Dreams Do Come True: I’m a Published Author

TheGreyCurse_200x300Guest blog by Krista Kelley, author of the Grey Curse

If anyone would have told me two and a half years ago that I would be a published author, I would have told them they were crazy. Back then, I didn’t think being an author was in my cards, despite my love of writing. I had just had my daughter and my mind was so preoccupied with diapers and late night feedings that writing was the last thing I thought of. It didn’t help that I felt that everything I had written up until then was mediocre at best. My confidence in my writing was non-existent.

As my daughter got older, I began to ache for the therapeutic feel of a pen in my hand as I poured my heart and soul onto paper. It wasn’t until I met a very dear friend of mine that I decided to write again. My friend had begun to follow her own dreams of being an author and it was her encouragement and support that led me to remember my own dreams. I watched her struggle and succeed and it gave me hope, seeing her push on and never give up. Those were often her words to me. “Never give up, Boo. You can do this. I know you can.”

So I did. At first, it was really hard. My mind struggled to come up with good content for stories and there were several moments when I wanted nothing more than to quit. Late October came and I was told of a little thing called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where during the entire month of November, you write. Your goal is to have 50,000 words by November 30th. After much debate, I decided to participate. I already had a story, but it had become stale and it no longer spoke to me. So, instead, I came up with something new.

During the month, I had to write just over 1,600 words per day. There were days where I quickly filled the pages of my notebook with words, while other days, it was a fight to get a paragraph. Several times I wanted to quit. I felt that I wouldn’t finish and that my story wasn’t good enough. November 28th, 2013 (two days before the ‘contest’ ended), I had my 50,000 words. I had finished and won NaNo.

The Grey Curse was the first book I had ever completely finished writing. Earlier in the month, Breathless Press held a critique session where you could send in five pages of your novel and they would tell you where it stood. I was reluctant on sending mine in because I felt that I didn’t need a professional editor to tell me what I thought I already knew; that my story was horrible. But, with much coercion, I sent it in. When I received the email back from the editor, I was apprehensive. Did I really want to open it? It was my husband who finally convinced me and was there for the giant bear hug I gave after reading the email. They had liked my story and wanted me to send the finished, revised manuscript to them. I was what they called “On the fast track.” It meant that I could bypass the usual submissions process and send my manuscript straight to the editor that had read it. To say I was excited is an understatement.

Now here I am, almost a year later, and my baby is going to be published. It’s a surreal feeling. My dream is finally coming true. I couldn’t have done it without my amazing support team, my family, friends, and all the people at Breathless Press for giving this Mama a chance.

So, what is your dream? And have you made the steps to fulfilling it?

Bio: Proud, sassy and immensely stubborn, Krista Kelley is a stay-at-home wife and mom who will fearlessly boogie to any song just to see her daughter smile. When not wrangling an energetic child, she can be found in her home office, pouring her heart into her writing while guzzling the sweet nectar known as Starbucks. She loves a good romance novel and would much rather spend her nights curled up on the couch with a book and her cat Thor than out on the town.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kristakelleywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KristaKelley448

Blog: http://kristakelleywriter.blogspot.

Blurb: 

One inexperienced witch. One rogue vampire. Thrown together by fate, they must break her family’s curse before time runs out for them both.

For nearly two centuries, every female descendant of the witch Rebecca Grey has died mysteriously at the age of twenty-one. The last of her line, Selena Grey has done everything to live a normal life. That is until she learns of the curse placed on her family. Selena’s 21st birthday is coming soon and she has to find a way to break the curse and live.

Decan Colt wants more than anything to be normal again. For 160 years, he has walked the earth a blood-thirsty monster, a vampire. He was traded and trained at a young age to be his mother’s revenge on Rebecca Grey and her family. But when he sees his latest target, he falters. Something about Selena Grey reminds him of the humanity he thought he had lost so long ago.

When Decan refuses to kill Selena, his maker decides to take matters into his own hands. Together, they must break the curse or face the wrath of an older vampire bent on vengeance. Will they be the latest victims of the Grey Curse?

Excerpt:

“This one’s the last of her line. There are no others, Deke.” He held up a file and tossed it to Decan.

Catching it, he thumbed through the small stack of papers and moved back to his recliner. “Selena Michelle Grey, born October 31st, 1991. Hair, blonde. Eyes, blue. Only child to Thomas and Melissa Grey.” Decan closed the folder and leaned back in his chair. The last Grey. It meant his life’s purpose had almost been completed. What would he do when the time came when there were no more “missions?” There had been a time when it had seemed impossible. He had spent his exceedingly long life fulfilling his mother’s wishes. Running a hand through his hair, he gave it a tug before peering back up at his maker.

“After this one, I’ll be free?”

Nikolai’s lips turned up in a small smile. “You’ll be free. You know the drill. You have until her twenty-first birthday to do recon. Study her habits—where she goes, who she sees. October thirty-first, you strike.”

