So once I became a contracted author, quite naturally my first thought was, “Now what do I do?”
The answer? Take a big gulp and dive in!
Since I did in fact sell the first novel I ever wrote, I found I had a very steep learning curve to conquer. First off, I had to estimate how long it would take me to write the next book. Problem was, I had no idea! I had nothing to go by. An Heiress at Heart had taken me about a year and a half to write, but I had been going at a much more casual pace. There had been weeks when I did not work on it at all. Now I was going to have to write much more quickly and consistently.
And then there were the revisions for this wonderful book I had just sold. My editor had loved the book already, but she gave me notes and ideas for making the book even better, and she was right. She had tremendous insights about the plot and the motivations of the characters, and she challenged me to dig deeper into many of the scenes to bring out the emotions my characters were feeling. As I worked hard to make those changes, I often had to stare worry and frustration right in the face. It took much prayer and an abundance of hard work to overcome my fears that my final draft would not live up to their expectations. (Thankfully, it did!)
While I was still in the midst of those revisions, my publisher set up a cover shoot and began the process of making my book’s cover. I thought to myself, my gosh, they haven’t got the finished product yet, and yet here they are moving ahead with the cover! I’ve given a day’s work to the model, the costumer, the photographer, and who knows who else, and all on the strength that I’m going to finish this book! But my publisher had complete confidence that I could do it. I found that gratifying, terrifying, and humbling.
In October 2012, An Heiress at Heart made its bow. I was now officially a published author! I had the incredible delight of being able to walk into any Barnes and Noble and finding my book on the shelves. My very first review on GoodReads, where someone I didn’t even know was discussing the plot and (happily!) enjoying my characters, felt absolutely surreal. A special thrill for me was when I discovered my local library had ordered ten copies and already had thirteen requests. I’m in the library! For me, a longtime lover of libraries, that really meant I had “arrived.”
As you may have guessed by now, I’m the sort of person who likes to tackle problems head on. I think life can and should be an exciting adventure. I believe everyone has strengths and special gifts that make them wondrously unique, talents that enable them to be successful in whatever path they choose to take in life, if they will just go after it with exuberance and optimism. In short, life is too short to be miserable. It’s no secret that those emotionally satisfying endings are what make the romance genre so popular. I wish a similar lovely fate for my readers and for all I meet.