Monday, April 21, 2014

Part One: The Road to Publication...

...began when I was 17 and a gym teacher substituting as an English teacher explained how writing was like playing a game; making up characters and worlds. I was really into Dungeons and Dragons back then, so I began making up stories (this was before internet fan fiction). There was my kids-going-into-another-world stage, my (unfortunate) adventure stage after seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark, my purple prose stage (also unfortunate).
Then, in my twenties, when publishing companies were many and editors were accessible, I began receiving little nuggets of praise among the form rejections. I began writing short stories and landed in a few small press magazines, but never reached my goal, the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Both book and small press editors were critically kind, and gave me advice even when they were rejecting my precious manuscripts--they helped me learn what worked and what didn't.
In 1996, while perusing my favorite anthology The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, I found one of my short stories listed in the Honorable Mentions section (among many others), and remember jumping up and down with joy.
Then, after many badly written manuscripts, I stuck with one, revising it over and over, and, in the late 1990s, it was accepted by the youngest agent in a prestigious literary agency. The book was about modern-day witches and, after a few more rewrites, I signed a contract and knew I was on my way to publication. My run with this agency (who are excellent), resulted in a few close calls from encouraging editors, but no sales. My problem was the same one I'd had with my short stories--I wasn't giving the manuscripts my agent tried to sell enough chances--I gave up too easily on each.
Then the writer's block began. It wasn't tragic...I just didn't have any more stories to tell. I parted ways with my first agent (who was fantastic and is now a mega agent in fantasy and SF, go figure), and spent the next few years halfheartedly writing, taking a few classes, working 2 jobs, and seeking another agent.

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