I am so excited. I am inching closer to my debut novel's (Jewels) release date and I'm trying to take it all in. I have to say that it was not the first book I thought I would get published. But that doesn't matter. It's the fact that I can say I finally did it.
After choosing to write a story with the intention of later getting it published, my publishing journey started in 2004 when I moved to Florida and joined the Inverness Writer's Workshop group. I met so many wonderful people, Elissa Malcohn, Belea Kenney, Nelson "Grandpa" Williams, Meredith and more. I brought my manuscript, "Moonbeams" with me and embarked on the writing adventure of trying to churn the novel out.
Life, however, got in my way. Several things happened starting in 2005 that spanned the next three years of my life and changed me and my writing irrevocably. I got married in 2005, got pregnant, had my husband decide to split before the birth of our child and our first year anniversary in 2006; he filed for divorce two months before the birth of my second child in November 2006. I spent the next two years dealing with lots of issues associated with the ongoing divorce and dealing with my soon-to-be ex-husband.
Any desire to write had slowly dwindled away at the start of the marriage and stopped during the upheavals following the separation/divorce. I tried to make it to the writer's workshop meetings but my attendance was spotty at best.
In 2006, in the middle of all the drama, I learned of a friendly writing contest called NaNoWriMo. I thought it would be the perfect way to go back to doing something I loved--writing. The birth of my youngest daughter on November 1 stopped that plan but I was determined that 2007 would be different.
2007 rolled around and I was still smarting from the divorce procedures and being a single parent again. My oldest daughter was having trouble being sociable at school, throwing tantrums and living up to the expression "holy terror." I spent many nights crying and trying to muster the energy to even bother to write. I watched November 2007 looming closer but the idea of trying to take the NaNoWrimo challenge of 50,000 words was too much. I resolved instead to write one new chapter for my unfinished novel Moonbeams, which I managed to accomplish with a bit of a struggle.
The following year, 2008, so an improvement in my mental state of mind and attitude. I started getting rid of things that were weighing me down. I went back to college to earn an Accounting degree and I made a solemn vow that I would finally finish Moonbeams. Between August - October 2008, I added 3 new chapters to the novel and I was elated. Finally my dry spell was ending. I just didn't realize how much of a creative well-spring I had unleashed until I participated in NaNoWrimo 2008.
This time I was ready for the chapter and though I didn't hit the 50,000 mark (I made it to 40,498), my new novel, Werelove, was born. Everything changed for me. I couldn't seem to stop writing. And if it hadn't been for a half-joking, half-serious statement made by Nelson Williams, I might not have finished Werelove. But because I had to prove Nelson wrong and show that I could indeed finish something I'd started, I fell into a writing zone and didn't come out of it until July 31, 2009 when I typed the last words of Werelove. I had written a whooping 86,000+ words in nine months.
My writing bug didn't end there. While I was writing Werelove and giving Moonbeams apologetic looks, I read an email that said Samhain Publishing was doing a submission call for a Space Opera (think Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars) anthology. It had to be a novella and no more than 30,000 words. I contemplated doing it but wasn't sure. It wasn't until I pulled out a piece I had stashed away that was my fooling around with using first-person in a story, that the idea for Jewels emerged.
I changed the name that I had first chosen in that rough draft and renamed my heroine Jewels because of the multiple meanings the name and title would later have. Of course being the procrastinator I was, I didn't start on Jewels until two weeks before the deadline. I wrote 27,550 words in seven days and the week before the deadline, was lucky enough to have two friends read over and help me edit it.
I wasn't satisfied with it because I knew there was more story that I had to not put in for the sake of the word count. When I got a rejection from Samhain, I wasn't disappointed for long because I realized that now I had the change to add more. And man did it grow. I went from 27,550 to 55,000+ words. I couldn't have done it without Lyn Ehley who I shyly asked to read my work. She used to teach English and of course put a red pen to the manuscript but all the changes and suggestions were worth it.
I tried pitching Jewels to Freya's Bower at the Muse Online Writers Conference and the Freya's Bower rep asked me to send the first chapter and synopsis in. This happened in October 2009. I sent it in and settled in to wait the required number of weeks mentioned on their website for a response.
During that period, I stumbled across an ad for Createspace. Curious as to what it was, I followed the link and found Amazon.com's print on demand company. Intrigued, I read everything and then some before deciding that I needed to reevaluate what I wanted from my writing and writing career.
I had to acknowledge after some soul searching that I really wasn't trying to get famous from my writing. I only wanted others to read my work and enjoy it. That decision led me to the path of self-publishing and Createspace seemed the ideal way to go because p.o.d. companies like Lulu, Xlibris, Yorkshire Publishing and others, charge to publish your work.
I'm a single parent of two. Money does not grow on trees. Createspace wasn't going to charge me anything, only catch was I had to literally do it all--edit my book, layout the book interior, and create the book cover. That's of course if I wanted to keep it free. If I wanted any of those services, Createspace has packages that offer them. You do have to pay for those.
Being the entrepreneur that I am, and having always loved a challenge, I decided to do it all. If my college friend and artist, JD Hollyfield, hadn't seen my post about needing a cover artist, I might have had to settle for one of the generic cover templates that Createspace offers (not that there is anything wrong with them).
On February 19, 2010, Jewels will be released in paperback from Createspace with the Kindle edition becoming available the following week.
And if this is exciting enough, I am submitting Werelove to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest that they are running in conjunction with Penguin Books. The Grand Prize: a $15,000 advance against royalties contract with Penguin Books.
Looking back, I would never have thought I had it in me to finish one book, let alone, two books in such a short span of time. I hope to continue riding my creative wave and sharing my writing adventures with all of you.
**IMPORTANT ADDITION: I was made aware that I didn't thank or mention people who helped me along the way and feelings got hurt. It wasn't an intentional oversight. So with that being said, I want to apologize to Dianne Dykstra. She put up with my long ramblings and screeching kids in the background when I would call and needed to hear an adult's voice. She also helped me in the self-publishing decision because of her own thoughts and feelings on the matter.