Friday, July 10, 2009

What to Expect When You’re Expecting – By Erica Vetsch

First, thanks to the fabulous Mary C. for inviting me back to Seekerville. I LOVE Seekerville, all the Seeker-girls, the comments, the camaraderie, the cookies! Stopping by Seekerville is something I look forward to each day.

Okay, by now you’ve read the title of this blog post, and I can maybe guess what you’re thinking: Is she making some sort of a baby announcement here?
Um. No. (For me that ship has sailed) But on the other hand, YES! I’m expecting. A debut novel! I received my first book contract in September of 2008, but The Bartered Bride doesn’t release until November, 2009.
Such.
`
A.
`
Very.
`
Long.
`
Time.
`
To.
`
Wait.
It’s like being pregnant for 14 months.

During this time of waiting, I’ve been able to draw some correlations between expecting your first baby and the launch of your first novel.

• Over-the-top excitement and the thrill of telling all your friends and family your good news.


BABY: When I suspected I was pregnant with my first child, I bought one of those home tests. The instructions said to wait overnight, then use it first thing in the morning for the most accurate results. Small problem. The reason I suspected I was pregnant (other than the most obvious) was that I could no longer go all night without making a trip to the bathroom. So at three in the morning, wide-awake and awash with the need to make a pit-stop, I decided I’d just use the test. Woohoo, two pink lines. My husband, whom I had to wake up right away, squinted at the lines, then mumbled, “Tell me again in the morning.” Good thing he was excited about it when he woke up.

BOOK: I received a contract offer at the 2008 ACFW Conference from Heartsong Presents—a thrilling blessing given in front of about 500 authors, editors, and agents—an experience I will never forget.
After the session broke up (and I had heard NONE of Angela Hunt’s Keynote Address because I was somewhere north of cloud nine the rest of the session) my husband got a phone call right from the banquet hall of the conference. I waited to get home to tell my mom, my siblings, my church family, my hairdresser, etc. I shouted it on my blog, and my pastor put it in our church newsletter. I couldn’t tell enough people about the ‘baby’ on the way.

• Feeling a little sick.

BABY: I had morning sickness with my first pregnancy (and the second too, for that matter.) Certain foods, certain smells, certain times of the day. My gag reflex went into overdrive. Not enough saltine crackers in the world.

BOOK: When the initial euphoria of getting a contract wore off, I began to feel a little sick too. Was the novel good enough? Would I get hate mail? What if my mother read it and hated it? What if it fell flat and no publisher in his/her right mind would ever offer me work again? (I should stop typing these questions, because even now I get a little queasy.)

• Preparations. Getting ready.

BABY: When we were expecting our first baby, my husband and I were dead broke. God was providing for our needs, but not much else. Enter Garage Sales. Our child was clothed entirely with garage sale clothing and baby gifts for her first two years. I remember washing those new little onesies and nightgowns, sleepers and blankets, getting everything ready for that precious baby to arrive.

BOOK: Many preparations go into getting a novel ready for publication. These mostly go under the heading of “EDITS.” Critique partner edits, content edits, copy edits, galley edits. Then there’s the cover art questionnaire, the author bio (which felt like writing Elmo-speak…Erica lives in Minnesota…Erica writes historical romance) and the author photo.

• People who ask awkward questions.

BABY: For some reason, when you start to ‘show’ as an expectant mom, people’s social filters bust wide open and they seem to think they can ask you all sorts of awkward questions. “Did you plan this pregnancy?” “How much weight have you gained?” “How many more are you going to have?” “Can I touch your belly?”


BOOK: This happens with expectant authors too. (Well, hopefully not the belly question, but you understand.) “Are you a millionaire now?” “How big was your advance?” “What’s taking so long? I thought you said you were going to be published?” and my personal favorite, since I write category romance, “When are you going to write a real novel?”
The trick is to field these questions with humor and tact. :) Wish I had more of those two things.


• Feeling like you’re going to be pregnant forever.
BABY: With both of my pregnancies, the last two weeks were the longest. Uncomfortable, irritable, and oh, so ready for this baby to be born. And just as certain that it would never happen. I was going to be the first woman in history who got pregnant, carried a baby to term, and never actually gave birth.


