I've been writing books and stories consistently since 2002. I've attended writers conferences, joined clubs for writers, and tapped into the writing community on Twitter. And none of that has been a secret. I've told people about my writing and I've shared my writing but some people just don't retain that information. The writing process is not sexy and it's not something that most people understand. It's also not something that most writers walk around discussing with just anyone. Writing is a highly personal and cathartic experience. It doesn't always need to be shared.
Some people want to know why they haven't read my book yet. That's because it's not finished. I'm not going to give someone my manuscript if I don't think it's complete. Sure, I've had some beta readers (Patty, Lauren, Sue, Karen, Jen, and Karen) along the way who've given me feedback on the story but that's a necessary part of the process. They have helped shape my novel. They are my target audience. They read the type of book that I’m writing. They are whom I’m writing for. I chose them because I trust their opinion and know that their feedback will be honest. For the rest of you, you have to wait for the finished product.
So, I’d like to answer some of the questions people ask. Here are my short answers:
When did you write it? In 2011.
What kind (genre) of book is it? Women’s Fiction
What’s it about? My book is about mother who runs away from home in an effort to discover who she is.
Why are you self-publishing it? Because I can.
Looking for the long answers? Read on:
First, let me give you a little background about my writing.
I wasn’t one of those people who always knew they wanted to be a writer. However, I always felt I had a lot to say. For me, writing was a way to get some of those “things” out of my head. I began keeping a notebook and writing down story ideas around the time I turned 30.
In the summer of 2002, I wrote a novel (I was 32).I didn’t set out to write a novel, I just wanted to get some tips and ideas down about running a daycare – which is what I was doing at that time. I thought I was writing an article or a non-fiction book but suddenly characters began to emerge. So, I went with it. Once I switched the focus from non-fiction to fiction, it was as if I’d opened up flood-gates; the words literally came pouring out. The characters came alive and before I knew it, I’d written 80,000 words (or about 300 pages). The name of that novel is Hindsight.
In 2003, I dragged Tony to New York so I could attend an all-day writing class at Gotham Writers. Tony spent the day in the city by himself – making him the best husband ever. I was in the class with other people, like me, who’d written stories or books or who wanted to write but didn’t know how to get started. I left that class feeling so incredibly validated. I’d found my tribe – people like me who had stories (or ideas) in their heads and needed to get them out.
After that class, I continued on my writing journey. I edited Hindsight for a long, long time. I spent countless hours deepening the prose and developing the characters. I would get it to the point where I thought it was complete and then I’d read it through, see how awful some parts were, and begin editing again. I’d get to the point where I couldn’t’ stand the book anymore and would put the manuscript away and try to move on to other projects. However, Kate and Eliza, the characters in the book, would call me back. Truthfully, it was a little disturbing. They wouldn’t let me sleep or start any other writing project. They begged me to go back to them. And so I did. This went on for years.
In 2007, I decided I needed to get some professional feedback about Hindsight. I’d taken the story as far as I could and I was driving myself crazy…not to mention Kate and Eliza were driving me crazy too. I found Grub Street – a writing community in Boston – and wrote to them for advice. They suggested that I get the book edited. The cost? A penny a word. It would cost $800 to get my book edited. I just couldn’t justify that. Then, President Bush gave us all an $800 unexpected tax refund in the middle of the summer and I took it as a sign.
The editor worked on my book and we met in Boston to go over her edits. She loved my book and said it was an “important” story that needed to be told. She helped me see how amateur I really was and that I had a lot to learn, but that I was capable of taking my story from good to great. I went home and began working on making the edits.
Fast forward to 2010. I was so sick of Hindsight and Kate and Eliza. I resented that they wouldn’t let me write anything else. I had sent the book to agents and submitted it to contests. I received very positive feedback on my book, but I received many, many rejections from agents. I realized it just wasn’t meant to be. My book wasn’t meant to be published.
