Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The #Journey from Idea to #Reader by Brenda Whiteside

When you pick up a novel to read, did you know your hands are the final destination of a long and often winding road for that book. Every book, romance, suspense, or any other genre, has a journey from conception to reader, and you might be surprised at the obstacles to clear, hoops to jump, and mountains to climb that story took to get to you.

This is Journey of a Novel for the first book I published, Sleeping with the Lights On. It's my favorite journey because it was my first and could've been my last. I don't know. Maybe. I'm not easily discouraged, but you never know.

Sleeping with the Lights On began life as a joke and a short story. My sister was in between husbands and complaining to me about the frustrating dating scene. We got to reminiscing about some of her more noteworthy dates. That led to laughing and my comment that I should write down some of this.

Side note here: Having had only one husband and marrying him while I was a child, her experience in the man field was fascinating. I'd also written another book and was getting nowhere with it.

I made her start with date one back in high school and made a note on all of them. Next day, I started my story which turned into a book. Second side note: I did embellish her experiences. Had to make it a bit more juicy, you know.

Several months later, I started researching publishers. Then I had an idea to submit it to a contest. I sent it off and waited. I'm not one to wait, so when I heard of The Wild Rose Press and that RWA recognized this fairly new publisher, I submitted my baby. And waited.

I'm doing a lot of waiting at this point. Agonizing, especially for a never been published in novel form writer. Weeks and weeks later, I came home from my day job and checked my email. Ping! A communication from the contest. Pow! Punch to the gut. I didn't place, and if the one judge who was so kind as to send me a written critique had her say, I'd never even publish the story. I couldn't believe she'd read the same book I'd written. Her comments were so deflating.

I sighed, rubbed my head, and fought off tears. Glanced at the screen again and there was a message from TWRP. I held my breath, heart beating in my throat. I'd probably been turned down.

AHA! My book was fresh, and WANTED! I was going to be published! Yeah, I'm not supposed to use that many exclamation points, but I need you to know how elated I was. Take that contest judge. You don't know squat.

How fortunate I had not waited for the contest results to come back to submit my book for publication. Sleeping with the Lights On might still be vanquishing under my bed with a few other attempts. Hmmm...might ought to dig those out.

Seven and a half years later, and twelve publications later, I'm still proud of that first published book.

Brenda and her husband are gypsies at heart having lived in six states and two countries. Currently, they split their time between the pines of Northern Arizona, the desert of Southern Arizona, and the RV life. Wherever she roams, she spends most of her time writing stories of discovery, suspense, and the tangled relationships of life.

Visit Brenda at www.brendawhiteside.com
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com
She blogs about life’s latest adventure on her personal blog http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/

23 comments:

Leah St. James said...

What a great story, Brenda! And how awful for that contest judge to respond with such negativity. You showed her...or him (whoever it was). This sounds like a fantastic book. I'm going to check it out!

Diane Burton said...

Fascinating journey, Brenda. I've had a couple of contest judges like that. What a know-nothing. As Leah said, you showed her/him. I love how your story evolved.

Jannine Gallant said...

What an interesting journey to publication. I bet you dedicated this one to your sister for all that motivation! LOL

Brenda Whiteside said...

Thanks, Leah. I haven't been a big fan of contests yet. It happened to me for another book I published which I'll probably relate next time.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Diane, yeah, not so fond of contests anymore unless they are judged by industry professionals like librarians or editors. Readers let their own tastes get in the way.

Brenda Whiteside said...

I sure did, Jannine. What is funny is, my brother never read the book...too afraid of what he might find out about my sister. LOL

RE Mullins said...

I'm glad you didn't give up. There is no excuse for a contest judge to be mean-spirited in their remarks.
It's like I always told my children, "You can say anything you want to me but you'd better watch how you say it."
This is certainly true for Contest judges - really, all reviewers. They should be instructed to criticize the large areas where they see room for improvement. They should be reminded not to nit-pick every little detail.That's fir the editor to do and isn't the reviewer's job.
That isn't the end of a well-done review. A well-rounded critique will balance the negative by adding a list of the writer/story's positive aspects.
How's that? I just gave a review or reviewers. :)

Mackenzie Crowne said...

What a fun publication path, Brenda. And how cool is it that you shared the adventure with a sister you love? Good for you for believing in your story enough to submit. Just goes to show how subjective the industry is.

Andrea Downing said...

I think most of us have stories about awful contest judges; I certainly do. There was one contest for my first book where it came in 4th--just outside the winners--because 2 judges rated it in the 90s and the 3rd absolutely shredded it. Goes to show how subjective it all is. Glad your journey ended with the publication of what sounds like a super book.

Margo Hoornstra said...

What an entertaining journey to publication. The idea for one book I sold to TWRP came to me when my hussband fell out of a tree he was trimming, leaving the limb and saw intact, I might add. He’s fine!! LOL

Brenda Whiteside said...

Wow, RE, tell us how you really feel...LOL But you do speak the truth. Thanks.

Brenda Whiteside said...

You are so right about subjectivity, Mac. Can't please everyone!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Oh, Andi, when that one judge from out of a black hole takes you out of the contest. I hate that. Been there.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Margo, stories can come from anywhere and anything!

Vonnie Davis said...

I've judged a lot of contests. Many before I knew the intricacies of writing. For many contests, all you have to do is answer an email call by contest organizers. They send you an email on how to judge and you're qualified. NOT! I rarely enter them anymore. The judges can be so cruel.

Alison Henderson said...

I remember sitting in a classroom at the Edina Community Center, listening to your Journey of a Novel presentation for this book, Brenda. I bought the book, read it, and loved it!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Vonnie, I totally agree.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Alison, it's always my favorite journey story. But I'm going to share the others too in the months to come.

Christine DePetrillo said...

The Wild Rose Press is a nice home for stories. I have a few with them as well. Great journey tale, Brenda.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Forgot to mention. Back in the day, I entered two contests with what turned out to be my first published book. One morning, I went to the mailbox to find one of my entries returned with feedback, and not very encouraging feedback. Turns out I hadn't even come close to winning. Time to throw in the towel, right? Shortly after, I received a phone call regarding the other contest informing me I was a finalist! I ultimately won Third Place. Turns out the more different we seem, the more alike we are.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Thanks, Christine.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Good story, Margo.

Alicia Dean said...

Awwww, what a beautiful story!! I love how the book came to be. And, it's fantastic that your offer from TWRP came on the heels of the scathing notes from the judge. I love that TWRP has helped so many authors realize their dreams. I bet it's a wonderful book. Love the cover!