The Road to Publication

It’s been over fifteen years since my first short story was published in The Amethyst Review, a small literary magazine that has since ceased publication. Although I was thrilled to be finally seeing my work in print I didn’t share my accomplishment with very many people—mainly my family and a few close friends but that was about it. Yes, I was published but I sure didn’t feel like a writer. What if this was my one and only story? We are all supposed to have one story in us—right? Not only that, I still had a great deal to learn about writing and I knew it.

All I had in the beginning was an eagerness to communicate, to put words down on paper, hopefully words that would flow smoothly and eloquently and leave me with a sense of accomplishment. In the early years I was floundering about like so many would-be writers do, trying to find out who I really was on the page and searching for that voice that was uniquely mine. It was a slow process and it was a year or two later until I had another story accepted. But I hung in there either out of pure determination or sheer stubbornness. I was going to figure this out one way or another and, slowly but surely, more and more literary magazines began publishing my work. Some places were able to pay while others were not but I knew that with each publication I was growing as a writer. Did I receive many rejection slips along the way? You bet! And I came to see those rejections slips as most valuable because the closer I got to having my work accepted I went from receiving form rejection slips to ones with wonderful bits of advice and encouragement.

So when I received a phone call from the editor of Nimbus Publishing in April 2008 telling me how much she liked “Bitter, Sweet” I politely thanked her for all the wonderful things she was saying. Play it cool, I silently told myself, what if she’s calling to say, “I really like your story but unfortunately…….” So, I played it cool up until the point where she told me they wanted to publish it, after that I’m not quite sure. I laughed a lot, my legs felt like rubber and my mind was going off in a hundred different directions. She asked me a few questions about the setting and I’m sure I blurted out some sort of answer. Hopefully I made sense. I’m pretty sure I made sense. Oh well, if I didn’t make sense it hardly matters now.

The next few days I literally had my head in the clouds and believe me it took a while to come back down to earth. I can’t compare the difference between having a first short story accepted for publication to having a first novel because there really is no comparison. The short story came at the beginning of my career and served as encouragement but as valuable as that encouragement was it still wasn’t where I wanted to be. Don’t get me wrong it was pretty exciting to think that someone wanted to publish something I had written but the novel was my goal from the very beginning. It was where I someday wanted to be. Now that someday is here and it feels great!!!!!!

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  1. judithkunst

     /  July 21, 2009

    The comment you left on my blog today was my first feedback, thanks! Your long winding journey of publications is similar to mine–and the book thing is indeed a pinnacle! I hope your novel finds its way into the right hands. Cheers!

    • It’s always nice to know there is some one out there…

      We all have out individual stories. I love reading about other people’s journey.

  2. Laura, was Bitter, Sweet your first novel or had you written others before it that didn’t make it to publication?

    • Before writing “Bitter, Sweet,” I wrote another novel for kids–a middle reader and another young adult (which by the way I haven’t given up on any of them). I also wrote a full length novel which I plan to get back to one day when I have the time. Novels are not always published in the order they are written.

      I don’t believe that anything we write is ever wasted. Somethings are just practice, that is true. But you never know when you will be able to recreate that same character in another story or sometimes even meld stories together. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right publisher for a particular book.

  3. Congratulations on the acceptance of your novel! I’ve read that the number of people who go so far is miniscule to the number of people who start on the road. I hope to see the world from your lofty position one day!

    • Thanks for your comment, Ann! Stay determined and I’m sure sooner or later you too will be successful.

  4. Oh, what a nice journey you have had!

    I think that I am not as patient as you sound – I am very impatient with getting where I want to be!
    The closest I can think to a similar experience was when I sent out 4 e-mail queries and received a request for a full ms within hours from 3 agents. I told myself to enjoy it because there will never be this ‘first’ again.

    Congratulations! I will certainly read it when it is released!

    • Laura Best

       /  July 22, 2009

      Oh, there were times when discouragement set in that’s for sure, times when I’d think what’s the use in trying it’s never going to happen. But those times only lasted for a few hours before I’d be back at it and finally I realized that writing was something I had to do.

  5. “writing was something I had to do” – I feel the same way, Laura :)

  6. lydiajo39

     /  July 24, 2009

    Thanks for your comment on Ephemera Captured. While my little gift book isn’t a novel, I have one of those on the back burner at the moment. Believe me, I share most of the emotions you describe above. My first paid writing was an article for our state business journal (now also out of print) nearly 30 years ago.

