July 8 marks the first anniversary that I published my debut novel, Out in the Open. I can’t believe it’s been a year already. I’ve learned so much since I began my journey, which has been filled with its share of ups and downs. I’ve learned that I’m not a great saleswoman (although I already kind of knew this). I don’t like self-promotion but it’s a necessary evil. I’ve learned that it’s OK to ask for help. I don’t think I could have gotten through the process without the support of my friends and family, many of whom became my own personal cheerleaders, shamelessly promoting my book at every turn. I remember my sister-in-law telling me how she ousted the October read from her book club list in favor of mine without giving anyone a chance to protest. And my book club read it last summer instead of whatever was slated for August. For the record I never asked. It was humbling to come to the meeting and see so many copies of my paperback. I know most people don’t buy physical books these days, so I was that much more appreciative that my neighbors (some whom I knew well but many I didn’t) were supportive of me.
I’ve learned that there will be surprises and disappointments. Take the ratings and reviews. They started out positive and I was very encouraged. But I didn’t go into this blindly and I knew my book wouldn’t be for everyone. My first negative review came and a friend of mine told me not to read them. But that’s like telling someone passing by an accident flanked by flashing lights and emergency vehicles to turn the other way. How can you not look? It’s right there. Yes, there were many positive ones, many from my friends of course, because I asked them to review it, but also from people I didn’t know. That felt like the biggest validation to me and one of the reasons why I set out to do this. I wanted to offer people an escape and bring a bit of happiness, and dare I say it, magic, to their lives. But there’s also a lot of people whose goal it seems is to knock you down. I know I should’ve expected it because you can’t please everyone. But, it’s still hard to see the feedback and not be able to say anything. I recall one girl writing that she was bored and felt like she now had a degree in advertising. I wanted to say, “Hey, didn’t you read the jacket copy? She works in advertising so you’re gonna hear about her job.” And frankly I figured people would find her career interesting. It’s not like she’s an actuary or something. I even had people I know give me a bad rating. As I said, I can’t expect that everyone is going to like the book. But if you know me shouldn’t that count for something? And if you didn’t like it couldn’t you keep that to yourself knowing it may influence others? Things like that were hurtful and hard to take. Because I take it all very personally. I know that I need to create some separation between me and my author persona. But as I’ve said before this book is like my baby, and if you’re a parent you know how you feel when someone insults your kid.
So I struggled for a while about writing a second one. I got caught up in the negativity, and while there are plenty of people who liked the book, it’s the negative comments that stay with you. And frankly they brought me down and made me question my abilities. I started thinking about how I wasn’t a “real” author. I have no formal writing background. I haven’t taken any writing classes and it wasn’t my major in college. But I enjoy doing it and I’d like to think that I have a knack for it. So if that puts me in a different category than the Nicholas Sparks of the world so be it. I know my place. But it’s something that I struggle with. Then a few months ago my kids went to bed on time for once and my husband was traveling. There was absolutely nothing on TV but reruns. I had started writing my second novel while I was waiting to hear back from agents on the first. That’s what they tell you, use this time to write before you need to start focusing on promoting your book. And so I did. I hadn’t looked at what I’d written in over two years. So I figured, hey, let’s see what I’ve got. And I liked it. I thought it was funny, if I do say so myself, and that I could be onto something. So I decided to pick up where I left off.
And it make me fall in love with writing all over again. I remembered why I started this journey in the first place. I pushed aside the negativity and decided to just do it.
So I’m writing again. My second novel is almost complete, I just need to read through it a “final” time and put on the finishing touches. Then begins the fun agenting process because I would love to get a traditional publisher, which you can’t land without an agent. I really like this book. It’s a follow up to Out in the Open but you don’t need to have read it (but it definitely helps)! Fans will find out what happens with Jake and Lexi as they follow her sister, Tara, on her dating adventures to finding The One. It was a really fun book to write because it’s a big departure from my first novel. With Lexi I think I tried to craft the perfect heroine, whereas Tara is more of a free spirit and she has more flaws. And I had a blast thinking up the crazy dating adventures that she encounters. I’ll keep you all posted on my progress, and I’ll likely even share a sneak peek or two.
Thanks to those of you who have supported me on my journey. While I still haven’t reached my target goal, I sold more copies than I anticipated. I really hope the second book is a success because I’d love to write the third, fourth, and fifth. They’re already mapped out in my head, plotlines that I’m itching to write. I don’t know if I’ll get there and if I don’t that’s OK. I’ve learned that as long as I’m doing what makes me happy and spreading some of that happiness along the way then I’m fulfilled. And perhaps that was the most important lesson of all. How many people can say that they are a published author? It was always a dream of mine to write a book. And I did. So I guess I should consider myself an author after all. I learned that I am a writer. A dreamer who got the job done.