Feeling elated all over again

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When I explain to people how it feels to write a book, I compare it to being pregnant and birthing a child without the physical pain.  I mean no disrespect to women who have given birth to a tiny human but the process is quite similar.  You spend months caring for and cultivating this remarkable thing you have created and once the process has come to its natural conclusion, you feel elated and you feel a sense of pride you never knew existed.  You spend so much time staring at it and are afraid to let anyone else touch it.  It never leaves your side.

But there comes a time when you have to learn to give up a little bit of the control.  Eventually you know you are going to have to let other people handle your baby and you are a nervous wreck when you finally make the decision to leave them with someone else.  Your gut churns as you wonder how other people are going to react and how they are going to treat your baby.

Until this week my baby had only been left with family. While there is still a sense of apprehension, one assumes that family will not come straight out and tell you that your child is terrible.  They may allude to the fact that there are some problems but any feedback could be slightly sugar-coated to preserve the emotional well-being of the parent.

I knew the day would come when I would have to hand my baby, my book, over to a person outside of my immediate family.  It honestly felt like I was dropping my child off at overnight camp for a week with no way to communicate with them.  I carved a path in my living room carpet as I paced the floor and, as the days went on, I began to get a feeling that I’m sure many parents feel.  If I have done the job I needed to do in the creation of this entity, I should have some faith that I did a good job.

Yesterday morning, I received a validation so positive it made me cry.  Her first two texts read, “Omgggggg, I am so hooked on your friggen book.  It’s like every second wondering if you can take it with you to read one more page.”

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Where the flame of my publishing dream was a mere flicker, it is now a roaring fire.  If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to buy some gasoline.

 

You never know where help will come from

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In a random phone conversation at work yesterday, I was talking to a guest who was re-booking her summer vacation.  In the process of that exchange, we began to talk about the book that I have written.  It seemed like just a simple trade of information until she called me back half an hour later and said she had some information about publishers.

When one is a fledgling author, the mere mention of any connection to a publisher is exhilarating.  As I frantically wrote down the information she was giving me, I could feel my heart beating at an accelerated rate.  I was writing with one hand, Googling with the other and trying to retain all of the information from each place.

She had given me the name of a recently published author who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Her friend assured her that he was a really nice fellow willing to help out where he could.  With my tenacious Google-searching skills, I had tracked down his email in no time and sent him a query.  Much to my delight, he answered within a few hours.

Although he may not be the direct link I need to have into the publishing world, as a newly published author he could be a wealth of information for me at this stage of my writing career and he seems to be very engaged in helping others that are going through the phases of being a writer that he has already experienced.

I have since sent my first four chapters to the publishing company that previously took a chance on the Winnipeg writer and will wait with crossed fingers to see if I get a response.   If nothing else, I have a published author willing to send me snippets of much-needed advice and that, in itself, is priceless.

 

Luck be a Lady

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“You can knock on a lot of doors, but real luck is knocking on the right door, at the right time, and having someone on the other side willing to open it.” ~ SN

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I am not as patient as Job, but I am willing to endure some obstacles along the path to my goals.  That willingness has served me well in many aspects of my life.  Considering the initial idea for my first novel was conceived almost a decade ago, I am proud of myself for seeing it through and writing it in its entirety.

Now comes the true test of my patience – trying to find an agent who thinks my story has enough merit for a publisher to be interested in adding me to their repertoire.

I have mentally prepared myself with the knowledge that this is going to be a long process.  It may take years to find an agent, if I do find one, and it will take a few more years beyond that for my book to be published.  It is a painstaking process that will require every ounce of faith I have in the fact that my book (or books) will, one day, be on a book shelf.

Between knocking on the intangible doors of those prospective agents (by means of email or website submissions), I have begun work on a second novel.  Success isn’t always about luck.  It’s also about tenacity and the willingness to put in the work.  Thankfully, I have my fair share of both of those qualities, not just in my writing but in my life in general.

If something is worth working for and putting forth the effort, I am willing to fall back on my patience to see where my journey takes me.  Sure, it would be nice to have some luck on my side to open the right doors at the right times, but Lady Luck is a fickle creature and she does what she wants, when she wants.  I can’t spend my life depending on that luck, so I am hoping to create some of my own by keeping my tenacity at the forefront of my game.   This way I know, if Luck isn’t going to be that Lady, I at least have a back-up plan.

 

 

 

Green means GO!

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I have been keeping myself busy with ideas for a new book while I have been anxiously awaiting my first book review from my nephew.  I had to keep reminding myself that it IS summer and he IS a 14-year old boy with other interests besides reading so I have cut him, and my nervous mind, some slack.