In October of 2011, an old high school friend, Dave, sent me a message. He wanted to know if I’d ever heard of NanoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. I had not. Wikipedia describes NanoWriMo as a non-profit organization that brings together professional and amateur writers from all over the world. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. You track the words you write online and receive badges for each milestone you reach. It’s free and is meant to inspire people to write that book they have inside.
I decided to participate. I had an idea in a notebook that I’d written a few years back that was worth exploring further so I used that as my jumping point. By the end of November 2011, In Laguna was born (In Laguna is the novel that I will be self-publishing). Kate and Eliza were finally quiet and I felt ALIVE for the first time in a long time.
After writing In Laguna, it was if I’d tapped into a well of ideas that just kept coming. I wrote several short stories, two children’s books, and a play. Then, I began writing articles for Baystate Parent. Writing was something that I couldn’t NOT do. It was who I was – a writer.
While I love writing articles, I feel that I’m being called back to fiction. Which is why I’ve decided that it’s time to publish In Laguna. I need to get that book out in the world so I can free myself up to work on something new.
What kind (genre) of book is it?
I would characterize In Laguna as Women's Fiction. According to Wikipedia, Women’s Fiction is an umbrella term for women centered books that focus on women's life experience that are marketed to female readers, and includes many mainstream novels. It is distinct from Women's writing, which refers to literature written by (rather than promoted to) women. The women’s fiction category is vast. It includes everything from literary fiction to chick lit.
Women’s fiction is different from Chick Lit though. Wikipedia defines Chick lit or Chick literature as genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly. Chick lit authors include Jennifer Weiner, Emily Griffin, Sophie Kinsella.
To give you an idea of what my story is like, here are some writers that I would compare my work to: Daniele Steele, Liane Moriarty, Kristin Hannah. This is not to say that I write as well as they do, but my story is similar to the stories that these women write. My book is a quick read with lots of dialogue and yes, there is a little bit of romance (and sex…gasp!) in the book.
What’s it about?
The short version:
My book is about mother runs away from home in an effort to discover who she is.
The long version:
Sarah has spent her life in New Hampshire taking care of everyone else - abandoning her dreams of traveling and being a photographer. She has a job she hates, a marriage that was over before it began, sons that no longer need her, and her ailing father has moved in. Then, a betrayal pushes Sarah over the edge. She packs a bag and leaves her family behind.
Sarah ends up in Laguna, California where she takes a job at a café, meets new friends, and moves into an apartment on the property of successful Orange County developer, Will Donovan. Sarah and Will have a lot in common and a romance develops.
Then, the day after the biggest night of her life Sarah gets a call from home. Her husband’s been in a car accident and may not survive. Sarah must go home and face the family she left behind. Will she remain in New Hampshire or return to the life she loves in Laguna?
Why are you self-publishing it?
I sent out both my books (Hindsight and In Laguna) to agents many times. The process is time consuming and somewhat degrading. You have to have thick skin as the rejections pour in.
I’ve met with two agents about my book. Both said that while the writing was very good the genre of women’s fiction was a hard sell in the market. Both said that unless it’s “book club fiction” that publishers weren’t interested. One said that mother's don't run away from home so people wont be able to relate to my character. She was not my target audience - no kids and almost 70. The other said, that my book would resonate with women but the reality was that my book was good but not good enough to wow the people in the industry. This is not as harsh as it sounds. It’s reality.
Getting an agent to take on your project is one thing. However, after they say “yes” they have to go out and pitch the story to publishers and if the agent doesn’t feel that the book will sell they don’t say “yes”.
I’ve spent countless hours writing and editing In Laguna and feel that this book needs to be out in the world. The thought of my book living forever in my computer’s hard drive makes me sad. Sad because I spent so much time working on it but also because I think the story is one that will resonate with women.
I feel so lucky to be living in the era which makes self-publishing so accessible and affordable. I can put my book out there and be done with it perhaps even move on to writing another book or maybe publishing Hindsight.
So that’s my story!
“Like” my page on Facebook – Kathy Sloan Writer - for updates about my upcoming book: In Laguna.