Wednesday, January 22, 2014

So You Think You Can Write's Happily Ever After

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.)



  1. Tanya Wright! I think I need to make a banner complete with lights and sparkles so I won't miss when your first novel comes out!!Great post. And the chocolate cake is awesome. Thanks for bringing it, Tina. Would love to win those books! I never have enough

  2. Tanya, those calls are beautiful and wonderful and exciting! Congratulations!!

  3. Hello Tanya!!!!

    I'm glad that you have overcome a painful past and that you are on your way to publishing your first book!!!!

    Congrates!!!! (Big Smile)

    I have just finished my first manuscript and have to figure out a way get it to a publisher or someone..... :)

    Thanks for sharing!!!!!

  4. Welcome, Tanya!!!

    I am so jazzed to have you in Seekerville.

    Also, I must confess, I am a disturbed person. I have listened to your call phone call about ten times now. It just makes me so happy!!!!

    And I love HEA!!

  5. Great art sometimes comes at a great price, and I'm glad you were able to help your healing through writing. Congrats to you on your success!

  6. Congratulations Tanya!!! I watched the video of your call and I cried right along with you. Thank you so very much for sharing your journey to publication. It gives others of us hope that in the future we too will be able to share news as wonderful as you shared here.

    I would love to be entered to win the surprise box of books. Thank you for the opportunity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  7. Congratulations, Tonya! Your story is so inspiring. I pray your second book is going well and that your debut does well in July.

    What inspires me is the sense that I was born to write. I've never wanted/needed to do anything like I want/need to write. I've finally started to put my writing out there and the feedback has inspired me to keep going.

    I think the stories that I've written that have come out the best always start with a grain of truth--an actual event reimagined, a real life frustration spun out with "what if," etc. My current novel started as a real life bad experience with a delivery from a local restaurant, and it's a romantic suspense!

    There were a few things I had to overcome to better my writing. One was my pursuit of perfection. I used to revise as I go, and wouldn't move to the next section until I had the area I was working on perfect. Consequently, I never finished anything. Another thing I had to overcome is trying to pants a novel. Working with a bare bones outline of what HAS to happen at least lets me know where I need to go. I've had to stop talking myself out of my stories. No thinking an idea is stupid or a first draft is too bad to bother with revising. Lastly, I have had to overcome my fear of letting others see my writing. I'm still working on that one. I'm still struggling with pressing submit on a story.

    I love reading about your story! Please enter me in the giveaway

  8. TANYA! Congratulations! What a beautiful, heart-tugging story of your road to publication. I'll definitely be looking for your first book!

  9. What a great story, Tanya.Congratulations! I love your comment about the 'ugly cry' haha, isn't that the truth...

    I hope you all stay warm and safe today.
    (my oh my that cake...)

  10. Congrats, Tanya.

    Thank you for sharing your story and success!

  11. I'm thrilled for you, Tanya.

    Thanks for sharing your moving story with us today. Writers do draw on past emotion to enhance their stories, but sometimes it's hard to revisit those old hurts. Glad you turned pain into joy.

    Rejoicing with you!

  12. Tanya, welcome to Seekerville and congratulations on getting your first contract! It's a long and difficult road to publication but you made it! Good luck for your future.

  13. Tanya, thank you for sharing your story, and your writing journey. You have encouraged me this morning. :-)

    I'm glad for you and wish you many more years of success in your writing.

  14. Oh, yes, Tanya, how could I forget to tell you how much I enjoyed your phone call!!!

    I cried along with you! :-))

  15. Congratulations, Tanya! I love hearing success stories like this. WooHoo!

    Keep writing those stories full of YOU. Only YOU can write the stories God has placed on YOUR heart. And then you can share them with the world : )

    Pass the cake, please. No way can I pass up chocolate cake!!

  16. Tanya, I love hearing success stories. AND YOURS IS SO SWEET.

    If Only sounds like an emotional read. Can't wait to read it.


  17. Morning TANYA and welcome to Seekerville. It is always a pleasure to read another inspiring story about the call. It reminds everyone that this crazy business is possible. Have fun today.

    And TINA thanks for the yummy chocolate cake.

  18. Sandra, you hit it on the nose. Stories like Tanya's remind us that even in this crazy business a HEA call story can happen and does.

  19. Thanks for sharing your story, Tanya. You remind us there's a lot of hard work before the HEA but timing is just important.

