November – A Time to Give Thanks

It’s November already! When I was younger, time moved slowly, but I’m coming to realize what people mean by the saying, “time flies.” Where has this year gone?
2016 has been an eventful year. I planned on it being one of the best years of my life. On the January page of my calendar I wrote, “This is my year! Seize it!” I also added three goals for the year. 1. Sign a contract with an agent. 2. Get a book deal 3. Expand myself – do school visits.
This calendar is the one I use to keep track of writing events, conference dates, webinars, twitter pitch days, my writers group meets, etc., and looking back at the pages, I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment at all the events I participated in. I am putting my work out there, with contests and submissions to agents and publishers.
On February 3rd I pitched on twitter – #Pit2Pub (Pitch to publication), and amazingly had 6 faves on 4 of my manuscripts. From these faves, I found a publisher for my YA romantic fairy tale, The Dragon’s Ring. Stephanie Taylor offered me a contract on February 23rd with Clean Reads/Astraea Press, and I returned it, signed, on the 24th.
What a happy, joyous feeling! My story was going to be published!
During the days of celebration, I was also experiencing fear. In early January I was having female health issues, and after numerous doctor visits, a sonogram and a biopsy, I learned I had endometrial cancer, Stage 1. While doing edits for my book, I underwent surgery in mid-March. A total hysterectomy and removal of lymph nodes proved successful. My doctor is confident the cancer is gone. I did not need chemo or radiation, and my only health requirement is quarterly office visits. I believe the knowledge that my book was being published gave me hope and a purpose, and kept me going. I stayed positive and never gave in to feeling sorry for myself or tears. I didn’t let my medical issues slow me down and never missed a deadline in returning my edits to my editor.
Believing my release date was August 28th, I received a pleasant surprise from my publisher on August 1st. My book had been released July 28th. Oh happy day! My wonderful, supportive writers/critique group surprised me at the August 1st meeting with a cake decorated like my book cover and gifts. A touching and sentimental gift was a silver charm bracelet with a star (for reach for the stars), and a crown (for the princess in my story).
Since the release of my book, I’ve been devoting much of my time to interviews on authors’ blogs and social media promotions. The Springfield, IL newspaper reporter, Tamara Browning, wrote a 2 page interview for The State Journal Register. I’ve also designed and had printed nearly 300 bookmarks, with a gold ring tied on each with a ribbon.
Promoting a book is hard work, and trying to keep each interview fresh and different takes time. It’s also exciting and esteem building. I’m growing more confident with each new step and hope soon to do number 3 on my goal list, school interviews. I’ve also visited some area libraries and offered my services.
My next step is to concentrate on goal #1, finding an agent. In between sending submissions, I’ve also been writing and revising. I’ve decided to change the POV for my YA series, from 3rd person to 1st, hoping to draw in the reader.  The first of the four books is completed. Though part of a series, The London Incident can standalone. So instead of doing NaNoWriMo this year, I’m working on revisions.
2016 has been a remarkable year, and there are still a few weeks left before it ends. Perhaps my final goal will happen before the year plays out. I’ve had several ups and downs, some terrifying moments as well as ecstatic news. Thanksgiving is November 24th, but after a year like this, I’m starting early to give my thanks. My first huge THANK YOU is to God for watching over me this year, (and always). I have two favorite sayings, “Trust in the Lord,” and “Count Your Blessings.” When I learned I had cancer, I did both, and am happy to say I’m a survivor with many, many years ahead to continue to do what I love, and that is write.
I’m grateful for my family, my friends, and the people in my writing world, my writers group, the authors I’m friends with on Facebook and in life, my publisher, and the other authors with Clean Reads who continue to offer support and advice. There are so many amazing people in my life, and I wonder sometimes how I came to be so lucky. I’m blessed and grateful for those who have touched my life in a positive way. Thank you, everyone!



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