I start hanging out at book signings and events with Radio Host Friend and her local author contingent. Their successes are contagious (two of them sold a few thousand copies of their self-pubbed books. One of them used iUniverse.) I begin to think maybe I don’t need to wait any more. “You already have the audience,” Radio Host Friend assures me. I did. My manuscript at this point had made its way around my high school students.
By December of 2003 my manuscript is sent off to iUniverse for an evaluation to see if it is in shape to be published. I receive a PERFECT evaluation, and by February, I not only have a three week old baby girl but a brand new shiny book (with a cover I absolutely hate) I’m home with this baby who sleeps and eats perfectly. I’m a ferocious mother to her and my baby book. I sit her on my lap, even nurse, all while I compose press releases, flyers, emails, newsletters promoting my book. I strap Chels to me and throw a sack of books over my shoulder and tour the state asking bookstores to consign with me and host book signings. I walk into every public middle and high school within a twenty-mile radius and hand donate my book. My tenacity pays off BIG TIME. I do a local book tour, land on the front page of my hometown newspaper, am endorsed by the high school I went to and taught at, schools and libraries ask me to give talks, pay me even to do them. My maternity leave turns into a whole new career change. By the end of the year I win a prestigious award that garners the attention of several well-known agents. I choose the one who seems the nicest and who calls me back first.
Oh and I quit my teaching job.
I immerse myself into the world of publishing, too. I discover SCBWI after a gig where several YA authors and I bond. They all tell me to join. I go online and join then discover their conferences. For the next three years as my agent submits to publishers and we almost make it to a deal several times, I attend every regional and local SCBWI conference I can get my hands on. I meet Ellen Wittlinger (who sees an early draft of Fear of Falling, then called Coming Out and she renames it for me after reading the first ten pages). I meet Laurie Halse Anderson who tells a motivating story about staying home to raise her kids and trying to write books. I also am still getting lots of speaking and teaching gigs. I put out the second book with a new book editor who has spent over twenty years in the biz. She tells me my work is better than what’s currently out there. She even suggests not self-publishing but waiting things out, maybe submit the second book. My ego soars (never a good thing). Life is good. But I don’t heed her advice because deep down I have a fear and it’s called Failure. Life had been going really well without it, and I didn’t want to invite that Enemy back in.
While book two doesn’t sell quit as well, it’s still well received and wins lots of good praise and awards. It’s endorsed by some schools, too. My teaching and speaking gigs are at an all time high. I make several of the papers across RI and even write a few articles both online and print for different publications. Amazon Shorts (which no longer exists, I believe) decides to publish a short story of mine, and I’m asked to submit a piece for a literary magazine and an anthology. I’m on radio and then TV. I feel AWESOME.
Stay tuned for part three, the conclusion to my story (so far...).