My Journey to Publication

Today my publisher, Musa Publishing, interviewed me about my journey to publication.  This is the post:

Looking back on the road I took to publication there are several things I’d do differently, if only to have not wasted so much time doing it wrong. Perhaps my tale will help new writers on their path to getting their books published.In 2009 my daughter came home from school and told me her friend asked her why her mommy didn’t have a job. I had been an at-home mom since I got pregnant with my son in 1993, and realized I had more free time, since both my kids were becoming more independent. So, I thought about what I’d like to do with my life – outside of “mommy-dom”. I went to the Apple store, bought a MacBook, and started writing a book.Needless to say, that was a backwards way of going about it. I had no clue how to write a book. I started out with an idea and just started writing. First of all, I didn’t know how to format the writing. The book was a bunch of paragraphs interspersed with dialogue. And I didn’t have that much dialogue either. It was a conglomeration of paragraphs wherein I was “telling” a story, like a diary.

We all know what everyone in the book industry tells us, right? “Show, don’t tell”. I quickly found that out, after submitting my completed novel in contests. I entered every contest I could find. Of course, I never made it to any of the finals. In fact, score-wise I was always at the bottom of the list. But, I got many very insightful critiques of my work for free! I used the judges’ editing and critiques to my advantage and edited my book – over and over and over.

Then I took online classes and read a few books on craft and wrote another novel. This time I had a little more knowledge under my belt and I employed an editor who is a multi-published author. She had also worked as an agent. That’s something I should have done earlier on in the process, perhaps, but I didn’t realize I needed a personal editor until I had received so many rejection letters from agents that it was obvious something was wrong.

My advice to anyone wanting to write would be:

Learn about the craft of writing either before or while you’re writing your first book, so you can incorporate that knowledge into your novel.

Take a few online classes. They’re usually very cheap, from free to thirty dollars most of the time.

Join an online writing group. When I began my journey I contacted author Christine Feehan. She told me to join Romance Writers of America. After doing so, I was able to join a Romance Writers of America Women’s Fiction group along with other groups online that interested me. The people in these groups are an invaluable source of help with your writing, advice on agents and publishers, and anything else you can think of. And you’ll need the support of other writers while going through the process toward publication.

Writing is a solitary endeavor and rejections by agents should be expected. I never felt alone because I had my online friends to uplift me when I was down.

Following the death of their baby during a difficult birth, Brandy and Weston Chambers are grief-stricken and withdraw from each other, both seeking solace outside of their marriage; however, they vow to work through their painful disloyalty. But when the man Brandy slept with moves back to their hometown, three lives are forever changed by his return.

Three days later we were standing at the edge of a hole in the ground at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Hayward, the silence so thick, the insides of my ears buzzed like a distant swarm of angry bees. Mr. Peralta and another gentleman stood off to the side while Weston and I held hands next to a tiny casket.
Weston had chosen a simple mahogany box with gold handles, a bouquet of white lilies graced the top of the small box. I knelt down and laid a kiss on the smooth wood then wiped off the tears that had fallen on top. Weston joined me, placing a single red rose in the middle of the lilies.

He helped me up and we stood side-by-side in silence, my guilt over her death like a stone in my empty belly. I missed everything I’d dreamed would be happening right now, yearned for all that could have been.

Weston nodded at the man standing next to Mr. Peralta and our baby was slowly lowered into the gaping maw. She reached the bottom, and a bird landed on the rich brown dirt piled next to the grave. It pecked around, chirping a little song then flew off – as if saying goodbye. My heart squeezed inside my chest.

I picked up a small handful of soft dirt. “Goodbye, Christine,” I whispered, throwing it on top of her casket.
Weston wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me in close to his side. Why her? Why my baby? Was this supposed to make sense? And, if so, to whom?

We drove home in silence. No words existed to express my grief.


Musa Publishing
Barnes & Noble



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  1. Invaluable advice, Patti.

    Even as published writers, learning should never stop. I find taking courses and workshops, attending conferences, and working with crit partners an important part of bettering my writing.

    At least I hope I’m getting better…


    • admin

      I know what you mean, Ann. I’m constantly taking online classes and I’m always learning something, no matter what. And my personal editor taught me so much about writing. She’s been invaluable.

  2. Great advice, Patti. I don’t know what I’d do without all my creative, intelligent and generous on-line writing friends.

    • admin

      I know, Cordelia. I know that I can always post something online in the various groups to which I belong and many people will comment and be able to relate to what I’m going through as a writer. It’s invaluable.

  3. Great post and great advice. I’d be lost without my online friends.
    Nice excerpt from Moon Over Alcatraz.

    • admin

      Thank you for commenting, Janna. It was really nice of Musa to host me today.

  4. So glad to be back and have the opportunity to comment here today. Yes, we never can learn enough … what I have learned from your experiences and your work ethic, Patti, is to put as much love and sweat into our craft as we can muster. Musa sounds so supportive 🙂

    • admin

      Glad you’re back, Florence, and I’m going to read your blog as soon as I finish the edits for today. Yes, Musa is extremely supportive and a wonderful group of people. Thank you for the compliment about my work ethic. We are all trying so hard, aren’t we? And doing what we love. That’s what’s important.

  5. Wonderful advice, Patti. I took a continuing ed class at a local college when I decided to start writing. The instructor there invited me to attend a writers’ workshop that meets weekly. Had I not had the knowledge from those weekly meetings my first book would have been a disaster. It still wasn’t the best since it was my first but I learned so much through that process and from the helpful critique.

    I also learned a lot from entering contests like you did. I only entered those that promised feedback and after entering several and revising, I finally finaled and even won one. I think these are great for beginning writers. You get feedback before you ever start submitting. Even if you’re planning to self-pub, I would highly recommend entering a few contests first. You’ll do yourself and your readers a huge favor if you figure out what you’re doing wrong before you hit that pub button.

    • admin

      Thanks for the information about the writer’s workshop, Rhonda. I’d like to do something like that. Now I’m going to look into it at our local college. Great idea.

  6. Patti,

    Interesting path for you toward publication. Thanks for sharing with us. I find it interesting that when I hear about a published writer’s path to success, each story is a bit different but also contains some of the same elements as mine.

    • admin

      Thanks for stopping by, Casey. I think that most of us have probably experienced some of these ups and downs. Sometimes I read stories about “how I got my agent” and I wonder how much of it is pure luck!

    • admin

      Sometimes I wonder how much of where we get is just plain luck. I read these stories about “how I got my agent” for example, and I wonder…

  7. Pure luck coupled with talent. That’s the key very often.

    • admin

      Yep! I believe in the pure luck coupled with talent. Definitely.

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