My parents swore that I was born with my nose in a book. My mother had her college degree in Library Science and encouraged me to read. She would drag me to the library and I would sit there for hours, lost in a story. When I was six years old, I told her I was going to be an author. What a concept, right?
At twelve, I discovered the piano and all thoughts of being an author were dashed. I was going to be a rock star. I played the piano and guitar for hours on end, making up songs that I would sing onstage with my pretend band. Granted, I still received excellent grades in English and composition, my heart was elsewhere.
When college time came, I decided to major in Music. My parents were disappointed but they stood behind my decision. I had started late and my technique was behind other students but the teachers were impressed with my dedication and effort with my studies. In my senior year, the professors “encouraged” me to go into teaching (there went my dream of being a rock star) because of the passion I could share with children. I went ahead and received a Master’s of Science in Music Education.
My family had moved back to the Chicago area and I went to live with them. It was rough to find a job because at that time, the economy was in bad shape and lots of schools were cutting their music program. I had friends who accepted jobs in Alaska and Washington State but I didn’t want to leave Chicago. I had friends, family and a life. I put my big girl pants on and landed my first job as a Claim Supervisor at a healthcare company.
Since I am a detailed person, I documented (writing) every aspect of the job and what it entailed. It was titled The Lifecycle of a Health Insurance Claim. Interesting stuff, right? It was published because the company was converting to a new Claims Payment System and it was used as a business document.
Life then threw me into computers. I programmed, did quality assurance and writing business documentation. I was very happy, married and had a beautiful daughter. Then the proverbial shoe dropped. My husband lost his job and he took a job offer in rural Pennsylvania. I was not a happy camper. I always remembered Pennsylvania as this long state to drive through in order to see our relatives back in New York. I had to quit my job and start all over.
I tried to find work but when I mentioned I did computer based work, the response was always, “How fast can you type?” I went from one low paying job to the next thoroughly discouraged. My husband loved his job and travelled extensively. Fortunately, I made lots of good friends.
My daughter began showing signs of interest in writing and asked me for help during her high school years. We were getting A’s on most of her work. Making her grandmother very proud, she decided to major in journalism and communications and went on to get her master’s degree. I still helped her with her papers until one of her professors pulled me aside. I had been caught and she suggested I start writing.
I did. I sat down and poured my heart into this book. I even had the sequel all planned out. I had my Technical Writer friends read it and comment on how to improve it. They were too nice.
When I submitted the four hundred thousand word manuscript, I couldn’t even get my foot in the door. Rejection after rejection came pouring in when finally someone said, “It sounds great but you need to cut at least three hundred thousand words. I was devastated! I did the sequel and kept it under one hundred thousand words but the first one has to go first. I pared it down to one hundred and twenty thousand words but it needs work. I put both of the manuscripts in a drawer.
I was working again at my husband’s company being the Help Desk assistant. I was happy because I met fellow author Barbara Huffert and we would talk about our writing careers. I was so excited when her first book was published. But, my parent’s health was failing and since I was Power of Attorney, I flew back and forth from Philadelphia to Chicago constantly to settle matters. The last time I saw my mother, she asked if she could read my book. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I had stopped writing.
Life is always changing for me. My husband’s company had been bought out and in order to save his job, we agreed to move to Dallas. This move, I looked forward to because I have always been infatuated with the state of Texas. We had two days to find a house and found what we thought was the perfect house.
This beautiful house has turned out to be a money pit. I started documenting everything that had gone wrong in the one year we lived here. One night, our cousin who had flown in for business, dropped by to take us out to dinner. I showed him the documentation and he said, “Lo? This is your next book.” I didn’t realize how many people were disappointed I had stopped writing.
I sat down and When the Runway Went South was born. I had my daughter read it and she was not nice at all which I appreciated. When I felt comfortable with her suggestions, I submitted it to an agency who wanted work. They told me it wasn’t the genre they represented but it was a good story and to keep trying to get it published.
I chose LazyDay Publishing because they wanted the entire manuscript and I liked the authors they were representing. I could have hugged Staci when she replied to me. She had read the manuscript and she told me how to fix it if I was interested. Of course I would do it! What great suggestions. All I wanted was an honest critique. I took my time and rewrote it from a passive voice to an active voice. I watched my head hopping. I resubmitted it in September and then started writing another manuscript feeling confident because now I knew what to look for.
January of this year, I was driving and my phone beeped because of an incoming email. I had my daughter open up the email from Staci where she offered me a contract. I’m surprised I didn’t get into an accident I was so excited.
The process has been an amazing and fast. I signed the contract and couldn’t sleep for at least a week. I had to remind myself to take deep breaths. When I got my first set of edits, I took them with me on vacation. I would sit at the pool with my laptop and so many people were interested in what I was doing. I don’t know how many times I was asked how I could write a book. I told them once you get started, it’s not that hard.
The next step was the copy edits which really made me scrutinize my work. Staci and Liz have been so supportive and encouraging that I can’t thank them enough. After the second round of edits, I felt that my story was better written than I thought possible. When the Cover Art came out, I was so pleased. I quickly shared it with my family and friends and they all agreed that the artist and everyone involved had done a tremendous job.
I can’t thank LazyDay Publishing enough for taking a chance with me and having my dream come true. I have to pinch myself to make sure this is real. I have a lot to learn still and look forward to more writing. My head is filled with many stories just waiting to written. As with anything, it takes commitment, perseverance and most of all the will to be flexible.
As for my music, I still play in the confines of my home but I no longer sing with the hairbrush as my microphone.