I've always wanted to write. Ever since I was little, I would craft stories and poems but the idea to actually do it "for real" never really crossed my mind until last year. After sitting on three paragraphs of what would eventually become my first novel, I decided to expand upon what I had. At the time I had no real idea of where the story would go, I just knew I had the time to do something with it.
I hadn't researched market trends, I had no idea about query letters or the evil synopsis, and I was green on the idea of agents and editors and all that is publishing, really. I just wanted to write something I enjoyed. I didn't plot, outline, or character build, I just wrote. And then an author friend mentioned that I should take my writing to a conference.
So with the confidence that my novel would surely be welcomed by all who read it, I signed up for as many seminars and critiques as I could. I knew someone would love it. In those two days, I found out I had a lot to learn.
Funny, but as a former English teacher, you'd think I'd have figured out the importance of editing and revision and revising again. You'd think I'd have known that the first draft is just that, a draft. And when the critiques started coming in, I thought I was done for. Not that the premise wasn't good (I was told it was), not that the characters weren't believable (I was told they were), but I used too much passive voice, I tense shifted and there were some holes in the plotline.
A few agents really liked it, but the market trend couldn't support it. Some were not fond of the way I told the story. I queried and queried my way to 57 flat out rejections and a number of partial and full requests that didn't pan out. But along the way I got some great criticism and pointers and I made the story better. Then, on a whim, I trolled the SavvyAuthors website and signed up for a three line pitch to an editor and I did a happy dance when she requested my full manuscript.
A month later, she responded that she loved the story and the concept but it moved too slowly but I could resubmit if I revised. I informed her I sent her a revision that was based on the opinions of agents, authors and peers but I had the original (cleaned up, of course) and I was sending it in to see if it was more of what she was looking for. And guess what? It was! One caveat, I had to revise the manuscript into past tense. Easy peasy, right? Wrong.
Revising into past tense from present is line editing your entire novel. And it kinda stinks. By the end, I thought my eyes were gonna start bleeding and pop out onto my keyboard. But you know what? That little "exercise" tightened up what was loose, filled in any plot holes that might've still been there and forced me to realize I could be a better writer.
The road to publication can be long. It can be a hop, skip and a jump from your first query. Nothing in publication is set in stone. The market is always changing. And the biggest thing I learned is that it's all subjective. Agents A-Y may pass but all you need is Agent or Editor Z to believe in you as much as you believe in yourself. And I believe in my first novel.
Three Days of Rain, New Adult, 326p, published 12/9/13
Amazon customer reviews: 4.8 out of 5 stars (32 reviews)
Just when he thought his life was turning around... Things haven’t been easy for Jacob Morgan. Persecuted by the ghosts of his past, Jake lives each day just going through the motions, barely getting by. Then Lily Burns comes to town and befriends him. As Jake starts to heal, he begins to hope that he has finally overcome the mistakes and tragedies that have tormented him for so long. But just when he thinks his problems are solved, his past comes back to haunt him, and once again, Jake is confronted by situations he is ill-equipped to handle. Can Jake hold on to the progress he has made, or will the lies, guilt, and secrets he’s tried to ignore shove him back into an abyss from which there is no escape?
Also by Christine Hughes
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