I’m participating in the Writing Contest: You Are Enough, hosted by Positive Writer. The idea behind the contest is to write a blog post to inspire other authors to keep writing. In this crazy, competitive field, it’s very easy to become discouraged. Like other authors, I’ve gone through spells of depression and dissatisfaction with myself and my work. There were numerous times I was prepared to throw in the towel, chuck my writing, spend more time with my family and friends, and only write for myself if I felt the need. But this feeling passed when I reminded myself of how far I’ve come and the way I’ve touched readers’ lives by sharing my words with them.
I’ve been writing professionally for over thirty years. Because I’m an animal lover, and it’s always a good idea to write what you know or at least what you can research, I started by publishing articles in pet magazines. My first two articles about my cats enabled me to become a professional member of the Cat Writers’ Association. A few years later, my first mystery story, “Stitches in Time,” appeared in the anthology, Cat Crimes Through Time. In 2008, after my cat Floppy passed away, I self-published my first book, Cloudy Rainbow, a paranormal romance about a woman who participates in a virtual seance to save the man she loves. I featured Floppy as a character and the backstory included fictional details from my college days as an editor on the student newspaper at Long Island University/C. W. Post campus. I had no idea how to market the book, so I didn’t sell many copies, but I got a copy on the shelf at the library where I worked as a librarian.
I didn’t write again until 2015 because I thought I was too busy with work and family obligations. That was an excuse. I now realize that I stopped because I’d lost faith in myself and my ability to write because I hadn’t sold many copies of my first book. I came out of this funk when a patron at my library who’d read Cloudy Rainbow encouraged me to keep writing. She told me she believed I had talent and that I should follow my dream of being an author. I was hesitant to listen to her, but her words finally got through to me. I was inspired to write another book. This time, instead of self publishing the book, I began to look for a publisher. Having become involved in social media, I entered a Twitter competition called #Pit2Pub. It was through this competition that several small publishers contacted me and asked to read my complete manuscript. I ended up signing with one of them for A Stone’s Throw, the first book of what would become my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series that now totals four books.
Although I was thrilled to have landed a publisher, albeit a small one that focused on publishing eBooks, things didn’t turn out the way I’d envisioned them. I wasn’t paid an advance, and my royalties often totalled less than two digits. However, I’d met other authors, both those who wrote for my publisher and those who belonged to online Indie author groups, who showed me that they were in the same boat as I was. I no longer focused on making money but on reaching readers. It made my day when someone wrote a 5-star review for my book on Amazon or told me in person at the library that they loved the characters and the twist at the end of my book.
I was feeling better about myself and my writing until my publisher turned down the second book of my series. I was devastated. I thought my writing career was over before it really began. Then I saw an announcement for another #Pit2Pub competition. I figured that I had nothing to lose by entering, but I was worried that no one would want the second book of a series. As it turned out, I heard from a different publisher, Solstice Publishing, and signed a contract with them for Between a Rock and a Hard Place. Also, after getting my rights back from my first publisher, Solstice reprinted A Stone’s Throw with a new cover and updated edits. They also reprinted Cloudy Rainbow as a tenth-anniversary edition. I currently have six books and several stories published by them and have signed for two holiday eBook stories that will be published this December.
Last year, I found a second publisher, Creativia, now known as Next Chapter, through another author. I had an unpublished psychological mystery, Sea Scope, that I’d been shopping around to agents hoping to publish it with a larger publisher. I was attracted by Next Chapter because of its marketing approach, attractive covers, and the formats in which its booked were published. In May 2019, Sea Scope was published in paperback, eBook, and large type editions. The audio was released afterwards on Audible, and hardcover copies are scheduled soon.
Despite my success and experience with seven published books and three publishers, I still haven’t achieved my dream. I’m still seeking an agent and traditional publisher. I know that this dream is possible, but I also know that agents receive tons of queries. It’s hard to stand out in the current competitive book market, but that’s no reason to stop trying. I truly believe that whatever your writing dream is, you can achieve it as long as you don’t give up.