Monday, August 24, 2015
I've been meaning to talk about the trip to New York and about being a Golden Heart Finalist. First and foremost, I never in my wildest dreams thought that would happen and I had not planned on the trip to the Big Apple. I had entered SAWYER'S ROSE on a whim and mostly for the feedback. The story was a Maggie Finalist and I had the submission ready and thought...why not? So I submitted it and forgot about it, at least until the week before the Rita and Golden Heart Finalists were announced and when at lunch after a GRW meeting Tanya Michaels reminded me that the announcement was the following Thursday. So I forgot about it again until my phone rang the next Thursday morning, while I was at work and I almost didn't answer it until I saw it was a Texas area code. I answered quickly, knowing RWA only calls for one reason. And after hearing the news, I stood in my office and cried all alone, the tears of joy that somehow justified all the hours alone with SAWYER'S ROSE. And then I called my husband and before the evening was over New York was booked. So I took the family to this one time special event...yep, because now that SAWYER'S ROSE is going to publication with The Wild Rose Press, I cannot be a Golden Heart Finalist again. And while being a finalist is truly golden, I bailed on a lot of the conference to see my daughters discover New York and I wouldn't trade that for the world. But what I did love was meeting the other finalists and was in awe to be considered among them all-truly a special group of writers with dragonfly hearts of gold themselves. And I realized just how many people were attending the conference given the number of place settings for breakfast the first morning--quite overwhelming to say the least. I was in awe of the sea of people where it took two days to find all my friends. And while I was a nervous wreck sitting at the awards ceremony, I took a look around at all the names and talents and just thought, wow! Someone asked me what I thought aspiring writers should know and as I look back on things, these are some of the things I have learned along this incredible journey with Sawyer and Rose.
1) Keep writing no matter what and then write it again. I wrote Sawyer's Rose at least 9 times before getting that contract.
2) Listen closely to your beta readers and even closer to your critique partners, but don't let too many readers muddle your work. Everyone has an opinion, but only change what your gut tells you to change.
3) Go to your local chapter meetings and learn and keep learning. Chat and look up writing blogs and writing sites to learn.
4) Enter the contests and learn from the feedback and rewrite that story again. It really is painless, lots of fun and very valuable.
5) Print the story and read it out loud and then read it again.
6) Set the story aside after each edit and go back to it later. Write something else in the meantime. It took me 1.5 years to work on Sawyer's Rose but in the process I wrote rough drafts of two other stories I can pull out later.
7) Finish the story before looking back to edit. Finish the book! Only forward...not backwards!!!
8) Keep track of the characters and happenings on a cheat sheet so they are easier to refer to in future writes of a series. (Or later chapters.)
9) Write everyday and it's OK to write the characters who are talking to you first. (Sometimes when I was working on Sawyer's Rose, it was Sawyer's brothers who were talking to me and so I wrote some parts of their stories because they wouldn't leave me alone.)
10) Believe in yourself and your story and never give up!