Thursday, April 15, 2010

A GLIMPSE BEYOND THE WALL

"And it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise."

Frodo, upon his first glimpse of the Uttermost West from J. R. R. Tolkien's, Return of the King, Book 6, Chapter IX: The Grey Havens.

Like many of you, I have been hurling myself against that great and seemingly insurmountable wall that separates the unpublished writer from the published. After years of struggle and a sizable pile of rejection letters, I have, at long last, gotten a glimpse of that fair and distant shore. On March 11th, I received the call we all hope and wait for, an offer of publication from Kensington.

Good thing I wasn’t driving at the time or my wonderful, shiny-new career as a published writer might have come to a swift and ignominious end.

To say that I was in a state of shock (and still am!) is to say nothing. Though I’ve dreamed and hoped and schemed and fought the good fight to get published for a number of years, I knew the odds.

Of course, I hoped to be among the lucky few. But I know that talent and persistence are sometimes not enough, that there are thousands of writers out there working to better their craft in the hopes of catching the attention of an editor or an agent. Still, knowing my chances were slim did not stop me from dreaming.

I’ve heard that luck sometimes plays a part in getting an editor or an agent. Now, I am a very blessed person, but I’ve never considered myself ‘lucky.’ I’m not good at games of chance and I’m not the kind of person who is likely to win the lottery.

Before now, that is.

My ‘luck’ came in the form of a smiling, blonde haired member of Southern Magic. Carla Swafford caught a comment I made on the Romance Magicians loop that I was having buzzard luck in the querying process, because I was being told by agents that light paranormal romance is ‘very difficult to sell.’ After reading my lament, Carla emailed me at home. She’d read an interview with Megan Records, an editor at Kensington, on the Southern Sizzle Romance blog. In the interview, Megan said dark paranormal is hot. No surprise there. But then she said something that made me sit up and pay attention. She said, “I hardly ever see funny paranormals. Shame, because I like those too!”

I queried Megan, referencing the interview and her comment, and she sent me back an email requesting the full. Two weeks later, I got The Call.

Needless to say, I owe Carla Swafford Big Time. If not for her, I might not have queried Megan. If not for Megan, God bless her sweet heart and her funny bone, I would not have a publishing contract.

Turns out I’m lucky after all.

Lucky to be doing something I love so much.

Lucky to have that elusive publishing contract and, finally, at long last, my very own agent!

Lucky to have a husband and a family that supports me in my madness.

Lucky to have my friends in my writing group and at Southern Magic.

Networking is essential. I cannot stress enough how important it is to make connections with other writers. Without my connection to Southern Magic and my guardian angel, Carla, I might not be where I am today, looking into the distance at that glistening shore called Publication.

So work hard. Believe. Don’t give up. Keep pounding your head against that wall.

If it happened for me, it can happen for you, too.

Lightning strikes, dreams can come true, and there's plenty of luck to go around.

27 comments:

Lanna Kaye said...

Jeanie, how exciting! I love how the writing community typically cheers each other on, and how people like Carla have your back, so to speak. You are lucky, indeed!

Jeanie said...

Yes, I am! In my experience, romance writers are incredibly supportive of one another. We have a 'team' mentality and a win for one is a win for all. Joining RWA and Southern Magic is one of the best gifts I've ever given myself because of the network of wonderful writers I've found.

Christine said...

I love this story! It is an example of how so many writers and their comrades have pulled each other up. A chance reading of a blog by a fellow member who caught what you wrote and then acted on it. Wow. Way to go, Carla. And then YOU acted on the information and you were rewarded.

When my friends make it and get the call, it gives me hope in the dream. It is attainable. But it does require a lot of really dedicated peeps out there listening, responding and giving back.

Congratulations!

Callie James said...

I'm so thrilled for you, Jeanie! And thank goodness for Carla!

Jeanie said...

Yes, thank goodness for Carla! We are all connected, which makes us blessed. Not every genre has the support system we have or the generosity of spirit among its writers. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes friends, prayers, perseverance and luck to make a published writer. And a little talent doesn't hurt either.

Louisa Cornell said...

Great post, Jeanie! This is one of the few creative businesses where your fellow travelers help you out so much. Sometimes is it just an encouraging word, sometimes it is a kick in the butt and sometimes it is the perfect tidbit of info that she drops into your hand. And in the end it is what you do with that info, that encouragement and that swift kick that makes the difference. And writing a book that makes people laugh so hard they wet themselves doesn't hurt !! SO PROUD of you, my friend!