BOOK: There are times when I’ve thought, “This book release date is NEVER going to get here.” There is a sweet lady at my church who asks almost on a weekly basis when my book is coming out. While I’m thrilled at her interest, it’s sometimes hard to be patient and explain to someone on the ‘outside’ just how slow the publishing world is. But the day will come. The book has made it through edits, we’re just four months away instead of fourteen, and it is now available for pre-order at www.christianbook.com. Steps that show delivery is imminent.

• Wondering if you’ll make a good ‘mom.’

BABY: I often wondered if God was sure He knew what He was doing putting a scatterbrain like me in charge of a helpless infant. Would I bond with my baby? Would I love her as much as I wanted to? Would I make mistakes? What would I do if she started crying? What would I do if she wouldn’t stop crying? What if she got sick? What about potty training? Should we homeschool, or should we send her to school? What should I wear to her wedding?????? (It’s okay, I already know I’m nuts.)

BOOK: When you’re waiting for your book to launch, you can get into some of the same patterns. Will I be a good author? Someone the editors and publishers will want to work with again? What should I do to market the book? What if nobody likes it? What if I schedule a book signing and NOBODY comes? What if I get a bad review? What if all my author friends who read it laugh at me for my pathetic efforts? ARGH! Deep breaths. Time to trust the Lord and your editors. Time to examine your motives for why you’re doing this. Are you seeking the approval of man or the approval of God? Did you do your best? Then let it rest.

• Some serious family planning for siblings.

BABY
: No one can decide for someone else when their family is complete. There are personal, financial, or emotional reasons to limit your family. (File these types of questions under AWKWARD up above, if someone asks you how many kids you plan to have, etc.) My husband and I knew ours was complete when we had two children, a daughter and a son.

BOOK: In the world of novel-writing, it’s the same way. Some folks only want that initial thrill of having a book in print, and they are satisfied and move on to other things. Not so for me at this point. I want my debut baby to have lots of siblings. So far, there are five more in the works.

The Kennebrae Brides Series:
The Bartered Bride – November 2009
The Marriage Masquerade – January 2010
The Engineered Engagement – June 2010

The Brides of Money Creek (Idaho Brides):
Clara and the Cowboy – April 2010
Lily and the Lawman – August 2010
Maggie and the Maverick – November 2010

God is so GOOD! He’s been with me every step of the way, from the shores of Unpubbed Island, to the Obstetrician’s Office awaiting delivery, (yeah, I know, totally mixed metaphors) and I know He will be with me wherever it is that published authors live. :)


ERICA VETSCH is married to Peter and keeps the company books for the family lumber business. A home-school mom to Heather and James, Erica loves history, romance, and storytelling. Her ideal vacation is taking her family to out-of-the-way history museums and chatting to curators about local history. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Calvary Bible College in Secondary Education: Social Studies. You can find her on the web at On the Write Path. Her debut novel, The Bartered Bride is available for pre-order at Christian Book Distributors. If you’d like to order her book, click HERE.

56 comments :

  1. Me? still working on getting pregnant . . I mean finishing the book. And unlike the pregnancy, the book is something you HAVE to do by yourself.

    Thanks Erica for an amusing comparison between the two big WAITS.

    I started the coffee. Oh by the way I only drink decaf.

    Happy FRIDAY!!!!

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  2. Erica, what a fun post! Great analogies and they sure are spot on!!!

    Okay, that's more exclamation points than I allow myself in two books. Dear heavens.

    But only a few more months to wait, girlfriend, and I love your titles. Wonderful.

    Deb. Are ya' kiddin' me? Decaf? Need I remind you it's FRIDAY and we have to work all day??? No nappy, no sleepy, no catching a wink...

    WORK...

    Oh mylanta, I'll make the straight hardcore stuff myself.

    :)

    Hey, Pepper dropped off some AMAZING cookies late last night while she was prepping for VBS. I'm putting them out so I'm not the only one with a Muumuu on this summer and adding a wonderful breakfast pizza to round things out. Sausage, egg and cheese with my own mega-delish crust.

    Dig in. Cappuccino bar is fully stocked and the weekend cometh.

    Praise God!

