Sawyer's Rose will be released on March 18th, 2016!!! I will be so excited to finally hold an actual book in my hand! I may be just like Ralphie on A Christmas Story when he gets his "Red Rider BB gun with a compass in the stock" and sleeps with it all night. In fact, I may not put it down for a week!
It's been a heck of a ride getting to this point. I was thinking back to when I first got the idea for this story. I had recently joined Georgia Romance Writers and even though I had completed three stories, I quickly learned I had not written them very well and so I set them aside determined to write a story in that magic little romance box that publishers wanted. And so I thought, I can write a mail-order-bride story. I had just finished reading a bit of history on such brides and I was learning a lot at writing meetings and with critique partners---but I still had a lot to learn.
What I learned first was that I couldn't write the story that would fit right into that box. I had to write the story inside my head and from my heart. That is not saying the story didn't need work. I think I rewrote Sawyer nine times before getting a contract and several more times with editing for publication, but I just knew I had something--and I did. Sawyer's Rose was a finalist in the 2014 Maggie Awards and a 2015 Golden Heart Finalist which is still mind-blowing to me and I do not take any of the ride with Sawyer for granted. After all, when I look at the road behind me, there was a lot of dust kicked up along the way and so my hope is that all the blood, sweat, and tears means it will be the story a lot of you are waiting on!
(One commenter will win a silver horse bracelet, drawing to be held this Friday night!)
Aug. 2011-Started the book I've meant to write all my life.
May 2012-Completed a three book series in rough draft format, not knowing a thing about how I should be writing.
July 2012-Joined RWA (Romance Writers of America) and GRW (Georgia Romance Writers). The best advice a multi-published friend had for me.
Sept. 2012-Attended GRW: I didn't know I would have to introduce myself...what the heck do I write again? If I hadn't been sitting by Diana, who pushed me forward, I would have passed on this part without anyone knowing. The best thing was that Maggie grabbed me by the arm as I left the front and invited me to Southside Scribes. Seriously, there are people who want to write as bad as I do and they live nearby? Yes!
Sept. 2012- Attended Southside Scribes and discovered my critique partners who have been an invaluable wealth of knowledge. Thanks Maggie, Trish and Cheryl.
Oct. 2012-Attended Moonlight & Magnolias (M&M) GRW conference: I took the only two pitch sessions open...let's just say I was a naive in thinking one editor was as good as the next. It was Tracey who gave me a quick lesson on pitching, but I should have known there was something to the look on my guides face when she lead me to the editor no one else wanted. Six minutes later, I was all too aware that all editors were not the same and this one just about bit my head off, but she still asked for a partial. I pitched again the next day, thinking I would rather vomit instead, but this editor was much nicer and asked for a partial also. I never sent those partials to either editor as my book was full of all the things new writers must learn...head-hopping, show vs. tell, filtering, not to mention just the regular requirements for what I call, "writing in the romance box". I prefer to think outside that box, thank you very much.
Nov. 2012-Started a new book with intentions of writing inside that darn box after all, but not could use a lot of what I was learning hanging around the Professionals.
Dec. 2012-First draft of SAWYER'S ROSE complete with help from critique partners and beta readers. Thanks to you all!
Jan. 2013-GRW: With less than twelve hours left, I decided to enter then Gin Ellis Critique Workshop....seriously, in less than a day I got the first three chapters of SAWYER'S ROSE ready, complete with writing the dreaded synopsis. Whew!
Mar. 2013-Gin Ellis Critique. I was so scared about the event I thought about not going, but Jennifer was great at explaining the issue in a positive light. I left determined to write even better.
Apr.-June 2013-Worked solely on the first three chapters of SAWYER'S ROSE for submission to the Maggie's. I didn't expect to place, but I got two good critiques.
July 2013-RWA-Nationals in ATL. Pitched three times and found I did much better by not rehearsing a word. I got three requests for partials.
Aug. 2013-First rejection. Bummer.