Jeanie said...

Thanks, Louisa. You are definitely one of those blessings I've been talking about. Your support and encouragement has pulled me out of that deep well of rejection despair many a time. You're next, my friend, the fantabulous Regency writer. Get cracking on that next book, so you'll be ready with THE RAVEN'S HEART sells!

Kat Jones said...

I'm very excited for you! Your story inspires hope.

Jeanie said...

Thanks, Kat. I'm lucky to be in a writer's group with you. You've helped keep me sane and you're a great brainstormer!

Carla Swafford said...

I didn't need to be crying at work, girlfriend! You're so sweet and I'm proud to be your guardian angel.

BUT, remember no matter the information I gave you, it was YOU who contacted Megan and didn't "turn her off" with a query. And it was YOUR writing that grabbed her attention enough to read the full and fall in love with YOUR story. YOUR talent sold that story and we at Southern Magic are so proud of YOU.

Hugs.

Melissa said...

Jeanie,
This is wonderful news and beyond exciting. You deserve this for your tenacity, Talent, and heart. Talent with a cap.

You speak so wonderfully of your fellow writers and I know how important they are. Meeting you and Louise made the National Conference for me. Started me down a path that did not seem as isolated as it had been.

I too feel encouraged when someone I know “makes it.” Puts the dreams and the struggles in a more personal and accessible reference.

When I read the first seven chapters I felt confident DID would be published.
You rock, your friends rock. Life is good.
Go live that dream and thanks for moving all of us a little closer to that joy.
Melissa

Gwen Hernandez said...

I'm so excited for you, Jeanie. Thanks for sharing more of the story about how it happened. And I love that opening quote!

You give us all hope. Enjoy your success!

Heather said...

Do you know how famous you are? I went to my writing group meeting yesterday (Chris wasn't there :(), and got to hear your success story from a member who just got a full request from your agent! Way to go. You are my hero!

Jeanie said...

Carla, don't cry, sweetie. It was your generosity that helped make this happen. Sure, I sent the query, but I never would have known about Megan's comment if not for you. And for that I will be eternally grateful! So glad I got to go to Silken Sands with you and Laura and get to know both of you a little better. I am so glad to be your friend and to be a part of such a great, supportive group of people. Southern Magic rocks!

Jeanie said...

Melissa, God smiled on me last summer when I met you at RWA. What a huge gift from the cosmos! You are a great friend and writing partner, a very talented writer and artist and all-round swell guy . . er . . gal. Believe in yourself and in your 'deserve-ability.' I am so glad you are reaching outside your comfort zone and networking with other writers. You won't be sorry. There's so much to gain, including wonderful new friendships like ours.

Jeanie said...

Thanks, Gwen. You know I'm a LOTR and a Harry Potter nerd. This wouldn't be nearly as exciting without my friends to share it with!

Jeanie said...

Heather, you ought to know you can't tease me like that and not tell me more. Details, sistah, details!

M.V.Freeman said...

Jeanie,
I will continue to celebrate your success! This is only the beginning! :-)

Jeanie said...

Thanks, Mary. Hope so!

Cari Hislop said...

Jeanie, your life sounds like a domino of blessings...I think it's fantastic!!! I hope you go NYT best seller!!!!!

M.V.Freeman said...

BTW, Loved that quote from LOTR....*sigh* if only I could write exactly like that......

JoAnn said...

Awesome post, Jeanie! Congratulations!

Jeanie said...

Cari, when all this happened I told somebody I felt like God had dumped a bucket of blessings on my head! And that's truly how I feel: extremely blessed. Now my prayer is to take full advantage of this marvelous window God has thrown open for me.

Jeanie said...

Mary, I feel the same way! But I also remind myself it took Tolkien 30 years to write LOTR. That's dedication in the extreme. When I read fabulous books like that, it makes me want to get better and work harder.

Jeanie said...

Thanks, JoAnn. Couldn't have done it without my peeps.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

What a fabulous story, Jeanie! And you managed to take me back to some of my favorite days when I was reading LOTR for the first time. I wasn't writing back then, but oh how lost I was in that story! Your metaphor is apt.

I love how Carla figures in to the story of your success. :) RWA is so great for the connections we make, and the support we find.

Many, many congratulations. :)

Jeanie said...

Thanks, Lynn. It all still seems like a dream.