  20. Oh, this is such an inspiring and wonderful post about HEA, about striving for the goal, about taking chances....!!!!!!


    Tanya, so happy for you!!!!!

    I remember my CALL....


    I have never deleted it, and it was a crazy, crazy time of disconnect, but in the end...

    Hearing her offer me a contract:


    Tanya, congratulations!! GRINNING!!!!

    And offering lattes and/or coffee to all!

  21. hahaha! Love that you saved your call, call, Ruthy. That's awesome.

    We have to pinch ourselves on occasion at how fortunate we are to have choices in publishing.

  22. Oh my!!! What a wonderful story, Tanya! I love it so much! My story is kind of the opposite. The day I got the call from my agent, I had been crying and asking God, Please don't let me get depressed if they say no. LOL!

    I definitely pull from my own experiences when I write. I think a painful past actually helps a writer, and I definitely have some pain I can pull from. LOL! But we won't go there. It really does help heal wounds to write about it. My characters' spiritual arc is always something I've had to sort through.

    I'm so happy for you! Happy for your publishing success and happy that you are moving on. God is always there, nudging us toward growth and a better future. :-)

  23. Congratulations, Tanya, on both the contest win and the two-book contract! Writing can be so cathartic, can't it? My just finished manuscript was quite emotional for me, and I realized about halfway through that it was a good-bye to my father who passed away four years ago.

    I would love to be entered in the drawing. Thank you!

  24. Tanya, thanks so much for sharing your inspiring story with us, and congratulations on the Hq contract! How thrilling!!!!

    I believe with all my heart that writing is cathartic and healing. I've dealt with so many difficult times in my life by pouring all the emotions into a private journal, and now many of those emotions find their way, in some form or another, into my stories. I think that's what readers crave--the resonating connection between story and their own lives. It isn't so much the shared experiences as it is the shared emotions.

  25. Tanya isn't AWOL. Blogger is refusing to let her post from her phone right now. She'll be with us as soon as she can!!


  26. Welcome to Seekerville, Tanya! Congratulations on The Call and two-book contract. Your journey touched me and reaffirmed the need for me to dig deep and transfer the feelings of past heartaches and joys onto the page. That openness takes courage. A scene I wrote with the heroine's father dying came from the sorrow of losing my own father. Every time I revisited the scene while revising, I cried, but they were healthy tears.

    I want to read your novel.


  27. Congrats, Tanya. Your coming book sounds wonderful!

  28. What a great story! Tanya, wow, a contest leads to a two book contract, that is so so sweet!!!!!

  29. How wonderful for you, Tanya!
    I totally know what you mean about writing something that just isn't ME. I've done that, and my experience is that I fizzle out along about the 25,000 word point. If its not me, I have a hard time keeping the novel going.
    Stay warm!

  30. Mr. Blogger doesn't love my phone, either.

    He'll let me on sometimes, then just s-p-i-n aimlessly at other times.

    I was very tempted to throw him in Boston Harbor last time I was in Tanya's city!!!!

    Faneuil Hall.... the shoreline.... Harvard, Cambridge, the old cemeteries. LOVE IT, TANYA!!!!

  31. Oh, that's funny. Excuse me while I go delete ONE of me.


  32. I just watched the video, and that is so awesome! Congratulations...I can't even imagine right now how I'd feel if I got a call like that. The road to publication can be long and hard. Congrats on the two-book deal! I look forward to reading your books. :)

  33. There you go, Ruthy. It's a BOSTON thing. lol

  34. Congratulations Tanya! I loved your entry and it is an honour to have been in the top 10 with you. All the best for your career.

  35. Congratulations Tanya! I loved your entry and it is an honour to have been in the top 10 with you. All the best for your career.

  36. Congratulations, Tanya! This made me smile.

  37. Rachael! Welcome to Seekerville. Congratulations on your top ten placement.

    Sit. Have some chocolate cake and let's chat!

  38. Hey Suzie!!! Happy Wednesday. Don't you just love inspiring journey stories???

  39. Thank you for sharing your story, Tanya. I'm delighted for you.

    I identify with you a good deal. I used notes my mother wrote for me before her death to write the story that got me my first contract. I dedicated it to her.

  40. Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your story with us!

  41. What a wonderful story! Can't wait to read the book. Thanks for sharing!
    tscmshupe [at] pemtel [dot] net

  42. Great to meet you Tanya and hear about your journey! We writers love these type of stories!

    Congratulations and will look for your debut book in July!


