“When do I give up? When do I become the crazy old lady making a fool of herself?”
This was the question I put to Jackie Asheden in San Antonio almost a year ago. It was my third Romance Writers of America national convention and I was very discouraged about my writing. I had been through three “revise and resubmit” rounds with various publishing houses, couldn’t get much more than a form letter rejection from agents, I had missed being nominated for a Golden Heart award (that’s the award the RWA gives out for unpublished manuscripts) by one point. One. Only two books in my category were nominated.
“Never!” is what Jackie told me. Emphatically. Without hesitation.
I also had won a charity auction for Zoe Archer to read the first three chapters of my manuscript and to have lunch with her for a critique. The talk seemed to wander away from a critique of my chapters to my frustration. Zoe encouraged me to continue. Said she loved my chapters. To have such talented writer praise my work was comforting. Maybe I wasn’t crazy after all. Maybe I could do this.
Later, I was walking from one workshop to another when Audra North grabbed me and gave me a hug. This was the first time we’d met in person. Audra had volunteered to read my entire manuscript at a point where I was struggling with a suggested revision to a plot line. She not only gave me excellent feedback and some really good ideas, she gave me a bit more hope. Another successful writer thought my writing didn’t suck.
I was starting to get my confidence back. Starting to get my energy back for this marathon we call “getting published”. Then, Sarah Lyons told me, while chatting before a workshop that I had a look about me. “The look of someone about to break through.”
I left that conference with renewed hope and determination. This is what I love about the romance community. We support each other. We are there for each other. We lift each other up. Sometimes, we haul people up and give them a quick kick in the arse and tell them to get on with it.
I know I’m leaving out a TON of people who helped me, but I wanted to publicly thank these particular people who picked me up, dusted me off and threw me back in the game.