The monthly meeting of London Writers’ Society was last week and I have not yet recovered. A new member, I usually feel like I’m on the periphery trying to figure out who and what the various people are at the meeting, and each meeting so far has, for the most part, had different attendees. Last Thursday a guest author spoke, Hana Samek Norton. She has written a novel in my genre, historical fiction, and came to us with many tips and tricks to help negotiate the publishing world. Well educated she teaches part-time at a college in New Mexico and to encourage her students by example she wrote a novel, The Sixth Surrender. She wanted to show them what was possible, I guess. She shared with them the forty-nine rejection letters she received before the fiftieth letter which showed interest and ultimately led to publication of her first novel.
I so needed to hear that story. My rejection notices are piling up, too, making moving forward harder and harder. Thank you, Hana, for giving me hope. Hana’s personal story is interesting, too, as she came to Canada when she was fifteen, forced to flee a U.S.S.R.-dominated Czechoslovakia and speaking no English. Now she teaches and publishes in it.
Hana mentioned the Historical Novel Society and the Romance Writers of America as places to join. She suggested we inform ourselves about publishing while we are writing and not wait until we’re finished and then start searching. Of course that is exactly what I did, although I have now started work on my sequel while working to get Loyal to the King published.
I’ll also be taking a trip to Chapters, Borders and any other book store I can find to look at the Acknowledgments page in historical novels for agents who are interested in that genre. Many of the courses I’ve taken have not been given by a historical fiction specialist. Now I realize I need to find an agent who knows and loves the genre. So simple, yet I had not thought it of paramount importance. Hana suggested also to find a copy editor whose specialty is historical fiction.
Today I’ll be thinking about my business cards, another idea from Ms. Norton. And I’ll be trying to find a course on screenplay writing as a means to aid my writing. Oh, it’s all so exciting! Exhilarating! And I’m meeting with my web-designer son to get my web page up immediately. “Don’t wait until you’re published!” Hana said.
Periodically we all get asked what we do. Hana told us to get our thirty-second elevator pitch ready. Here’s mine: I write historical fiction. Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War and its aftermath are my current focus so I get to traipse all over New England and the Niagara area, visiting historical forts and other places, walking where my characters might have walked. Then when I come home and sit at my computer the scenes turn into stories. I have a website. Would you be interested? ( I hand out my card.)
Hana’s suggestions have spurred me on, made me eager again, and that is the most important thing.