After many years (I won't say how many, because it's embarrassing) of writing and revising, my YA novel Porcelain Keys has been picked up by Cedar Fort Publishing.
I thought it fitting that my first blog post here be about how I got published. But before I tell you that, I have to tell you how I wrote a book that could be considered publishable.
I started writing Porcelain Keys (okay, I admit it) six years ago. I'd just put my baby and toddler down for a nap. It was a warm summer day with the sunlight streaming through my tall kitchen window, and I had this overwhelming desire to sit down at my computer and write something. I'd tried writing stories before, but other than the short stories I'd written in high school, I'd never found a story compelling enough to actually finish. But this day was different. I had this feeling inside I can't even describe, other than it made my skin tingle. So even though the dishes needed to be done, I sat down and wrote a scene. It was a scene that didn't even end up in my book, but from it was born the story of Aria Kinsley and Thomas Ashby.
I spent the next couple months staying up late every night to write, and scribbling notes on the nearest piece of paper during the day as I took care of my little boys. After I reached about 40,000 words, I realized how bad my writing was. But giving up was not an option. Not because I'm stubborn, but because Aria and Thomas wouldn't let me. They had a story, and they wouldn't leave me alone until I told it right.
So I started learning how to write. I took a community education fiction writing class. I read about eight million books on writing. I read novels like textbooks, dissecting them to see what made them tick. I attended writing conferences. And I wrote, rewrote, and rewrote again.
And then I got cancer.
Through chemotherapy and surgeries and radiation, I thought about Aria and Thomas, and the thought of not being able to finish their story was almost as heartbreaking to me as the possibility that I'd have to leave my children without a mother (okay, not half as heartbreaking as that, but still heartbreaking). Through the grace of God, I kicked cancer's butt. And after recovering from treatments, a girl at church invited me to join her writer's group.
The feedback and education I received from my writer's group over the next couple years was invaluable. They pushed me to do my best, and weren't afraid to tell me when I could do better. And finally, last November, I had a completed, polished manuscript to send out.
And that brings us to getting published. I spent a few months sending out query letters to literary agents. Talk about a roller-coaster ride, one that can be discussed in an entirely separate blog post. In the midst of it all, one of my friends loaned me a copy of Geek Girl by Cindy C. Bennett, which was published by Cedar Fort. I loved the book, so I decided to send my manuscript to Cedar Fort. I printed out 328 pages, took them to the post office, and mailed them with my query letter.
Two months later, I was driving my kids home from swimming lessons when an email popped up on my phone from Angie Workman, Cedar Fort's acquisitions editor.
"I'm getting published!" I exclaimed to my kids.
"I want a hamburger," my youngest replied.