Written in Red–On Getting What You Wish For by Peggy Bird

I wrote my first novel about 15 years ago. It was a cozy mystery. It received glowing rejections, back in the day when writers got personal letters with comments and constructive critique instead of an email saying, “Thank you for thinking of us but your work doesn’t meet our needs.” The novel even got a read through and critique from a local writer who is nationally successful. His final advice? Put it away and get on with writing the next one.

Instead, I started writing shorter pieces. Several dozen were published in anthologies or magazines. I did readings in Portland, Seattle and around SW Washington. I’d found a way to write without putting my neck on the chopping block every time I sent off six months or two years or a lifetime’s worth of work only to have it rejected it.

And then there was my newfound addiction to kiln-formed art glass. It was an art form that allowed me to be creative in a very different way. I started selling my work in galleries and at outdoor art festivals. Fun stuff. Interesting people.

About two years ago my two addictions came together as some intriguing characters began to appear in my daydreaming. A glass artist. An art gallery owner. A sculptor. A jewelry artist. A photographer. I cut out pictures of what they would wear, drive, eat and drink. I furnished their living spaces, created bedrooms for them. Wondered who they would fall in love with. It was fun until I started having dreams about them and realized the only way to get them out of my nightlife was to get them into my computer.

Once they were as alive as I could make them, I started sending manuscripts out to agents and the occasional publisher. The response was discouraging until early this year when I sent the first of my series of novels to Jennifer Lawler who was developing a new imprint–Crimson Romance. She asked for changes. I made them. On Valentine’s Day I got an email from her accepting the book for release in June. A second book has been contracted for a fall release, and a third for next February.

I’ve done it. As of June 4th, I’m a published novelist.

But a funny thing happened on the way to getting what I wanted. What has been my personal passion is now my full-time job. Not only am I writing on my new novel every day but I’m blogging on my website and, like today, for the Ladies in Red column. I have a couple more guest blog gigs coming up. I play around with Facebook every day. I send emails and post teasers online. Hunt down websites where readers might be lurking.

My world has changed. Since Valentine’s Day I have learned about Pinterest, fan pages on Facebook, WordPress, blog hops, the difference between a stand alone WordPress site and a WordPress.com site, how to write a byline and a blurb, how to create an author’s page for Amazon and GoodReads.

I review advance readers’ copies for other writers and send them mine to review. I nag–sorry, ask–friends and family members who’ve read the book to write reviews. I created a post card, which I hand out to anyone who talks to me for longer than thirty seconds. I schedule a book launch party. I make lists of what has to be done and then make a master list of the lists.

My creation is out in the world and I’m not sure which has stunned me more–the fact that it happened at all or finding out what’s on the other side of the divide between being published and unpublished. It’s fun; it’s challenging; it’s exhilarating. It also requires the occasional bottle of wine to celebrate with. I hope when the first check arrives, it’ll be enough to cover a bottle of the really good stuff.

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8 Comments

  1. “It received glowing rejections” – you kill me! (And we’ve all been there). Congratulations on living your dreams!

    • They really were good rejections!! A number of agents/editors liked two of the following–my writing, my characters or my story. Sadly, not one of them liked all three. Until Jennifer. Which is why I’m voting for Greek sailors. What ever Jennifer wants, Jennifer gets.

  2. Peggy, you’ve got a lot of writing to do. Two books before next February? You go, girl! Best wishes. Carol Ritten Smith

    • Those two are finished–Jennifer has them already. I’m writing #4 at the moment–or as I told one of our daughters recently–sex on a sailboat in the San Juans. Change of scene!

  3. Boy, how life has changed! Congrats on all your other books, Peggy!

  4. Busy people get things done. Congrats on having so many projects done.

  5. I’m with you…a bottle of the really good stuff! I hope so…I hope that check is enough for a whole case!

    All the Best,
    Rionna

    • You’re right, Rionna. Why was I thinking small? I’m upgrading my ambitions to a whole case of the good stuff.


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