Thursday, December 1, 2011

In Appreciation

My first manuscript, SOUL TIES, is complete, or at least for the most part. I still wake in the middle of the night with words I know I must add in specific passages, but it’s all minor at this point. Although it only took me a couple of months to write the first manuscript, it’s taken the better part of a year to truly finish it to a point where it’s ready to put out there. I made the same mistake many writers make on their first manuscript; I started the query process too soon, well before it was ready. Live and learn—learn being the operative word there. 

The manuscript I have now is very different from what I started with, and I have several people to thank for that. I’ve been fortunate in having great beta readers who took their duty very seriously. For the beta reading process to work, you need to find readers willing to say things that might be hard for you to hear. To grow as a writer, you must be willing to listen objectively and then figure out what you need to do to remedy those issues they raise. I wanted tough critics, and I was lucky to find a great group of savvy professional women who were all avid readers. With the exception of one, all my first readers were entrepreneurs, and I knew they understood how important truthful feedback could be to success. The one exception in that group happened to be a sitting judge, someone else who would have no trouble expressing her opinion. She happened to be a “blind reader,” set up by a mutual friend so neither of us knew the other. She would be free to be as critical as necessary, and that fact bolstered my confidence that her critique wouldn’t be tainted by friendship. I’m happy to say that I finally met her, and her excitement about the characters continues to spur me on every day. Each one of my betas has given me something invaluable, and I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for every one of you – you know who you are!
Another important group of people who deserve recognition is my classmates in Barbara Rogan’s Next Level Workshops. Her Revising Fiction workshop helped me tighten everything and give it that extra polish. Her submission workshop helped me craft multiple queries and synopses, because just one won’t do – each literary agent has specific things they look for in a query and synopsis. It wouldn’t be the story it is now without input from Barbara and the other writers in those classes. Writers make the toughest critics, but it’s amazing what they see and what you can learn from them. Two of my last beta readers came from that class and were gracious in their willingness to pour over the manuscript after my final revision after the workshop concluded. Each and every one of you has helped me refine this manuscript and also helped me build my confidence. Without that confidence, I'm not so sure I could go through this process. I thank each of you for that.
Finally, I’ve taken the scary step of putting it out there. In addition to sending out a few queries, I’ve entered it into RWA’s Golden Heart Contest and a couple of other RWA Chapter Contests.  I'll never know if this thing will fly if I don't push it out of the nest. The manuscript falls in the genre of Women’s Fiction, but it has strong romantic elements. The story is about two people who find each other when neither is interested in sharing their life with anyone else. Their emotional journey in discovering that they might need each other despite not being what the other wants is one fraught with conflict and tension, but sprinkled with laughter and love. In my next few posts, I’ll share more details and an introduction to my characters.