Stumbling Along the Path to Publication...
It's finally here. My Regency-set story, Smuggled Rose, is available from Cerridwen Press on May 3, 2007 as an e-book and then in the fall as a paperback. I absolutely adore my cover--it is superb! In fact, I believe it is much better than a lot of covers I have seen for bigger presses.
But it's not all rose petals and jam from now on. They didn't like my second manuscript, so I've now sent them a third. I hope they will like that one because I sort of need it published before the next one which is loosely linked to it. Someday, I may actually get the Archer family stories published.
May 2007magazine featured me in an article about women who have found their creative side after age 40 in their May 2007 issue! I was so thrilled and I still don't feel like it really talked about me--I mean, come on, me? I'm not that special and I think a lot of people do amazing things and just don't tell anyone about it. I know a lot of re-enactors who make their own clothing and know just incredible things about history--I'm lucky if I can remember what happened 5 minutes ago.
July - December 2006
Avalon rejected One Honest Man for the odd reason that there is a fight scene and a murder occurs off-stage, so it's not sweet enough. However, this is good, because...with the encouragement of my agent, I have submitted my Regency-set story, A Smuggled Rose, to Cerridwen Press and they have accepted it for publication. They are an e-publisher--the mainstream side to the amazingly successful Ellora's Cave e-publishing house. Cerridwen Press is starting a new line, Cotillion, for traditional Regencies, which includes suspense/mysteries set in that period, so I'm thrilled. I can finally get the Archer family stories published.
These Regency Suspense stories I've written have all finaled in contests and done very well, but previously found no home with the big NY publishers because I wrote them at a time when the big guys were shutting down production of what is called the traditional Regency. It was devastating to have written so many good stories which had no home, so Cerridwen came along at precisely the right time. I am sad that the stories will only be sold as e-books, available for downloading from the Internet or places like www.amazon.com, but they are being published! If they do really, really well, there may still be a chance that they may see print.
Now that just leaves writing something in another genre for the big NY publishers, because I'm still determined to get that actual, physical book in my hands, with my name on it. I have finished the rough draft of a paranormal story called Lives Past about a woman who joins forces with a vampire to locate a missing relic rumored to have the power to control the undead. Just for grins, I submitted the first chapter to a contest and it won first place! So I think this may bode well. I sure hope so!
Jan - June 2006
The new year has not started yet, but I'm ready for it. I'm working on another historical mystery called Grave Mistakes and have plotted out a subsequent manuscript: Left-handed Wife.
In case Avalon likes One Honest Man and wants another historical like it (without the mystery element) I also have a third framework developed for a Regency historical called The Jameson-Tate Affair.
These three manuscripts ought to keep me happily occupied in 2006, so maybe I won't fret so much about not being published, yet.
This past year has been very...trying. It started out well enough, I got an agent and she submitted I Bid One American to four publishers. Warners indicated they liked it, but didn't like the mystery element, so we submitted a straight historical, instead. That one also didn't work for Warners, sigh, although the editor said she'd like to see something else. Since all I had in my stack of manuscripts were four more mysteries similar to I Bid One American, I set about writing a contemporary vampire tale.
In the meantime, I also had an older Regency story, One Honest Man, which I liked and hated to see languishing in a drawer. So I edited it down, way down, and sent a partial to Avalon. Two weeks later, they requested the full, which I subsequently sent to them the first week of November. A reply is due sometime in 2006, and I'm trying not to think about it (obsess).
During July, I attended the Romance Writers convention in Reno. It was interesting and I learned a few things, but was disappointed that my agent did not have time to sit down and meet with me. I didn't realize at the time that she was contemplating a new job.
Just as I finished the contemporary vampire tale in early November, my agent took another job, and I wound up agent-less again on November 13, 2005.
Rolling up my sleeves, I sent I Bid One American to another agent, who had contacted me the previous June (when I was still contracted with my first agent). I had really like her at the time, so I just sent the entire manuscript to her and explained the situation.
In December, I got a call from her! She sent a contract and now I have a new agent, and I'm hoping we can submit I Bid One American to a few more places. In the meantime, I'm revising my four other historical mysteries and the poor, lonely vampire tale. I'm no longer sure about that last manuscript since Warners recently published a wonderful vampire manuscript by Michelle Rowen called Bitten & Smitten. But, if my new agent decides to try it, I've got it in my to-be-submitted pile.
Contest Final: I Bid One American - a cozy Regency mystery with a touch of romance finaled in The Heart of the West contest, mystery category.
