The Last Day of 2011

Weeelllll, I know there's a lot of these reflective posts going around, but hey, a lot's happened this year for some of us...monumental events that we'll never forget as long as we live (unless we end up suffering from some medical affliction that makes us forget and in that case, better to have written it down somewhere).  Besides, I'm a writer.  I love to ramble on paper. But I'll try to keep this post short and sweet.

There were some pretty huge events that occurred in my personal life.  I won't go into that since I try to keep personal stuff to myself as much as possible.  But just know that 2011 will go down as a heart-warming year for the simple fact that I got to spend more of it with the most important people in my life.

There was, however, one big thing in my not-so-personal life:

I published a friggin book.

A year ago, had you Googled my name, you'd find NOTHING.  That's right.  Nothing.  How do I know?  I did it many times to make sure there was nothing.  Because at one time, I was a hermit who wanted nothing to do with the internet.

I finished a novel and I needed beta readers.  And NO ONE knew I'd written a book.  Well, except for my mom.  And my best friend.

So I joined an online writing workshop called Scribophile.  I was shy, in fact, I didn't even use my real name at first.  Every time I posted something, I was so nervous I could hardly type without backspacing all over the place.  I met three pretty amazing people who helped me learn how to take criticism for my work.  To post something without the nervous jitters.  They pulled me out of my shell and encouraged me to get my writing out there.

From there, came the blog.  And I had NO IDEA what the hell to blog about.  I struggled for the first few weeks trying to figure it out.

Next was Twitter and I panicked, thinking I'd NEVER learn this 'Facebook on crack' social network.  But I did and I met some fantastic people that I now call friends.  Then came the FB page, the website, four fabulous beta readers, the decision to self-publish, a kickass editor, the book trailer, the cover art, bookmarks and....just over two weeks ago, my first published book.

I know other writer buds who've also had an outstanding year.  Writing a book takes dedication, perseverance and mental conditioning.  There are times a writer wants to toss the WIP and start over, but instead stays the course.  I've had some pretty wonderful words of encouragement along the way.  From my hubby, my daughters, my parents, siblings, cousins, friends, neighbors...

Here are three of my favorite from 2011:

"I would shovel shit the rest of my life, just so you could write the rest of yours"  ~ My all-time favorite from my awesome hubby (also the dedication for my book)

"Mommy, I'm going to publish a book someday, just like you"    ~ My oldest daughter

"Keri, you have busted your ass for this and will soon be inducted into the very exclusive group of people who became published authors within their lifetime.  Your literature will carry forward through generations of human existence well beyond your years, making you literally immortal.  Congratulations big sis!!!  I'm rooting for you front and center. "    ~ My brother, just before the book launched.

And so, one of my New Year's Goals for 2012:  Publish another book

What was the highlight of your 2011?

RELEASE DAY: Somnium (Halos)

I had this crazy notion a few years back:  to write a book.  I'd written enough of the small stuff (flash, poetry, short stories) for a while.  It was time for a REAL commitment.  It's so easy to find resolution by the end of a short story, but attempt that in a novel, and well, that requires a bit more than just a few minutes jotting down a storyline.  I'd written chapters, scrapped them, saved some on floppy disks somewhere.  Is there a computer in the world that can read a floppy nowadays?  This was going to be it for me.  My novel.  The one I'd publish. So I sat and wrote every chance I could steal:  before work, in my car at lunch, after work, on the weekends.  I even wrote on Christmas morning before my kids got up.  And we all know how early kids get up on Christmas morning.  Yes, I loved writing that much.

I attempted to send out a few query letters.  The truth is, I had no idea what I was doing.  In fact, I don't even know if I sent them to approrpriate agents.  I got the impersonal stamped rejection letters, did a little research, sent out a few more and had a couple of nice handwritten letters come back.  Rejected of course, but kind.  Not realizing that this was all part of the process for writers, I gave up on the project and figured perhaps I wasn't meant to write a book.

Then a new idea hit me...

