Almost one year ago I went to coffee with my daughter and a friend of hers and that was the beginning of my “getting off the beach”. February 2012 was a turning point and I get to blame my middle daughter, Kristina and her underhanded methods to pass on the manuscript for The Stone’s Blade: The Blood to Liz Beerman, who was then on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. The coffee date happened in a rather convoluted route. Kristina was introduced to Liz Beerman at a ‘women authors’ book discussion group prior to Christmas 2011. It was there Liz presented her recently published book Beached for the group to discuss and purchase. Kristina was fascinated and encouraged by the topic Beached covered. Essentially getting back in the swim when life leaves you beached. Kristina purchased several copies as gifts for specific people she thought were stuck or ‘beached’ and were in need of direction to get back to living their lives or just move on to the next moment – including me. More about that on a personal level later. Evidently in the discussion time after the book presentation Kristina mentioned that her mother (me) was writing/had written a book and was frustrated by the submission black hole. Now, Kristina knows the story line of The Stone’s Blade as she is my first beta reader and I ran options through her whenever I got blocked or things weren’t quite working the way I thought they should. So it was on Kristina’s enthusiasm that Liz requested a chance to read the manuscript.
When Kristina came home she only talked about Liz and her book. A few days later my dear daughter asked me to send her the complete manuscript so she could read the entire piece as I had rewritten the last three chapters since her last reading. Unbeknown to me Kristina did not even open the attachment but sent it directly to Liz. When Liz finished, she told Kristina she had to talk with me about the manuscript. It was at this point that Kristina fessed up and demanded that I find the time to have coffee and a discussion with Liz. At this time I was working as an assistant office manager for a CPA firm and it was early February – a rather busy time and it was only going to get busier. I get pretty stressed out for the first four months of every year but this was an opportunity I could not waste so I said yes.
Imagine my surprise when Liz said she loved the story and believed in the characters. This was not a member of my family or even a close friend who was positive about my efforts. Liz had no ulterior motives/familial responsibilities to like the story. I was speechless. Liz asked me if I thought it was ready for the next step. I explained that I could edit for the next 50 years and it would not be ready but that I also knew that I could not edit it anymore. I had started sending it out to agents to no avail. It felt like there was a black hole sucking it away with zero response. I’m not sure the agents even opened the e-mails let alone looked at the cover letter or first pages they had requested. I did get one response in the almost two years of attempts. I really thought that this agent was a good match as her website stated she was looking for a new author with a science fiction/ fantasy having a hint of romance in the story line. I read up on her and the works she had successfully gotten published then worked for six weeks to craft the best cover letter possible. What I received in return was a criptic “I don’t work in that genre”. I went back to check her website and the request for scifi/fantasy with a romantic flavor was still there. Where did I go wrong? I don’t know but I got angry and decided that since no agent wanted it I was going to figure out a way to publish it myself. Liz was delighted with my desire to have it published and asked pertenent questions such as who was my audience, 14 and up, and why did I want to publish it. While I have no illusions of making millions or being on the best sellers list, I do want people to read, to get to know these characters and participate in their stories. With that in mind Liz invited me to attend the next Colorado Independent Publishers Association (www.CIPA.com) meeting the following week.
The meeting offered chances to listen, learn, absorb, and network. I was hooked. Over the next few months I found editors and writing coaches, graphic designers, photographers, book cover designers, and so much more. This organization continues to amaze. I am grateful for the impertenance of Kristina and the encouragement of Liz.
At this point the manuscript is in the hands of Melanie Mulhall at Dragonheart Writing and Editing for content and storyline edits – after two months of directed coaching to do more self editing of the manuscript because Melanie thought I was capable of doing it once I knew what to look for. What an amazing learning prossess that has been! The cover design is coming together within the imagination and talents of Nathan Fisher with Scifi Book Cover Designer. I can hardly wait to see what he has to offer. Both of these individuals have responded positively to the story and see the possibilities of more than just a trilogy (sometimes I am just overwhelmed and still cannot believe that peoople outside my direct family actually like this). The plan is that publication will take place later in 2013. I’ll let you know the release date when I know. Still a lot of work to get done. Writing and publishing a good book is not an overnight event. To do it correctly and well takes time. It will be worth it, I promise.
Now for the personal connection with Liz’s book. I am reading it again, one year after I received it and I see new things. I now realize that even though I had a job at this time last year I was indeed stuck or beached, unsure of where to go or what I wanted to do or even how to get out of the job I’d had for almost eleven years. At the end of May 2012 I sat down with my boss and the office manager to discuss my future. By then I had the confidence to state that I did not want to go through another deadline (in September) and knew that August would be the perfect time to train someone to take my position. I want to thank the entire office for supporting my decision. My last day was August 31, 2012. My new life began on September 1, 2012. I sleep better, am relaxed, and am happier with myself than I’ve been in years. That’s an important point – happier with myself. My family is happier as well because I am not stressed out – I evidently look younger, too which is not a bad trade off for changing careers. I wake up every morning excited about writing, excited about the future.
By ‘connecting deliberately’ with Liz Beerman and the people at CIPA and by ‘rethinking my way’ in leaving my job to do what I love to do, I am no longer stranded on a beach but joyfully diving in and out of the waves. You need to read her book.
You can contact Liz Beerman at firstname.lastname@example.org and order your copy of Beached: Get back in the swim when receding tides leave you high and dry by L.R. Beerman.
Nathan Fisher can be contacted at email@example.com
Check out the Colorado Independent Publishers Association at www.CIPA.com