Sep 16, 2013

SYTYCW and Me (Really Long Post)

I was going to hold off writing about SYTYCW until a little later, when the contest was in full-swing, but I discovered tonight that my last year's SYTYCW entry is actually available for download on! That's exciting for me. I don't actually know how long it's been there, I have been obsessively checking the print store, figuring that having the print books in stock would be the delay in actually having the book up for purchase, but not so! (Print is still not available, alas.)

So to mark the occasion, I thought I'd do a little recap of the journey to publication.

The first time I decided I wanted to write a book was in 2005... or maybe 2006. I don't have much of a grasp of time. I sat down and pounded out a truly horrendous manuscript in about two weeks. I was very proud of myself until I read it and then I promptly stuffed it into a drawer and it has never seen the light of day. (And never will.)

Fast-forward: In 2010, inspired by the success of friends, I decided that publication was actually something that could happen to regular people, and gave it another shot. I should probably pause here and say that although I had not been writing books/stories during that time, I had been writing every day since about 1998 for fun. I am a former MUSHer, which is online, text-based roleplay(or in everyday vernacular: Interactive Storytelling). My voice was well established by this point, but my storytelling skills needed work.

My first submission in 2010 resulted in a full manuscript request(and voice probably got that). The book had not been written(which had been okay'd by the editor prior to submission--back when neither of us knew how long it would take me to write the full), and I didn't get a version I was anywhere comfortable sending in until almost a year later. When I sent it in, the editor who'd requested it had retired, and I have no idea where it went. I checked up at six months, and then again at nine, Still Under Consideration was the response. In the meanwhile, I had gotten more comfortable with How To Build a Novel, so I entered another Fast-Track and got a Form-Rejection on it, entered a pitch(with the book that is actually now on sale--MountainMan!) and didn't get selected to pitch, had entered New Voices and SYTYCW for two years running and got nowhere, and then I got a big Fat-Form R on the full manuscript requested in 2010(which turned out later to have been an error), a few other Big Fails that left my confidence very shaky.

Added to this, I am a quirky writer--my voice tends toward irreverence and I like off-the-wall scenarios. I was not at all certain I could write category. As a matter of fact, by summer 2012, I was pretty-darned certain I couldn't. I'd decided to stop submitting to Harlequin for the time-being--focus on epublishers, learn more, and maybe try it again later when I was no longer convinced my Level of Suck didn't need to be measured on the Fujita scale.

Then I found out the 2010 full manuscript Form-R was an error. Got revision notes on it. My confidence was still in tatters, but I had one thing going for me and I was just going to focus on that one thing, the 2010 story. By the time SYTYCW2012 rolled around, I had decided not to enter it. Until about the day or two before, when my CP's(Michelle Smart and Aimée Duffy) talked me into entering. I had no story written, and the only fully formed story I had in mind that had never been submitted to Harlequin was MountainMan. So with a first chapter I'd written in the Spring in hand, I uploaded it to the site and dove in to write the rest of the book. I reached The End at like... 4am the day they were going to post the Top 28(semi-finalists), just in case. But again, I was not in the semi-finalists. Unlike the other contests, I didn't expect or even really let myself hope I'd be there. I was just using the contest deadlines to give myself hard-fast dates to get a book done by. And I'd done it. So yay me! I revised a the first half, then stuck it away and went back to revising the other book.

Friday -- Nov 9, the day after my birthday, I got an email from Suzanne Clarke, Medical Editor, asking to see the full manuscript. I emailed back saying I only had the first half revised, and could I wait to send it in when I got the second half revised. She emailed back asking for whatever I had polished.

Monday -- Nov 12, Sent in first half.

Monday -- Nov 19, Got revision notes on first half (Which were rather epic if enthusiastic)

Tuesday -- Nov 20, emailed back to thank her and set a Dec 7 deadline for the revised full

Thursday -- Nov 22 -- THANKSGIVING!

Friday -- Nov 23 -- Suzy emailed to ask for first three revised chapters earlier, if possible. I naturally, agreed and set another close date to send them by.

Wednesday -- Nov 28 -- Sent revised chapters 1-3

Thursday -- Nov 29 -- Sent the revised chapters 1-3 again because after sending on Wednesday, I had been filled with irrational word-hate and felt like it was a big ole mess of stupid. And that feeling disappeared after I chopped a paragraph that served no purpose beyond making me laugh. Whew. (Also, probably the first sign for editor that I'm a bit of a neurotic mess).

Thursday -- Dec 6 -- One day before deadline(Yay). I sent in the revised full. 

Tuesday -- Dec 18 -- Received another round of revision notes. Again, fairly epic in scope.

Christmas and New Years derailed progress for rest of December.

Revisions are hard!
Monday -- Jan 7 -- Contacted Suzanne to propose Jan 18 deadline for revisions, and she said sure!

Thursday -- Jan 24 -- Actual date I managed to send in revisions. They were hard, man.

Then I spent time with the Crickets of Scary Silence.

Wednesday -- Feb 20 -- Email asking if she could call in the afternoon. I said sure, but then promptly missed the call. Emailed, rescheduled for next day. I THOUGHT I knew why, and when I told my CP's about the email, they were sure of the reason -- but I was still pretty sure that it could just be that I'd totally crapped up the revisions and she had to talk to me on the phone to make me understand where I went wrong :)

Thursday -- Feb 21 -- Germs conspired to keep her out of office, rescheduled for Friday.

Friday -- Feb 22 -- THE CALL

And now, the Frootz of All That Labor:
  • Harlequin Ebookstore (Print not available until October)
  • Mills & Boon -- Where it is also available in print
  • It's up on Amazon's and elsewhere, but I think it does not actually become available anywhere other than Harlequin sites until October.

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