    :)

    Ruthy

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  3. Erica! What a great post!! I LOVE it! And how exciting at all of the growth over the last year! Six books is so incredible! Congrats!

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  4. That was so good. I read every single word, and I tend to be a skipper. (on unpubbed island too).

    Love your new photo. You look so pretty.

    Now time for the two year old to come out...I went to the link to see your book..

    I want a book cover.
    I want a book cover.

    I WANT A BOOK COVER!!!!!! AND I WANT IT NOW!!!

    I did go to Amazon just in case. Did you know you are in someone's book acknowledgments? Well how cool is that?

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  5. Erica,
    Congrats and many blessings for your...um...added blessings :-) I love the way you described this process, so now I can be a little more prepared when (I'm an optimist) the day arrives for me.

    I had some German Apple Pancakes, if anyone is interested.

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  6. This post was excellent! I was laughing out loud - I could SO relate to the pregnancy stuff. Everything you said was spot on, and I imagine getting "pregant" with a book deal is much the same way. I'm still waiting to see those two lines first!

    And about the doubts... I'm sure everybody has them (I know I do!!). But after reading some of your stuff, rest assured, you're an AMAZING writer! This fan can't wait for Bartered Bride to come out!

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  7. Erica, thanks for the delightful post! I love the analogy of expecting a baby and the release of a novel. Fun, funny and oh, so true! I waited 27 months for the release of my debut. Even an elephant doesn't have to wait that long. :-) The wait hinged on the launch of the Love Inspired Historical line so I'm not complaining. But I can identify with all the questions you got while you waited.

    Thanks for the breakfast pizza, Ruthy!

    Janet

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  8. Erica, wonderful post! Writing has so much to do with waiting--and I can see it never ends, even after a sale. Patience (always in short supply for me) is so necessary. And while we wait, we keep on writing which is what we want to do anyway!

    I just had a latte with whip. For real.

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  9. That was a fun post, Erica! Thanks for sharing.

    I'm not even published yet but already I'm worried about some of those things. For years I've been trying to get published. But for the first time yesterday I had this horrible, stomach-sinking thought. What if nobody buys my book? What if it sells a couple hundred, and then the bookstores can't GIVE them away?

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  10. Oh, Erica, what a GREAT analogy and a great post!! Welcome to Seekerville ... or at least to the posting side of Seekerville, since you spend so much of your time here anyway, like the rest of us!

    SUPER CONGRATS on the new baby, my friend!! I remember everything about that moment when you were awarded the contract at ACFW -- what a thrill, not only for you, but for all of us to see someone's dreams come true!

    I wish you a pain-free delivery and a house full of healthy and strong children ...

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  11. Julie is back as Amy...or is it Amy as Julie. I'm confused ;-) But that's easy to do.

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  12. What a wonderful post! I loved the way you expressed yourself. I can tell your book is going to be fantastic. Thanks for sharing your experience. It helps us newbies coming along to know what to expect (hopefully someday).

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  13. Good morning, Seekerville!

    Debra. Can I just say I LOVE that photo? What a cheerful, funny little face.

    Hey, Ruthy, welcome to the obstetrician's office of publishing. You can have the chair by me! And we'll eat cookies and oranges. (You'll have to see my post on my blog today for an explanation of the oranges thing.)

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  14. Hey, Jody, thanks for stopping by. You'll be in that waiting room soon! We'll throw a party!

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  15. Tina, you and me both! I'm DYING to get some cover art. I can't wait to hold my book in my hot little hands.

    And, yeah, isn't that cool? My friend Stephanie is so generous to include me in the acknowledgements of her new novel Me, Just Different. We met at the Florida Christian Writer's conference in 2006, and sat in Angela Hunt's Fiction Class. (WOW, felt like I was trying to get a sip from a fire hose, there was so much to learn.)

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  16. Hey, Pepper, thanks for your comments. And there's nothing wrong with being an optimist. Nor in being prepared. :) As for apple pancakes...sign me up!

    Katie, Thank you! It is so easy to hop on that hamster-wheel of doubt. And sometimes so hard to get off! But friends like you help yank me off that cycle and back to sanity. :) I'm glad you've enjoyed what you read of TBB, and hope you like the rest just as much.

