Frequently Asked Questions: What was your Experience Getting Published?

pexels-photo-356079I always say you can’t really set out to write a certain kind of story. You have to write organically, let the story go where it feels like it should, and then try and figure out where it fits when you’re finished. That might not be good advice for everyone, but for me, it worked.

This is how my first novel was written. I didn’t set out to write an LDS novel. I wrote the story that was in my head and in my heart. Only then, when the story was finished, did I worry about where my novel was going to fit. The House at Rose Creek is a conversion story. It isn’t overtly Mormon and has been enjoyed by many that aren’t members of the LDS Church, (or so say a few random reviews and many friends and family members) but there was enough in the book specific to the faith that I knew its best chance of getting published was with one of the independent publishers based in Utah, that specializes in LDS Fiction.

After revising and polishing and revising and polishing, and then revising and polishing one more time, a lengthy and grueling process that involved removing 7,432 ellipses, fixing 451 run-on sentences and trashing 3,149 ridiculous lines of dialogue (I’m probably exaggerating. A little. Or maybe not at all.) I took a deep breath, did a little dance, and submitted my manuscript via electronic submission to Covenant Communications.

And then, the waiting. OH THE WAITING. I didn’t write much while I waited. I probably should have. But I think a part of me was waiting for validation. Writing is a lot of work! If I wasn’t any good at it, why put forth all that effort to write more books? (I’m not saying this wasn’t dumb. Don’t do this! If you love writing, WRITE! If you aren’t good enough, keep writing and get good enough!) I was also busy doing other things. Having babies. Taking care of 4, then 5 kids. Month after month passed by and I just. kept. waiting.

I submitted my manuscript in October of 2009. 18 months later, in March of 2011, I received an email from my would-be editor that said Covenant wanted to publish my book. The wait was worth it! After all those months of neurotic email checking, hand wringing, and hopeful dreaming, it was happening! IN 18 MORE MONTHS! Heh. More waiting.

I was given a tentative 2013 release date and was encouraged to keep writing, stay in touch, and let my editor know if I ever had any questions. So I did. I waited. I wrote my second novel. I had a sixth baby. And THEN! THEN!! In February of 2013, I got an email from my editor. It was time to start working on the book! She sent me my first round of edits which of course made me die a little on the inside and then I got right to work fixing and polishing. (And to think I thought it was ready when I first submitted.) Two more times we went back and forth, looking things over until finally, everything felt ready.

The House at Rose Creek Cover

In March I saw my cover design for the first time and was given my official title, The House at Rose Creek. (My working title was Hearts of the Fathers, which wasn’t up to snuff according to the marketing/design people over at Covenant. I think they were right. I love the official title.)

In April, I was given final proofs. I was to read them over, but wasn’t allowed to request any big changes. Just the tiny stuff. Misspelled words. Grammatical errors. Of course, that didn’t keep me from begging and pleading with my editor to make, ahem, one or two big changes. This one scene was just. so. cheesy. I couldn’t leave it in. (My editor is awesome. She took it out. )

THEN… Big long drumroll… In July, the book was released! From start to finish, writing the book, waiting for acceptance, then waiting for release after acceptance, the process took 4 1/2 years. Long time, huh? The good news is subsequent books won’t ever take that long. My second novel was accepted in just under three months, and was given a release date just over a year out. So that’s a bright spot in the process… you only have to wade through the slush pile once!

I’m sure every author’s experience is unique, but from what I’ve gathered from fellow authors, my process is pretty typical for publishing within the LDS market. Because it’s a small, niche market, publishers allow you to query them directly, without representation by an agent, so in many ways the process is simpler than publishing nationally. I have thoughts on publishing with and without an agent, but I’ll save them for another blog post. (Soon!)

If you’d like to read more about my road to publication as it happened, you can read these posts here:

On My (Pre-published) Writing

Published!

Details, Details

Book Year is Here!

