My new book, “Learning Curves” is about all discovering new things.
Hardly surprising, since it’s set at a university (and they’re an institution that’s pretty big on the whole pedagogical improvement thingamabob.) And my hero and heroine are both graduate students up to their eyeballs in books, so academics are a big deal to them, too.
But I’d like to think that Brandon and Leanne, the students in question, learn more than just facts and figures. They learn to love each other. They come to understand significant emotional truths about themselves and each over the course of the story. They also learn that male strip clubs can be a very dangerous place to spend time (if you consider having earth-shattering, heart-stopping sex with an attractive stranger wearing a g-string dangerous ;) )
However, my fictional characters aren’t the only ones who learned something during the writing of this story.
See, I started this book when I myself was a graduate student a couple of years ago. I’d finished my undergraduate degree, gone out to work, got married and had two children before I decided to return to school and complete my Masters. Ambitious, yes, considering that my youngest was just 8 months old when I went back to student life full time but I loved grad school, loved being a student again and really enjoyed reading ideas written by Dr’s other than Suess :)
But the endless round of essays…the research…the grading…Where was my creative outlet? Turned out it was writing this story. I wrote it in between all of the other things going on in my life and given how immersed I was in my studies, it’s hardly surprising it ended up take place on campus. You know the old saw – write what you know. So I did. I created an unhappy, driven woman who doesn’t know how to escape from an ivory tower of her own making. I paired her with a beautiful man, a dancer, who’s in touch with his body but divorced from his emotions. And I made them face some wrenching decisions before finally giving them their well deserved HEA.
It was a great book. I was really proud of it.
So I submitted it. And waited. And waited. And was rejected.
Then I submitted it again. And waited. And waited. And was rejected. Again.
Hardly the Christmas present I was waiting for.
“What about Carina?” one of my critique partners suggested. “They’re launching some time next year and they’re actively soliciting manuscripts.”
I had a look at their website. They were looking for new voices and different stories. Sounded like my kind of place. So I dusted off my manuscript once more, wrote Angela a very professional cover letter and sent it winging away.
And waited for three long months, until I began to think I should hear something.
And that’s when I learned something that made my heart stop.
Carina’s computer system crashed over Christmas last year, taking with it all the books and submissions that hadn’t been assigned. Including mine. MSS, author contacts, email addresses, the whole shebang. I’d been waiting and waiting for nothing, in other words.
*gulp* Was this the universe’s way of telling me I was never going to be published? Sure looked that way. But Angela’s posting encouraged ‘lost’ authors to resubmit, so I did and this time, I got a really encouraging R and R. “We like your voice,” Gina, my editor, said. “Do you have anything else you might like to submit while you work on your revisions?” Yes, I did. Because while I’d been waiting, I’d written lots and lots, including a little Regency novella called “The Debutante’s Dilemma“.
Five weeks later, Carina bought that novella, then shortly thereafter bought “Learning Curves”, too.
Carina just celebrated their first anniversary earlier this month and I’m celebrating too. Over the past year, I’ve published two books, and have two more coming out in the coming months. And I’ve met tons of great people this past year: authors, readers and publishing types. They’re talented. They’re funny. They’re generous. I’m proud I can count myself among their numbers.
So here are some of the most important things that I’ve learned from “Learning Curves”:
1. Believe in your writing and the stories you’re telling. If you do, you will be published.
2. Rejections sting but they can be blessings in disguise. You want to publish with a company that *gets* your voice, not someone who just kinda tolerates it.
3. Write, write and write some more. Because the hurdle isn’t in selling your first book, it’s in being able to write and sell every book after that, too.
I know that all of us have our own journeys for writing and life, so I’d love to know what experience you’ve gained that you could share about the value of perserverance and stick-to-it-ness. Post a comment by Friday, June 24th and I’ll randomly select one commenter to win a copy of “Learning Curves” in their choice of e-format.