Good thing I’m not a historian or the world would be in trouble. I don’t keep tabs on times and events, and I don’t maintain a journal. I also tend to trash papers and documents after reading them.
This tidy lack of sentimentality complicates posting a summary of my writing journey. The good news is, the story is boring. And therefore short.
When my family relocated from Iowa to Ohio in 2001—we Rubins like to move up in the world—I took time off with my toddler and infant, back when the only turds I had to deal with were from diapers, not mouths. I’d always wanted to write a book, so I said, “Why not now?”
In a year I had my first novel completed.
And it blew chunks. Big, smelly ones.
So I started another story. In 2003-2004, I wrote The Seneca Scourge. Once ready to submit, I purchased the latest Writer’s Market, the go-to manual for a list of agents and publishers. But just in case I produced another stinker, I sought a professional manuscript critique.
After revising uncovered plot holes, I queried a handful of agents. And got rejected. I queried more agents. And got rejected. I don’t know how many times—I don’t save anything, remember? I’m guessing fifteen to twenty?
Not all dismissals were the standard form letter. Some agents requested sample chapters, but I inevitably heard, “We like the medical thriller angle, but we don’t represent science fiction.”
Crossing genres is a no-no when you’re a wannabe author. I know that now. Wish I’d known it then. But I was trying to shake up an overdone genre.
Another agent claimed my story intrigued, but a thriller should never be written in first person. Never? Really? I’ve read some that were. But I appreciated any feedback I could get, so I took her advice and rewrote the manuscript in third person. Then I sent it out again.
Rejected, rejected, you just got rejected.
And so, over a five-year period, this cycle repeated. But by now I was back at work, juggling job and family. The manuscript vanished from my thoughts for months—even years—at a time. Occasionally, I’d click it open, tweak a few scenes, and maybe even query an agent or publisher.
And as always, life got in the way.
But despite my busy existence, the desire to write never diminished. In 2011, during a time of career transition, I decided to either give the manuscript another chance or let it forever rest in peace. In other words, s**t or get off the pot. I opened the file, its pale pages devoid of sunlight since the last revision in 2009 (which is why the story takes place in that year), and gave it a reread. And another chance at life.
Researching my options, I discovered the publishing world of 2011 no longer resembled its 2006 predecessor, the last year I seriously queried. Why keep chasing a bigger publishing house? I’d never capture that flag.
I explored e-book publishing. Many electronic publishers had sprouted in my absence, and I researched their various sites, particularly those that would accept a cross-genre novel.
Selecting one with an eight-year track record and a print-on-demand (POD) option, I submitted my query in June 2011. Three months later I received an acceptance letter.
To which I figured, it’s now or never.
In my next post, I’ll share my experience since signing the contract. Remember, I told you I’d post three entries related to my novel, and then I’d shut up about it. Until the novel’s release, that is…
When do you get your writing done? Morning? Evening? If you’re writing a book, how long have you been working on it? Have you ever queried an agent or publisher? If you’re not a writer, do you have a hobby that’s difficult to pursue due to family and work demands?
All images from Microsoft Clip Art
Related Articles (My first three blog posts, before I enacted self-imposed word limits. Read at your own risk.)