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  17. Janet..27 months???? EEEEK! That might do me in altogether. That poor lady at my church would NEVER understand. :)

    Cara, you're so right. We just keep on writing, which is what we want to do anyway. And it gives my feeble mind someplace happy to wander while I wait. :)

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  18. Good morning, Melanie. I've actually had dreams where I'm at a book signing and NOBODY comes. The staff all shake their heads in a pitying way and I sit behind my table of books and eat ALL the chocolate I brought. Sigh. But, I wake up, and I assure myself that won't happen (gulp) and move on.

    Amy/Julie - Thank you for the best wishes. I'm so glad my crit partner was filming that contract announcement, because the whole thing went by in a fog for me. I was so stunned, I couldn't even think straight. I wondered if I would make it on and off the platform without fainting. :)

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  19. Good morning, Lee, thank you for commenting. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. I live vicariously through those who are a little ahead of me in the publishing process and always enjoy reading about their exploits and experiences.

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  20. Okay, girls (and Vince if you're out there. ;) ) I'm off to prepare, serve, and clean up after a funeral dinner at church, so I won't be checking in until about 2ish central time.

    Have fun, y'all!

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  21. Erica, Having received'the call' from Harlequin American in May, I'm still in the early stages of book-pregnancy. But your column fits what I'm going through to a 'T'. Great blog!

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  22. Hi, Erica. Wonderful post! Love the comparison. I have neither a book contract (yet) or a child, but I can relate in terms of actually finishing a book! I completed my first trilogy a week ago. Boy o BOY did I think that would never happen! Whew! Now the real work begins...

    Happy weekend!
    Jennifer

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  23. LOL, love the morning sickness analogy! Your book is fabulous, and people are going to LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!! And they'll love the siblings too :-)

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  24. Love, love, love this post! Great analogies! I just love to hear other's journeys.
    Congrats!

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  25. Oh, Erica, this was so clever and wise . . . and timely for me as I'm in my 7th month of pregnancy with only 11 more to go!!!

    If I'm not mistaken, you are having quintuplets in 2010--maybe you'll get one of those Babies 'R' Us sponsorships!

    I'm thrilled for you and love your analogy here.

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  26. Erica, how fun to hear all about your first book and the wait. Great analogy. I've been reading your comments all this time so it is fun to have you post your great story of the breakthrough into the world of publishing.
    Congratulations. I just know the "siblings" are going to be plentiful.

    Thanks Ruthy for the yummy breakfast pizza and Pepper, I'll take some of those German apple pancakes too.

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  27. Oh Erica, this was wonderful! I can so relate to the being pregnant for 14 months. My debut novel, Summer of Truth, from Revell won't be released until the fall of 2010, with siblings following the next two years. I just loved your analogy, especially the "feeling a little sick" part. That was something I hadn't anticipated feeling, but you are so right!

    Congrats on your bundle of joy, and I look forward to reading The Bartered Bride and her sisters.

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  28. Uh ... Pepper, join the club on confusion because that's pretty much my constant state lately ...

    I'm gonna try to appear as "Julie" the rest of this week since my daughter "Amy" is out of town. Of course, my son "Matt" is coming back into town this weekend, so who knows?

    Dear Lord, how I miss "empty nesting" ... at least blogger-wise!!! :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  29. Erica, I'm so excited for you.

    This post reminded me of a really sweet OLD lady in our church. When I was expecting my fourth child, after three daughters, she would come up to me EVERY WEEK and say, "Mary, I am praying you'll have a son."

    I'd smile and pat her arm and say... well, let's see...some weeks it was,

    We really love our girls, Florence. We'll be fine with another one.

    We know we can have girls.

    Thank you. (run)

    A boy would be wonderful but as long as it's healthy we'll be happy. (run)--(and considering how pregnant I was running wasn't easy)

    Close to my due date Florence one week brought me the most beautiful crocheted afghan, really extraordinarily beautiful work. BLUE.

    So, I could laugh or cry and the afghan kept my fourth daughter as warm as toast.

    So awkward questions indeed.

    I do know I got so I'd say by reflex..."Publishing is a slow, slow business."

    Aand you'd hear an editor say, "Our catalogue is filled until 2012 and you think, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    Now we know, that's standard but when you're hearing it, it sounds the same as, GET LOST!!!

