Is it just me that, whenever the phrase “the road to publication” gets tossed out, The Rocky Road to Dublin springs to mind?
Oh, come on – it’s the perfect metaphor from “off to reap the corn and leave where I was born/Cut a stout blackthorn to banish ghosts” to letting me Shillelagh fly by the end.
If you don’t know it, I’m partial to the version with the Chieftains and the Rolling Stones. Because exactly.
Of course, there is no real end to this path. It’s not like PUBLICATION is some sort of Emerald City shining at the end of a yellow brick road. It might feel that way at first, but being a writer is an ongoing journey and book releases become mile markers along the way.
And, believe me, we all need that Shillelagh and brogues to frighten all the dogs on that rocky road.
My bio used to say that I’d taken the crooked path to being a writer, as I’d pursued a PhD in neurophysiology and worked as an environmental consultant before I had my first publication – which was an essay in Wyoming Magazine. I eventually ditched that phrasing, because my path continued to be crooked, looping back and as full of all the missteps and travails as our paddy experienced.
(Note that he ends up in Liverpool, not Dublin – which speaks volumes right there.)
So, here’s an outline of my rocky road thus far, the condensed version. I’ll leave the dogs out.
1. Upon deciding I didn’t really want to be a research scientist, I took a class called Essays on Self and Place. Began process of cutting bait on PhD and escaping with a Masters.
2. Surprising success placing essays, with major score in Redbook – I actually got a dollar a word!
3. Acquiring editor at University of New Mexico press read an essay of mine and asked if she was in time to publish my first book. (Don’t try this at home.)
4. First book published, an essay collection called Wyoming Trucks, True Love and the Weather Channel.
5. Began writing narrative nonfiction book. Agents who inquired about next projects after reading praise for Wyo Trucks hated new book. UNM editor who loved me hated new book, advised me to put it in a drawer. FOR A YEAR.
6. (Insert weeping montage.)
7. Woke up one rainy morning from a dream of being a scientist trapped in Faerie. Sat down in robe for six hours and wrote what became Rogue’s Pawn.
8. Conceived brilliant plan (*cough*) to crank out romance novel (Note that I had no idea it wasn’t really a romance novel) and make fabulous amounts of money (*cough cough*) to sustain me while I completed REAL writer work on narrative nonfiction that everyone hated (*cough cough cough*).
9. Unable to convince anyone to publish Rogue’s Pawn. Blah blah great writing blah blah no idea how to sell it blah blah.
10. (Flashback to weeping montage.)
11. Saw call for a red-hot fairytale anthology. Wrote BDSM version of Beauty and the Beast. Sold the novella, Petals and Thorns with disconcerting speed. (Still unable to sell Rogue’s Pawn.)
12. Wrote, pitched and sold second BDSM novella, Sapphire, to Carina Press.
13. Ellora’s Cave editor who missed out on Petals and Thorns asks for something else – publishes Feeding the Vampire and Hunting the Siren.
14. Unable to sell second novel (no, you’ve never heard of it – lying in drawer waiting for dead genre to resurrect), written to be more marketable. Am informed that it, too, “falls in the cracks between genres.” Am dubbed the Crack Ho by otherwise supportive and loving friends.
15. Took advantage of Carina Press editor’s good nature and convince her, after substantial revise and resubmit, to publish Rogue’s Pawn.
16. Wrote and sold second BDSM novella, Platinum, to Carina.
17. Succumbed to good natured Carina Press editor’s pleas (okay, casual suggestion) and sent first three chapters and “synopsis” (read: vague idea of what might happen) of Ruby. Sold on spec for the first time. (Yay!)
18. Agent DM’s on Twitter. Has read Rogue’s Pawn and loved. Asks to meet at RWA and offers representation.
19. Agent asks for idea on erotic serial novel. Sells concept (based on first couple of chapters and “synopsis”) for The Master of the Opera. Shows good-natured Kensington editor newly minted first book of The Twelve Kingdoms. Editor likes! Received three-book deal and first-ever advance. The Mark of the Tala is published and receives praise (RT Seal Excellence! Starred Library Journal Review!) for pushing genre boundaries.
20. (Insert Crack Ho victory dance.)
21. Sold two more Covenant of Thorns books to Carina – Rogue’s Possession and Rogue’s Paradise. Romantic arc will *finally* complete with release of Rogue’s Paradise on September 8.
22. Meanwhile contributed BDSM Christmas story Five Golden Rings to Carina holiday anthology and sold them new trilogy of erotic novels, Falling Under. Book 1, Going Under, just came out on July 14. Featured here!
23. Carina put Rogue’s Pawn .99 sale and my little red-headed stepchild of a book hit #2 in Fantasy on almighty Amazon.
24. (Insert Crack Ho victory dance, redux, with ensemble.)
25. Current daily mileage accumulating for book 2 in that series, Under His Touch, which includes a substantial amount of suit porn. Which just makes life worth living, right there.
26. After Rogue’s Paradise, November will see the release of the second Twelve Kingdoms book, The Tears of the Rose.
27. Note that much-despised narrative nonfiction book remains in metaphorical drawer.
So, that’s where I am. Happily trotting down the road, avoiding those big cracks, nary a yellow brick in sight. Fortunately, I can always take a drop of the pure to keep me heart from sinking.