Just a quick shot of one corner of the garden where late summer flowers hang on, while autumn colors begin to take hold.
Today I welcome fellow author and Washingtonian Audra Middleton to join our series of stories about luck in writing and in life. Audra describes herself as “a somewhat neurotic and terminally sarcastic mother of three” from Ephrata, Washington. Audra’s love of writing began in the third grade, when she was chosen to go to a young author’s conference based on a story, “The Dragon Cookie”, which she wrote about a giant cookie that comes to life. Audra went to college thinking she would go into journalism, graduated college thinking she would go into publishing, and then went back to school to get her teaching degree. Audra enjoyed teaching, but once her oldest was born, she chose to stay home. At the encouragement of friends Audra started writing again, the result being her first novel, Watcher, released in January 2013 by Champagne Book Group.
Since getting published, Audra has been asked to speak about her writing journey at several local venues, the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference, and the Write on the River conference in Wenatchee, WA. Last fall she went back to work as a kindergarten teacher, but has continued to write books. Her second novel, a humorous paranormal thriller called Hitchhiker was released in November 2014, and her second fantasy novel, Abomination, was released June 2014.
Audra’s story of pitching her first novel is a beautiful reminder of the simple power of persistence.
Lucky to be Published
I had actually given up on my first novel at the time that I got my publishing contract. I spent years writing Watcher, a fantasy novel. It was a labor of love, but after many rejections from literary agents via query letters, and some jarring feedback from my on-line critique group, I decided maybe it was time to shelve my ‘baby’ and concentrate on something a little more mainstream.
Fortunately, I had already I joined the PNWA and paid a hefty sum to attend their summer conference. In addition to writing seminars, the conference provides opportunities to pitch to agents and editors in person. We were strongly advised not to pitch a work in progress, so I went ahead and tried to pitch Watcher. I bombed my first few pitching attempts, in the beginning being too nervous to complete a sentence, later being so exhausted I just rambled incoherently, at one point confessing that I may have ‘screwed myself’ (thereby ensuring that I had).
My last pitch session was with an editor. I almost cancelled, because the brochure made it seem like it was more of a Q & A rather than a pitch session, and I did not think the editor I was assigned dealt in the fantasy genre. Luckily I attended a “meet the agents and editors” session and discovered not only was it a pitch session, but that the editor to whom I was assigned did have a sci-fi/fantasy label. I met with her on the last day – another lucky break, because at that point I was so completely exhausted and overwhelmed by the whole conference experience, I decided I didn’t care anymore, sat down, and managed to have a lucid discussion about my book.
We clicked. She was interested.
Six months later, I signed my first publishing contract and I have continued to publish books ever since.
Thanks so much for letting me share my story of good fortune today!
Business and other pesky gnats got the better of me over the weekend, so I
partially recycled (let’s call it “upcycled” and make it sound trendy!) so I upcycled a post from last fall for my contribution to The Writers Vineyard.
The early autumn swarms of gnats are baaa-aack, and so are the potential distractions from writing.
“Enjoy romance and poetry, pack saddles and gunpowder, wild mushrooms, instant gratification, Lake Chelan, life lessons and more. Browse books while sipping coffee and sharing scones–hear the life stories, and meet the people behind a wide variety of locally-authored books.”
Thanks to one of those amazing, cozy, resilient, delightful local independent bookstores – A Book For All Seasons - for organizing this chance to meet readers, find great new books, and enjoy one of the loveliest places in Central Washington – the Pybus Market in Wenatchee.
I’m pleased to be one of thirteen authors invited – to talk about our books, help you win prizes, and generally enjoy the day. We shall be there from 11am-1pm this Saturday, October 4. Come share the fun and the glorious autumn weather.
For September’s Fictional Lessons for an All-Too-Real Life, I welcome Jenna (Butrenchuk) Greene, author and grade 6 teacher in Alberta, Canada. In her spare time Jenna dances, reads, writes, and paddles/coaches several dragon boat teams. Two of her YA novels are being released in the next few months: HEROINE (Aaspirations Publishing) and IMAGINE (Champagne Book Group – Feb 2015).
Jenna shows us what Elizabeth Bennett, Peregrin Took, and Red Riding Hood have in common. (Now that’s a good writer.)
When reading The Hunger Games, we weep at Rue’s tragic demise. While reading The Lord of the Rings, we curse Pippin’s missteps … (and may even throw the book across the room). We cheer for Elizabeth Bennett when she rejects proposals from unappealing candidates.
Each of these characters tug at our core. Not only that, they aid our psychological growth.
In one of the oldest version of the Red Riding Hood story, she is forced to eat part of her grandmother’s flesh and is nearly raped before escaping. Ick. And yet… Red Riding Hood escapes. She lives. She survives. Despite the HORRENDOUS obstacles put before her, she manages to fumble through. (See what I’m about to get to?) Stories teach us that people can be put in difficult situations and still survive. They can overcome an encounter, and possibly even learn from it. Now that’s a very uplifting notion.
So yes, I delve into Harry Potter looking for adventure, but I also learn that there are honorable people willing to be brave. Evil can be defeated. Good ol’ Jane Austen offered a plain-but-intelligent Elizabeth Bennett who learns from the mistakes of herself and others, and is celebrated for being independent and a bit outside the norm. Katniss Everdeen is a relatable character to those who’ve lost a parent, stood up for a sibling, or struggled against circumstances that seem insurmountable – all-the-while offering assurances that life is not all toil and depression. There are happy endings waiting and goals that can be achieved.
And best of all, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Peregrin Took, not a main character in life or on page, can make errors and live beyond them, becoming more than just another person … I mean hobbit.
Find out more about Jenna at her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jennabutrenchukgreene