Monday, March 31, 2014

Journey from Aspiring Writer to Published Author...Thanks, Sarah!

You know, the one thing constant about life, is that it changes. Sometimes that change is a gradual thing, only seen in retrospect. Other times it's swift in coming, and without forewarning of any kind. One such change happened very recently. I met that event with a mixture of sadness, trepidation and cautious anticipation.

What changed? Well, my dear, sweet editor, who took me from aspiring writer to published author, and who worked tirelessly with me on three of my books, retired from her position at The Wild Rose Press. The personal email she sent me announcing this event caused a great deal of reflection on my part.

Would it surprise you to learn that even though I published Spirit of the Rebellion first, I did not write it first? As far as my published books go, I wrote Spirit of the Revolution about six months earlier. However, I didn't write that book first, either...

Actually, my journey began about two decades ago while sitting in a restaurant, enjoying dinner with my husband. As is the case with most authors, stories always floated aimlessly around in my head and from the time of my youth. My preferred genre at the time leaned toward historical romance with a dab of paranormal. I had this hazy pirate story in mind and shared it with my beloved husband. Somehow he sweet-talked me into writing it down. Three more novels would follow the pirate did a plethora of rejection letters.

Not all of them were form letters. I actually received some very encouraging letters along the way from a handful of editors. They liked the books, said I had talent...BUT... The reason for refusal always followed that one, heart-wrenching word.

I will insert here that one editor actually wanted to publish one of my earlier works. However, they only published so many titles in a specific time period. I didn't make the cut the first time around, or even the second period she submitted it. After that, she sent it back with her apologies and wished me the best of luck. That gave me the push I needed to persevere and carry on. But...

Life changes. Shortly after that I learned my daughter's struggles in school came as a result of dyslexia. The school district's only solution to her problem? Put her in special-education...a thing her wonderful pediatric neurologist told me never to allow, for it would permanently damage my very brilliant child's self-esteem. She advised me to pull her out of school and teach her at home myself. I put the writing on hold and followed her advice. I have never regretted that decision. (But all of that is another story for another time...)

Once my daughter finished school, and at the subtle encouragement of my ever-supportive husband, I began writing again. After I finished Revolution and sent it out to another round of publishers--and subsequent rejection letters--I wrote Rebellion. While Revolution sat in the hands of a publisher I can no longer recall, I sent Rebellion off to The Wild Rose Press. The heavens smiled kindly upon me (and you will never convince me otherwise) when the book landed on the desk of Sarah Hansen. She liked the book...BUT... I held my breath and read on...after all, it was a personal letter, not merely a form letter, right?

Ah, but this one was different...

As I continued reading she said if I would make the suggested changes, she would take another look because she really liked the story. On my! I set my current "Work in Progress" off to the side, immediately opened the book and began working furiously on the changes outlined in her letter. Once I completed the task, I sent the book back. The manuscript exchanged hands a few more times. Each time we refined and sculpted the story. I can't even begin to tell you how much she taught me during that period. Finally, after seven full months, she offered me a contract. Throughout it all,  I don't think I really expected to see it all culminate with a contract. I think I fully expected her patience to run out long before she thought the book ready to publish. But she didn't give up on me as I feared she would. Together, we have now published a total of three books that bear my name: Spirit of the Rebellion, Spirit of the Revolution, and Spirit of the Knight.  With each one, she continued to teach me.

I will ever be grateful for your gentle patience, Sarah, for your warmth, for the things you taught me, and for your willingness to work with an aspiring writer and turn her into a published author. You truly are one-in-a-million, and I am really going to miss you. Nonetheless, I wish you all the best in the coming years, in whatever you choose to pursue! You will ever hold a special place in my heart. 

I end this post, with where I began it. You now know the reason for my my sorrow. My trepidation and cautious anticipation comes in working with a new editor on the fourth book I have already submitted to The Wild Rose Press. I am sure she has many things to teach me as well, and I look forward to the experience!

So the moral of the story? To all aspiring writers out there, keep writing, don't give up and one fine day, you'll surely find your own Sarah Hansen...



  1. What a great post, Debbie. I love learning of your journey, and I can fully understand your trepidation in working with a new editor. I will be facing that same situation when I send off my latest WIP, Myth and Magic (hopefully in April) to my publishing house. The editor I worked with on my first two novels is no longer there. Not only am I facing possibly working with a new editor (assuming the book is accepted) but a new publishing house as well. It's both exciting and scary. I had such a great rapport with my editor at Lyrical and will miss her.

    You've had a great path and have a supportive family behind you. Your novels are beautifully told with characters who touch my heart. I know you'll do well as you continue your writing career!

    1. Thank you so very much for the kind words Mae! Stepping into the unfamiliar and unknown can be quite an intimidating prospect. But worry not! Your next editor and publishing house is just going to love you!