Monday, August 11, 2014

Enjoy the Journey

Writing a book is hard work, but do you know what’s harder? Getting that first book published. Scores of rejections pour in, leading to self-doubt and discouragement. Many new writers drop out at this point. Not Laura Drake. When you read her post, I think you’ll agree she could be the poster child for persistence. I hope you enjoy her journey to publication as much as I did. For more about Laura, check out her bio and links following this post. Welcome to Book Blather, Laura.

Before I learned to ride my own motorcycle, I rode a hundred thousand miles on the back of my husband’s. I’d prop a book on his back and read during the boring stretches.  
One day, outside Kernville, California, a dog ran in front of the bike. After a sphincter-clenching scare, he trotted back the way he came, and we rode on. But it gave me a germ of a story that wouldn’t leave me alone.

I debated for over a year. Who was I to write a book? Authors were way smarter than I. One day, while staring at a blank Word doc, I looked down. Hey, I had a ‘delete’ key! I could write the book, and no one would ever have to see it. So that’s what I did. But a year and a half later, when I finished, I had a new goal.  I wanted to hold a book in my hand with my name on the cover.

So I sent queries to agents -- 170 of them. I had a few requests for full manuscripts, but ultimately, everyone turned me down.

So I started writing another book, and finished it nine months later. I sent out 132 queries. There was more interest this time, but still no takers.

So I wrote another book. Even I felt this one was good. My crit group told me it would be sure to sell. So I sent 120 queries. I entered contests, and even won four of them, but STILL the rejections poured in.

I belong to a local writers group and had volunteered to be their treasurer that year. We had an editor coming to town to speak, and since my office was close to the airport, I offered to pick her up.  Friday afternoon traffic in Southern California is brutal, but that day, a tanker spill meant that poor woman had to sit a massive traffic jam with an aspiring author for two and a half hours! She eventually asked me what I wrote, so I pitched my story. When she asked me to send her a partial, I reached in the back seat and handed it to her (I had a goal, not pride!) She was a bit taken aback, but promised to read it on the plane on the way home.

She was good as her word. She called me Monday and said, “The first thing we need to do is get you an agent.” Yeah, like I hadn’t thought of that. She introduced me to my perfect agent, Nalini Akolekar, of Spencerhill Associates.Within nine months, she’d sold a three book series to Grand Central, and nine months later, she sold that very first book – my biker chick’ book -- to Harlequin’s Superromance line.  This month, I’ll have two more books released, have had 7 under contract, and I was lucky enough to DOUBLE final in the RITA® contest this year (for those who don’t know, the RITA is the Oscar of the romance industry).

The time from that dog incident to today? 15 years.

I don’t have a muse. Don’t believe in them. If I did have one, she’d be a saggy old broad, smoking a cigarette and giving me the finger. Much like the person pictured below.

I get up to write at 3 am. Every day. I used to do it to get two hours of writing in before work. Since I retired, I do it because that’s my routine.
But guess what? It’s not about the time of day. It’s not about the ambiance of your writing space. It isn’t even about butt in the chair.
It’s about wanting something. It’s just as hard and simple as that.
I’m not going to blow smoke up your skirt and tell you that I didn’t get discouraged. I did. Many times. But when I got down, I reminded myself why I began this journey – and it wasn’t for the RITA, or even for the book in my hand. It was the writing that I loved first. So dive into the writing – wallow in it. It will sustain you when the path gets rocky.
The below I’ve adopted as my mantra:
 “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
Don’t let walls stop you.

Laura Drake is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She writes both Women's Fiction and Romance.
She sold her Sweet on a Cowboy series, romances set in the world of professional bull riding, to Grand Central. The Sweet Spot (May 2013), Nothing Sweeter (Jan 2014) and Sweet on You (August 2014). The Sweet Spot has recently been named a Romance Writers of America®   RITA® Finalist in both the Contemporary and Best First Book categories.
 Her 'biker-chick' novel, Her Road Home, sold to Harlequin's Superromance line (August, 2013) and has expanded to three more stories set in the same small town. The Reasons to Stay will release August, 2014.

This year Laura realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She's a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on your your RITA, Laura! And on surviving the "publishing journey." Love your story! Write ON!