This is the last of my meditations on ten years of writing.
Well, that’s not exactly true. Next week, on the RMFW blog, I’m going to be posting “TEN YEARS OF LESSONS ON WRITING. So, yeah. But this is where I go through my successes.
I talked about failures yesterday, and I was kind of vague because I didn’t want to linger there. I’ve lingered there long enough. And I will change my thinking. I have to. So, here are my very real, very epic successes. If I don’t celebrate my little successes, I won’t celebrate the big ones.
Let me say that again, for me, to change my thinking. If I don’t celebrate my little successes, I won’t celebrate the big ones. And if I take that one step further…if I don’t see my little successes as complete victories, I won’t see my big successes in that light either.
So. Here is a list of my complete victories!
- I only have three unfinished projects. Every other book I’ve started I’ve finished. This is huge. This is amazing. This is epic. And even more? I’ve edited most of those projects, and I’m not huge on that whole editing thing. I’ve written well over a dozen books in the past ten years. Every book is a victory as grand as blowing up the Death Star. All three times.
- I have over a hundred rejections. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not very many. For me? For someone with my level of fear and self-loathing? It is an epic victory. It is Pelennor Fields. It truly is.
- I have had four editors choose to spend their life’s minutes on my books. I say the publishing industry has ignored me. That is NOT true. Four people, with death looming, chose me to work on. This is amazing. Out of all the writers writing, me. These are four victories rolled up into mine.
- I have three published books. I have three ISBNs.
- I was a finalist in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s Gold Contest in their very competitive young adult category.
- My daughter and I were reading one of the books I’d written for her together. We were going slow. One day, she came to me, ashamed, because she couldn’t wait for us to read it together. She had to find out how the story ended. This, my friend, is a victory. My daughters don’t automatically love my books. And for her to be so swept into the story she had to read it, well, if that’s not enough for me…what ever will be? The praise and adulation of strangers? Huh.
- At a first chapter workshop in Big Sur, a woman was reading the first chapter of The Never Prayer. She started to cry. She looked up at me and I saw such a depth of emotion there, I started to cry too. It’s been said authors live on the tears of their readers. That should keep me going for the duration.
- I auditioned and was chosen to be a part of a critique group of highly decorated authors: Jeanne C. Stein, Mario Acevedo, Warren Hammond. This was huge! Huge!
- I won a horror short story contest online for a story called “Deep Woods, True Story”. It was my first win of any sort of writing contest where I wasn’t involved in the voting!
- I was invited to be the Emcee at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference three years in a row. Again, I can’t tell you how much of a huge deal this was. I got to rub shoulders with Bonnie Hagan, M.B. Partlow, Chris Mandeville, Sue Mitchell, Jason Henry and a bunch of other wonderful people. I had a such a lovely time at the conference and I loved the audience. This was a big deal. It really was.
- The entire 2013 year was hard on me. February 2014, I got my first Kirkus Review for Long Live the Suicide King. It was glowing. I needed it. When I opened up the website to first read it, I squinted, looking for keywords in the sentences. If I saw bad words I was going to shut my eyes completely. If I saw good words, I’d read every one. and I did. It was glowing.
- Long Live the Suicide King was a finalist in the Reader’s Favorite Young Adult contest. And I got a five-star review, awesome, and it was great to be a part of that organization. I didn’t win, but I got a sticker to put on the front cover of the book!
- Long Live the Suicide King won the Building the Dream Young Adult contest. I am an award-winning author thanks to Kris Tualla, Deena Remiel, Morgan Kearns and the rest of the gang. Thanks for bringing me in.
- In July of 2014, Peter J. Wacks called me. We had just published our G.I. story, Post-Traumatic Stress Commander and it was number one in Kindle Worlds. I had an official Amazon bestseller.
- In the fall of 2015, I got a basket full of fan letters for Elizabeth’s Midnight. I answered them. Fan mail. How cool is that? While Elizabeth’s Midnight hasn’t performed well, it’s a book I love. And my parents liked it the best out of all my books. It’s a victory.
- Quincy J. Allen picked “The Dirges of Percival Lewand” for The Best of the Penny Dread Tales published through WordFire Press. It’s one of his favorite stories. And that story really solidified my name in the local writer community in Colorado. I wasn’t just pretty, but I was talented too. That story really did well for me, and I love it so.
- Quincy J. Allen insisted several people nominate “The Dirges of Percival Lewand” for a Hugo. So I am a Hugo-nominated author. Ha! I used that for a while.
- Getting into WordFire Press with The Juniper Wars series really felt like a victory. And not just one book, but six. Six books of what I love to write. The books of my heart. I was at a Superstars Writing Seminar and I mentioned I was at WordFire Press. Someone muttered, in awe, “Wow, you must be good.” Dang straight I am.
- One of my reviewers who read KILLDEER WINDS, the second book in The Juniper Wars series, said she ugly cried. Now, that, right there, is worth the price of admission.
- Ron Cree gave me one of the best reviews of my life for his review of The Never Prayer. When he read Dandelion Iron, the first book in the series, he said, and I quote, “Your other books were good, but this one, this one..”
- In 2015 I got a story in Hex Publishing’s Nightmare’s Unhinged. It was the story I’d won for the horror story contest. We decided on a different title. “Deep Woods.” I got to do a signing at the Tattered Cover with a bunch of other writers. It felt like the big time!
- I got a story in Hex Publishing’s noir anthology as well. At this point, the story is called “Shoe” and I love it.
- While working with Vivian Trask on the first two Juniper Wars books, she said that Cavatica Weller sounded like her when she was a sixteen-year-old Catholic girl. A total victory.
- My daughter just finished reading the third book in The Juniper Wars series. She texted to me, and I quote: OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD. I’M AT THE PART WHERE ….SPOILERS … AND I JUST LOVE THIS BOOK! And there you have it.
- All the praise. All the tears. All the laughter of the people who have read my books. Every reader who finishes a book is a victory. I spent a lot of time writing books people couldn’t read.
I’m sitting in the Salt Lake City airport, on my way home from a writer’s retreat where I won the coveted Edward M. Kovel Prize for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.
I love airports. I live travel and adventure. I am so blessed to be on this quest to make it as a writer. That I get to do this, at all, is a miracle.
Travis Heermann interviewed me for his blog, and he asked which character in literature do I most resemble. Bilbo Baggins.
In the end, I’m Bilbo Baggins. Really, I wanted to stay in my hobbit hole, eat lots of donuts, and watch lots of TV. And suddenly, this adventure has been thrust upon me.
The dragon Smaug awaits in his mountain. I have many obstacles ahead, but I must slay the dragon. And the dragon isn’t the mean ol’ world of publishing, and it’s not bad book sales, and it’s not literary obscurity.
The dragon lives inside my head and I am the beast I must fight.
But I don’t think I can slay the dragon.
In the end, I think I must become the dragon and bathe the world in my fire.