I have hopes. Not big hopes, but hopes none-the-less that I have found a niche for myself in writing cozy romantic mysteries set in the Regency period in England. If nothing else, I'm enjoying the complications of writing mysteries.
I also entered I Bid One American in the Golden Heart contest for unpublished writers. Sadly, it did not final, which sort of surprised me, but contests can be a bit of a crap shoot.
New Manuscripts: The Vital Principle, and The Bricklayer's Helper were written (rough drafts) the fall of 2004. I entered the National Novel Writing Month contest to write 50,000 words in one month and managed to do so (The Bricklayer's Helper) in November. Now, I just need to finish it and then start polishing both manuscripts. They are both cozy mysteries set in the Regency period.
Contest Final: Perchance to Dream (renamed to A Smuggled Rose) - a Regency historical finaled in the Golden Gateway contest. This is an older manuscript which had gone through many revisions and this contest was my test to see if it had been edited to death. I have sadly decided it is time to move on to other projects, even though it has consistently finaled in contests, it just seems to be lacking that extra "oomph" which gets manuscripts published.
Went to my first writer's conference, sponsored by the Romance Writers of America. I learned a lot but resolved that it was not financially feasible to attend any additional conference until I was published or at least had an agent to meet at the conference. I had appointments with an agent and a publisher and both asked for manuscripts, but the process turned out to be remarkably similar to sending queries by mail, and mail has the advantage of being less nerve-wracking.
The thing I enjoyed the most was meeting three extraordinary women who have been my critique partners this last year. All three published in 2004, but in 2003 we were all still lowly, unpubbed writers. These ladies include: Kristina Cook (www.kristinacook.com), Kathi Scearce writing as Monica Burns (www.monicaburns.com) and Jennifer Featherstone writing as Charlotte Featherstone (www.charlottefeatherstone.com). I'm the last unpublished one in the group, but I hope this will change in 2005.
In 2003, I wrote several new manuscripts and tried my hand at Science Fiction and Fantasy with Change of Air and Midnight Hunt, but both need serious revisions. I also wrote a Regency romance/mystery called Fools Rush In. Although Fools Rush In needs revision, I really want to get this one published as I love the characters too much to let them die a lingering and dusty death in my drawer.
Contest Finals: Perchance to Dream - 2nd place in the 2003 Winter Rose. Fools Rush In - 1st place in the Golden Rose and 2nd place in the Award of Excellence Outreach International contest.
I joined a local writers' group, the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers. They are a fabulous, warm group and proved to be very encouraging. I also got with three other writers to form a critique group, which has really helped to improve my writing. In addition to this local group, I joined several online critique groups, including one for historical writers which has really given me a home base from which to work.
Wrote several new manuscripts, including the Regency historical, Perchance to Dream. I tried to write several contemporary manuscripts, but found them much more difficult to write.
I wrote a
manuscript for the Harlequin
At this point I realized I needed some help and began considering publicly admitting that I was trying to write and began looking for a writers' group to join. I didn't have the courage to join one until 2002, however. (Even today, I suffer from the embarrassment of the "wannabe a writer" syndrome.)
1976 - 1983
I started trying to write in college in 1976 and even submitted a Fantasy manuscript to the William Morris Agency, but the need to get a real job interfered with my ambitions so I gave it up until 1980. During the early 80's, The Romance Writers of American was formed and I joined as a charter member. I wrote a romance and sent it to the new line of Silhouette, but it was rejected, although they sent along a lovely two page letter and a box of books (whoopee! free reading material!). Again, however, my job as a computer specialist interfered with my real life and I quit writing until 1984.
In 1984 I tried writing again and even joined a local critique group, but I was so embarrassed by the bad reception my writing got that I slunk away and didn't write for a few years. By 1984 I had recovered enough to try a science fiction manuscript, but I was so intimidated by writers like Asimov, Heinlein, etc, that I couldn't bring myself to submit anything anywhere.
So, I let my writing go again until 1995.
In 1995 I got married and moved from the metropolitan Washington, DC, area to the wilds of coastal North Carolina. I was doing a lot of traveling in 1996 and 1997 with my job and found it kind of fun to write in the airports, so I started trying to write contemporary mysteries. I wrote several between 1996-2000, but I couldn't seem to get it right. Looking back, I think these were just "practice" and allowed me to play with creating cohesive plots and consistent characters.
Since I kept getting comments about how my heroines all seemed like historical characters instead of contemporary women, I realized that maybe what I really wanted to write were historicals, or historical mysteries.
Words of Advice - if I was to give would-be writers any advice at all it would be the following:
Books by Amy Corwin