Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How I Became a Published Author

     I remember beginning to write a first-romance novel in third grade, as if I knew anything about romance. I persuaded two of my friends to start a writer's group, although I'm pretty sure they didn't care anything about writing. It wasn't until decades later that I got the serious bug to publish my writing.
     Like the complete novice I was, I began calling New York publishing houses that I found listed in picture books. Yikes! But, actually, it turned out to be a good move. One operator told me, "We don't accept any manuscripts unless you are a member of the SCBWI." Revelation! The SCBWI? What in the world was that?! I had to know, and I had to join! So, I did. I found them online at scbwi.org.
     I gathered the time and money to attend my first conference. I got some good comments on my picture book from an editor during a critique session, but was disappointed my pb ms (picture book manuscript) wasn't snapped up. Lol! We did a session called "First Pages" where editors read the first page of a story you've written and comment on it. After the session, I mentioned my first page to the same editor who did my pb critique, and he asked me to send him that middle grade manuscript when I finished it, which--to my shame--I never did. I didn't realize that little bit of success from a first conference was rare.
     At another conference (in 2003, I think), an editor at Clubhouse magazine made the statement that he'd never ever turned down a particular type of story. I decided right then and there, THAT'S WHAT I'LL WRITE! I talked to him later, and he graciously sent three example stories to me via e-mail. I studied them. I cut them apart and taped them all over the living room wall to figure out the flow of the stories. My husband probably thought I was nuts!
     After three weeks, I had completed an 1800-word story. I sent it in and waited. My stomach was in knots thinking mine would be the first ever story of that kind to be rejected by that editor. Miraculously, it came back with one revision request. When I'd made the change, it was accepted! They mailed me a contract. I rushed it back. Eventually, I received a check, and it appeared in the March 2006 issue as the feature. The whole issue revolved around my story concept--castles!
     I'm extremely humbled and thankful to God for the experience. It was SO awesome to see illustrations bringing to life my imagination! March happens to be my birthday month, and it was a grand present! (Since then, I've sold three other stories to Clubhouse: a similar fictional feature and two shorter non-fiction pieces.)
     I've been waiting for my kids to be a little more independent, and we're finally here! Full speed ahead, & Slush, here I come! 

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