Monday, January 3, 2011

Paving a Path to Publication

Hello Wicked Writers and Readers,

Yes, I'm back from my holiday vacation, and I feel great. I needed the change in scenery and routine. I had a blast, but I'm also happy to be back among my writing friends. If you want to read more or see some pics from my travels, click here.

Other wise, this week's topic is all about writing goals for 2011. Usually plotting goals for myself is pretty easy because, usually, there's not much difference between one year and the next, other than remembering to write 11 instead of 10 when I date a document.

However, at this point in my writing career (or lack-of), I find myself in an odd, yet surely common, spot. I'm stuck between trying to get an old MS published and trying to write a completely new one. I'm sure those of you who've been writers for many years are used to being in this spot, but it's foreign territory to a newbie like me.

And, I am sure, for those non-writers out there, this may not seem like such a bad predicament. So, let me peel back the layers to expose the true problem: Dark Heirloom was supposed to be under contract in 2010, according to my writing goals from last year.

That obviously didn't happen. But unlike most failed goals, this one wasn't from lack of trying.

Before I went on vacation, I was very near to giving up on Dark Heirloom altogether, and threw myself into a new project (the new project I mentioned earlier). But, after spending twelve days in Mexico - NOT thinking about writing the entire time - I somehow found my muse and a new hefty dose of determination.

I now see hope for my writing career. One that must be done in alternative ways which were suggested to me before, but that I had naively shrugged off until now.

Like last year, my main goal for 2011 is to get Dark Heirloom published. And, just like last year, there are at least a dozen steps required to get to that point. But, those steps are not the same ones I took in 2010. For I have gone back the drawing board and reformatted my plan to publication.

Goal #1: I will rewrite/edit Dark Heirloom one more time. Yes, I'm going on, like, the 100th edit here, but truth is the MS clearly needs some reworking if it's not garnering any interest at all yet. I'm mature enough to be honest about when my work is lacking. And Ana, don't even start with me, Missy! I know you think DH is perfect, but it's not. And don't you worry, the characters and plot will be very much the same. It's some other key stuff - like the crappy beginning for one thing - that will change.

This first goal is to be accomplished no later than February 1st, and you'll see why in a minute. But first, any one want to volunteer to be a beta reader? Seriously ... I'm going to need you guys because of Goal 2 .....

Goal #2: I will submit Dark Heirloom to the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest - which must be done no later than February 6th.

Goal #3: Assuming DH makes it to the second round of the contest, I will then take some promotional pointers from C.J. and create a Facebook author page in which I will promote the bejesus out of my MS and beg for votes. Should I win this prestigious contest, I will then have a publishing contract with Penguin. However, I do, of course, realize the huge amount of competition and the very small chances of winning. So I'm not counting on this alone. However, I would be very pleased if DH made into the top 10. I would be very proud and it would be something I could use as an author credential when I eventually get to an other round of query letter writing.

Goal #4: Once the contest is over, and assuming I lose (hey, this a back-up, I'm not being negative, just prepared!) I will then dive into the art of writing short stories. I'll write one every month or so, edit them, and then submit them to publishers. This little side job is also to build up author credit. It's no coincidence that a writer with a few published shorts has an easier time publishing a novel than a writer who's published nothing in the past.

I'm estimating that Goals 1-3 will carry me well into March or April, and Goal 4 will be done through-out the year or however long it takes to get a couple shorts published. Since a lot of this is up in the air - and I certainly have my work cut out for me - I'm going to stop here before I "goal" myself into a plan that's too rigged. Always good to have wiggle room. However, I hope to begin re-submitting DH to publishers sometime in late summer or fall, with the contest and published short stories to back me up. Either way, I'll hopefully have something published by this time next year!

What are your writing goals for 2011? Wishing you all the best of luck in whatever hurdles and successes the new year brings! :)


  1. Hi JD, a great set of goals. I wish you all the very best of luck with pursuing them and hope your best efforts are thoroughly rewarded. Fingers crossed for 2011!! :)

  2. Great goals, JD!

    If DH isn't 400 pages, I'll Beta read it for you. I've done quite a lot of that for friends. But you have to find time to do mine too!

    I love your post, especially because you got your inspiration by stepping away and allowing yourself to be refreshed. I say this because sometimes I've been on vacation and been so busy "doing" stuff that I forget (honest) to relax. That's why I love cruising so much.

    I was in the same "boat" (sorry) as you in the middle of last year. My ms had been re-written, taking the advice of 4 crit groups/buddies and 10 or so contests I'd entered, and the many many classes I took, and tried to use all that information, knowing I wanted to download quickly to jumpstart my career, and rewrote it again, for the 39th and 40th FULL rewrite. This one was 96k words, so it took a lot of my time. And I had people say you have to leave your first one on the shelf, your baby. But then I quickly wrote the next two in the series, found some other things I could add to the first and got re-excited with it. Even had a short story published in our local anthology, "Date with Daniel" --my date with the hero.

