Two years ago I posted my very first blog about getting serious about my writing, about how I hoped, sometime in the future, that maybe, hopefully, one day I might get published. Tomorrow my first book is being released by Samhain Publishing. Does any one else find that timing more than just a little coincidental, or is it just me?
But none of it would have happened if it hadn’t been for one lady’s persistence. Nope, not mine. I wish I could take the credit. I’m talking about BlueSueL.
You see Sue is the reason I am getting published tomorrow.
I met Sue on-line almost five years ago on an MSN movie fan group. As we exchanged posts, I learned that Sue was writing with the eye to being published. While I had been writing since I was in elementary school, not once had I considered actually showing anyone my writing. Yet somehow that day I found myself showing Sue my work. I still don’t know how that happened. No one, and I mean no one – not my parents, my sister, my husband, or my sons – knew I wrote. Oh, I’d done lots of non-fiction writing for my day job as a computer instructor, but that was mainly dry instructional manuals. But my fiction? That was completely and utterly private.
Looking back on it, I shudder at what I must have shown Sue that day. I knew little of passive verbs versus active verbs. I didn’t know what ‘showing vs telling’ meant. I had no idea what a Point-of-View slide was.
I do now.
Because Sue, bless her heart, encouraged me to write and bravely volunteered to be my critique partner. She endured my emails
ranting about discussing the use of ‘was’ and asking ‘why’ did it have to be this way or that, after all [insert big name author here] didn’t follow that rule. Not to mention the endless and lengthy chapters I sent to her to critique. Sue encouraged me to join writers’ groups to learn more. She bugged me to ‘get serious’ about my writing, to try submitting my writing to an agent or editor. To take a chance at the brass ring of publication.
A year and 250,000+ words (a couple shorts stories, a 50K novel, a 33K novella, and 150K bloated … whatever it was) later, I listened to Sue and entered my work into a “Cold Read” event my writers’ group had arranged with an editor and an agent. BOTH of them asked to see more of my work. They didn’t ask that of anyone else there that day.
So what did I do? I stopped writing.
For over a year.
Seriously, I wouldn’t even open Word. Do you know why? Because the prospect that I might actually get published, that I’d have to put myself ‘out there’ for others to read, scared the sh*t out of me.
Why did I start writing again? Because Sue never gave up on me. She kept emailing. Nudging me. Coaxing me. Threatening me. (just kidding about the threats … sort of)
In the fall of 2006, she finally managed to convince me to join with her and another friend, Dani, who has since become not only another critique partner but also a good friend, to join Candace Haven’s Fast Draft with them. After not having written for almost 15 months, within 14 days I’d written 80K. That manuscript will never see the light of day, but once I’d re-opened the creative faucet, I couldn’t turn it off.
I made it my 2007 resolution to finally listen to Sue and submit something to an editor or agent that year. At some point in February–and it happened so quickly I still can’t believe it–I’d registered for the RWA National conference in July that happened to be in Sue’s and Dani’s Dallas back yard. Not only did I register but I also committed to an appointment to pitch to an editor. (Sue’s rather hard to ignore when she decides to convince you of something. Add Dani to the mix, and there was no chance at escape. Hmm, now that I think on it, maybe I didn’t ‘jump’ into that deep end so much as get pushed. But I’m glad they did.)
Between when I registered and when I actually went to Dallas, Sue challenged me to write an erotica. So I wrote up one chapter and thought “Hey, I like this.” Next thing I knew, I was writing another chapter, and another, and another. Thanks to Sue’s unmerciless grilling, I pitched that story to an editor and got my first request. But not before Sue had taken me on the grand tour of Dallas, including a trip to the Fort Worth Stockyards where we raised a mug (and ate the biggest–and best–ribs I’ve ever seen in my life) at Risky’s, and had a cold brew at the White Elephant Saloon, location of the last gunfight in Fort Worth. We followed up the pitch session by going out to Sue’s farm where she got me up on the back of a horse and took me riding (no mean feat for poor Cimmi). She even introduced me to her dad who taught me to shoot – a highlight of the trip and a memory I still draw on when I’m writing one of my characters firing a gun.
When I returned from Dallas, I submitted my manuscript and immediately started another that’s stuck in the back of the proverbial drawer. It wasn’t until late fall that year before I wrote the story that had occurred to me while I was having dinner with Sue and Dani and some of their writing friends. Naturally it was set on the shores of Lake Arlington on a hot July night … and I titled it Private Property.
I submitted Private Property to Samhain Publishing in April of 2008 and by July I had my first contract. A contract I never dreamed I’d have back when I first met Sue, following a career path I’d secretly imagined but never had the guts to pursue until Sue
harassed nudged me.
So, for pushing me onto the path of success, and keeping me on it, here’s raising a glass of thanks to Sue! Thanks, my friend. I couldn’t have done it without you.