Finding My Rhythm

I have a small confession to make.

A Brush of Darkness was never actually supposed to be published.

Back in the summer of 2008, I started writing it. It was the first thing I'd seriously written in nearly 15 years. It was supposed to be my "starter" book - the one I was going to learn the ins-and-outs of publishing with. You know - how to query, how to revise, how to *write*.  I took a bunch of workshops, and wrote off and on until I finished it in April of 2009 - just in time to pitch it at Romantic Times.

I entered it in many contests, wrote and rewrote that first chapter probably like 15 times, trying to please everyone as to what a first chapter *should* be. Eventually I found friends and fellow writers who convinced me to listen to my own voice and do what *I* wanted with it.

Funny thing? I started winning some of those contests. I fixed up my query letter. I started writing the second book. And then I got my agent. (I actually ended up with three offers of representation and made some hard choices). A few months later we went on submission and I got my 3 book deal with Pocket.

It went by in a whirl and there's still a part of me that doesn't feel quite so worthy. After all, I'd been told time and time again that almost no one sells a first book. That I'd probably write 3 or 5 or 10 books before I'd get an agent.  So it was unexpected, to say the least - but happily so.

However, if I felt as though I hadn't paid my dues beforehand, I've certainly paid them since. My first revision letter for BoD was 26 single spaced pages. I rewrote about 70% of the book in six weeks to convert it from a paranormal romance into more of an urban fantasy. (I say more of, because I think it still retains a little too much PNR to be fully UF, but it was a hard thing to have to do.)

Remember the second book I'd started? I had about 40k written when I sold BoD...almost all of which had to be changed because so much of BoD had been changed. The original story had an HEA, for example - and  I was stuck with rewriting most of what I had to reflect that the leading man was no longer quite so leading.  But I kept plugging away.

A few months later, my agent got sick and quick being an agent...and I got a new agent within the same agency. A few months after that, just before my second book draft was due, my editor quit (to go work with my old agent)...and I was left in limbo for a few months.

As a new author, it's a bit scary.  It's awkward to get a new editor part way through a series like this because there's always this fear lingering in the back of the mind - what if he/she doesn't like my first book? What if they don't understand what I'm trying to do? What if we don't click? What if, what if, what if.

It can drive a person crazy. Eventually, I did get a new editor...and my revisions, several months after that. So it's been an interesting bump - I've had to adjust to a different editing style and a different vision, but I've also had to learn to trust my own voice again, even as I change up my writing style. And by that, I mean that a second book is different than the first - the world building is already in place, so I know how things work, but I also have to go back and make sure there are enough clues that new readers won't be completely lost if they pick this book up first. (There seems to be a bit of art to this, by the way - this subtle dropping of hints and clues - not sure I've quite mastered it.)

Anyway, the point to this post was that there's not always a straight road to writing or getting published, but that any writer needs to be adaptive to the changes that come. Everyone's road is different, even if the destination is the same.

Comments

Barbara E. said…
I always enjoy hearing an author's road to publication. Yours sounds interesting, to say the least.
Helpful post to someone who is doing the first book tango. Encouraging, yet a good reminder to stay flexible. Thanks!

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