Just Keep Swimming!
Never Give Up! You hear that all the time yet it's often hard to follow through and keep going if you don't get results right away. Or in a few years.
It's funny that I never thought of myself as a writer, or even liked writing for most of my life. And here I am with a three book contract from a well-known publisher, Kensington. If you had told me ten years ago that I'd be writing and getting published, I would have laughed at you. But looking back, I realize I always had stories inside my head, burning a hole in my mind, yet I never thought of actually putting them on paper until a few years ago.
It all started when the internet became big and I found groups of people who enjoyed some of the same things I did. So, (now don't cringe ) they were people who wrote fan fiction. And yes, many of the stories I had in my head were new "episodes' of favorite shows. When I met these people, they encouraged me to write my ideas down. I never expected to suddenly have hundreds of followers and thousands of daily "views" of my work. It was addicting. So I kept writing until I had well over a million words of this stuff.
My oldest daughter told me I should start writing something that I could actually sell and make money with. I thought about it but wasn't sure my work was good enough. And no one buys fan fiction. But I did have a handful of story ideas that were original, and romance, of course. Everything I write is romance. It's been my passion since I first snitched my mother's Harlequins at age 12 and began devouring them.
So I started working on one that had come to me in a dream a few years earlier. I had about a dozen pages of notes on it from when I first thought of it. About five months later it was done. I cleaned it up and subbed it to two places. I got nice feedback but they passed. I got back to the drawing board and revised again and again and subbed a few more times. More rejections (or let's call them passes to make it sound less negative) came along and I was beginning to think the story was just a piece of crap.
In the meantime, I had written a few more stories and actually had a short story published in an anthology. I continued to take workshops, go to conferences and conventions and connect with authors on a variety of different internet sites. I couldn't have done it without these people. My critique partner, MA Grant (who publishes with Harlequin Escape) was essential to my success, always brainstorming and asking me questions about my character's motivations and conflicts. Authors Gina Rochelle and Carrie Nichols also gave me help and support during this time. The best thing was that some of my friends from my fan fiction days continued to be there for me. I couldn't have done it without Emily (Firedew) and Kris (Kickstand).
When I'd just about given up and decided that the last batch of submissions would be my last for that story, I got word from Kensington, through one of their editors, Amanda Siemens, that my manuscript had gone up the ladder to the next step. A short while later it was sitting at acquisitions. Then I got a message to call Amanada. They wanted the book. But. Yes, always a but. They wanted it as part of a series. Ahh, it was a stand-alone book.
I called on my friends and we brainstormed. I had another series where the first book was written and the next two planned out. It was also suspense. Could I link them? Yup, with our collective brains we figured it out. I sent the proposal and waited. And waited. And waited. The publishing industry is not a fast moving thing as anyone who has dealt with them knows. But with the assistance of the lovely Amanda, I finally got my contract offer. Three books, with the first out March 2017 and the next two later that year.
So, even though it took a while, and I was about to toss that book under the bed to be forgotten, I kept at it. And it finally paid off. Never give up! Just keep swimming!