Monday, June 30, 2008

My Writer Story in Two Parts - Part 2

Part 1 of my writer story is here.

I didn't write much prose in high school, but I did write some poetry. In the eleventh grade, I attempted to write a story about a young woman named Gwenyth who was somehow transported from the dark ages to the 20th century. It had no plot. The story fizzled.

Fast forward five years. I was in the Air Force and I got my first typewriter. I wrote a story about a young girl who lived among a band of highwaymen. It had no plot. The story fizzled. (However, my typing speed shot to 60 WPM and there it stays.)

Later, I tried to write a novel about a young knight who participated in the First Crusade. It had no plot. The story fizzled.

Are we noticing a pattern here?

Determined to finish something, I wrote a story about a young girl who grew up as a feral child in the forest, and who turned all the animals loose in the king's menagerie. It had no plot. I wrote it anyway. I sent it to a fantasy magazine that was popular in the 80s, run by a certain well-known fantasy author.

She sent me the most brutal rejection I've ever received. No, I didn't feel all special that she sent me a personal rejection. It was mean. I tore the letter up and threw it away.

I sent other stuff to other magazines, but soon gave up. Obviously, I had no idea how to write a short story. Instead, I worked on another novel.

It was called Oath of the Songsmith. It was about a minstrel and a young woman who take on a witch. I had the ending nailed before I wrote the beginning. I did everything right. Except, the plot wandered all over the place. Oh, and it used every fantasy cliché imaginable. I did try to breathe new life into those clichés, but still. I had 40 chapters spread out over 40 files. When I sewed it all together, its length shocked me--230,000 words.

That's not one novel, it's two. Two long novels. It even had a nice point in the middle where I could break it up into a duology. I sent it to one agent. Rejected. I put it away and never sent it anywhere else. I didn't think it was sellable or even worth trying to salvage.

I turned my attention back to short stories. I received a few "nice writing, but" rejections from JJA. I also got a few without the "nice writing" bit.

I had a baby. I stopped writing fiction and sold some nonfiction to help support the family while I worked a 3/4th time job. Several years passed. I went through two brutal periods of unemployment. I learned that my child was disabled.

In 2005, while once again gainfully employed, the Michael Jackson trial made all the pieces click in place for a fantasy that I long wanted to write based on mythology. It took 18 months to write and refine the 115,000 word novel. I sent it to 33 agents. One agent read the full, but passed.

I started writing my third novel. I wrote 80,000 words in 6 months. I got some great feedback from Kristin on Novel Number 2, and rewrote it. I sent it to 35 or so more agents. The agent from attempt number one reread it, and passed again. Another partial and several queries are still pending. I've had some invitations to submit other stuff. I seem to be getting closer but still, no cigar.

I started writing short stories again. I trashed the ending of Novel Number 3 and started working on a rewrite. I wrote the first three chapters of Novel Number 4 and I have thought a lot about Novel Numbers 5 and 6. My genres started wandering. Here they all are:

Novel 1: light epic fantasy
Novel 2: epic fantasy
Novel 3: light espionage fantasy
Novel 4: Hollywood romance
Other, unplotted novels include a Christian thriller and a Ancient History mystery (hey! that rhymes!)

It doesn't seem like much of a writer's story because it's not over yet. When will it be over? 1) when I die or 2) when I give up writing.


  1. I love your writer story, Tia. It makes it all the more poignant to know the trials of the author.

    Sounds to me like you are definitely headed in the right direction. I might have to do a writer story too. Maybe Wednesday.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you, Maria. Let me know when you put up your own story.

    Kristin, your idea is spreading!

  3. Interesting reading. It's nice to know your story.

  4. And it's great to share these, really makes you think about how far you've come, all the bumps and twists and turns in the road. I think we can learn something from every writer's story, and even from our own.

    Thank you so much for joining in and sharing, Tia!


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