Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I sent out my first query this week. In actuality I sent out more than one, but that first one felt momentous. I reached the top of a high mountain and surveyed the valley on the other side. The valley that for most aspiring authors is littered with rejections, edits, and endless wondering. On the other side of that valley is another difficult mountain, the top of which is reached when they actually hold their book in their hand and send that first autographed copy off to the friend that told them they could actually do it. (One day you'll get that copy, Amanda!)

What do I feel like I have accomplished? Aside from actually completing a novel, of course, I have slogged through an ENORMOUS amount of research about agents, query letters, etiquette, formatting, publishers, blogs, and anything else I could think of that would help me in the publishing process. I felt like I made some significant breakthrough when I finally said, "Enough!" and hit send on my first query. Did I research enough? Polish enough? We'll find out. I did learn a lot that will make my future writing better, though.

Whether it's writing or anything else in life, at some point you just have to say, "Go!" You can research, plot, and plan forever but if you never actually move forward, you'll never actually get anywhere.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Jet Skis and Jumping Off

I went to the lake with my family this weekend. In addition to being a totally fabulous weekend, I learned something. 

My uncle has a jet ski. Jet skis have always fascinated me. They look like so much fun zipping around the water and making waves. My husband adores jet skis. He gets on them and whips around the water making whirlpools and seeing how fast he can go before totally wiping out. Last year, I was pregnant with our third child so taking a ride on the water rocket was out of the question. This year I decided to go for it.

My first thought was to ride doubles with my husband. After all, he knew what he was doing and I didn't. That was a little more weight than the old jet ski could handle, causing us to do a slow roll into the water before we even got started. It was highly entertaining to my family and, incidentally, the only time anyone managed to get a picture of me on the machine. The choice became to go for it alone or not try at all. So I go it alone. I'm sitting on the jet ski in the middle of the lake, feeling very unstable, very unsure of myself, and very aware that if I fell off, there was no way to get back on and I would have to float in the lake until my family came in the pontoon boat to rescue me.

My first ride was an embarrassing mesh of spurts and stops as I tried to figure out how the throttle worked. It would spurt forward, I would panic and let go, and the jet ski would rock around in the water like a cork. I made my way unceremoniously to the dock.

My second ride was even worse as something turned out to be wrong with the jet ski and it stalled out every time I pressed the throttle. No go again.

Our last day at the lake I figured it was do it now or wait another year to get the chance to try again. I decided to go for it. After all, what was the worst that could happen? I could wipe out, drink lake, and float around until my family came to get me. So I got on and held down the throttle. It was glorious. I loved it! I wasn't making whirlpools or maxing out the speedometer, but I was really riding! I loved the wind and the power and the thrill. And I didn't fall off. Not once. The day before I had been so hesitant, so careful, that I was inconstant danger of tipping the unstable craft. But when I just went for it and gave it everything, I had the best time.

What do jet skis have to do with writing? Obviously my Regency England characters aren't going to be hopping on then for a quick jaunt across the channel. The thing is this: It is time to just go for it. I can't keep saying "It needs one more edit" or "I hope I can get this published someday". I have to just go for it. While my financial situation right now doesn't allow for entering copious amounts of contests and joining all the writer's guilds, there are still things I can do to push down the throttle on my writing career. And if I wipe out and get totally rejected? Well, my family's still on the pontoon boat, and that's not a bad place to be either.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

More Than Just a Book

I am an author. At this point I am not a published author, but one day that will change. Before I can be a published author, I must be an author - not just a writer, but an author. You may be reading this (Praise God if you are, because that means someone is reading my blog!) and wondering what the difference is. Brace yourself, because here it is:

I've actually written something.

That's right. Atop the heap of failed plot outlines, story beginnings that went nowhere, and character creations that never got their story I finally have a completed book. I started this project just like every other book I had attempted over the past twenty years, and then, almost before I realized it was actually going to go somewhere, I finished. I told my character's story and it was good! That's not to say it didn't need work; I've hacked and sliced and rewritten it until my screen looks like a kaleidoscope (I have track changes on). But the story itself is good. I liked it.

Which then brought up the question of, "What do I do now?" The easy answer was to publish it, but as anyone who has done anything in publishing has written all over their blogs - publishing isn't easy. I have three children under the age of five and my husband is a minister. This made the idea of embarking on the publishing journey seem impossible. So I sat before God and asked Him why I should even try. The answer is this: People learn through stories.

Jesus constantly used parables and stories in order to help people understand spiritual truths. People haven't changed that much since God created them. We still identify with stories and learn things God wants to reveal to us through watching other people, be they real or fictional. So I am beginning this potentially arduous journey into the world of publishing because God has given me a gift - the ability to tell a story. It's more than just a book; it's a parable. And God can only use it if people read it.