After asking why didn't I self-publish, a friend recently wanted to know how long I would continue to promote my books. There was no hesitation in my response.
“I will always continue to promote my books.”
My first, Nothing Gold, is a memoir. It’s totally on the shelf now and if I ever have time to devote to such narcissism, I’ll pull it down and put it through a re-write. Nothing Gold is about my husband, how he got sick, almost died, recovered and turned our world upside down. We’re not married anymore and to me he's dead, because the person we knew vanished, replaced by a stranger whose brain was deprived of oxygen for sixteen days.
I completed Mozo in February 2007. I was busy at the time doing other writing and didn't put the effort into querying that it deserved (and I was over confident, the plague of all first time novelists). But that was okay, because it desperately required a complete re-write, which I finished in 2009 and proceeded to have properly edited. I changed the name to Seven Waves and in 2011, received some serious interest from a couple agents, one who hung on to it until all the tequila had evaporated from my query battery. I have changed the name once again to Sing, and Don’t Cry and my heart is buried somewhere within the pages of that book. I’m counting on it to be a great follow up to my first publication.
In November of 2011, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo; the once yearly effort of many crazed and sleep deprived writers who, with a minimum of 1667 words a day, turn out a 50,000 word novel in one short month. Not, Actually was born. I came up with the name from some late night thread where a writer was asked if she knew what she was writing for NaNoWriMo and said “Not, actually.” It struck a chord and I headed into the future with my past. I wrote a book about a nineteen year old naïve farm girl, who ends up in Los Angeles, pregnant and directionless. Her mother arranges for her to place her baby with an adoption agency but Robin, the protagonist, proceeds to marry a cute British boy, who happens to be gay and in need of a green card to stay in the country so he can continue his relationship with a South American. With their financial help, she is able to take care of her baby, whom she miraculously retrieves from the adoption agency. That was my own personal history and I started to pound it out on the keyboard early in the mornings, before I took off to work at a snobby little boutique in the University Village. Those were long days.
After I got my NaNoWriMo badge, I kept going and ended up with over 90,000 words. Then I went back and did a complete re-write and after much consternation, came up with a more workable title: The Story of Robin Dockery and Her Songs. This book is partly cathartic, because it lets me end things much better than they have actually (there’s that word again), plus I have been able to get a story out there that begs to be told, regarding the 60’s/70’s and what it was like to be an innocent pregnant teenager, without any guidance. There were many of us, believe me.
I began sending Robin out on July 26, and have thirteen total queries submitted, as of date, with four form rejections received and eight messages floating in the ethernet. On August 6, I had an amazing turnaround of twenty minutes when Kathleen Anderson of Anderson Literary Management responded and asked me to send a FULL HARD COPY. I dropped everything and went about getting a new flash drive, making a full copy and sending it via FedEx. The clerk at Kinko’s backed off a bit when I kissed the manuscript and slid it into the envelope. It cost me an unsightly $67.69, which is a lot of money for someone who has taken the year off to finish writing a book. If I get another request like that, I may have to wander down to the local 7-11 with my paper gun.
Now is limbo. FedEx left Robin at the front door of Anderson Lit on August 13 and I’ve heard nothing since. I’ve preoccupied myself with things like the KPLU Haiku contest (link below), reviving my blog and polishing old silver platters that haven’t seen the light of day since last century.
I’m also working on Carlos at the Broken Arms, another novel. At dusk last night, on my walk, when deciding who I would dedicate my first book to (ah, perchance to dream), I realized the ideal name for Carlos’s dear aunt, whose death sets his new life in motion. Authors manage to find ways to literally bestow honor, assign heroes, villains and misanthropes. That’s why we write.
And that’s why we continue to sell ourselves so we can share what we write.
So… until the cold front warms up, the land of rejection decides to no longer embrace me, and the warm meadow of acceptance, contracts and undivided attention to honing my craft opens up like a reluctant clam shell, yes.
I will keep promoting and querying and hoping and praying. Always.
Thanks for reading.
To vote for me in the KPLU contest, use this link. I thank you ecstatically.