist! (ACFW sponsors the Genesis Contest!) Soon Chicken Soup for the Soul contacts me. They are buying one of my pieces! My husband brags to family and friends that my work will be in bookstores. He's one of the main reasons I'm still writing at this point.
Shana asks me to revise and resubmit my proposal from Happily-Editor-After. I happily revise and resubmit. Later in the year, the full is requested. Good news, but I refuse to get my hopes up.
One day, I force myself to walk through a Barnes & Noble. As usual, my heart squeezes until my soul hurts. But I see all the books written by authors I personally know. I think how amazing it is that I know them. I feel incredibly blessed to have been given the opportunity to meet these women, to be friends with them. Soon I'm a regular at the book store again. No more tears.
2014 - My dad's dementia (and Parkinson's disease) worsens. He's now in late stages of Alzheimer's. Strangely, I want to be published more than ever. Our finances have been strained for five years. I'm tired. Tired of pouring all my free time into a career that isn't panning out. I want validation. I want to be paid. I want a chance. I still cry when I see good news from anyone other than a good friend. Still feel guilty.
I browse Monster.com. Tell my husband this is it. One more rejection and I'm going back to a full-time job in electrical engineering. I'm tired of feeling like a failure. I CANNOT do this anymore. And I'm still praying every day. I know God doesn't want me to be miserable. I've been miserable for almost three years. Enough is enough.
And then one day it happens. I answer my cell phone, convinced it's a telemarketer because I don't recognize the area code, but it's not. It's Rachel. She tells me "this is the call I've been waiting a long time for." And I burst into tears. (Clearly, I'm a crybaby.)
I submitted my first romance novel six years and seven months ago. I've been on submission with ten different novels for five years and two months.
You read that correctly. On submission with ten books for FIVE YEARS and TWO MONTHS.
The book I sold is my thirteenth novel. I'm convinced this is 100% God. I would have given up years ago if He hadn't put someone in my path, given me a small win, or just held me steady during the nothing times. Everyone says you have a breakthrough when you hit rock bottom, but I hit that point three times and did not have a breakthrough. You have a breakthrough when God determines the time is right. Period.
I'm sharing all this because it's easy to become discouraged trying to get published. In fact, it's easy to get discouraged, depressed, and desperate at any point in your writing journey.
About three years ago I realized publishing is a dream come true, but it doesn't make all your dreams come true. I needed the rejections, the endless waiting, the discouragement, and yes, the countless times I forced myself to write to understand this.
The day after I got the call, I wrote myself a note card. It's pinned to my bulletin board above my desk. It says, "Whenever you feel like complaining, remember all the years and heartbreak it took to get here. Gratitude!"
I'm extremely grateful Love Inspired is taking a chance on me (thank you, Shana!!). I owe so much to my agent (thank you, Rachel!), for all the work she's poured into me and my books. And I have a long, long, list of close friends and family to thank, particularly my critique partners Wendy Paine Miller and Jessica R. Patch, as well as my former critique partners Cindy Wilson and Terri Tiffany. It truly took a village to get this gal a contract!
Thank you for celebrating with me! Thank you for taking the time to stop by my blog! Thank you for being you!
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Have a wonderful day!!