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Fifteen Years to Overnight Success

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

Success never happens overnight, no matter how much I imagine it does. Reality competitions like the Idol shows and the Talent shows gloss over the years of hard work and training. The news media loves an "overnight success" story. They planted the dream in my head as a youth.

When I’m in the trenches, every setback tells me I’m a failure. But that’s a lie. A setback is a chance to learn and regroup. Successful people spent years training—writers included.

I attended my first writers’ conference in 2003. When I signed up, I couldn’t believe the organizers let just anybody come. I didn’t have to be well known or previously published or anything. Authors whose books I loved would teach me about writing.

I had a story idea. Diamonds for Breakfast. It was a mystery . . . sort of . . . although I hadn’t read much in that genre. Someone would find diamonds in their box of cereal and uncover a smuggling ring. I secretly dreamed I would be discovered at that conference, even though I had only written a couple chapters.

One of my favorite authors (yes, I was a fan-girl) kindly explained what I needed to do be published, and it had nothing to do with that story. She was an editor, but she didn’t offer me a contract. That was my first glimpse of how long the journey would be.

I kept attending conferences, joined writing groups, read books, and took classes. Six or seven years ago, my local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers started a critique group. I asked my husband if I should go.

“If you’re serious about your writing, you will.” He’s supportive that way. Very matter of fact. And he was right.

Bringing my writing to critique group was like ripping off a band-aid every week. No matter that the comments were kind, I left wondering why I thought I could write at all. They say writers must have thick skin.

Mary Davis led the group. She’s become a wonderful mentor and friend. We still critique each other’s work. Often it still leaves me raw and in need of ice cream and a Hallmark movie. It’s the best way to improve my writing. Click on the picture to learn more about Mary.

The other day I received the back cover copy for the Thimbles and Threads novella collection that releases in July—my second novella in a collection. My story is called Mending Sarah’s Heart. I still can’t believe my name and book blurb is listed with three other great authors.

The collection is available for pre-order on Amazon. Click on the picture to go to the link. I feel so legitimate.

I love the professionally designed cover.

I still don’t think of myself as a success . . . or even an author. When new friends ask what I do, I swallow hard and say I write novels.

If I’d known how long the journey would be, I probably never would’ve had the courage to start. Perhaps the dream of “overnight success” and the false summits (to use a mountain climbing metaphor) are the things that kept me going. I’m still a long way from the top, but I’m loving the adventure of the climb.

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