It is difficult to quiet a cacophony in a mind that is continually feeding on its negative thoughts.  Like an inferno that is started with one tiny spark, my mind became the spark and my stress was the oxygen that fueled the fire of my doubt.  The longer I went without any sort of feedback, the more I convinced myself that the book was terrible and my nephew didn’t know how to tell me that it was a flop.  Self-doubt is a vicious thing.

I silenced my doubts this morning as I prepared my meals for this week based on my new plant-based diet.  Being in the kitchen always allows me some escape from my reality.  After creating my meals, I ran into town and stopped at The Apothecary Shop for a few things.  I decided to use the blood pressure cuff to see if my change in diet had made a significant difference to my blood pressure.  While I was in mid-check, my nephew had seen my car and come into the Apothecary to find me.  The sight of him must have unnerved me because my blood pressure reading was ridiculous!

I couldn’t imagine what was going to come out of his mouth but I began to tug my arm out of the cuff before it had finished deflating.  He stood beside me with an apologetic smile.  He promised to finish the book before the weekend and that was all he said.  I said one word that seemed to hover in the small space between us….

“And………..”, I asked.

“It’s REALLY good”, he replied.

So now I sit, comfortably ensconced in my living room with words churning in my brain for my second book.   I have always loved the phrase ‘green means go’ and I feel like I have just been given the green light to continue my writing journey.  I’m already excited about this next book and can’t wait to dive in!  See you on the flip side.

 

 

And just like that, it was out of my hands…..

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I saw the corners of his mouth turn into a smile as I handed it over.   One hundred and eighty-two pages of eight and a half by eleven paper covered by eighty-two thousand, six hundred and fifty words of a story I crafted were turned over to my fourteen year old nephew so he could be the first person, besides myself, to read the book in its entirety.

My nephew, like me, loves to read and even though his calendar age may prove that he is only fourteen, he reads far beyond his age.   I could think of nobody more suited for the role of first reader than him and I was happy to hand the pages over to him.

My dad was a voracious reader as well.  Although the premise of my story may not have been something my dad would have eagerly pulled from the book shelf, he would have been my biggest fan.  It is bitter-sweet knowing how proud he would have been of my accomplishment but knowing that I can never hear those words come from him.  I know he is up there somewhere giving me a thumbs up and doing his best to encourage a literary agent to take a chance on me.

As much as I sit here, nervously awaiting the outcome of the first read-through, I anxiously anticipate feedback on the story.  I’m sure Dean Koontz or Stephen King never batted a thousand on their first at-bats so I’m expecting to take many more swings before I knock it out of the park.  I just want to make sure I stay in the game!

The positives in a negative

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My foray into finding a literary agent did not begin without some sage advice from some wonderful people I have met through this blog.  Thankfully their wisdom from having pounded this same pavement on which I now find myself more than prepared me for the long road ahead.

After sending out my first query letters on Sunday, I received my first (anticipated) rejection letter on Monday.  I thought I would feel more disheartened but his response was so much more positive than I thought it would be.

My story is not what he is currently seeking – understandable (although his bio included mystery and suspense in the genres he looks for).  His decision was also based on his current workload and the nature of the material he is presently representing.  He did not say my idea wasn’t worth selling.  He did not say he was not impressed by the first chapter.  And he did not say this book will never see the shelves of a book store.

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What he did say was “I absolutely think you should keep looking for representation” and he ended with “Very best of luck”.   For a rejection letter, it scored high in marks for encouragement and affirmation.

This is my first step in a journey of at least a thousand steps.  I am mentally prepared for the thumbs down from several agencies, it’s the nature of the business.  And while I truly wish to publish traditionally, there is always the route of self-publishing if push comes to shove.

My dream is to have my book published and, one way or another, I’m going to make that happen.

 

 

You can’t win if you don’t play

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While this subject line generally makes me think of the lottery pool, it has taken on a much bigger meaning for me today.  I’m sure I have made you all painfully aware of the fact that I finally finished writing my first novel.  Book number two is in the works and the idea for number three is a shimmering light in the distance.

I thought that the actual writing of the book was going to be the hardest part.  And while it was a painstaking process, never having attempted to write a book before, the writing itself was a reward.  The hardest part is convincing yourself that someone else may find your words exciting enough to take you on as a client and help to get you published.

I spent my day off today, a beautiful, sunny day, bound to my couch to finish editing my book for grammatical oversights and story continuity.  I was just as excited to read the ending as if I were a first time reader and that got me even more excited.  I was excited enough to send my first two query emails to potential agents…..and now I feel nauseous.

But like that lottery pool, you can’t win if you don’t play.  I will never get published if I don’t try, and according to Yoda, there is no try, only do.  So I did.

Now I can only hope that some unsuspecting agent finds an email from a small town Canadian girl with big ideas and gets just as excited to read it as I was to write it.