01 Oct

No reasonable person should expect to be really good at something the first time they try doing it. We all have natural inclinations, of course—some of us have an ear for music, some an eye for fashion, others an ability to understand mathematical principles with ease. But even “gifted” people in these areas work hard to hone their craft. Hours of practice, pages and pages of reading, endless problem sets. That’s why it’s important to love what you want to get better at, because it’s impossible to put in the time and effort to perfect something that is not your passion.

In August, my editor sent me the first round of edits for Amulet, Book 1 of a paranormal romance series that will be published in early 2024 through The Wild Rose Press. As I opened the document, I worried I would have to rewrite several parts of the story to get it ready to publish. Then I told myself it would be okay. I would do what I needed to do to make the manuscript the best it could be. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time I’d rewritten this story.

In fact, I started writing Amulet in January of 2016—almost eight years ago. It was the second novel I wrote after making the decision to write a publishable story. The original draft started with the hero as a child being bullied, in school and at home, and the book was written entirely from the hero’s point of view. When I went to a romance writers’ conference and shared my first few chapters with other (published) romance authors to get their thoughts, their feedback was unanimous—the beginning made it feel like a middle grade or young adult coming-of-age story, not a romance novel.

After the requisite period of stubborn denial, I ended up rewriting the story to start with the hero (Val) seeing the heroine (Alex) from across the room at Val’s company holiday party. The information about Val’s horrible childhood, the events that turned him into a strong, kind, and confidence-inspiring business owner, are revealed a few chapters later through a flashback and interwoven throughout the rest of the story in his conversations with Alex.

As I went through the draft again, I thought about some other feedback I had received—we know everything about Val, but we don't know much about what's going on in Alex's head. So, I rewrote the story again to change some of the chapters to be from Alex’s point of view. That’s when I decided to make the story the first in a series revolving around an amulet and a ring, each of which could grant its owner their heart’s true desire. The problem was I had only ever described the amulet in the book. There was no ring. Which could only mean one thing—another rewrite.

After all the rewrites, though, I was pleased with the result and was on the cusp of publishing the book myself on Amazon. I had the cover made and everything. Then, on a whim, I decided to submit the manuscript to The Wild Rose Press for consideration. I had submitted a prior version of Amulet to The Wild Rose Press years before (and been rejected), so I did not hold out much hope that this time would be different. It took months to get through the stages of review for the manuscript, but finally I got “the email.” The editor assigned to review my manuscript liked it and would be recommending me for a contract. I couldn’t believe it. It had finally happened.

Although it’s nice to have an indication that I'm getting better, that I'm a little bit closer to my goals, I know I have a lot more “try, try again”s in my future. But that’s a good thing, because it's in the trying that we improve our craft. It's in the trying that we learn and grow. And it’s in the trying that we figure out who we are, what we're made of, and what are meant to do.

* The email will not be published on the website.