How to become a published author in twelve short years

My name is Michelle, and I have recently found a publisher for my first novel, Lady of the Veils.  Now, I am super excited about this.  In fact, I am so excited that I am writing a blog about it.  I know that in this day and age, pretty much everyone on earth has a blog, but to be honest I am a little bit of a social-networkingophobe.  I recognize that this is a little unusual for a woman my age, because I am fewer than thirty years old, but nonetheless I am like some bizarre form of beardless cyber hermit living in the middle of Internet Nowhere in a hut full of digital cats who may someday eat me.

                So why, you may ask, would I bother to start a blog in the first place?  There are two answers to that question.  The first is that, of course, I feel the need to write about my book and the process of publishing it since this is basically my life’s work and I would like to chronicle the process, and secondly, to push myself outside of my comfort zone without actually dancing on a pole. Now, I hear that pole dancing is a very sexually liberating art form, but I have this horrible image of people slipping dollar bills into my overworked g-string and whispering, “C’mon, baby, why don’t you put those clothes back on?”  I once educated my friend Derek, who is actually a stripper, on this feeling, and he gave me a look that seemed to say, “Well, girl, you ain’t wrong.”  

                I guess I should talk about the book, huh?  Nobody came here to picture me in nipple pasties.  I first started writing this particular book when I was 15 years old and I have been working on it ever since.  It is a novel of modern, though not urban, fantasy.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many drafts I have written.  The first draft, for example, was 110 pages long and the heroine dies at the end.  The final draft, the one I sent to Gypsy Shadow Publishing, is 412 pages long and is about love, death, feminism, and chicks with swords.  I’m proud to have it start my career as a writer. 

                About six or seven years ago I had a draft that I really thought was finished, and I sent it out to about a gajillion agents.  I got back about a gajillion minus 1 rejection letters.  For those of you who have never had a rejection letter, I will describe one for you:  it basically says, “ Hi I read part of your book and, though I am sure you are a perfectly nice writer with digital cats who truly love you, I hate your book and your hair looks awful today.  But keep sending the book around because somebody is bound to be stupider than I am and willing to print that drivel you gave me to work with.  Sincerely, Brilliant Agent you WISH would represent you.”   I am mostly joking, of course.  Agents are great.  They just didn’t seem to like my book very much.  The only agent who gave me the time of day was a fellow who asked for four hundred dollars for “copies” and then sent out query letters that called me Kathleen.  Naturally, I called him and asked him to change it, but he didn’t answer the phone and he sure didn’t fix it.  Now I know what you’re thinking: what kind of an idiot pays an agent four hundred dollars for “copies?”  Okay, I was that idiot. So I fired him.  He probably expected it.  He probably took my four hundred dollars and threw it on his bed and rolled around on it naked, thinking, “Bwahahaha!  I LOVE to prey on the innocent!”

                So, fast forward four years.  I got divorced. I got a job in a call center doing customer service for a pharmacy benefits manager, and trust me, if you’ve ever dealt with a pharmacy benefits manager you will know that it is an evil place, full of bureaucratic red tape and spite.

One good thing about that job was that I could afford to move into an apartment that was quite beautiful, and the man I rented it from had an irritable expression on his face that marked him as one of my own…an artist trapped in an office.   In conversation I discovered that this man was also a writer, and his science fiction novel had recently been picked up by a publisher.   I excitedly told him that I was a fantasy author, and he gave me his agent’s card.  I called the number on it, left a message, and then promptly lost the card. The agent never called me back.  Then, months later, I believe it was November or December, I found the card again and called back, just to see what would happen.  That time I got an answer.  I told her what the book was about and she said, “Well, sure, send it on down.”

I agonized for months about sending it. What if she hated it?  I had hardly written anything since my divorce, so what if it was my last chance to be a writer and I blew it with a novel that my first agent couldn’t be bothered to learn my name for?  I finally sent it in March, and as the months rolled by, I gave up again.  She wasn’t going to respond.  She hadn’t read it.  She’d read it and she hated it. 

   Meanwhile, I got married again, had another baby, changed jobs three times, and generally decided that  I didn’t care if I ever got the book published, because I was busy and it was time to quit playing around with stupid dreams.  I got a job in another call center, this one doing escalations for a cell phone provider, and I settled into a routine: I would write for myself, only myself, and only to make myself happy.  It was much easier than facing the rejection.

And then, in October of last year, I got a letter from the agent I had sent my manuscript to so much earlier in the year.  She liked the idea, she said, but the novel itself was rough and needed work.  She suggested that I join a writer’s group and resubmit. 

I felt like someone had shaken me awake.  The town I live in is sadly devoid of intellectual company, so finding a local group would be damn nigh impossible.  So I went online and joined a group called Prose 3 through Writersonthenet.com.  I spent a grueling, painful five months ripping the guts out of my book and, with help from the writers in my group, putting it back together.  The people in my group are wonderful, helpful individuals who honestly mean well and share my passion for writing, but sometimes I wanted to strangle them.  I had to learn how to quietly take criticisms. And, after a while, I began to see that my group members were right more often than they were not.  So, armed with a book I had bled for, rewritten, and renamed,  I headed back out into the world of publishing.    This time I tried not to let the rejections sting so much.  I kept trying.   When Gypsy Shadow sent me a contract, I was so glad I had.

So here it is: the blurb for Lady of the Veils.

In a suburban town twenty minutes from the border of Faerie lives a young woman named Karen MacGregor.   Though she is the daughter of an exiled Faerie princess, Karen leads an unremarkable life full of homework, punk rock and old science fiction movies. When bloody civil war breaks out in her mother’s homeland her life begins to change rapidlyHer brother is presumed dead after his fighter jet is shot down over the Enchanted Forest, and Faerie’s royal family, including her beloved godfather, has been executed.  Accompanied by a Fey Prince with whom she shares a forbidden love and armed with magic she never knew existed, Karen must lead a rebel force against an ancient and powerful enemy.

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2 Comments »

  1. gdavis Said:

    I am very excited about this book and will purchase one immediately. I read all it would allow me to read and can’t wait. Congrats! I’m proud of you.


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