My father enjoyed his career as a journalist, but he never got rich. My artistic mother had plenty of talent, but she had as much success selling paintings as I did trying to feed green beans to our dog. When times got tough, Mom sold cosmetics. She was a gorgeous woman. For her, selling cosmetics was easy.
I learned early in life to be pragmatic.
I intended to save my money and pay to have a book published by a vanity press if I did not get a contract by the time I reached sixty, which seemed like a ripe old age when I was ten. However, saving money at the age of ten is difficult. My candy expenditures ate up my allowance.
I decided upon an education and a viable career as an early childhood educator. Along the way, I got married and raised children as well, but I never lost sight of my destination—my book, in print. Of course, I knew I had more than one book in me, but I had to keep things simple in the beginning.
While my journey to publication was long, I never wasted my time. I collected data all along the way. I met interesting characters, experienced some wonderful and some not so wonderful adventures. I wallowed in the joys and sorrows of life. I listened to everyone who wanted to talk to me. If they wanted to tell me their entire life story, even better.
I joined writers’ organizations. I met plenty of writers who were going to become rich and famous—and who eventually quit writing because they soon came up against the wicked gatekeepers of publishing who did not see the brilliance in their deathless prose.
Meanwhile, I wrote short, non-fiction articles and got paid for them. I wrote short stories, which were published as well. I entered contests offering feedback. I found a critique partner.
I kept my goals modest. The big publishers seemed to want authors who were already famous—or infamous. Though I’ve put down some crazy and convoluted plot ideas in my time, infamy is not part of my nature.
I stuck to my pragmatic plan. I did not attempt to write a bestselling blockbuster. I favor romance novels and I decided to stick with the genre I enjoy. I knew the odds of making a million dollars and living like a queen by writing romance novels were roughly the same as me winning the Miss America contest.
My biggest hurdle involved finishing a book, revising it, spellchecking it, and sending it to a publisher. Then starting another book while the first one made the rounds of publishers and agents. When I finished the second book, I dove right into a third.
Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee each wrote only one book. The odds of me writing one book and doing well with it were nearly the same as me winning the Powerball lottery. Besides, as I mentioned, I had more than one book in me. I spent decades storing up material.
The most important part of my strategy was a vow. I would not give up. Nothing would stop me from writing. Rejections are part of the process and though they might sting, they would not kill me. I would not quit.
Some of my success involved luck along with timing. I recognized the potential in epublishing and jumped at the opportunity when few authors were willing to take the risk and most people had no idea what epublishing was.
I was fifty years old when Sea Of Hope was published in 2001. The hard copy of that book was originally a computer diskette. My experience with a small publisher proved right for me. Since then, I’ve worked exclusively with small publishing companies. I appreciate the personal attention and flexibility.
With twelve books published and the thirteenth, Patriot’s Heart, in the process of editing, I consider myself a multi-published author. I may not be on the New York Times bestseller list, but I have realized the dream I had at the age of nine.