I don’t write.
For over a year, I lied to my friend when she insisted I must. I told her I wrote technical articles, designed lab experiments, and wrote out dog training tips occasionally for ‘Dog Fancy’, but I didn’t write. For some reason, she didn’t give up. I finally told her I was working on something, but it wasn’t any good. The writers workshops I attended thought it was stupid and amateurish. Maybe I should find a better hobby.
I don’t write.
She asked if I would send a few pages. A few paragraphs. A few lines. I gave in, and surprise, she liked them and wanted to read more. She suggested I check out Magical Words, that she wrote for it, and it offered advice and tips for writing fantasy. I checked it out, made wiseass comments, and took a lot of notes. Pacing and pantsing. Butt in chair. Outlines and ideas. I asked questions, got advice, quite often conflicting, but there was always an answer that worked.
The book How To Write Magical Words came out and I immediately got a copy. My textbook to go with my lessons.
I finished the first draft of my story. Next began the rewrites. Rewrites. Rewrites. Rewrites. Elevator pitch. Crafting a query and a synopsis. Who knew they’d be harder than the book, and I wrote abstracts! I sent out my queries, had requests for pages. Fifty pages, one hundred. I pitched at Romantic Times once in my Steampunk costume to an agent who didn’t want steampunk. I don’t write steampunk. She asked for a hundred pages. I got great feedback from many of the agents and editors who read it. I agreed with most of it, and put it away, knowing it could be stronger. Somewhere along the line, Jagi and Faith independently suggested I write a story from a dog’s point of view. I disagreed. Dogs do not think the way humans do, and I didn’t agree with Disney’s take on dogs. I put butt in chair to work on something for ‘Dog Fancy’ and instead, a dog with the ego of an elephant showed up. I thought he was one of my springers, incognito, but by the third page he let me know that springers were stupid dogs who’d do anything for a treat. They let humans do all their thinking and couldn’t do anything on their own. He informed me his name was George, a perfectly designed basset hound familiar and I was a fool to think he was anything less.
Yep, I had a smart-assed character talking back at me. Karma.
I’ve never had a basset hound and didn’t know much about them. The story was in present tense, which isn’t natural for me. I wrote it much more slowly than the first manuscript and about a hundred pages shorter. Most of the feedback from the workshop was positive. The one that stood out, of course, was how George was too much a cartoon character. George didn’t appreciate it, particularly when it became obvious the guy had no clue what middle grade was.
Like my earlier piece, I had a lot of nibbles. Agents were interested in reading more, but then rejected it for things like “human bones are too scary for young kids” or “a basset wouldn’t want bones.” And so it went. I must have found a lot of non-dog-loving, non-middle grade people. I was reluctant to send to ebook publishers. eBooks don’t seem like real books to me. However, I had sent a short story based on my first manuscript to a publisher in Canada called MuseItUp. They rejected it, but wondered if there was more backstory. If there was a whole book, could I send it? I did, and it was rejected with the caveat that if I wrote anything else, to please consider them. They loved my voice.
So I reformatted based on their guidelines and submitted George Knows to them. Within a couple of weeks I received a contract and a welcome to the family letter. Just like a ‘real’ publisher the book would be edited. And EDITED. AND EDITED. There would be a cover artist and I would get to give suggestions. There would be promotional material, and assistance with promoting. And if the ebook did well, it would be released in paper. George will be released to the public as an ebook in December.
Thanks Faith, for pushing me, Jagi, and everyone at Magical Words.
I do write.