Publishing my first novel has been a long and winding road that spans twenty years. I began my writing career in college writing horror novels that never sold. The novel that I finally published, SHADOWS IN THE MIST, began as a short screenplay I wrote for a screenwriting class. Back then I had stars in my eyes about how my career as a novelist would play out. I thought for sure by the time I was thirty, I was destined to be the next Stephen King or Dean Koontz, with half a dozen bestselling novels, my books made into movies, and millions in the bank. It's great to have dreams. They just sometimes take longer to manifest than we wish.
Well, I'm forty now and my dreams and persistence are what have gotten me where I'm at today. SHADOWS IN THE MIST released in small paperback through my publisher Berkley/Penguin. I actually self-published this book as a large trade paperback in 2006 under my own company, Blue Morpho Publishing. Here is the original cover painted by award-winning artist Les Edwards.
I'd love to have more books to share at this stage in my life, but I hit a few road bumps along my path that included a brief marriage, sudden divorce, a few bouts of depression, focusing on my video editing career, starting up several side businesses, and doing a lot of soul searching. With the intention of finding myself, I backpacked for three weeks in Australia and New Zealand. Five times I ventured down to Costa Rica to do yoga and meditate in the rain forest. I also attended a number of retreats in Hawaii, searching for my purpose. A frequent question I continually asked myself was "Am I destined to be a career author or am I just kidding myself? If my passion for writing is my true gift to the planet, how can I be successful at it? How can I get my books published?"
During my eighteen years of writing and dreaming, I never gave up my vision of being a published novelist. The flames of passion have always been burning. They just ranged from cindering coals to volcanic eruptions of creativity at different stages of my adult life. But I never gave up.
In college, I failed to sell my first novel, SKINNERS. I spent years submitting it to New York literary agents and received dozens of rejections without anyone ever reading my manuscript. Then I spent four and a half years researching and writing SHADOWS IN THE MIST. Again, I invested two years and a lot of promotional materials to get an agent. I sent out half a dozen query letters then played the waiting game for several months. I even went to the Maui Writers conference and pitched my story to an agent. She read a portion of the book then declined, saying she was already representing a WWII horror author. Why she just didn't say this up front instead of making me wait for her response, I don't know. Bottom line is in 2005 I hit my breaking point. I was on the verge of doing something I never thought I would do--quit this silly dream of being a novelist.
I took some time off from writing and publishing to get centered. Get to the core of why I'm here on the planet. And what kept coming up was I'm here to be a writer. A storyteller. A novelist. Writing is my innate talent. It's my gift and I need to share it, even if it takes years until my words reach the world. Even if I never get rich from it or achieve the fame and glory of Stephen King, writing is still my destiny. And I believe if we follow our inner calling, we will live a life that brings us the most joy. So that's what drives me.
Here is a mission statement that I wrote to keep me motivated.
MY MISSION:I am writing exciting stories that invigorate my soul. I am publishing novels that entertain millions of readers.My books are made into blockbuster movies.I am enjoying a prosperous career as a writer.
So now I had my life purpose and mission, I needed some direction. I needed someone to bounce off ideas and talk about where I was stuck. I started working with Life Coaches. I believe that hiring a personal coach is key to success. All successful athletes have a coach to keep them focused and motivated. There's so much that can distract us or weigh us down. It's easy to lose focus on what's most important. A life coach helps you prioritize the activities in your life that really matter and keep you focused on achieving your goals.
So, here it was September 2005 and I'm down on my luck. I've got my life purpose--write novels for pleasure and profit and share my stories with the world--but no direction and very little gas left in the tank. During my coaching, where I learned Nuero-Linguistic Programming (NLP), I used to practice techniques with my friend Mary-Helen. We did a goal reaching exercise where you write down in the present tense exactly what you want to achieve as if it's already happening, exactly the way you want it to happen, and then read it out loud to a partner with as much positive emotion as you can muster. I did this for my goal of seeing my novel SHADOWS IN THE MIST in print and selling in book stores.
To be continued on the next post . . .