The second book was an urban fantasy and I was so incredibly excited about the storyline, I found even MORE cracks in my day to write.  I'd keep notecards next to me on my desk at work and jot ideas while I was waiting for reports to generate.  I would steal moments in the elevator, by myself, daydreaming of a scene to write.  There were times I'd be reading a patient chart and be struck by dialogue that I'd have to quickly scribble on a scrap of paper tucked somewhere in my labcoat.

Same routine.  I wrote up, what I considered, a very spiffy query letter.  Researched a list of agents.  This time, I was much more organized about it.  I had contact names and even used red font to strikethrough them when my query came back rejected.  What am I doing wrong?  Is my writing that horrible?  Well, maybe it wasn't my best, but I still hadn't learned anything about the slush pile.  Whoa!  I know what you're did you even get that far?

So for kicks, I stopped writing for a bit and studied the publishing industry.  I bought books on the topic and familiarized myself with some bestselling authors.  I had always liked reading, but I never paid attention to what was really popular.

My sister called me out of the blue one afternoon.  Now, for those who know nothing about my calls with her can be incredibly entertaining.  As a matter of fact, I just recently had a phone call that I was pretty sure would land me in the ER, I was choking from laughing so hard.  Some of her stories are not even intentionally funny - just her naivete.  Don't get me wrong, the girl's a bit genius (she's the engineer that Allie, in Somnium, is based off of), but she has her moments.  Going back to the phone conversation, in a matter of minutes, she detailed her interactions with some of the men she worked with and the military guard on base that she was sort of crushing on.  I cracked up at some of the thoughts that would go through her head when she saw this guy.  And then we hung up.

I don't even know when it happened, but sometime in the night, Colton materialized in my head and began speaking to me in that smooth and sexy tone.  I realized, he was the guard at the gate.  Sure military guys are cute, but I never really fantasized about one...until now.  For a moment, I felt that familiar spark of excitement as he whispered sweet nothings in my ear.  I fought against it.  Criminy, I have to get up in the morning.  I am NOT starting another book.  But he persisted.  Okay.  But just a short story.  That's it.  So I woke up the next morning and began to write.  And I wrote during lunch.  Then when I came home that evening I wrote some more.  Dammit.  I'm writing another novel.  If you can believe it, I managed to squeeze even more time out of my day.  In meetings, I could hardly concentrate...which landed me in some pretty embarrassing moments.  Picture a love scene playing out in your head at about the same time the CMO asks a direct question.  "Uh.  What?"  Sorry, I was licking a tattoo on a nice juicy bicep a second ago.

I decided not to bother much with agents.  I wrote out a query letter and sent to a couple of agencies.  But I STILL haven't heard back from them.  Pretty sure that was a year ago now.  I joined a writing group and met some great people that I now call friends.  A blog followed soon after that and I sat, hands trembling, writing my first blog post.  This is going to be out in the public!  The public, Keri!  People will see this!  I agonized all the while.  I joined Twitter and found myself scared shitless.  How the hell am I going to read all of these tweets everyday??  There's thousands of them!  And more just keep popping up!  *clears throat*  A Facebook account and fan page came after and I sat for hours trying to figure out what the heck to call myself.  Author?  No.  Writer?  I guess...but, what's the difference between author and writer?

Then came telling friends and family I wrote a book.  Here's how that went:

Me:  Um.  So I uh...wrote a story.  Well, not really a story.  It's longer than a story.  It's actually.  Well, I guess you'd call it a novel.

F&F:  Awesome Keri!  What kind of novel is it?

Me:  Uh.  Romance.  *voice suddenly cracks* Paranormal romance

F&F:  So is it like people having sex with ghosts?

Me:  Well.  *lightbulb*  Maybe at some point.  But this one has angels and demons

It's been one thing after another since then.  Blogposts that became easier over time.  Chats on Twitter.  Postings of my writing.  Interviews, giveaways and now...publication.

Such a strange little path with odd twists and turns along the way.  But it's been fun and I can't wait to see where the next bend in the road leads.