It’s just a little less than a week before my debut into Romantic Suspense, Criminal Instinct, will be published…
I once read that anything created goes through a journey and has something like a birth chart. Such as when writers go through journeys with their careers, so do books from the day they are born or started. Pretty surreal, huh?
Criminal Instinct was born years ago, in a small ancient duplex on the older side of town in California. It was my first home with my husband and my first home away from my mother. The outside paint was the original sea blue, with shredded strips of paint in corners. The floors were wooden and scarred. I would have to scrub mold from the window panes. The first year we lived there, we discovered mice running through our rooms until I found a small hole under the stove where the mice would sneak through to get inside and I plugged it with foil. Haha. The water heater broke once a year, and the backyard grew weeds instead of grass.
But it was still our first home, filled with hand-me-down furniture, and with large throw rugs thrown on the floors.
We lived there eight years because we couldn’t afford to live anywhere else.
And in the back room, on an old Macintosh computer, I started writing Criminal Instinct, then titled Deadly Adam.
Of course, it was awful at first. My prose was stilted, my descriptions rough. I didn’t even understand story structure, or character arcs. A little while later, I upgraded to my first iBook (that crashed and burned) and then to a chunky Toshiba laptop, and finally to a big, heavy iMac. Once I finished the book, I rewrote it again and began to cold query literary agents.
Even when I had two interested agents, I couldn’t believe it. This really seemed like it was happening to someone else. I finally chose an agent in Colorado. She was really nice and I knew she was a strong business woman. Not only that, but I believed my father had given me a sign.
My father, who I had a tremulous relationship since I was a little girl, had one day up and left to Colorado after my wedding without telling anyone in the family. He had lived in the same California town all his life. I managed to track him down and get a phone number. He told me he was happy, that he was doing good, and I believed him.
But I think I knew, my father never did well on his own.
Months later, I was pregnant and wanted him to know. His phone had been disconnected. I went to the people who he still had contact with, so he would know he would be a grandfather. The people said they’d get him the message to call me.
He never did.
Six months after my son was born, a detective came to my door and told me my father had died in Colorado and gave me a phone number. I was in shock and in tears. I called my aunt, who always took care of the boys in our family and she discovered my father died of Pneumonia.
I never spoke with my father again and he never met his grandson. And because he passed away in Colorado, I felt signing with this agent was his way of telling me this was the right decision.
So I did. We worked on Criminal Instinct for about 6 months, and then went on submission. Criminal Instinct made it to a couple of acquisitions before it was denied. Finally, Harlequin had my book for 11 months and bought it for the Bombshell line.
It was one of the best days of my life. I really believe my father had given me the right sign. When I was sent a box of his belongings from Colorado, inside his wallet was some money, his license, his social security card, and a post-it. On the post-it was a message: Your daughter is pregnant, she wants you to call her.
Finding the note has always made me feel like our father and daughter relationship has always been unfinished.
Months after my sale, the Bombshell line had closed. I sold two YA books and was able to finally move out of that old duplex into a roomier and brighter home. Criminal Instinct was put away for a few years until now…
Sadly, I’m no longer with the agent, but now Criminal Instinct has been given a new chance, or a rebirth, with Carina Press. I look back at this book’s journey and the events in my life that surrounded it. And even if readers don’t enjoy Criminal Instinct—because there are still rough areas in this book since it was my first—I will know of the journey it took and me with it.
It will make the publication all the more special, like this book has finally come full circle. And yes, I still look for signs from my father on what decisions to make next…
I’m extremely thrilled and nervous at the same time. Thrilled after years of hard work, this novel is finally going to be published, and nervous because Criminal Instinct is my debut into adult fiction and my very first book that I completed. I believe I rewrote CI twice followed by 2 major edits with professionals.
I feel like I’ve known my characters for years and they finally get to meet readers. Some will enjoy Ana and Jonas’s story, some will not. This is the kind of thought process I always prepare myself for when a new book goes out into the world.
But one thing I can’t forget is how much work it is to write and complete a novel. Readers who are not writers, sometimes don’t realize how much mental power goes into writing.
One thing I try not to forget is that writing is an amazing gift to be cherished. Because after a tough year and a half that I’ve been writing, I haven’t completed another book. I have about 5 partials and 3 of them were rejected in a way that made me feel I wasn’t a very good storyteller.
And I sit here and look at each of them and wonder which one will be good enough? Which one will take me away till the very end? In my mind they each have potential. But my confidence has not been the same, I think.
I want to get past the worry and grasp again that feeling of writing for my enjoyment. That writing for entertainment. Writing for me.
I’m hoping the release of Criminal Instinct will help me find that feeling again.
I think it’s about time to share what I am thankful for this holiday season. Above all, I am extremely thankful for my family and our good health. This is one thing I will never take for granted.
