A Year of Firsts

December 18, 2010 at 3:05 am (writing)

Last year, in May of 2009, I was swept up by a sudden urge to write like I never had before. Thanks to a series of events, some of them unpleasant, and new support, I found myself driven to finish everything I had started and left undone. In December 2009, I began to pursue becoming published in a committed way, and started a search for an agent.

Breaking into the industry is a monstrous chore – if you’re just getting your feet wet, don’t ever let anyone convince you otherwise. Agents don’t want to really consider you if you are unpublished and large publishers don’t want to look at you if you don’t have an agent. Credentials are everything, and I had none. But I had inspiration and I had persistence, which proved to be useful tools.

If you want to get anywhere as a beginning writer, the main thing is don’t give up. You’ll get discouraged, you’ll get frustrated and you may get slammed with cold, impersonal rejection after cold, impersonal rejection, but you can’t let those things stop you. If something won’t work, try something else. Talk to people. Get advice from those who are more experienced. But above all, keep writing, editing and submitting.

I started by publishing through online venues that encouraged submissions from new writers but offered no payment, and I joined multiple social networking sites as well. I participated in online writers’ groups and shared some of my work with the public by posting in places where I would receive open exposure. I drew motivation from every source available, hardened my skin, and traded knowledge with other aspiring authors, sucking everything up like a sponge.

Challenging yourself is really important. I forced myself into a first and put myself out on the line at a book fair “Pitch the Publisher” event. I did my research and found out that none of the publishers that would be there published genre work, but I went anyway, wanting the practice. I followed the instructions they sent as best I could. I stumbled and struggled and made some new discoveries. It did push my boundaries and I got my first personalized rejection letter as a result, one that was very encouraging. They liked my work, and would have considered publishing it if it were literary fiction rather than genre fiction.

Push hard enough, and eventually something will give. If you are constantly watching, at some point opportunity comes your way and you better be ready to leap. I wasn’t even finished the story when the call for specific submissions came out. I wrapped it up, did a quick proofread and then sent it off. By the end of the evening I was sent my first contract. From that contract came my first story published in an e-book anthology: “Palliative” in Vampires, Zombies, and Ghosts – Oh My!

The writing continued, the submissions continued, and the rejections came back, but they weren’t all form letters anymore. I was starting to get more that stated: “we liked what we read, but the fit’s not right.” Then came my first acceptance for a print anthology, for “Just Another Day” to appear in the First Time Dead anthology in February 2011. I was making progress.

September brought another first – my first request from an agent for a full manuscript, an honest victory even if a rejection follows. November brought with it my first NaNoWriMo. And recently, this month, the best first to come so far this year, my first contract for a novel. A publisher I’m beginning to work with more closely, MayDecember Publishing, will be releasing my novel, Fervor, in the spring of 2011, and there’s a possibility that more will follow.

So what do I anticipate for next year? Many more firsts, including possibly, my very first sequel.

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3 Comments

  1. DL Brown said,

    Oh my, our journeys have a lot of similarities to it. You have a way with words and you know how to use them. I am just glad that it was MDP that picked you up first. May we have a successful run together 🙂

  2. Christina Handt said,

    So very happy for you 😀 And thanks for sharing. I have to bookmark this blog and read it every time I’m ready to give up.

    I am very grateful that you took your time writing this. This blog wil be my motivation from now on.

  3. cherylmoore said,

    Congratulations, Chantal!

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