Sunday, January 20, 2008

I'm Celebrating!

I come from people of faith. A long line of believers. No agnostics in my lineage, that’s a fact. It’s not something we can help. It’s part of our DNA.

Well, folks, it’s been a long, hard, uphill road. At times I’ve felt like a loser, a complete idiot for trying this hard for so little reward. At other times, I’ve felt on top of the world. But my faith refused to allow me to give up. My belief that the good Lord wanted this book written, and written by me, was often all-consuming. Anyway, my faith gave me the strength and courage to write for unbelievably long hours, even days at a time. With very few interruptions. Suffering (and I mean suffering) through grueling edits. Kind and cruel. Deciding what to use and what to ignore. Slaving over words, paragraphs, scenes. There are more drafts of this book than I can remember at this point. It was, and is ... a labor of love. It had to be in order to finish it. As a result, my butt has spread a little more from sitting in the same chair for years, and … my back and the nerves in my leg give me fits if I don’t get up and move some during the day.

I almost gave up. I really almost said, "to hell with this." Fortunately, I have a husband who rescued me before it ever got to that point. But every writer goes through those dark hours. Every writer is tested and tried by fire. Writers, artists of all kinds, struggle harder than most, I think. They see virtually no money for their efforts. For many years some of us. The drive is divinely inspired. It has to be. You either write, or you die. It’s that strong in those that persevere.

Some are luckier than others. They have agents/editors/publishers/Hollywood banging their doors down long before their book is finished. Sometimes it’s for books you wonder … why? How did this get published? Whoa.

And then, there are those, who have written ripping great stories. (I’ve read some of those manuscripts.) Writers with no hope to publish other than submitting over and over. They have no connections, can’t afford to go to conferences. They possess few funds to do anything but buy reams of paper on sale at Wal-Mart, printer cartridges, and stamps. Do you ever wonder how many classics have gone unseen, unread, unpublished?

But then, one day … the clouds part, the sun comes out, and somebody decides to take a chance on an unknown. It happens. Rarely. But it happens.

For me, I must’ve made God smile a little as I completed my novel, because low and behold, today as I sit here, I can say, thank you, Jesus. I HAVE AN AGENT! Talk about serendipity!

After submitting query after query, I have to laugh. My agent turned out to be a woman I found last summer by bidding at a silent auction at the WV Writer’s Conference. The highest bidder received a free critique of their query letter and the first 50 pages of their novel. At the time, I thought, okay … I’m game. Why not? She’s not in New York City, but who cares? It’s a free critique of my query letter, at least. That interested me. So for $35.00, (best money I ever spent) I won the opportunity to submit my work to Christine Whitthohn. And I'll be damned, she loved it. I have since met her, talked at length, and am convinced; this little bulldog of a literary agent is going to sell TELEVENGE, the trilogy.

Trilogy? Oh yes, three books. With Christine’s encouragement, and hours and hours of pouring over the plot, I have been able to split the book into two. And the third book is well on its way. For so long I couldn’t see my way clear to take such a huge manuscript and make it two books. But one day last week, the sky just opened up. It became as clear as the diamond on my left hand. I felt like a surgeon. After careful surgery, cutting, tweaking, adding, taking out, moving a few scenes around, and two more read-throughs, it not only works … it’s good. It’s really, really good.

And so, as of this week, I have signed with an agent. A good one. One I believe in. One that knows the industry, has sold books to major publishers and negotiated contracts, has pounded some New York City pavement, and ... she believes in me.

The next few months are going to be interesting.

In the meantime, I still have lots of work to do. My Publicity Agenda is staring me in the face, waiting to get started again. My web site will be changing its look in the very near future. Again, there’s a ton of work to do. But it’s exciting, to say the least.

I’ve also been asked to be the judge for the West Virginia Writer’s Book-length Contest. (7,000-word limit.) I'll see submissions by April, with the contest to end in May. I’ll be awarding first, second, third, and honorable mentions at this June event. And Dena, my dear writing colleague, and I will be speaking about writing again. In May we’ll once again rock and roll with our presentation, but this time to Seniors who want to write their life stories. I love that about writers. No age limits.

So, say a prayer, won’t you? Believe with me. Exercise a little faith. Even a mustard-seed amount of faith can move the publishing mountains of the world, wouldn’t you say? I know my family is believing. Yes, for a miracle.

But in the meantime, I’m celebrating. I HAVE AN AGENT!

Blessings to you and yours.


Dena said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dena said...

You deserve all the success that is coming--no, RACING--your way. My hat is off to your dedication and talent. Much love to you and that "knows talent when he sees it" hubby of yours!

Anonymous said...

Holy Happy Days!! I had a strong feeling about that agent when I first learned about her. Some things are meant to be, and this my fine writer buddy, is one of those things. There is something magical in a trilogy, but that's probably my catechism rearing its happy head. Congratulations! Onward and upward to you! CK

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I'm so excited for you. I know you have worked hard for this. Reading your blog messages and following you throughout this process has turned you into a "role model" for me. Your perseverence and hard work and apparently, a little bit of southern stubborness has been an inspiration to me. I am genuinely happy for you. KHM

Anonymous said...

After reading Southern Fried Women, I knew you were on your way. I think you're the next writing superstar to come out of the South. Hold on to your hats, New York. You've not seen anything like this. I'm sure of it. I've read your manuscript, I'm going to enjoy the firestorm it creates and watching it sell like crazy! Congratulations.

Anonymous said...

Pamela King Cable said...

To whomever sent the above post, I've seen this thread. Just remember, every agent has to start somewhere. No, she's not a big shot in NY, and her web site may be lacking, but unless you've met her, talked to her, you don't know her. I'm going to give her a shot at this for more than a few reasons. And she's hungry. She wants it. I'm not sure I can find that kind of hunger in some of the big shots. There are no guarantees in life, bud. You take a chance with any agent you're lucky enough to get. But hey, thanks for your post.