    I had hoped your book in the upper right hand corner had a link to a purchase venue. Did I miss it somehow?

    • Your little gift book may not be a novel but it is still a book all of your own. What I love most about writers is the support we offer one another whether we know each other or not because we all know how difficult it is to break into print.. So I congratulate you again.

      On the “Bitter, Sweet,” tab at the top the is a direct link to the publisher. The release date is October 31, 2009. I honestly can’t say if they ship to the US. I guess that’s a question I need to ask.

      Good luck with your writing in the future. I know it will be awhile before your book comes out. I’m sure you will post updates along the way…

  7. lydiajo39

     /  July 24, 2009

    Aha! Publication date yet in the future! That’s why I couldn’t find it on the publisher’s site yet. I would bet that there will be a way for me to find your novel when it’s published. I love the title.

    And you are correct. I will be posting milemarkers along the way to publication of my effort as well.

    Grace and peace and much success.

  8. Thanks for sharing your journey. I have only my magazine acceptance to compare. It was Christmas Eve and I got an email of acceptance. It was the best Christmas present I ever had. If my book ever gets accepted, I imagine I’ll be happier than that moment on Christmas Eve, but right now my imagination doesn’t stretch that far.

    • Hi Tricia

      You should never use the word “only” when speaking about your publishing accomplishments. Having work chosen for publication is no small feat!!!! There is nothing “only” about it at all. For every place calling for submissions there are hundred of people answering the call..It is something to be celebrated when work is accepted….Yay for you!!!!…and I’m sure it was the best Christmas present you ever received. And please this “If my book ever gets accepted” needs to be “when my book gets accepted.” It s true to say that the people who succeed are the ones who stick with it. A lot of talented people drop out along the way. Stick with it and your book will be accepted. It may not be tomorrow, next month or even next year but it will happen when the time is right. Don’t mean to be preachy but this is something that I feel very strongly about and I’m not just trying to falsely encourage you. I am quite serious.

  9. lydiajo39

     /  July 25, 2009


    Laura is absolutely right about “when” not “if” your novel gets published. One of the best traits to have is the “don’t know when to quit” ability. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 8 years old. I’ve only been working at it for 62 years. You do the math.

    It’s never too late. I figure if God is gracious, I can have about a ten year career as a writer before I have to lay down the pen. I’ll be praying for you Tricia.

    • Judith,
      I’m reminded of a lady I knew who dabbled a bit in writing and would dearly have loved to have been published but thought she was too old. She passed away last year without having had the courage to try.

      Oh, and by the way, there’s a wonderful writer from Manitoba Beatrice Fines who the last I knew was still actively writing right into her nineties so you may want to change that ten year career to at least twenty!!!!!

    • Thank you, Laura and Lydia. I have two writers in me: the self-doubter and miss arrogant. I never know when one will rear its ugly head. lol.

      They both dominate and both clash with each other. But I do believe in myself. I love my writing. But I also love the wild colors in my house–nobody else does.

      Saying you’ll pray for me gives me a boost. As for age, I learned from my 70-year-old mother that it’s just a number. She is the most active, energetic person I know. Her and my dad’s hobby is flipping houses. They work sun up to sun down doing landscaping, tiling, room additions, demolitions, you name it, while I have diminished hearing, a bad back (I have a walker on hand), and limited mobility. I aspire to be just like them when I grow up. :-)

  10. lydiajo39

     /  July 25, 2009


    My grandmother died at 79, my mother at 81. I figure I’ll have to be here til about 83 til I get to go home. Surely I deserve a year or three of retirement. (LOL).

  11. lydiajo39

     /  July 25, 2009

    You are about as normal as they come for writers.

    We all have the Miss Arrogant that says “if they don’t understand what I’m writing, it’s their fault. They’re just dumb.”

    And we all have the self-doubting critic that says “that isn’t good enough. Whatever made you think you could write in the first place? How stupid can you be?”

    The trick is to let Miss Arrogant have her way when you are actually writing. Then let Ms. Critic loose on the product when the rough draft is finished.

    Eventually you will be able to make them come out of their respective corners and shake hands. And your writing will be all the better for it.

    Hang in there, Tricia. You’ll get there.

    Grace and peace,

  12. rachelhestondavis

     /  July 31, 2009

    Congratulations on your successes, Laura, and thanks for visiting my Up and Writing blog!

    Rachel Heston Davis

  1. Books into films « Newtowritinggirl’s Blog

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