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  30. How absolutely perfect, Erica! Marvelous enlightenment through your comparisons of gestation periods!! LOL!!

    Don't you just hate when they poke at your belly?? And then the poke-r is offended when the poke-e pokes back!!

    SO TRUE!!

    Thanks for sharing the journey. Can't wait for your debut book to hit the shelves!

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  31. Erica,
    Excellent post.

    Two Years... That's one long gestation period. Beats out Elephants. Could you imagine having morning sickness that long?

    Oh my.

    Although when you consider writing, as you so eloquently put it, that's about how it goes huh?

    My poor little innards get the ralf wantos so badly when I think of getting a contract. Then when I get one, I think what happens now, no one gave me the manual. On how to react with it either.

    My most interesting moment carrying a BABY came when I went to a high school concert, and my first child decided to play like typewriter in my tummy.

    He'd kick his leg out to one side and I'd have to push him back over. Needless to say my stomach got a work out and looked mighty distorted.

    Well low and behold, two teen age boys came and sat down beside me, having seen my stomach they became enthralled and came across the floor just to put their hands on my stomach.

    Is that your baby? One said before they plopped their hands on my belly and gasped in wonder each time my son moved.
    They sat there smiling and shocked for a good five minutes or more.
    I was in awe myself.

    Life is amazing.

    Being a writer is amazing. I can hardly wait for someone to pick up my book with such excitement and gasp, my is that your book. OR you book is something. It really moved me.

    Let hope in a good way.

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  32. I SOOOOO relate, Erica!!! I'm in the stage right now where I feel like a harried soccer mom. Gotta rush one "child" to "promotion," the next one to "page proofs," another one to "content edit" and right over to "cover art," and of course the one(s) still in the "womb" for their developmental checkups.

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  33. Erica, I remember calling dh from Dallas the year I won the Golden Heart.

    The RITA and GH ceremonies lasted really late, and by the time I made it through the dessert buffet and hugged all 2000 people in attendance, it was about 11:30. I thought I'd wake him up.... but I was so excited.

    Instead, I caught him and the boys at a pancake house eating out at midnight! lol

    Oh, btw, congrats on your baby...uh...book!

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  34. Tina P, your baby wasn't typing, he was playing the DRUMS!

    Is he musical?

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  35. i really enjoyed this post, erica. having had a baby not too long ago, i really resonated with all the analogies! :) i actually told a guy who is self-pubbing his book that he'd finally seen the "face" of his "baby" when he had the cover done. he'd never thought about it like that...and laughed, b/c it took 9 months to write! :) thanks for the heads-up. having a book published will be as heartwarming, confusing, painful, nerve-wracking and wonderful as having a baby!

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  36. Okay Peeps, I'm back. Whew, served a lotta food today and cleaned up afterwards. :)

    Leigh, Congratulations on getting the call from Harlequin! There's nothing quite like it, is there? And there's an instant camraderie amongst us "expectant mothers." I'd love to hear what the title of your book is and when it's coming out.

    Jennifer, Congratulations on finishing a trilogy! That's a huge accomplishment. Are you in the "get it out there" mode yet, or letting it rest for awhile?

    Georgiana! Girl, you rock. Thanks for all you've done to help get this baby birthed.

    And I need to give a shout out to Kaye Dacus at the same time. She helped me whip The Bartered Bride into shape too.

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  37. Sherrinda, Thank you, new friend. :)

    Carla, I'm so excited for your "baby" to get here. I know it's going to be amazing, just like you!

    Hey, Ann, thanks for stopping by!

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  38. Sandra, Thank you! I'm such a Seekerville addict. I'm sure I'm not alone in that though. :D

    Lorna, Congratulations! I'm so excited to see all these "Ladies in Waiting." I suppose book signings are the analogus equivalent of baby showers? Hmm...Have to think on that one some. :)

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  39. Yay, Julie's back...as herself this time. :)

    Mary! My sister from another mother. :)

    I imagine that by the time the fourth one arrives, no matter the gender, you just want it to sleep. :)

    You're growing quite a brood yourself. :)

    Have you noticed that I have a smiley face at the end of every sentence? :)

    I must be in a good mood. :)

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  40. Erica, I missed some of your book sales, girl. I'm so happy and delighted for you. (happy and delighted might be the same but words fail me I'm so excited)
    Six books in the pipeline.