Book Progress (A Title!) And Other Details of Life

The House at Rose Creek

The Cultural Hall Podcast – Episode 111, An Interview with Yours Truly

So back in October I did a podcast interview with Richie T, the host of The Cultural Hall podcast.  It was so fun to talk to Richie… he’s an entertaining guy and I thoroughly enjoyed our talk, even though he’s absolutely convinced I should try for a seventh baby. (Which you know, isn’t even medically possible at this point, so yeah. Not gonna happen.) It was a fun interview and I hope you’ll listen. I talk about The House at Rose Creek, and about being a Mom and a writer at the same time, and also talk about being a Mormon in the south. Fun stuff.

In general, I highly recommend The Cultural Hall Podcast for anyone interested in keeping up with Mormons in the news, or likes learning about things that are of any particular significance to the LDS Faith.

Just click on the picture, and it will take you over to the interview. Enjoy!

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A Book Launch Recap and A Look at What’s Coming Up!

So, it’s been a bit of a busy summer. Book launch parties and trips to Utah and of course, SIX CHILDREN… I’m maybe feeling a bit tired. But also? I’m feeling tremendously grateful. It’s been so fun, guys.

I had a book launch open house here in my home that started the summer festivities off well. I signed books and visited with friends and had a lovely time. I wish I could show you pictures, but I didn’t take any. My camera was out, sitting on the table next to me. But I didn’t use it. Because I’m a doofus.

columbia book signing

The following weekend, I went to Columbia, South Carolina and did a book signing at the amazing Nephi’s Books, a lovely bookstore that you should visit if  you’re ever in the neighborhood. (And also they have an online store, which you should totally use. They’re selling a great book called The House at Rose Creek. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Heh.) The Book signing was great, even though I had a few moments when I wished the floor would swallow me up. Guys, seriously… if you’re ever in a bookstore and you see someone signing, go say hello. Even if you don’t buy a book. I promise we authors won’t throw books at you if you tell us you can’t buy one. Just smile and say hi. Really. Cause sitting there watching people walk by pretending like you aren’t in the room because ACK! then they might have to feel guilty if they don’t want to buy your book? It’s pretty darn awkward.

But it was still fun anyway. Even with the minor moments of awkwardness.  (And look! Photo documentation!)

The weekend after the Columbia book signing, I had an amazing launch party in the town where I grew up, thrown by my sister, Emily, and my dear friend, Randi. Oh my word, what a party. It was so overwhelmingly wonderful, I could cry just thinking about it. So many old friends came by and I felt utterly and completely loved and supported. It was incredible. If you were there, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you; for your presence, for your support, for everything. My mother took pictures the entire evening, but they are still being held captive on her memory card. For now, I have only this one… captured by my lovely friend Melissa and her Iphone. (Mom! Free the pictures!) It was a lovely evening that I will never forget and forever cherish.

book signing

The weekend after the second book launch, I traveled to Utah (are you tired yet? I was totally tired at this point) for the LDS Booksellers Association Convention. I signed books for an hour and talked to book store owners to promote the book and encourage them to encourage their customers to buy it. It was a quick trip, just two days, but I had a wonderful time visiting with my publisher people, and of course, with a handful of my lovely friends in Utah.

And now? I’m done! Not entirely. I’ve got a book club discussion coming up and another signing at a Streetfest in the fall, but the crush of new release activity has passed, and I’m glad. My husband and children have been amazing supporting me through this very busy time, but I’m ready to settle back down into a regular routine again, which of course must include more writing! I’ve learned about myself this summer that I’m not great at writing and promoting at the same time. Too much mental energy, I think, and time away from the kids. So I haven’t been writing and I’m missing it terribly.

Current projects? I’ve got to get some editing done for my second novel, due to be released in August of 2014, and I’m just getting started on my first nonfiction, a book on Joyful Mothering that I hope to have ready for Mothers Day, 2015. I love my fiction. I really, REALLY love writing fiction. But this nonfiction book… it’s been in my heart a long time. I’m so glad for the opportunity to write it.

And finally, one more quick thought. There are many, many books out there. The very best way for an author’s words to reach others is for readers to share their opinion. If you feel so inclined, and you’ve read something lately that you enjoyed, consider writing an online review. If you read a lot of fiction by LDS Authors, consider nominating your favorites for a Whitney Award. The Whitneys honor fiction books in multiple genres (not just LDS fiction) that are written by LDS authors. You can learn more about the the Whitney Awards, as well as find the nomination form here.

The Whitney Awards