Thursday, September 28, 2006

Writers' Wednesday with Jenna Bayley-Burke

Modern Extra Sensual author

STUMBLING BLOCKS

Every time I sort through papers and folders I find one, a story I started and never had time to finish. I told myself it was lack of time, not that the story unraveled. I started and dropped stories all my life. I found one from high school that is especially dull. And yet, I knew I would be a writer. Someday. When I had the time.

October 2003 – With a three month old baby and a two year old underfoot, my husband got laid off. Severance, unemployment, food stamps, cash from his folks and groceries from mine got us over the hump until he found something else. But I felt helpless. I was nursing a baby and devoted to my toddler, I couldn’t get a job because with as much as my husband was interviewing he couldn’t watch the kids. Surely there had to be something I could do from home. I grabbed a notebook and a pen, writing a romance about a reality TV show while I nursed the baby. I could write it and sell it, and we’d still have a Christmas. Well…that’s not how it worked out. My husband was hired before the holidays and I started reading to my toddler while nursing instead of finishing the book.

August 2004 – I spent my tenth wedding anniversary in the ER, trying to find out if I was having an aneurysm. I thought of all the things I had planned for my life, and how many of them I wrote off as not having time. I also flashed on my boys someday finding my half finished stories and wondering why I never followed through.

November 2004 – High on pain medication and full of determination I signed on for National Novel Writers Month. I still didn’t have much time to write, but a plan to give me a novel in thirty days? Everyone had time for that. Thanks to my local support group (I love you Nikki) and my online friends (Suzan, you are a gem) I got through and ‘won’ with a 75,000 word ‘novel’. Completing the story was a high for me. And then came the crash.

December 2004 – What is a synopsis? A query? Dear God, why won’t they read my book and write me a check because it is just as good as the four I bough this month. Yeah, I had a LOT to learn about the publishing industry. Thanks to some very patient folks at eHarlequin, I got a crash course in Submitting 101 and sent off my first query to my favorite line of category romance. Slam dunk. Time to write another book.

January 2005 – I finished my second book, but still hadn’t heard on the first. I had to wait before submitting and began to focus on learning, taking free online classes wherever I could find them – eHarlequin, Romance Divas. Barnes & Noble University. I learned so much that by the time my first query was answered with a form rejection letter I wasn’t surprised. Heartbroken, but not shocked. And had a query for the second book in the mail the next day.

February 2005 – While waiting to hear on book two, I wrote a third.

March 2005 – Book two rejected, book three queried. I entered book one in a contest and used the feedback to revise it completely for a different line and submitted a partial.

May 2005 – Book three rejected, book four drafted.

June 2005 – I revised book two and the request for a full came in for book one. I did a happy dance in the middle of the street, then launched into a dozen rounds of ring-around-the-rosie in the front yard with my babes.

July 2005 – contested my manuscripts heavily. I got great feedback, but no wins. Queried book four.

August 2005 – revisions came in for book one, with some dynamite idea twists for the ending.

September 2005 – Got the email that was ‘the call’ My first book sold!

Jenna's first book, JUST ONE SPARK is available in the UK through Amazon and will be released in Australia as a Sexy Sensation in January 2007. Her next fab fun book, COOKING UP A STORM is a December release in the UK.

She is currently working hard on her third Modex title! She how's she's going at her blog.

Go Jenna!

11 comments:

  1. A great road-to-publication story, Jenna! So many people think writers have 'overnight success' with the first thing they sit down to write.

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  2. Ah, Jenna, I could so relate to your story of the ups and downs along the road to publication. It sounds as if some of those 'downs' really helped you with your determination to succeed. Good on you!

    I agree with Nicolette - I keep meeting people who think authors sat down and easily wrote a first book which was then accepted by a major publisher. I wish! I know it's happened to some people, but believe me, I was with you every step of the way as I read your story.

    I'm looking forward to reading your first book soon!

    Annie

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  3. Jenna well done, grit and determination that's what it takes doesn't it! Loved your story and looking forward to reading your books.
    Abby Green

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  4. Thanks, Jenna. I really enjoyed reading your post. Your boys sound like darlings.

    Best wishes

    Jennie

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  5. Another great sale story -- boy, you work fast! Jess x

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  6. Jenna, I love reading your sale story. In awe of your speed at writing.

    Carol

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  7. Thanks all! I sometimes get flack for selling my 'first' book. It's hard to explain that it was the first where the story was good enough to make me want to finish it, not the first I'd ever tried :D

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  8. Thanks for sharing your story Jenna. It's a great reminder that the road to publication is rarely easy, but perseverance can get you there in the end. Congratulations.

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  9. Love the story each time I hear it, Jenna!
    Hugs to you and the boys

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  10. Love your story Jenna! MY WORD but you write FAST! And isn't it just Murphy's Law that you ended back at the start to get that sale???

    Fate can be a mischievous little devil sometimes....

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