with guest Belle Calhoune.
The road to publication is often filled with flying monkeys, tornadoes and mountains of self doubt. Fortunately, it's also filled with encouraging Glindas, a supportive cast of characters and moments of triumph. Much like Dorothy, we authors set forth on a publication path filled with hope, yearning and a desire to find a home for our books. As authors we have our own journey of discovery as we navigate the rough waters of the publishing world.
The Four Essential Ingredients on the Yellow Brick Road.
Heart. Becoming a published author is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of endurance, resilience and a willingness to embrace the process. Most authors are compelled to write because they can't not write. Trust me, I've tried. Writing is so essential to our lives that we can't imagine a world in which it doesn't play a prominent role. It is deeply engrained in our hearts. If this is your truth, attack the world of publishing with a passion. Give it everything you've got, withholding nothing. Wear your heart on sleeve and proudly proclaim yourself as an author pursuing publication. I've been in situations where I didn't want to put it out there, just in case it didn't pan out for me. And even though it's sometimes annoying to be questioned relentlessly about when we're getting published, there's a lot to be said for owning it. For me, it felt so empowering to lay it all out there and wear that author badge for all to see.
Courage. Being a writer is one of the few professions where the solitary aspects of our career can allow fear and doubt to set in. I'm reluctant to admit how many years I sat on manuscripts out of a deep rooted fear of failure. What would it feel like, I wondered, if a publisher (or several publishers) rejected my work? For some reason I held on to my writing dream and clutched it tightly to my chest, allowing no one or nothing to shatter the dream. But, in doing that, I held myself back. I wasn't making any forward strides. I was just treading water. Only in putting your work out there can an aspiring author truly become an active participant in their journey. It's inevitable to come across stumbling blocks on the road to publication, but if you arm yourself with courage, you can surmount those obstacles and emerge victorious on the other side.
Brains. Before I submitted my manuscript to Emily Rodmell (now my Love Inspired Editor) for the Speed Dating Pitch on the Harlequin forums, I did a lot of research on the line. I read and read and read. Knowing what is selling in the particular line or imprint you're targeting is crucial. Having your finger on the pulse of the business is not only a savvy move for aspiring authors, it actually puts you one step closer to publication. The easiest way to do this is to read newly released books and study them as if you're taking a college course in it. Writing for the Inspirational Romance Market 101. Take notes. Study the rhythms and the dialogue, the character arcs and the black moments. Watch for pacing of the first kiss and the levels of intimacy that are appropriate for the Inspirational market. Focus on all the elements that add up to a marketable, entertaining read. Then write the very best novel you can.
Belief. This is probably the most important factor in becoming a published author. This is the ingredient Dorothy possessed the whole time she was in Oz. As a writer you have to believe that you can accomplish your goal. Sometimes this boils down to visualizing your name on a book cover, writing the last line in a manuscript or hitting the send button and putting your book out there in the universe. Believing in your talent and your ability to write and sell a novel is crucial to success.
In the end, we alone possess the power to put words on the page that will move readers and encourage Editors and publishers to want to buy our novels. Writing can be filled with self doubt and way too much introspection. In order to overcome these moments of self doubt we have to believe in our talent, our storytelling ability and the work we've created. We must be unwavering in our belief that our work is meaningful and will touch the hearts of readers.
While writing my latest novel, “Forever Her Hero,” I had a few moments of self doubt. Writing a love story involving a grieving widow is a little out of my comfort zone. In creating the story I was walking a fine line between grief, loss and budding romance. Was it too depressing? Could I pull it off? As a way of snapping out of those moments I developed a mantra. I would ask myself the question, “Why are you writing this? Why does this story have to be told?” Asking myself that question allowed me to focus on the story, the character arcs and my own belief in the importance of the work. Every single time I emerged feeling stronger and more determined to see this book on store shelves.
My favorite quote from the Wizard of Oz comes from Glinda the Good Witch when she tells Dorothy, “You had the power all along, my dear.” As writers, we possess the power to turn words into published novels. It lies within us. That's a mighty thing indeed.
Don't forget to comment today for a chance to win one of two copies of Belle's latest release, Forever Her Hero. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.
A Time to Heal
Coast Guard officer Sawyer Trask left Cape Cod with a big regret—never confessing his true feelings to his childhood friend Ava. Now a widow with two young children, Ava needs him more than ever. He once promised to watch over her and the kids, and he's going to honor that—even though he harbors a secret that could tear them apart. Ava could always count on Sawyer through thick and thin, so having him nearby is a huge comfort. But his presence is also stirring her heart in unexpected ways. Can Sawyer and Ava move beyond their past hurts to find their happily ever after?
Belle Calhoune grew up in a family of five children in a small town in Massachusetts. She attended Syracuse University and majored in English with a minor in French. After graduating from college she became a Federal Investigator with the EEOC in Boston, Massachusetts. She now lives in Connecticut with her husband, two daughters, one mini poodle and a chocolate lab. Writing for the Love Inspired line is a dream come true. Working at home in her pajamas is one of the best perks that come with being a writer. Belle enjoys spending summers in Cape Cod, traveling, exercising on the Elliptical machine, watching movies and reading. She's now working on her fourth book for the Love Inspired line.