I was not an English or a Journalism major. I was a nursing major. I hadn't written a creative word in years, and when I started back it was meant to be a distraction. It was meant to be a way to find solace during a time of extreme stress and anxiety. My husband was critically ill, and the long waits in the hospital needed an occupation--an escape. Some suggested journaling, but I was so overwhelmed by everything going on around my husband, and the very real chance he would not survive, I could not bare to give credence to any of it in a lasting potential epitaph. I preferred a fantastical escape, and I had a story inside my head that was hanging around in there for many years.
Its characters began to ping at the borders of my mind asking for a place to grow. At first it was pen and paper where they began to bloom, and then a friend suggested a small laptop. I got an Acer, and soon the words began to fill page after page. By a strong will and the grace of God (true miracles I swear), my husband began to get well. Now that my characters had been sprung from the confines of my head, they refused to be laid aside, so I kept going.
Family suggested publication. Ha! It was a mess by publishing standards. Back story. wavering character points of view (POV). Lack of action by my protagonist. So much that I didn't even know about. Hind sight that triggers waves of embarrassment when I think about the query letters I sent (after I even had to figure out what a query was), still cause me to flush.
I started internet searching and reading and trying to learn more about what made a good novel. I went to writers' conferences (small ones that were close by). I did rewrites. I floundered. Pitifully. And, should have quit, but a stubborn soul does not do that. I even did face-to-face pitches to a few agents (they were way too nice to me). One, requested my manuscript to review. I was so excited the day I mailed it to her. Cherry Weiner, the agent, read a few pages of my manuscript and tore it up (not literally). Unbelievable actions. Grammatical errors. Disappointment because she liked my pitch and the story. I was devastated, but she gave me a gift. Her time and expertise. I will always be grateful to her even though she did not sign me. No other agent took that kind of time. And, she was right about everything. I took more time to learn. I did more rewrites. I asked beta readers to help me, and they did so much. Elizabeth Rutrough, my boss, became my inspiration to continue. My husband and kids were (and still are) incredibly supportive and so patient.
Then, I found Chuck Sambuchino. Oh, my God. He is tough. Direct. The incarnate of every hard-nosed editor that you ever saw in any movie or show. But, at the same time, he was kind and encouraging. He knows how to balance the mix. He would edit, and I would get depressed. I would hide from my manuscript for days on end, but the pinging in my head by my characters would start back up, and I would see that what Chuck was talking about was right. Why not? He is the expert. How important for one to be able to take criticism and learn from it. No matter how hard. I am not perfect about this, but I try.
My husband and I went to a festival in Buchanan, Virginia where we met Al and Randee Mahon. They had just started SDCPublishing, LLC. They work with Indie Authors (I had to find out what that meant too), and help get their books published. What wonderful people they are. It became very clear to me that this was the way I wanted to go.
Chuck finished my edits. I got to work on them. The book is so much better (although I know that, if Chuck did a second edit, much more could be tweaked), and I am proud of it. I wanted to share the story with other people, and it is important to me that I give them a product deserving of their time. I also hope that I can give to them a few sleepless nights because they can't put the story away (my favorite kind of books to read). I can only hope for that.
So, with all that has pushed me forward, I am here--about a week away from being able to see my book go up for sale. I am not expecting a landslide of sales. I just want to be able to see that I navigated it to the end. I have a tingling of nerves just with the thought, and I have a well of gratitude for every single person and experience that guided the journey. We are never alone in our achievements.