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My Journey to Publication (so far)

I promised more details on my signing with Prism. Here’s how I got my first book contract:

This is not an overnight success story. I dabbled in writing all my life. When I taught English, I wrote with my students, but didn’t really think of myself as a writer until I took a course with ASWC (Alaska State Writing Consortium). Then I did NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2003; one night I was writing along, and suddenly realized Bob was about to propose, and he did! I was hooked. Once I proved I could write a book, I wanted to write a good one. I started my first real novel in 2006, and ended up writing a series of four, all set in the Alaska Gold Rush.

To refine my writing skills, I attended workshops and conferences, and joined the Alaska chapter of Romance Writers of America (AKRWA). I learned so much from those ladies, and their support encouraged me to find other writing groups and resources. Then I began submitting to agents. I racked up more than 50 rejections, but came close to a “yes” several times. (Some of those queries were premature; my advice to other writers: make sure your query and manuscript are ready for primetime to save yourself and others a lot of time and energy!) I retired in May of 2012 to write full-time.

Earlier this winter, I decided to test if I had a good “blurb” (description) for my second novel. I saw an online pitch contest on the Savvy Authors website and sent it off. Kerri Nelson wrote me back asking for the manuscript. I sent it to her, then got an email a couple months later saying that she was leaving, was it okay if she gave it to another editor? I said yes. Then a couple days later I got an email from Jacqueline Hopper offering me a contract for the book. I took a little time to check with some agents I had been corresponding with, then I said yes to her and signed the contract.

The publisher is Prism Book Group, (http://www.prismbookgroup.com/) a small press that does mostly ebooks and some print. (I asked for both options for this book.) Jacqueline and Joan Alley, the editor-in-chief, have been great about answering my questions, and my fellow authors are making me feel right at home. And of course I’m grateful to Kerri for giving me the opportunity to get started with them. This is a great group of people.

It’ll be some time before publication.  I have already submitted an author bio, cover ideas, etc. It was fun to give input on those! But the manuscript isn’t ready yet. My editor  needs to finish her edit notes and send them to me, and I’ll write the final draft. Then the staff has up to six months to complete any editing left to do and print/package the book. Once it’s out, Prism will do some marketing but I’ll also help out with whatever I can do online, etc. I’ll get a percentage of the book’s sales. More importantly, I’ll be a published author! It is so cool to be a “real” writer, on the cusp of publication. I can imagine holding that book in my hand, knowing other people are reading it, doing book signings and school events.

The book is called Quicksilver, set in Nome in 1900. They are contemplating selling it as young adult historical romance, or maybe historical romance. I intend it to be a fun, light read with some Alaska history mixed in; think North to Alaska meets My Fair Lady. Here’s the blurb:

Gold mining is in Jeannie Kelly’s blood. But it’s a dangerous time to be an honest miner in Nome, Alaska–claim jumpers have invaded the territory. Jeannie has set her sights on Clint Tilghman, the strong, quiet man next door to her family’s claim. Clint fights his feelings for the impulsive lady miner, fearing he’ll lose his independence. Jeannie tries to change her tomboyish ways to attract Clint and gain respect from others, but there’s a lot to learn amidst gunplay and barfights. Jeannie must woo Clint and beat the claim jumpers before summer’s end.

I am so thankful for the folks at Prism Book Group. I feel I’m in good hands. And I appreciate all the support of friends and family–feels great to know I have so many people pulling for me. That’s the best part of the journey, connecting with friends old and new. Quyana, thank you all.

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I love to share my passion for Alaska and its history in my writing for young adults and their grown ups.

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