with Tanya Wright.
Hello Seekerville! I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful community of writers!
My name is Tanya, and like many of you, I have been on a journey towards publication. It started out painfully slow, but after a surprising twist I find myself full speed ahead on this journey and loving every minute of it.
I have always dreamed of writing. From an early age I would come up with story ideas and write them down with intent to flesh them out in the future.
I had lofty aspirations and, frankly, they scared me. I didn't feel qualified. I needed to learn it all before I could actually sit down and allow myself to write my first novel. I felt like an utter failure in just about every area of my life. I didn't want to give myself the opportunity to mess this up too.
At one point, I ran out of excuses. I had to face my fear. I began writing a manuscript although I had no idea what I was doing. Finally in January of this past year, I joined a writing community. I was given advice, shown the ropes, and encouraged through every step. I attended online writing courses and chat rooms and put everything I learned to use.
Once I finished the manuscript, I realized it was decently written, but it lacked one thing. Me. There was no distinguishable voice. I felt no attachment to the story. And that just didn't work for me. If I was going to write, then it had to be about something I felt to the core, something I believed in, something I felt passionate about. I just knew that if I wrote something like that my voice would come through naturally.
Fifteen years ago my boyfriend of two years was tragically killed in an accident. That's a story in and of itself. But on the morning of March 6th of this past year, a friend reminded me that it would have been his birthday. It was the first time in seventeen years that I had forgotten the significance of that day. And I found myself relieved. I had finally moved on. And as I sat there and pondered it, my mind began to develop my next novel.
Pain, grief, sorrow—I knew them well. Growth, healing, moving on—things I felt passionate about.
I sat down at my computer April 1st and began a month of NaNoWriMo, and on the last day of the month If Only was finished. It was a terrible mess, but it was there in all of its glory. Writing it helped me put the final seal on my past. I was finally able to deal with the things that had hindered my healing process, the things that I held onto out of stubbornness.
I saw the story as another practice run. It was something that needed to be written. Another part of my learning process, but something bigger was about to happen.
In September, Harlequin's second annual So You Think You Can Write competition began. I needed to get over my fear of letting others read what I wrote so I submitted. I did some minor promotion, letting my friends on Facebook know that I had entered. I was unbelievably nervous, but it was more about my work being read. I never expected anything.
You can imagine my surprise when I made it to the next round. It provided the confirmation I needed. I was finally in the right place, doing what I was supposed to do.
I remember days before the winner of SYTYCW was to be announced I had this feeling, woman's intuition or something of the sort. I just knew I would hear something from them that morning. I paced my apartment driving my sister insane. I had it all planned out. I was prepared to be let down. I even gave my sister a speech. Regardless of the outcome this would be my year! But in the back of my mind, I knew. I just knew. This was about to get real good!
The phone rang. I ran. My socks caused me to slide on the hardwood floors. I almost wiped out as I careened into the kitchen counter where my phone was. I calmly answered. In reality I was anything but calm at that moment.
It was Megan Haslam, editor for Harlequin Books. Every time I speak with her on the phone, my natural instinct is to emulate her wonderful British accent. I was concentrating hard so as not to do that!
The rest is a blur of overwhelming emotion. It didn't matter what I had been prepared to say. I couldn't stop the flow of tears. My supportive sister who stood next to me filming me, lovingly told me to not do the “ugly cry.”
Megan went on to inform me that not only had I won but that Harlequin Books wanted to offer me a two book contract!
I still don't think it has fully hit me. I still pinch myself. The winning entry is currently going through the editing process and preparing for publication. If Only will be a July 2014 release from Harlequin KISS .
I've already begun working on my second book. Can't tell you anything about it just yet, but I can tell you this...I've learned to pull from my past experiences. Each experience I've endured, every heartbreak, every loss, every moment of pure joy will be put to use to better me as a writer. God had a purpose for all of it, and I believe this is it.
So what inspires you? What do you pull from when you are developing characters and plot lines? What are some things you've had to overcome to better your writing?
Here's Tanya's bio from her website:
" I live just outside of Boston with one of my sisters. I currently work as a bridal consultant, helping brides make their wedding dreams a reality. I have a degree in Biblical Studies. I'm obsessed with Ancient Roman history. I am constantly attempting something crafty or creative whether it be sewing, painting or cake decorating. I sing in my church's worship band. I grew up in Florida as a Pastor's kid, oldest of four. The whole family still serves in church together every Sunday. I can't get enough of my nephew, Kade. He's a year and a half and is pretty much the main man in my life these days. He's got me wrapped around his chubby little finger."
|Editor Megan Haslam calls Tanya|
Today Seekerville is celebrating Tanya's wonderful story with chocolate cake, and one commenter will win a surprise box of books! Before we serve cake, we invite you to Tanya's website to hear her actual first sale call, here. (Bring tissues.)