Sept. 2013-Got my PRO pin from RWA after submitting proof of my first rejection. What other group in the world helps you celebrate a rejection as a positive thing? I 'm loving this!
Oct. 2013-M&M 2013. Almost skipped the pitch coaching session, but found it invaluable with Hilde's coaching advice. Got requests for a full and a partial and again rehearsed nothing. I must be best under pressure when it comes to pitching.
Nov. 2013-Friends set me up and had me called to the front for my PRO pin. For those of you who don't know me, I would rather pull out my fingernails than go up in front for something like that.
Dec. 2013-When I look back, I sigh...it was a busy year full of a lot of firsts, a lot of writing, rewriting and learning. The best parts of it all, the wonderful writers I've met who celebrate the good and bad together. My critique partners who are a wealth of knowledge and support are always there with positive feedback and encouragement. I've reconnected with old friends who have become my beta readers, of which I could not do without. I am amazed that I've conquered my fears long enough to pitch, go up in front of the crowd and send my manuscript off to editors. Most of all, I love how it feels when I am so lost in my writing that it feels like I am right there with my characters. There is also no better compliment than when a reader tells me they loved my story or one of the characters.
Jan. 2014-Planning out this year feels a bit lighter than last year as I think I know more about what I am doing with each item. I will be entering the GIn Ellis Critique with GRW. I want to send out SAWYER'S ROSE anywhere and everywhere once I go through it again. Right now, it is in the best condition of any of my stories. I have joined GRW's most rejections and finish the book pools and I plan to enter the Maggie's in Historical and Contemporary this year. Oh yeah and I just got my second rejection on SAWYER'S ROSE...bummer, but Sawyer is a good man and like I said he is going places. I also have a request for my newest contemporary story ALL BUT THE FALL when it's ready and this agent is willing to wait until I have it written at it's best. So things are moving along and I do feel good about all I have accomplished so far in this crazy business of writing for publication. Stay tuned...
August 5th, 2014-Got the phone call from Mary at GRW that Sawyer's Rose finaled in the Maggies. This is so what I needed to hear. Spending so much time writing and not really having anything at all happen can take a toll. I had been feeling pretty rock bottom for a few months, but this is a big lift for my ego and frankly I needed it.
Oct. 11, 2014-Sawyer's Rose gets an honorable mention kind of like 4th place at the Maggie awards. It felt so good all weekend at M&M to be recognized for being one of the finalist although I was really nervous but excited. I was shaking so bad when I got back to my seat that it took me a few minutes before I could even look at the certificate I got! Now I can really start my writing scrapbook and have something wonderful to put in it! Sawyer's Rose has grown on me and it was nice to see it in big print and on the big screen being recognized, so I owe Sawyer a big thanks along with Rose, because they seemed to write their own story while I watched. Such a fun weekend with all my writing friends. It also helps that I sat in the pitch room seeing all the editors and agents I could get to for pitching Sawyer and now I have 7 requests--do I stress now or later about how to handle that many. But I did get them all submitted in one night of intense work.
Jan. 12, 2014-Sawyer's Rose submitted for the RWA Golden heart.
Jan. 13, 2014-The Wild Rose Press contacted me and offered me a contract on Sawyer's Rose. I was at lunch at work when I got the email and I hardly remember the rest of that day. Yes of course!!
Mar. 28, 2014-At work again when my cell phone rang. I knew that this was the Thursday the Golden Heart and Rita's would be calling, only I had never thought I would be the one answering. And so yes, Sawyer's Rose is a Golden Heart Finalist. I stood in my office in tears (happy tears) alone that first moment wondering just how the heck this had happened.
May 2013-Began first edits on Sawyer's Rose and completed in June. Did second round edits and then two galley's and Sawyer's Rose was ready.
July 2015-RWA Rita's and Golden Heart awards in New York City!
January 2015 Sawyer's Rose release date will be March 18, 2016.
And the Journey continues, but this time I am riding off with Wyatt McCade! I hope he can give his brother a run for the money!