  43. Helen, I didn't know that. What a lovely tribute.

  44. Tanya, your story is so inspiring! Thankful you knew to let your voice shine through. And that you are using your struggles in your work to help others. I'm looking forward to your debut.

    Helen - my mom will have been gone 20 years this summer. I still miss her.

  45. Tina,
    Thanks! It took a little effort and a lot of help from my tech support (aka sister) but I think i've finally figured out google+

  46. Oh my! What a morning! I tried and tried to post and seriously thought about throwing my phone (the idea for throwing it in the harbor has been tucked away for later use!)

    Thank you so much for such a warm welcome! You guys are amazing! And cake! Yumm! Thanks, Tina :)

    I love reading how so many of you have dealt with grief by writing. It truly is healing. And I love how our low moments can be used to better us and make us stronger.

  47. Marianne Barkman, funny enough I have already ordered a banner complete with lights and sparkles so just keep an eye out for it in July :)

  48. Mz. ZeyZey overcoming the need to always be perfect is difficult! I struggled with that a lot, but have found it much easier to just write. Even the messy and chaotic can be edited into something beautiful. Once you get started and just let yourself go, it flows so much easier than stopping and revising and so forth.

  49. Yay, Tanya! What courage to put yourself out there. Well done! I love your last bit of advice - "Even messy and chaotic can be edited into something beautiful." Great reminder.

  50. Ruth, I love that you saved your call! I got lucky with a video, but totally would have done the same thing! My sister has a video of it too. Although it was early in the morning and I wasn't quite dressed for the day so that one gets saved as a personal memory haha.

  51. Thank you, Lyndee. I believe it was Nora Roberts who said "I can fix a bad page, but I can't fix a blank page."

  52. I LOVE this! Tanya, I'm truly happy for you. A two - book contract?? Awesome.
    What happened to you sounds like something I would dream up in my head, but now I see it can happen :)
    I hate that you suffered the loss of your boyfriend, but I'm thankful that God is going to use you to touch others with your writing. That is amazing.
    Now I'm all smiley lol!

  53. Tanya, what an inspiring story! I'm so happy everything came together for good for you. And a two-book contract! So cool!

    And there's cake today? Mmmmm...

    I'd have to say just every day life inspires me to write. I never know when a story is going to enter my head (although my first novel, unpublished, was based on a dream I had that I later fleshed out). My current WIP is a murder mystery based around a symophony orchestra, which is where I work for my day job. At our Christmas party last year, I sat at a table with our conductor, and our long time stage manager, who were exchanging stories about years past. They don't know it, but those stories gave me some ideas! *waggles eyebrows*

    Have a great day, and congratulations again!

  54. Congratulations, Tanya!

    Listening to your call made me relive my own call...what happy memories.

    I'll be looking for your book!

  55. Ooh that sounds interesting, Stephanie!

  56. wow! what an awesome story, Tanya. And a two book deal to boot! I'm impressed that after you finished your first manuscript, you realized you needed more of yourself in your work - and then you really poured yourself into your work.

    It's always cool to see how new authors arrive and just how unique each author is. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I sniffled a bunch through your "the call" video. That is so awesome for you to have.

  57. Congratulations Tanya! I cried just reading your story, so if I'd been with you when you got the call I would have cried with you.

    I'm so happy for you!

  58. I watched the video the day the winner was announced and I was so thrilled for you. I had already read your story on the website and loved it. Congratulations!!!!

  59. LeAnn! You have a face! Good to see you!!

  60. Oh my goodness, your story IS a story ... and an inspiring one at that. Thank you!

    Nancy C

  61. Tanya, I loved reading your journey to publication. Congrats!

  62. Wow!!! You've had such an amazing journey, Tanya! I love what you said about writing what you're passionate about. I'm still learning to do that.

    Congrats on your new contract(s)!!!

  63. What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing today. I found myself quite moved by all you had to say. You have found your voice.

  64. Congratulations Tanya. The video brought tears to my eyes. It's wonderful to hear the happiness in your voice.
    Blessings on your book deal.


  65. TANYA!!! Welcome to Seekerville, girl, and WOW, what a GREAT story!! It's stories like yours that inspire us all to keep on keeping on, so THANK YOU!!


    What inspires me??? Well, your story for one, and others like yours where God makes dreams come true in so many wonderful ways!!