Every now and then you meet the right people

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Throughout my journey as a fledgling author, I have encountered many encouraging people along the way.  In the initial stages of writing it was friends and family who were at the forefront of my support team.  As I talked more about my writing progress, my circle of support grew much bigger and began to gather friends whom I have never met face to face but have become friends through this blog.

The nice thing about friends is that they have other friends, and some of those friends can provide a wealth of knowledge about the very thing that I am most passionate about – writing.  Yesterday, I met one of those people.  She was able to give me a much more extensive view into the publishing world since she has two published novels and a third is due out in October of 2018.

During our conversation, she was more than just supportive, she was engaging.  She gave me some great insight into ways that I can establish more connections and receive some honest opinions about my writing.  She told me about her journey through publishing and made me have faith that the rocky roads I will face in wanting to be published can quite possibly pave the way to eventual success.  And the one thing she told me that I will continue to hold onto is to never give up.

The best thing I have learned about this process is to take advice, to take lots of advice.  Some of it may have no bearing on my path or my success, but at least I can face the daunting task of publishing with as much information in my arsenal as I can get.

The two most important things I have going for me are tenacity and an extreme desire to succeed.  If I can keep meeting the right people and following the right path, I just might find that success.

 

Trying to keep my s&*t together

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There is a fine line between hoping for the best and reaching for the stars.  I am perched precariously in the middle of the two, balancing on that fine line.

A blogging friend who I have never met face to face suggested I contact her publisher and I, being the eternal optimist, thought ‘what do I have to lose’?   I sent an email and I was shocked to receive a quick answer.  I have since submitted my first three chapters of my novel and will await her response.  The publisher has been very forthcoming, telling me she is madly preparing two new books for publication so I have a few weeks to wait for her reply.  I may or may not be sh*&&ing my pants.

My first two Beta readers were very encouraging.  Although the first one is related to me, I knew I could count on the second reader to be brutally honest with her feedback. She loved my story, so much so that she didn’t want to put the pages down and was sad when it came to an end.  To say I was elated is a gross understatement.

When you create a story and bleed throughout it from beginning to end, it is more than encouraging that others can find, not only merit in your writing but, a story in which they can truly become engaged.

Here’s hoping the publisher feels the same way.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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!

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.

The feeling came rushing back

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Last year, I made the courageous decision to let two of the guests at the lodge read the first three chapters of my novel.  It was a large hurdle for me to jump, to trust my writing enough let them read it and, as I sat waiting to hear back from them, I was concerned that their critique may destroy the hope I had for my book.  I was dead wrong and I wrote about it here.

That same couple checked back into the lodge yesterday for their annual “Shammy” vacation.  I was delighted to see them again and we embraced like we have known each other for decades.  We had been corresponding by email over the winter and they were two of the people at the top of my list to share my news once I had finished writing the book.

As she began to leaf through the 8 1/2 by 11 pages, I watched her brow furrow.  She agreed with the changes that I had made in red ink but I sensed there was an underlying urge in her to be wielding the same red pen she had used last year.  Instead, she set the pages down on her lap and seemed so overjoyed that I had finished my work in progress.  She was thrilled and her joy seeped into me.  I was elated.  The excitement I had felt after finishing the writing now came flooding back and the two of us acted like we had just won the lottery.

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I have been dutifully editing my novel for egregious grammatical oversights as well as making the story flow as well as it should so the reader is not lost at the beginning of any of the chapters.  I plan to spend all of my free time over the next week finishing the revisions and beginning the hunt for an agent.  Game on!

Time is running out

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I have been blessed over the last six months.  Not only have I been able to work full-time at a job I enjoy, I have been able to focus the substantial increase of my spare time into the things that I am truly passionate about.

I have always been a creative person.  As a child, arts and crafts were my go-to hobby and when I reached the age of eleven I was introduced to the art of writing.  My grade six teacher urged us to express ourselves in ways that I had never thought about and from that moment, I was hooked.  I began to write poetry and short stories.  I was so addicted to words that I got my library card and became a voracious reader.

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I was also introduced to cooking at an early age and, under the tutelage of my dad, learned to create meals that did not come from a recipe.  I learned to experiment with flavors and was able to create some impressive dinners with simple items found in any pantry.  And I made a point to commit his cooking faux pas to memory – NEVER make scrambled eggs with Egg Nog!

I have been able to take all of my spare moments over the last few months and really focus on the things I love – cooking and writing.  This past weekend, I added three thousand more words to my novel-in-progress and spent some time in my own kitchen creating some fantastic and creative soups for myself and my family.  The time is slowly running out for me to have the time to focus on the wants instead of the needs.  Soon the resort will be back in full swing and my spare time will be a dim memory of my past.

My email address is a glaring reminder of how I will spend my remaining days and nights before my world changes – “carpe diem – seize the day”.