    You are SMOKING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Did you all know Erica got her CALL story the same as me. She was contracted at the ACFW Conference, called up in front of 350 some cheering authors who were all genuinely happy for her...insanely jealous in a few hundred instances, but happy too.

    And now look at you, writing up a storm. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

    Oh, and I think as for your baby/book analogy. Add marketing in there as labor.......

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  41. Audra, I never dared poke back, but Woohoo! Kudos for trying it!

    Tina, the "ralf wantos" totally collapsed me and my daughter into laughter. I think we have a new catch phrase.

    And I bet those teen boys were changed forever by that experience. A whole little person in there.

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  42. Pam,

    My son plays the violin. He's six four and was pretty long at birth.

    The doctor said his fingers were so long and slender he would play piano.

    But he didn't, oh well.

    Right now he'd pretty good on the Guitar Hero :)

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  43. Myra, that is so true, like being the ultimate soccer mom, rushing from one stage to the next. You could use that analogy in a Seekerville post. ;)

    Pam, when the mom's away, the dad and the boys get midnight pancakes? LOL Sounds like fun. I hope your boys celebrated with you via phone. A Golden Heart--that is awesome!

    Jeannie, yup, this rollercoaster of publishing is ALL those emotions you named, and more. Just like parenting. :) Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  44. Mary, I wish I had been at that conference to see you get your first contract. That would've been the best. My first ACFW conference Marcia Gruver got a three book contract.

    I'm pretty happy and delighted myself. :)

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  45. Erica,

    So laughing you were laughing about the ralf wantos hey. Is that why you had all those pretty smily faces everywhere.

    use the Ralf wantos whenever you like. Or you can 'o rourke' too.

    As for those boys. I never knew what happened, but one can always hope it made them see the beauty of life through clearer eyes.

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  46. Okay, "O'Rourke" is a hit too! LOLOLOL

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  47. Okay,

    So what do you do when you go into heavy contractions and the book baby starts to come out and you have to tuck it back in?

    Love that question hey?

    And editor was sending me a contract for a book, but pulled it because another house who received previously, lost the manuscript and asked for it again.

    Hopefully the offer from the first house will be there when the dust settles if the second house chooses not to take it.

    Or maybe the house that lost it will be interested in publishing it.
    Either way, I just had a boost and a let down.

    And had to push the baby back in the unaccepted womb room, whatever.

    Does that make any sense?

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  48. Well, Tina, that's quite a visual. I cannot wait for Erica to answer that one. (So sorry btw).

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  49. Oh, no! Tina!

    I think you should talk to Ruthy...her post from yesterday was WOW.

    On the positive side, you've got a manuscript that TWO houses are interested in. Do you have an agent? That might be a great application of an agent. Let him/her liase for you.

    Wow...kinda like false labor...what were those called? Braxton-Hicks contractions?

    This publishing business is HARD. Let us know what happens. :(

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  50. Great analogy. I've got 12 months left until my baby arrives. One of my awesome critique partners recently said she felt like the expectant aunt since there are two in our group in book limbo.

    Shannon Taylor Vannatter
    WHITE ROSES
    Heartsong Presents May 2010
    shannontaylorvannatter.com

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  51. Hey, Shannon, fellow Heartsong author! Thanks for stopping by!

    Expectant aunt. I like that!

    I look forward to seeing your debut release. :)

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  52. What a cute post! I just loved the analogy! Your books looks cute too! Hope to read it soon!

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  53. Thanks, Renee. I hope you enjoy the book. I'm starting to count down the days!

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  54. Erica,
    Loved your post. You're right! Creating a novel is like birthing a baby. Truth is you never stop having fears about the "baby." No matter how many you've published. Motherhood -- or authorhood -- means concern. Will they like the story? The baby? The work?

    Congrats on your success!!!

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  55. Thank you, Debbie. I guess I'll do for my books like I do for my kids. The best I can and bathe them in prayer.

    Thank you to all the Seekerville people for having me here again. I love joining in the Seekerville community. You're all so supportive and encouraging.

    G'nite, y'all!

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