I am also thankful for the two books I was allowed to publish. I think many of us know 2009 has been an incredibly hard year with the recession and the effects on everything as well as publishing.
I am thankful for all the readers who have taken the time to read my books and who have posted a review or dropped me an email.
I am thankful for the unique writers and publishing people I have met in person and on-line.
Writing what I’m thankful for makes me think of the past and the future.
Next year I will be starting fresh with my career in many more ways than I ever expected. I have learned many things these past three years. And one thing that is for certain is that building my writing career has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to fight for. There have been times I have thought maybe this is not the path I am supposed to take. Maybe there are signs telling me: Writing is not for you, Kelly!! (haha)
I believe once I sold my Romantic Suspense and YA, things changed. I had to look at marketing as a job along with writing. I had to look at pleasing more people than just myself with my stories.
With the business part of publishing, the love for storytelling was shoved aside. And that is something a writer cannot lose.
When I started this blog in 2005, I was a lot more positive. I had dreams in my eyes and during the last two years I’ve become more grounded. I’ve learned. I’ve experienced what works and what doesn’t. I’ve realized what’s important and what isn’t. I’ve changed. It’s sort of like looking back at a younger version of myself and smiling at my silly innocence. Sounds a little dramatic, yet spot on.
In 2010 I will start my year as a realistic writer, knowing each writer has his/her own path. Some easier than others, and some extremely rough. And that I will have to work even harder to reach my new personal and professional goals. That I will finish my next book and write the best story I can.
So I will close with good writing to you and Happy Thanksgiving to my US friends. 🙂 Thanks for reading.
“Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.” — Victoria Holt
I had a writer’s epiphany today. A parent wrote a review for Graffiti Girl saying how much her 13-year-old enjoyed GG. It made me feel great. Just the other day someone was telling me how some of my older relatives couldn’t get into GG, that they liked Invisible Touch better.
The thing is when I wrote each book, I aimed for different audiences.
When I wrote GG, I wanted to write a book that kids in high school and middle grade wanted to read. I had a terrible time in high school getting through some of the classics as a teen. As an adult I can sit down and find all the themes and beautiful messages that I missed before because at a young age I felt forced to read them.
When I wrote Invisible Touch, I wanted to try to reach the young reader and possible some older readers. And it seemed I did reach some of those older readers too.
I have to admit, I’m not a literary writer. I enjoy stories with action, great and unique characters, and entertaining story lines. I may never be a literary writer, but I may be an entertainer writer for kids, and I may be the author kids want to read. I can only hope and do my best.
So my epiphany? I need to go with my strengths. I want to write for kids. I want to write entertaining reads that have kids turning the pages, and connect with characters their age.
I still consider myself a newbie writer. I’m still learning new things and techniques. I’m still on my writer journey and learning small and tough lessons.
I need to be myself. 🙂
I wasn’t going to show this vlog until Friday with the Readergirlz Teen Read Week Celebration, but I thought this was the right time to show you the real me.
Kinda silly, not very sophisticated, and with untamable hair. *wink*
So I’m writing this summer. I’m also freelancing and trying to keep the kiddos entertained.
Unfortunately, the two books I’d been working on this past year didn’t work out. *sigh* Since I’m a slow writer, that means I’m pretty much back to the drawing board and it will be a while before I have another release.
At first as I was typically Kelly bummed.
Typically Kelly bummed involved much obsessing, much reading, and munching out.
The obsessing involved questions…
Do I want to go back to writing Romantic Suspense? Do I want to write this story idea I’ve been working on all over again with another angle? The kiddos are young but not babies anymore, am I ready to go back to work? With all the munching do I have the power to go on a diet. haha. Am I good writer at all???
Then August came around and I was recharged. I was ready to make decisions.
Maybe one day I will write Romantic Suspense, but not now. I was hit with a new story idea. Boom–>BAM. It took hold and I flew with it. My agent may not be pleased with it, but I think it has something. And I won’t know until I try. I am ready to get a part time job again. It’s time to get ahead with the finances. Freelancing is nice, but it’s not steady. I do not have the power to go on a diet. 🙂 I’m a writer, I’ve had some satisfied readers, I must be doing something right.
After all this contemplating, I’ve realized I’ve had a lot of ups and downs with my career. If it was graphed it would have a bunch of peaks and valleys. Right now I’m at the valley.
So now I’m working on getting my kiddos ready for back school. I’m back to finding a job. And I’m writing to finish a book by the end of the year while freelancing. 2009 brought another life cycle change for me that wasn’t so good for my career.
And a little chinese astrology food for thought…we are currently at the Year of the Ox, where many of us have to work hard and struggle this year.
But you know what? That’s okay. I’m a fighter. I’m a writer. I love telling stories. Its a part of me. And one day, I’ll have a peak again.
Just like before, it will take determination, hard work, and a goal.
I see my goal and I’m doing everything I can to get there.