When I was a child I loved to sing. I always dreamed of being famous, of singing for people and having them ask for my autograph. Well things did not pan out in that department as I slowly realized I was not American Idol material. Lucky for me that was long before the show actually premiered as there was a time in my life I may have convinced myself that maybe I should at least give it a try. A big shudder just escaped as I now realize I could have been one of the poor souls that don’t have a clue.
Well the singing may have fallen to the wayside but Eleven years ago I discovered a new talent, one that I did not realize. I had a talent for writing. For telling a story. Oh I have dabbled in poetry but this was something more, something that took me to a place I had never dreamed of going.
I had a friend, who was not in a happy place with her life and that really bothered me. Now as you know there are friends and then there are best friends. Friends know you. Best friends know you better than you know yourself. This particular friend is my best friend, and I like to say she knows where the bodies are buried. That is not to say there are actually any bodies buried anywhere but if there were she would know about it. Hell, she would have probably helped me bury them. What I am trying to say is she knows the real deal, the real me.
So, eleven years ago, I embarked on a little adventure. It was late in the year 2000 and my best friend was unhappy. I hated seeing her so out of sorts and, to cheer her up, I told her I was going to write her a happy ending. It did not matter that I had never written a book, or spelling was not my best attribute, or that punctuation was even lower on the list, what mattered was that my girlfriend needed something to make her smile, so I started writing.
I wrote constantly and found that, not only did I enjoy it but at times it felt as if the words just seemed to jump onto the page. I would wake in the middle of the night with all of these ideas in my head and not be allowed to return to sleep until I had committed them to paper. I often say the story wrote itself and, to be honest, it really seems to be the case. At one point I was writing something and a plotline involving one of the characters revealed itself to me. It kind of shocked me because until that very moment I did not even know that detail. Yet when I wrote it down it made perfect sense.
As I have said the reason I decided to write the book was to give my friend a happy ending. I invented a character for her and then began. While the main character was originally developed with my friend in mind, very little of her remains, her dark hair, the eyes, the mole and the fact that she has always called me Chickie. As I wrote the lead character, Amber, soon became a whole entity. She became real to me. So real, that she cried out, most literally, for a happy ending.
I wrote the story completely by hand as we only had one computer then, and was extremely proud of myself for completing something so out of character for me. Not only had I written a novel but I decided it was a pretty good one at that. Oh of course it had flaws but I was sure that the flaws were in the way of grammatical errors and punctuation and not the storyline itself. The storyline, in my opinion, had good bones.
I took the manuscript and decided that I should look at doing something with it. Not knowing what I was to do now I started researching what to do next. Remember this was all new to me. I did not start off thinking I wanted to get a book published; I only wanted to help out a friend.
After doing the research, I found out that all I had to do was write a letter, send it to an agent and ask them to publish your book. Wow, that sounded simple. I had already written a fifty chapter book, how hard could it be to write a one page letter? After about thirty rejection letters I found out that it was in no way as easy as it sounded. Discouraged I put the rejection letters in a file and then set my manuscript aside.
Several years ago I met a well known author who was giving a speech. I will not mention him by name but I would venture to say that most everyone has at least heard of him. During the question and answer part of the speech he kept telling people who asked how to get started to “write the damn book.” After he repeated that same phrase several times I raised my hand and when called upon stated “I have written the damn book, now what do I do?” He asked me what genre my book was and when I told him romance he shut down and quickly proceeded to the next question. So much for him opening any doors for me and yet it felt like still another rejection. Once again the manuscript was pushed aside.
A few years later I dusted the manuscript off and decided to have another go at it. I looked it over and found some glaring mistakes and started the whole revamping process. Once again I started sending out letters to agents asking them to represent me. Once again the rejection letters started coming in. It really hurt that they said no without even once reading my manuscript. It was really hard not to take the rejections personally so once again I put my “baby” aside.
Early last year I met yet another author. This one was a first time author, one that had taken the self-publishing route and actually had a book for sale. I bought the book but was surprised that the book had many editing issues. Still, it was a good looking book and this person was a published author so it ignited my passion yet again. It was a pure, if he can do it I can do it, moment.
After discussing it with my husband we decided to look into self publishing. Not wanting to repeat this other author’s mistake I looked for a real editor. I found Jennifer St. Germain-Cole of Writers Plus Chaos. I signed a contract, paid her fee and was promptly ripped off, having her not complete the work, return my calls or refund me the money I had paid.
Frustrated yet again I set my manuscript aside and began working on my second manuscript “Somewhere in My Dreams.” My hope was that the second time would be the charm. “Somewhere in My Dreams” was completed within three months and I also had several more manuscripts reveal themselves to me during that time but still I could not forget my first manuscript.
A few weeks ago I decided it was time to start the process yet again however this time I was looking into self-publishing options. It was the first time I had checked into places here in Virginia and in doing so I stumbled upon a publishing company located in Virginia Beach. It was not a self-publishing company but I still decided to give them a call. I called the number and was asked to send in my manuscript. Finely I was to be judged not on a letter or outline but the whole manuscript. I sent it in and the next thing I knew I had a meeting with the publisher who said he saw something in me and in my writing. Things moved very quickly after that and on Tuesday of this week I signed a publishing deal with Koehler Publishing. A deal that will have my manuscript, my first born “baby”, in print and available via Amazon.com, kindle, nook and ibooks in late October.
I have been on a rollercoaster of emotions ever since. I have already been asked for my first autograph, by a lady who I handed my business card to. It was all surreal, the dreams of a child coming true. I may not be singing, or even famous for that matter, but here I was signing an autograph.
I know there were a lot of people over the years that thought I was living in a dream world. I could tell that some were merely humoring me when I spoke of getting published someday. Even though I sometimes set my manuscript aside at times, I always knew one day that I would knock on the right door and the right person would answer and show me the way. I guess that goes to show if you don’t give up on your dreams you can make some pretty incredible things happen.