Things I’ve Learned on Writing

This is the third time I’ve had a novel query ready. I’ve learned a lot of things about writing and the publishing world in the last three and a half years. Here are some of those things:

  1. Every book I write is better than the last. My first book has a great story. It’s an adult science fiction novel about time travel. I’ll say it till I’m blue in the face: It’s an amazing story. However, was I ready to be published then? No. My writing wasn’t nearly ready for publication. I’ve re-written my first novel at least five times. He has been a learning tool and one I’m endlessly grateful to have. Someday, I still hope to see him on a shelf. He has so much potential.
  2. Sometimes we write something for the experience but not for publication. My second novel is night and day from my first and my third. But there was something not quite right about her from the beginning. She was originally written as an Adult SpecFic in third person. She was finished, and the writing was far better then my first and yet something still didn’t feel right. I took her to conference and queried her anyway. I had three… count them 1, 2, 3, agents tell me this book should be a YA novel and had I considered re-writing her as such? One agent called her an “odd little duck” that was meant for YA and not Adult. A light bulb went off in my head and I thought, Yes. This is what she was missing. So I went home rejuvenated and ready to re-write my novel into third person YA. When I finished I sat back and still had that weird unease about her. Something still didn’t feel right. I queried anyway. I received the same feedback from several agents about my main character and I knew instantly they were right. At this point though I was working on another manuscript and decided to put off edits for a while. I’ve since re-written about a third of her into first person YA Science Fiction. The changes I’ve made so far have changed the whole background of the book shifting her from an odd little SpecFic duck straight into science fiction. I love where this book is going, and she no longer feels off. Am I done with re-writes? No. Will I ever finish? Maybe, maybe not. Sometimes writing a book isn’t about publication. Sometimes it’s about learning to tell a story the right way. Even if it takes several FULL re-writes to get it correct.
  3. Sometimes when you feel like you’ll never get published, you do. Branching out into new things can bring new and wonderful experiences. I submitted an essay to Chicken Soup for the Soul last year. It was sort of a spur of the moment decision. As a child I loved Chicken Soup books. I’m pretty sure I still have their original book packed away somewhere in storage. I was reading an article about different anthologies and I stumbled across their page. When I was reading through their list of new books, I knew instantly I had just the right piece for their collection called THE EMPOWERED WOMAN, it’s called Red Lipstick. I made sure it was the best I could make it and submitted it. I promptly forgot about it. Several months went by and one day I got an email. Your submission, Red Lipstick, has made it to the final round. About a month later, I got another email. Out of thousands of submissions, they picked mine. I’m a fantasy and Science Fiction writer. But that doesn’t change the fact that I can write other things. I told a very personal story and several someones loved it. They loved it enough to include it in their new book. THE EMPOWERED WOMAN and it comes out May 1st, 2018.
  4.  Sometimes even more people like your writing if you just get it out there. While I can’t say with who just yet, I submitted to a writers contest. It was a two part submission and I’m pretty sure I wrote a bit outside of the box of what I thought they wanted. But I can’t always write what I think you want, I have to write me. And so I did. Guess what? I won. I found out last week on the day before my birthday. Let’s say it was a wonderful birthday gift. But more then that, it reminded me that I should put myself out there more. Writing is so much more then querying my next book. There are hundreds of opportunities to write and get my stuff out there. Taking advantage of them is healthily. I have new goals for myself. I want to write something new and short story-ish every month. If all else, to remind myself that I can.
  5. My newest book is amazing. For the first time in my writing life, I know without a shadow of doubt that my book is fantastic. It’s dark and gritty. It deals with teenage angst and soul searching. It addresses friendship, and loss. It’s all the girl power of Buffy and all the heart of Perks of Being a Wallflower in a fantasy setting. I have never felt this good about my writing. The feedback I’ve been gathering from beta readers has been overwhelmingly supportive and affirming. Even if I got my first rejection letter today, I’m confident someone will see what I see in this book. What I see in the characters. Book two is being outlined now and then I’ll set it aside and work on something else. Confidence comes with time. With experience and with hard work. This book has lived through rounds at critique groups, and made it past the Red-Pen Nazi and has come out a better, stronger book for it. I’m excited to see where she takes me. What new doors and adventures await us.
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