Nicole Mainardi has been a friend of mine for quite a few years now – as a blogger and fellow reader and as now a fellow author. Her debut novel, A Curse of Thorns, was published back in March and is a wonderful Beauty and the Beast retelling. I was so proud of her – I’ve watched her journey from afar and I know firsthand how hard it can be in the publishing and writing world. She wrote recently on her author blog about her journey as a writer and it got me thinking a lot about my own journey and how I wanted to share that with you all. You can read Nicole’s post.
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I do remember the first time that writing MEANT something to me and the first time that I realized it was something I was good at. I was nine years old and my favorite thing to do in school was to write. We had this really cool thing called Writer’s Workshop where we had to write stories and I loved to do it. I already was an incredibly prolific reader and I just loved to write stories. There was a moment where I didn’t do my homework though and didn’t write a winter story like I was supposed to. I had to miss the Christmas party because I had to write a story.
Well, I ended up writing the story very quickly. I think part of it was that I hated missing out on the party but it could have been something else as well. Whatever it was, I handed in my story and my teacher, skeptical, read it. Then read it again. Then took it to the teacher next door to read it. This always sticks out in my mind – that the teachers were all blown away that I was capable of writing a good story and in only about twenty minutes. That’s when I think I started to realize that this was something I could actually DO. My dreams of becoming a orca trainer at Sea World was fading away (and was probably good in hindsight…).
From that time on, I wrote all the time. I was gifted my first personal journal by my aunt when I was 12 years old as a Christmas present and I wrote obsessively in a journey until I was about 22 years old. I’ve been trying to gain that traction back again but I can’t seem to capture it the way I used to write. I wrote stories upon stories. I wrote my own “novels” that usually were just a version of fan fiction and were just god awful and will never see the light of day. I wrote actual fan fiction, Drarry ship fiction, that still graces the internet today but will never be read by a living soul because…wow, its just so bad. In high school, I decided my major would be sports journalism – I loved sports, I loved writing and I loved putting the two of them together.
When I was in college though, I just…I lost the passion I had for it and I think because its such a competitive world. I’m not competitive in the slightest and it was sort of a dog eat dog world and that is not the kind of world that I’ve ever been used to. I’ve always been passionate, ambitious, and hungry but I’ve never felt the need to step on others to do so and journalism felt like that to me. I didn’t want to have to fight for articles to write. I just wanted to write.
It was when I started writing this blog back in 2013 that I truly began my journey into writing and publishing. I was beginning to learn what it truly meant to be an aspiring author and what kind of work went into getting published. I self-pubbed my first novel but ended up pulling them from Amazon once I realized how little I knew about…everything!
Another Chance for Summer
Then I wrote what I think is my first real novel. I still think I’ve written better since then but Another Chance for Summer was my first real novel. I wrote a complete novel, and even self-published it on Amazon (though I’ve since removed it because it needs SERIOUS editing). Its about a girl named Summer who has grown up in the shadows of her two sisters and the fact that she was bullied her entire life for being fat. A new boy moves to town named Charlie and they instantly become friends, Summer’s first real friend. Its a contemporary romance that follows their friendship as it turns into something more and even though I know I’ve gotten better and I know the novel could be better, I’m really proud of it.
A Little Less Than Famous
Then I wrote a novel called A Little Less than Famous. This novel followed the story of McKinley, who runs into Hollywood superstar, Jake Kennedy, one day at Disneyland and completely captures his attention. The thing about McKinley is that she has abandonment and trust issues, and she doesn’t fall in love, ever. But there’s something about Jake and this brand new world that comes with dating him that makes her break all her rules. Its sort of new-adult-y and I self-published this one in January of 2013 before removing it about five years ago. Its another one that I’m quite proud of but I really think needs a LOT of editing and revamping.
The Awakened was the first novel that I wrote that I sat back and thought, okay, this is it. This novel took everything out of me. It was blood, sweat and tears. I dropped out of college to write this book. This was the book that I was going to make an effort with. I had been blogging for over a year, I’d educated myself on querying and agents and all of that. This was a book that I wanted to finally make it big with. This book meant and still means the absolute world to me, more than any other book I’ve ever written before.
I queried for a year. It was heartbreaking. It was rejection after rejection after rejection. I rewrote and still got rejected. I added a prologue to sort of give the agents a better idea of what the book was about since my book has a slow opening to the disaster that hits. I rewrote and edited again. In total, I ended up getting about 120 rejections. It was so hard to keep going. By that time, I had been blogging for over two years and I really felt like I had a connection to authors and their stories of publishing and I knew that it was hard and that it didn’t always go the way you planned it. So I put it aside and ended up writing my new adult romance, Benched.
I honestly had…not given up on The Awakened but I definitely had put it aside. It was around this time in 2015 – I had just finished Benched and I was working on rewrites when I heard that Benjamin Alderson of Benjamin of Tomes was creating his own micro-publishing agency and was taking open submissions. At this point, I had basically put The Awakened in a drawer, to come out at a later time or whatnot. I decided it was worth a try and submitted The Awakened and it ended up becoming OfTomes’ first debut and my first published novel. The sequel, The Sanctuary, followed a year later.
It was a good run. I did really well for a small press published author and I had the support of so many people from my years of being a blogger. I honestly am incredibly proud of both of those books, what they became and how well they did while they were out. I’m sad they are no longer available to the world. I felt shafted when my books were dropped by my publisher and I had to be a big girl about it and move on. I’ve tried submitting it to small publishers again, to see if maybe someone else would like to take a gander at it. I did hear from one particular company but immediately knew it wasn’t for me when they told me how much they wanted me to change the story. After everything those characters have gone through since I started the book in 2013, I couldn’t do that to them.
So here’s where I’m at now – The Awakened and its sequel and my new adult romance, Benched, are all done, sitting there, waiting for something to be done. I’ve been thinking self-pub for awhile now and the courage Nicole had to do so and the hard work she’s put in to spread the word about it has encouraged me to do so for these books. I want new covers and I want to relaunch and share this incredibly important story with the world.
In the meantime, I’m working on TWO novels – one of them a YA urban fantasy and the other a YA contemporary, something I haven’t done for years and I’m super nervous about. I know that a writer’s journey is a series of ups and downs and that there are so many different paths to take and I’m okay with that now. Whether I self publish or get published with a small press or get an agent and get super famous (HA!), I’m really focusing on what I find important – writing the best book that I’m capable of and making sure that the hands it lands in takes care of it the way its supposed to be.