Before Decan could blink, the elder man disappeared. He glanced back down at the file in his hands and smirked. The last Grey. How would he deal with this one? A fire? Or maybe a drowning? It happened a lot with the Ohio River being so close. Whatever he did, he had to make sure it looked like an accident. They didn’t need people looking for a murderer. It was one of their rules. Always make it appear accidental. Decan couldn’t afford to be caught. After 100 years, he had gotten good at his job. First, with Violet Grey. Then Mary Sue and April Grey, Nancy Grey Callis and last had been Elizabeth Grey. Five women he’d killed, all in his mother’s name. But they had deserved it, they all did. And now this one would die and fulfill his mother’s curse.

Dealing With Rejection

Guest blog by Adrienne Giordano, author of Relentless Pursuit

Rejection.

It’s a nasty little word isn’t it? As writers, we face it. A lot. I personally have never gotten comfortable with it. Silly me, I thought once I’d found an agent and reached the ranks of published author, the rejections would somehow miraculously be easier to take. Not so much. The biggest difference is the rejections get filtered through my agent now instead of coming directly to me. That being said, rejections no longer send me wilting to the floor in tears.

A few years ago, a writer friend told me an agent “chose to resist” her work and it was an aha moment for me.

Chose to resist.

How fabulous is that?

So much better than rejected. Now, when I receive one of those dreaded rejections, I allow myself a pity party for the remainder of the day. Whether it’s first thing in the morning or late at night, I allow myself to feel horrible until I go to sleep. For me, anything beyond that is counter-productive and suppresses my creativity.

And I hate that.

So, let’s talk about an action plan for when someone chooses to resist your work.

Step 1

Feel awful about it, but set a deadline. You cannot make it open-ended or your creativity will be zapped. Even if you have to write it down, force yourself to set a time limit. Repeat after me, “For the next (insert however many hours) I am going to allow myself to feel really crappy about this agent/editor choosing to resist my work.”

Step 2

Pull out that chose-to-resist letter and see if there are any nuggets you can pull from it. I once received a rejection from an agent that said (and yes, this is verbatim because I still have the letter.): “I really, really loved all of your characters and thought your pacing and dialogue were working overall, but it just didn’t stand out enough in the already crowded romantic suspense subgenre. I think you are very talented and would be happy to look at other projects in the future.”

At the time, that letter sent me to my knees. When reading it, all I saw was that I’d done a good job and it still wasn’t good enough. Luckily, that very night I was having dinner with my critique partner and we had a joint pity party. I cried, I moaned, I felt sorry for myself. I had a martini. ;)

The next day, after my allotted pity time, I analyzed the letter. Yes, it was a rejection, but the agent talked about my strengths, told me I was talented and that she would look at future work. As rejections go, this was a darned fine one. A class-A rejection. I kept the letter on my desk for a long time. As other rejections—maybe not so nice ones—came in, I went back to the class-A one to remind myself that a top agent thought I had talent.

Bottom line here, find the nugget that will sustain you.

Just as an aside, the manuscript referenced in that class-A rejection letter eventually sold and wound up on the Barnes & Noble Top 100 list. I’ve learned rejections don’t mean it’s not a good book. It’s just not the right book, at the right time, for the right person.

And that’s what we writers need.

Right book.

Right time.

Right person.

Step 3

Keep writing. Take any nuggets you receive and build on them. If someone says your plotting is fabulous, try and improve it. Whatever it is you are good at, keep doing it and try to make it better. Conversely, if there are areas you need to improve on, work on them. Study craft books, reach out to writer friends for advice, do whatever you need to because if an agent or editor says your dialogue needs work, they’re helping you. They could be sending you a form letter, but they took the time to give you specifics and that means your writing connected with them on some level. Think about the vast number of queries agents and editors must receive. If you connect with them, you’ve done something right.

One thing I’ve learned about this step is to make changes judiciously. If I’d revised my manuscripts every time an agent or editor told me to, well, I would have had one hot mess. Not that the advice was bad, but I think we need to look at the suggestions and decide if we agree with the changes.

Step 4

Surround yourself with people who will support you through the tough times. I have the good fortune to have wonderful critique partners who are all too willing to talk me off ledges. And they have. When someone called one of my characters an a**hole, my critique partners were the first ones to tell me how much they loved him.

That character is the hero in Man Law, my romantic suspense that was released last year. That book saw its share of rejections, but some of them were promising rejections and they kept me motivated to find a home for my challenging hero.

So, you see, just because an editor or agent chooses to resist it doesn’t mean the book won’t get published. If you stay the course, improve where you need to, make adjustments as necessary, you will find the editor who loves your story.

Right book.

Right time.

Right person.

Readers, do you have any other tips for dealing with rejection?

Adrienne Giordano HeadshotBio: Adrienne Giordano is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction. For more information on Adrienne’s Private Protectors series please visit www.AdrienneGiordano.com. Adrienne can also be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AdrienneGiordanoAuthor and Twitter at http://twitter.com/AdriennGiordano.

Buy: Relentless Pursuit