Like so many other authors, I sat down and wrote my first book because I had read one too many terrible books - the ones that make you wonder how they ever got published! I was certain I could do better. So, without having a clue about how to plot, how to develop characters, how to “show, don’t tell”, etc. etc., I sat down and wrote my first novel, a Regency romance. It took me a number of years and I actually didn’t finish it until I retired but finally I typed The End. I still have it, in a box in the store room in our basement, all 313 pages of it, before the days of electronic submissions.
In those days, Harlequin offered a romance novel critique service and I sent the book there in hopes of getting some feedback. Which I did. I received a lovely lilac colored folder containing a novel evaluation form, a letter and a certificate of accomplishment.
However I did not pay attention to said feedback. I only focused on the good ie your writing is excellent – smooth, vivid, clear and involving; your dialogue is equally well done; your characters come to life on the page.
Silly me, I disregarded the bad. The editor pointed out problems with the continuity and changes in point of view as well as problems with the pacing of the book. Something about it being “erratic”. I could understand the first two but hadn’t a clue about what was meant by erratic pacing. Seeing as I didn’t know what that meant, I simply ignored it and kept on writing.
Two books later and multiple rejections from editors all telling me my pacing was uneven, or slow, it finally dawned on me I had better figure out what pacing was and how to fix it. So, lesson number one and one that could have saved me years of rejections – pay attention to both the good and the bad comments.
Lesson number two? Don’t jump at the first opportunity. I submitted my second book to only one agent and was immediately signed. How easy was that, I thought and I was thrilled because surely now my books would find a home with a publisher. Only that didn’t happen and the agent and I parted ways after five years without a sale. She’s a lovely lady who successfully represents other authors but it didn’t work out for me. In hindsight, I should have subbed to more agents at that time to find a better fit for me and my career.
But that’s all water under the bridge. Now I’ve found a terrific little Canadian publisher and my career is humming along quite nicely. I haven’t hit the NYT Best Sellers list and probably never will but every good review I get is payment enough for me.
And, I was fortunate enough to be included in the BWL Publishing's Canadian Historical Brides Collection with Barkerville Beginnings, a sweet romance set in the historical gold rush town of Barkerville, B.C.
It's available at your favorite online retailer HERE.