Today's guest blogger is Sandra Sookoo, and you guys are in for a treat. This is such a great story. And Sandra...what a talent! I recently had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at Sandra's upcoming release, and I absolutely adored it -- so full of personality. As is her journey. Enjoy!
How did I get my start? Glad you asked. It all started in January of ’07 when I was laid off from the real estate industry. Replacement jobs were tough to come by and my wonderful hubby suggested I work on my writing and see if I could get something published.
What? Be serious about writing? It’d always been a dream and the prospect of putting my work out there and myself on the line for public derision was daunting. So, since it was the dead of winter and I had two completed full length books, I decided to enter them in some RWA-sponsored contests with a heart full of hope. Time after time they came back marked up with suggestions of how to improve, why they weren’t good enough, but they liked my voice.
Not having a clue that writing was more than, well writing, I took some classes, read books, looked up articles about the craft online. And I learned. That’s the key. But after more than a year of striking out, the thought of being a dismal failure crept in to get intimately acquainted with depression.
I switched gears and decided to write a short story. My thinking regarding this was that maybe if I could write a really good short and get it published, I’d have a glimmer of credibility behind my name and maybe THAT would open previously closed doors. I wrote like there was no tomorrow—, which wasn’t far from the truth. If I couldn’t succeed in writing, I’d have to go back to work, and we all know how hard it is to maintain a writing schedule with a full time job.
So, I wrote the first short. I wrote what I know. Food and how the kitchen is the heart of a home, but I also added a magical element to that storyline. After a fortuitous visit to a spice shop, the rest of the tale was born. I was so excited about that story, that while it was being mauled over by a critique group, I wrote a second one. Much different. Dual plot lines about a modern day woman who’s haunted by a ghost and her estranged husband on Halloween.
Armed with two interesting stories, fresh out of the critter’s hands, I searched for a potential publisher. Throughout the journey, I made tentative peace with the fact that getting to a print publisher in the current economy was just not possible, especially with no track record. E-pubs were the way to go. I submitted and I stressed.
During this time, I decided to do my very first NaNo project (the National Write a 50K Novel in a Month) I thought, why not? Nothing else I’d done to this point was getting me anywhere. So, I plotted and outlined. I wrote 3K words a day and constantly worried about the submissions as well as hosting two Thanksgivings later that month. I think my hubby nearly disowned me since I was slowly losing my mind. I did finish the NaNo a full 9 days ahead of the deadline.
And then I heard back from one publisher. They loved the story but wanted a few things revised on the ghost story. Would I please resubmit? Of course! Those edits were tough, but I worked through. I sent it back. It would be weeks before I heard. Then, a few days before Thanksgiving ’08, another publisher offered me my first contract on what is now FOODIE’S GUIDE TO KITCHEN MAGIC, which released from Lyrical Press on November 18th, 2009. The other short THE HAUNTING OF AMELIA PRITCHART, was accepted a few weeks later and released from The Wild Rose Press on September 30, 2009.
Incidentally, that book WINNER TAKES ALL underwent a few changes after the fanfare was over. It hit the contest circuit and went down in flames. I edited and revised it a bit more. In desperation and even though I had two contracts in hand for short stories, I still thought my writing was nothing better than toilet water. No one wanted to look at my full-length books. I tucked WINNER TAKES ALL away.
In the spring of 2009, after a series of email chats and talks with my critique partner, we scouted out a new publisher, Desert Breeze. We weighed the pros and cons of submitting to a publisher that no one knew about, that hadn’t been launched yet. Then, I decided, what the heck? The manuscript wasn’t doing me any good sitting on a computer. So, I submitted the partial. And waited a few days before the email came requesting the full. Finally, forward motion!
A couple of weeks later, the most awesome email came. We want your book and we want to use it to promote during the RT Convention in May. Yikes! It gave me 30 days to prepare, but you bet I signed that contract. WINNER TAKES ALL was accepted and I had my foothold. It released from Desert Breeze on May 1, 2009.
Moral of the story? Never give up. It only takes one yes to start the ball rolling. Consider the pre-published time as a learning bubble. Make yourself the best writer you can be to that point. Everything else will come. I can’t wait to see what else will happen to my career in the future.