I’d like to thank Mary and all the Seekers for having me here today. I love Seekerville, with the fun to be had while learning about all aspects of writing. I’m honored to be here and doubly blessed with all the advice and help the Seekers have given me over the past year.
I began writing seriously in 2001. As a young girl I made up stories all the time. Back then my heroes came from the TV shows I loved – Bonanza, Big Valley, Battlestar Galactica, and later, Magnum P.I. I have very eclectic tastes.
I was struggling with writing a more grown up version of one of these tales when a friend gave me Danger in the Shadows, by Dee Henderson. It was my first taste of modern Inspirational Romance - stories with realistic Christians. Christians have to remember to lean on God, and some of us take longer than others to accept our needs. I’m a slow-poke!
I finally saw the light and decided to make my story one about trust, specifically trusting God when you can’t trust anyone else. My writing experience following that decision is typical – the words seemed to flow almost on their own. It still took me another eight months to finish, but I wrote the whole thing within a year.
Then I did another typical thing. I let a few friends read the manuscript. And listened to their glowing words of praise. They all wanted me to get the book published. Easier said than done! I didn’t have any hope of ever attending a conference, so how was I to get an editor to read my MS? I knew all about those nightmare slush piles.
My husband and a good friend encouraged me to self-publish. After looking at a number of companies, I chose to publish with Xulon Press. I’ve been very happy with Xulon, but there are times I wonder if it was the right choice. Was it God’s will or mine? Looking back, I’m still not entirely sure but I lean toward it being God’s will.
Sure, that book didn’t launch me into the stratosphere of writing fame. Neither did the two that followed. But the satisfaction of seeing my name on a book cover and the praise and encouragement of readers is what spurred me to keep writing. Particularly inspiring were the cards and notes I got from strangers, telling me how much they loved Celtic Cross. That book even brought my family into contact with distant relatives, enabling our daughter to get first hand experience harvesting cranberries. It brought both my family and my husband’s a little closer.
When I began entering contests, the bubble burst. As a self-published author, I qualified for the unpublished categories of most contests. I perceived my scores as dismal and the comments vicious, or at the very least clueless. Okay, maybe all new authors are like that with their first contest (except those few who rocket to the top with their first MS – gag me!! LOL). Naturally, I ignored every bit of advice given and plunged into writing more.
My second novel, Claddaugh, shows how much I snubbed my nose at the rules. It’s not bad, it just could be so much better. That’s where self-publishing is a drawback. If I had an editor, she would’ve smacked me upside the head and made me rewrite a lot of the book. And the true gem of its writing would’ve been drawn out.
By the time I wrote Celtic Knot, I was beginning to accept the idea that maybe some of those critics were right. Chiefly, I had a head-hopping habit that needed breaking in a big way. I worked really hard at that and thought it was under control. My first contest score sheet proved I was wrong! This time, though, I looked at the examples the judge pointed out and was willing to agree with her.
The problem is, the books are in print and can’t be changed without spending a small fortune, which I don’t have. My dream is that one day I’ll be picked up by a publishing house, become a best-seller (or at least exceptional seller) and they’ll want to publish my other works. Then I’ll have the opportunity to fix some of the “problems” in those three novels. I wouldn’t do anything that changed the story, just change some of the style, like POV. Ah, it’s a good dream. LOL
Most important, after so many “mean” critiques, my skin thickened and my brain was absorbing. I put all of my knowledge and skill into my third novel. Then I set it aside for a short break, going back to edit and rewrite. And then again. I entered contests and listened to what the judges said in their critiques. I didn’t necessarily agree with them nor change everything each one suggested. I used the rule that if two or more people say the same thing it probably needs changing.
And I was finally a finalist!
I didn’t let it go to my head, mostly because I didn’t win that contest. I edited and rewrote some more. Then again. Then – you guessed it, some more. And it’s a finalist in the TBL contest this year. I still can’t go to any conferences. I still probably won’t get an editor to read it (unless I’m a finalist in TARA or Lone Star). I have a new strategy, and being a finalist fits into it perfectly. I’m going to get me an agent.
It’s what I should’ve done way back when, instead of self-publishing. But I don’t regret the route my writing journey has taken. It’ll just be a little longer this way. And I’m enjoying the scenery.
Tammy Doherty http://www.tammydoherty.com/ She's Mine - 2008 & 2007 Touched by Love finalist GH and Genesis flunky ~ Future contest hopeful!
(Note From Mary)--Tammy included a picture of 'her muses' the two cuties on the right here.