    And that's when I got my agent, who loved it, and loved the concept for the series. We are shopping as I write this now.
    I'm crossing everything I have for these, which really are works of my heart. I elected to pass up the epublisher, who treated me royally, I have to say, when I backed out of the contract, so I could pursue something my agent believes I can achieve.

    This has fueled a huge desire to write even more, with dozens of stories now floating around in my head.

    There's nothing easy about writing. I don't know where my path will take me or what story will actually get published first, but working on something you initially loved, until it is dressed and ready to be sent out the door, and you are absolutely quivering with pride about it, I think that's the best thing to do.

    All it takes is one agent or editor to love your work, and they will help to open the doors for you. I can feel it and taste it for you. It's coming. Because of your determination, your clear goals, and your upbeat attitude.

    Great job, my friend. It will be fun to watch it all happen!

  3. Jen, I think this year is your year my friend. I'm so glad you didn't decide to quit on DH. It's a great book for sure and I loved it. I'm glad to be reading it again, and have the honor of being one of your beta readers/critters.

    There is always room for improvement so, even if I think DH is perfect, I know that it can always be made better. :P Heck, given the amount of years I've put into my faery story, I know this better than most it feels like!

    Seriously though, just don't give up babes. I know it's discouraging but like Sharon said, it only takes one agent or editor to love your work. But you have to go through the many that don't first. It's like dating! You have to date the crappy guys before you find Mr. Right! And dating all those crappy ones will make you appreciate Mr. Right so much more! (At least that's what they say.)

    I'll be here for you to read, crit, and hug you whenever you need it - for whatever reason - and for any story you are working on. :) This year is your year my friend - I can feel it!

  4. Ditto what the great writers ahead of me already said ;-)

    This is your year to shine, chiquita! Don't let anything (even yourself) get in your way.

  5. Sharon, my MS is about 98,000 words. It might be a little less after this edit. I can send it to you in chunks, if you prefer. Of course I will beta read your MS in return! I just need your email address. Thank you for the kind words of encouragement. That just goes to show that you never know where your "big break" is going to come from. Thank you! And congratulations on landing an agent, that's awesome.

    Anastasia, you've done SO much for me already. I'm truly blessed for having met you!

    C.J. - Thanks! I'll be stocking you when it comes time for promotion, lol. I know you got the connections! :)

  6. J.D., a couple of things. One, congrats on coming up with a game plan for publishing this year.

    Two, what's up with Wicked Writers visiting the Labyrinth?

    And three, how come I'm the only one who doesn't know what J.D.'s and C.J.'s initials stand for? Apparently, I was wrong with my guesses "Judy Diane" and "Crystal Jean."

    Anyway, it's good to do some short stories. It does give author credit and is good practice for getting the beginning, middle and ending of a story correct. Even in genres outside of science fiction and horror, it can work.

    Good luck.

  7. Wonderful photos - I felt like I was there with you (and the view from the pool was priceless - I got a good snort over that one) --- much success to you in 2011 - and DH will be accepted, one way or another~

  8. Hahah! I know what J.D. means! But, I'll let J.D. decide to tell you! :D

  9. JD, also had to weigh in on the labyrinth too. Just gorgeous picture. My post was so long, I just couldn't slip it in, but when I opened it up and saw your picture, it took my breath away. Writing is a labyrinth, isn't it?

    Sent my email. Did you get it?

  10. David - I'm sorry I forgot to thank for commenting yesterday! I think I missed yours 'cause it was squished between the post and Sharon's very long comment! But, thanks so much for commenting!

    Greg - My full name is Jennifer Danielle Brown. So now you know. :D

    George - I'm glad you enjoyed my pics from Mexico! That's the first time I had so many pictures on one post.

    Sharon - I didn't get your email. I'm checking the spam folder now, just in case, but I don't see it. Try sending it again, please? My email is jdbrown(dot)author(at)gmail(dot)com

    And finally, why the Labyrinth pic? Well, first, I LOVE the movie, both the one with David Bowie and the newer one in Spanish (Pan's Labyrinth). Second, trying to get published often feels like trying to find my way through a Labyrinth; there is no single correct way to go about it, but there are, it seems, a million wrong turns along the way. I'll get there eventually.

    Thanks everyone for the encouragement. I'm honored to be a part of such a wonderful group of writers. :)

  11. OMG. I squished David again. Sorry, sir.

  12. Hey - where is the pool pic? I don't see one in your post. Maybe George and you are talking about an older post and I'm just daft?