Friday, August 7, 2009
April Erwin-hope, motivation, determination…faith.
Wow! I got to meet Mary Connealy, how cool is that?
Mary’s career is a great inspiration to me, so when I heard she was coming to town for a book signing I was thrilled. I never dreamed I’d get the chance to talk shop with her, but Mary’s a great gal and welcomed the conversation. After discussing our writing ups and downs, she invited me to guest blog here at Seekerville.
I. Was. Floored. And completely psyched. I agreed immediately, too hyped on my adrenaline buzz to think about the ‘big picture’.
The big picture being, what in the world could I, an unpublished writer, possibly have to offer to the readers at Seekerville? I read the blog, I know how many published authors post, and I applaud each time they post a new success. Why would they want to hear what I have to say?
That line of thinking of course led to a great deal of ‘bloggers block’. I couldn’t come up with anything to share. When I finally wailed in despair to my sister, she did what every great sister does. She laughed at me and then gave it to me straight. She listed the things I had accomplished, the lessons I’ve claimed to learn, and told me to write what I know.
Gee. Sounds a lot like advice I’ve given others. Guess I’d better start listening to myself.
Okay, so I’ve never had a book contract; but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had some success in the writing world. I’ve completed three adult novels. My first novel, Missing Pieces, is self-published. I was young, green, and impatient. I didn’t know word one about getting a publishing contract and wasn’t sure I ever would, so I did it myself. It did moderately well in my hometown; it was even adapted as the school play by my high school alma mater. However, I determined the next books would be different. I’d get an agent and a real book contract.
My second WIP is an Inspirational Suspense. The first agent I submitted to, requested a full manuscript, but turned it down because it wasn’t ready. She was right. After two more re-writes, I entered the much-revised version in two contests - the Genesis and the Daphne. Although my scores weren’t bad, I didn’t place in the Genesis. The Daphne was a different story; I received honorable mention in The Daphne Du Maurier Unpublished Inspirational Romantic Mystery/Suspense 2008 category. Whoo Hoo! Now that felt good. Did it get me an agent or a contract? No. However, it did give me some very good critiques and a little assurance I was on the right road.
My third WIP is a Chick-lit. Something I was sure I’d never write. Not because I have anything against the genre, but because up to this point all my ideas had been mystery/suspense based. Life throws us some odd curveballs though, and this story demanded I write it. I had around ten chapters complete, when I saw the Stiletto contest. They had an Inspirational chick-lit category and I thought, why not? I submitted and to my very huge shock, placed third. This time it brought more than a contest win. It also brought an agent request. For the full manuscript if you please.
Holy Cow! I finished the manuscript in record time for me and sent it off. After waiting on pins and needles for around a month, I received an email from the agent. She said I had a great voice, but the intro needed a better hook. Could I try again and re-submit the full manuscript?
You betcha! I worked out a better beginning and re-submitted. This time it was nearly the full 3 months before she responded. She loved my story, thought I had a great voice, but because my heroine was overweight, felt like she had to turn it down. She believes obesity is one of the seven deadly sins, and wouldn’t feel comfortable promoting an overweight heroine. She did like the sound of my other WIP, would I submit a full manuscript of it?
Wow. Now I’m in a little bit of a tailspin. I had been praying that if she were the agent for me, she'd offer a contract. If not, she’d reject me. But what do I say to this? Sure, obesity is an uncomfortable topic for some, but it's also one of the biggest (no pun intended) issues in our nation. It's also something I understand. Being plus-sized is not easy. To reject the book solely because she didn’t like a fat heroine, though, is hard to understand. Could I even work with someone like that? I didn’t know. What I did know was that a second opportunity was in front of me and how could I ignore an open door? I submitted my suspense novel and prayed some more.
Just last week I received a letter from the agent, along with the first five pages of my book. She loves the story. Loves the voice, but found some formatting errors. She declined it, but invited me to re-submit the full manuscript.
There comes a time when you have to face facts and analyze what you're given. The positives: Good voice, good story, good writing. The negatives: a fat heroine and formatting errors (I swear it was my printer. I’d never send out something like that intentionally and I examine my submissions very closely.)
The outcome? It's just not meant to be. Not my writing career, but my relationship with that agent. Does that mean I’m a failure? I’d like to think the answer is a resounding NO. The failure would be in ignoring all the many critiques and advice I’ve received through judges - both positive and negative. Failure would be giving up on something I fully feel called to do. It would be a failure to ignore the successes I have seen, no matter how small they might be.
So, I whine. I sometimes worry I have nothing to offer. I wonder if my writing will ever go anywhere other than my desk drawer. Then I (or my sister) remind myself of the bigger picture. You only have nothing to offer if you quit trying.
Yes, there are many great writers on this blog and they all have great advice and words to share. I’m honored to blog among them. I hope in the end that I’ve been able to offer something of worth to all of you, published or not - hope, motivation, determination… and most importantly, faith.
Book Trailer: http://www.theerwins.com/aprilsnovels.htm