Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Long and Whine-ding Road

The blogosphere is teeming with authors describing their personal roads to publishing success. Most of those authors doing the describing have finally hit in NY and that's great. I know them and I love them. But NY isn't necessarily my dream. My dream is to be the author who puts Ellora's Cave on the NYT Bestseller List.

That's right.

I'm that conceited.

Or deluded.

But whatever. Being conceited and deluded got me published to begin with. Why stop now? It worked! And now you know what my secret fantasy is. But like the Barbie rant, that's best left for another day. (God I wish I could think linearly and not digress so much, but hey, this is a blog, not a book).

Anyhow, for what it's worth, here's my path to publication:

1983: Armed with a University degree in Anthropology and uncountable Janet Dailys and Nora Roberts on my bookshelf, I write my first Harlequin romcom. I spend untold hours at the copy machine--more hours than I spent typing--and mail it off. Reject.

1983: Undaunted, I write another one. This one is darker. Almost gothic. I carefully compose my cover letter "To Whom It May Concern" and send it off. The cover letter took more time than the editing of the book. Reject.

1984: Decide to put writing romances off until I'm forty. I need to live and get a "real" degree, so I can support myself like my father said.

1987: Graduate with a diploma in the Earth Sciences.

1987-1999: Work in landfills, get married and raise family.

Sometime 1999: Been subsisting on newspaper-editorial-writing to calm the writerly demons. I finally run into Karen, a feelance writer, in my fencing class. She asks to see a humorous article I submitted to the local paper. After reading said article she says: You're a good writer. Let's write a romance novel together. I say: Sure!

Late 1999: Karen is so busy with her freelance writing she doesn't have the time to devote to the Totally Awesome Book we wrote together (really, it is an awesome book). I decide to fill my free time with a book on my own.

November 2000: submit synopsis to Harlequin Duets.

One week later: get request for three chapters.

Two weeks later: get request for full. Can you say "high"?

November 2001: no word from Harlequin Duets. Submit said book to a big NY agent. One month later get a glowing rejection. She praises my voice to the high heavens. But, well, this didn't work, and this...Whatever. It's enough to keep me going a long time. Voice is a BIG thing!

Late 2002: rejection from Harlequin Duets. BUT, it's a *good* rejection. It has revision potential. By now, I'm The Bat Dame on eHarlequin.com and I have an arsenal of critique partners such as the world has never seen--though none of us know it yet. I've also written two more books (rejected) and am about to start the fourth (Layover).

Early 2003: Many of the articles I read on craft-of-writing and story structure are starting to gel. I can feel the knowledge solidifying in my writing. Finally, I'm getting it. And the *voice* from the first book is still there, only it's more...dare I say...mature. I wouldn't have called it that at the time, but I can say that now, in retrospect.

Spring 2003: receive high, but not finalling, numbers in the Molly. Again my voice is praised. The judges both mention how it elevates an otherwise humdrum story. I cherish that nugget and it drives me forward.

Summer 2003: get a revision request on Layover. Assemble The Bats for a brainstorming session. They hit me hard. I mean HARD. I'm wasted. But I do what they say. Resubmit.

Fall 2003: another rejection/revision from Harlequin for Layover. My sails flap and hit the deck. Yet, I know the story is good. I've been told by people I trust. I'm on the cusp. I am. I am!

Spring 2004: Bad time in my life. I'm running out of steam. But the Lori Foster Brava Novella contest is gearing up and I have this other story--an offshoot of Layover. I have ten pages. I submit the first three.

On a wing and a prayer, I submit Layover to Ellora's Cave. A year ago Jaci Burton, one of my talented, steadfast friends from eHar, had signed on with them and I was growing jealous of the creative freedom she described there. They were quickly becoming my target publisher.

Summer 2004: I'm a Brava Novella contest finalist! I can't believe it! It might be one of the most sought after titles ever and I'm there! Now I KNOW I'll sell someday... Someday. But when?

Early Fall 2004: Ellora's Cave has not responded. I call Jaci. What should I do? She tells me to write to the editor I submitted to. I do and immediately get a request to resubmit the lost partial, followed quickly by a request for the full manuscript. Wait. Wait. Wait.

Late Fall 2004: Checking email for the next-to-last-time the night of November 18th. Ellora's Cave wants to know if I'd be willing to revise Layover. I say "of course"--because I'm the consumate professional-- and give an example of where and how. Then I go off to shower feeling like the eternal bridesmaid. What is it with revisions?? Are they my fate?

Get out of the shower. See new email. Check it.

It's a contract.

A contract.

And a "welcome to Ellora's Cave".

I back away from the computer, hand to chest (no kidding). No way am I seeing what I think I'm seeing.

Geez, this part of the story never fails to make me weepy.

*swipes tears*

I go to the top of the stairs (my office is upstairs) and I scream, "I'm an author!"

So there you have it. Now on to the NYT Bestseller List! Oh, and Hollywood too *gg*

4 Comments:

Blogger Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

Ann, this was sensational! I loved reading all about your writing/publishing journey. Very interesting!

Like you, I’m also delighted to be published by Ellora’s Cave. Hey…do me a favor and save me a place next to you on the NYT Bestseller list, okay? ;-)

January 26, 2006 2:46 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

*Scooching over*

So when are we going to read about your journey, 3D?

January 27, 2006 8:42 AM  
Blogger Jaci Burton said...

I think your goal is a fabulous one. And I fully expect to see you on that list. If anyone can do it, you can.

Smooch!

January 29, 2006 2:12 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Aw Jace Face. If I make it, it'll be because you sneezed and missed a deadline. Better be careful. See what happened last time you had a cold? *gg*

Love you.

January 29, 2006 8:23 PM  

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