A Reader's Respite just loves guest posts. Not only does it take the heat off us, but we learn an awful lot from the talented writers who show up around here.
The best part? Not only is Kathy-Diane a talented writer, but she is a genuinely nice person. Her journey is an inspiring one!
Be sure to tune in tomorrow for a review of Let the Shadows Fall Behind You and a giveaway with a twist!
But for now, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy....
Hi. Thanks for inviting me to be a guest. Let me tell you a bit about my journey to publication. Like most, it’s been long, tough, yet extremely rewarding. I’m a former broadcast journalist with CBC radio. Seventeen years ago, when I was home on maternity leave with my youngest son, I dug out an old file of story ideas and started scribbling. By the time the date arrived when I was supposed to return to work, I had already decided that I didn’t want to keep putting my dream of writing fiction on the back burner. Since then I’ve done different jobs, including being a janitor and typing medical transcription, to give me the time and energy to pursue my passion. It was ten years before my first book Roads Unravelling, a collection of short stories was published. It took another five before a publisher accepted my debut novel Let the Shadows Fall Behind You.
Northumberland Straight Jacket my first attempt at a suspense novel was a disaster. I had no idea how to plot period, so I kept going off on tangents and ended up nowhere. The good news is that while writing that novel I learned a lot about character development and setting, so when I tackled my second novel, I could focus my energy on plot alone and finally begin to dissect its mechanics. I had to write three or four in order to learn the many elements involved, and I’m still learning. I can remember that feeling of breaking through, however, with Let the Shadows Fall Behind You when I knew that I was finally juggling all the balls of character, setting, plot, theme, pacing and not dropping any. It was, and is, tremendously satisfying. It made me grateful that I didn’t give up and miss the reward.
The most difficult thing about writing a novel is returning to the page when the initial excitement over a story idea has worn off. It always hits though. I’m riddled with doubts about my ability to translate the vision to the reader. I’ve learned through the years that I must keep going back. Eventually something sparks, and I love my characters all over again. It’s that moment, ironically, that becomes the most uplifting.I believe writers block comes with the territory. At first, I despair, convinced whatever I’m working on should be tossed. But usually on reflection, I realize I need a break from the writing. For me writer’s block comes because the well is dry. I need to get out and enjoy life. It usually takes 1-2 days before suddenly a window opens in the block (when I’m doing something totally mundane like having my tooth drilled).
Did I get a lot of rejection letters for Let the Shadows Fall Behind You? You bet. Rejection of the work you’ve spent so much time on is a blow. The only cure for my disappointment has always been writing. Before you know it, I’m caught up in the characters and the mystery of their journey again. Sometimes it helps to work on a completely different project. If anything, I figure I must have learned something by now to make this one come closer to the mark. With Let the Shadows Find behind You, I found editor’s comments taking on deeper insight, and my attitude toward rejection started to shift. I still don’t like it, but I try to dwell on what I can learn to make the manuscript shine.I think if I had had access to seasoned professionals in the industry sooner, I might have learned a lot faster about what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s publishing world. Living on the Canadian east coast, it’s pretty isolated from the hub of the industry. You absolutely have to know the business, how it works and its current needs to give yourself a leg up. I think I was too naïve in believing that all I needed to do was write well and the work would find a home on its own. In some instances this can happen, but the greater reality is that selling books is a business, and one that is constantly changing. I romanticized the industry when I needed to view myself as a business woman. There are tons of professional writing organizations on-line now with list services and great opportunities to keep up-to-date. My book sold when I started using Writer’s Market on-line publishers list, and accessed published authors via list serves for their advice and on-line workshops.
One tool that anyone can access anywhere is books. Read, read, read. Study the kind of book you want to write and dissect it. Read for pure pleasure and soak up the brilliance between the pages. I am one of those strange creatures who read 5 books at once. I need at least one literary novel (to admire the poetry), one mystery/suspense (pure entertainment), one self-help (new goals), one autobiography (inspiration) and lots of non-fiction (to keep the grey-cells firing). A really good suspense novel always creates a craving in me to get back to the page.
Never give up. Never give up. And, also, never give up.Roads Unravelling was rejected by a few dozen publishers. Editors kept telling me I was wasting my time because short story publications aren’t worth publishing any more as no one wants to read them. Then I had two offers, and chose the publisher who carried the manuscript around in her briefcase for weeks, because she wanted to dig the stories out and read them every spare minute she had.
Let the Shadows Fall Behind You was rejected by a few dozen publishers. Editors kept telling me that I was wasting my time because readers weren’t sophisticated enough to follow three time lines. Then Kunati Books called, and said it was a fine novel, and could they publish it, please? Thank you so much for inviting me to be your guest and meeting all your readers. Please let me know what you think of Let the Shadows Fall Behind You at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you. I’ve met many generous writers on my road to publication and every Thursday I chat with one of them on Shadows Fall N Friends. Join us at http://lettheshadowsfallbehindyou.blogspot.com . For a schedule of who is appearing when subscribe to my E-muse letter at email@example.com.. Along with the latest news and writing tips, it announces the winner of the monthly draw for a 50.00 gift certificate on Amazon.