As you may know, my first novel was published this past March. Yesterday’s Tomorrow was truly the book of my heart. There were times when I thought I would never see it published. Times when I thought I’d never get an agent, let alone a book contract. Times when I just wanted to give up. Stay on the couch, watch soap operas and eat Doritos. All day.
On Monday, December 12th, 2011, at around 3:30 in the afternoon, I was reminded once again why it is so, so important to never ever ever give up on your dreams.
Yesterday’s Tomorrow was awarded The INSPY for the best in romance in 2011. (“Recognizing the need for a new kind of book award, the INSPYs were created by bloggers to discover and highlight the very best in literature that grapples with expressions of the Christian faith.”)
To say I’m floored, humbled, amazed and shocked doesn’t really even begin to describe my feelings. For an author who was once told by an agent (not mine!) that this book ‘would never sell’, I’d say we’ve come a long way, baby.
So how is an award-winning novel born? I have no idea. But I’ll let you see how mine was.
Summer 2006 – Got an idea to re-work an old story idea about a female journalist covering the Vietnam War.
Fall 2006 – I asked an online blogging buddy who happened to work in publishing for some feedback on my ideas. Encouraged, I began researching everything about Vietnam and journalists and all things from that era. Yesterday’s Tomorrow was born.
Fall 2007 – (Yes, you read that correctly. One year later). My blogging friend has now become a literary agent and expresses interest in the complete manuscript. She reads the manuscript and decides it’s ‘not quite ready’. She declines representation. I am crushed. Ready to give up and throw the story, along with my entire computer, into the garbage.
Thanksgiving 2007 – My agent friend has been thinking things over and decides that because I have potential, someone she thinks she can work with long term, she suggests some ways to move forward with the manuscript that might lead to eventual representation. I am overjoyed and there is much to be thankful for. And much Snoopy Dancing.
December 2007 –
Revisions Complete rewrite on Yesterday’s Tomorrow begins. I decide to go the route of seeking help from a seasoned author/editor and hire award-winning author Susan May Warren of My Book Therapy.
December – March 2008 – There is great gnashing of teeth, wailing, loss of sleep and inspiration. I hate everyone. I finally complete the manuscript. Again. I love everyone. Especially my agent. I am now officially represented by Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary Group.
Spring 2008 – Yesterday’s Tomorrow starts making the rounds.
Summer 2008 – Yesterday’s Tomorrow starts receiving rejections. Many, many rejections. Things are said like, “It’s really the setting— Vietnam is just not one that romance readers have found appealing…”
I begin drinking. I begin working on another manuscript.
Fall 2008 – Attend the ACFW conference to pitch new story, but still holding out hope for Yesterday’s Tomorrow. – Some promising appointments but no real interest in either story. Publishers begin tightening their belts. Oh, and did I mention while all this is going on, we are building a house, and it’s turned into a nightmare. I begin dreaming about murdering people and wonder if I should switch genres.
March 2009 – The extremely difficult and gut-wrenching decision is made to put Yesterday’s Tomorrow on the shelf. Maybe not forever, but for now. I begin revising my other manuscript and focus on that. My husband decides to take out stock in the local wine store.
Summer 2009 – Still not contracted. While there is hope for the new manuscript, I can’t stop thinking about Yesterday’s Tomorrow. I take it out and look at it again. I wonder, with smaller new publishers cropping up, whether it might still have a chance. Find a couple of small publishers and query them about Yesterday’s Tomorrow.
Winter 2009 – Still working on other manuscript to improve it once again before it starts the submission process.
January 2010 – Send off new book to publishers.
Spring 2010 – I’m convinced there may be hope for Yesterday’s Tomorrow, but as I start reading the manuscript again, I realize just how much I’ve learned in the past several years, and just how crappy my writing was three years ago. I decide to seek some more professional advice on the story and this time I enlist the help of Meredith Efken of The Fiction Fix-It Shop.
Late Spring 2010 – Receive an email from one of the small publishers we queried months ago. It seems a glitch in communication has taken place. (dun, dun, dun…) they’ve actually been trying to reach us since November ’09 about Yesterday’s Tomorrow. They want the FULL. No, they didn’t mis-read Vietnam and think the story takes place in Virginia. They know it’s Vietnam. in the ’60’s. During the war.
But I’ve already started working on a re-write!! ANOTHER FREAKIN’ REWRITE!!! We very gratefully, humbly and with much drooling and groveling, (well, okay, that was mostly me. All me), thank them for their interest and promise to have the full new and improved manuscript headed their way just as soon as humanely possible.
I begin drinking. Heavily. I pray and read the Bible. A lot. And ask others to pray too. And I wonder what God is really up to here or if He’s just messin’ with me.
Summer 2010 –
More revisions A complete, exhaustive re-write of the entire manuscript from start to finish takes place. I am entirely and utterly spent, but elated. But still an unpublished author.
September 2010 – I say goodbye to Yesterday’s Tomorrow and send it off to a magical place called OakTara. I know it’s a now or never situation. I am bereft. Still getting positive comments about my writing and the other manuscript from editors, but no contracts.
October 2010 – Weeks feel like years. I am about to pull out my toenails because I have already pulled out all my hair and chewed off my fingernails. The only person still talking to me is the dog.
October 26th, 2010 – Response from OakTara arrives in my inbox. It’s early afternoon, and no, I haven’t been drinking. The header reads, “We Love Yesterday’s Tomorrow!”
I am a pile of quivering mush. I have a contract. For the book of my heart. The story that grabbed hold four years ago and refused to let go. The story I believe—I know—God gave to me.
March 15th, 2011 – Yesterday’s Tomorrow is released to the world and my dream has come true!!
And the moral of the story today, children?
“Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” Winston Churchill.