My friend and fellow writer, Monica Epstein has agreed to come by the beach and tell us about her road to publication. We've all found our way from different paths. I can't wait to hear Monica's story.
My road to publication has been a long one but well worth the journey. When I began writing WHERE THERE IS WILL, a full-length novel—especially one I would publish—had never entered my mind. Publishing a book was on the same tier of my bucket list as becoming a rock star or marrying royalty. It would be great but something I would never achieve. All I wanted was to write a short story that I could share with some friends online.
I was inspired to write a story about a middle-aged woman desperate to prove to a celebrity nearly half her age that her taste in music was similar to his. (I think it was my way of fighting the fact that I was aging.) When I finished it, something didn’t feel right. There seemed to be more to the story than what I had put on paper. (And, yes, I did write the beginning on paper because I was on a cruise without my computer.) So I kept writing. And writing. And writing more, until Michelle and Will, the heroine and hero, told me their story was complete. Once a friend read it and liked it, there was no turning back.
Friends introduced me to a published author, who introduced me to the Washington, D.C. chapter of Romance Writers of America and took me to their first workshop. It was then and there I learned that I had a lot to learn about writing. Although it took only six to nine months to complete the first draft of my manuscript, it took another three years (and fifty-some drafts) to get it into publishable form. In the meantime, I had queried agents and pitched it to editors to help me become accustomed to rejection and thicken my rather thin skin. Only now do I realize that it was one of these rejections that put me on the road to publication.
In November, 2012, I attended another workshop, this one led by Margie Lawson, one of my favorite presenters. (If you are a writer and unfamiliar with her, you should check her out.) Margie presented a free class to the attendee who had received the most recent rejection. Moi. An agent had turned me down the evening before the workshop! The class I took was Submissions that Sell, presented by the talented Laura Drake. At the end of the course, I had a polished query letter and the knowledge that The Wild Rose Press (TWRP) took unagented submissions. I queried them immediately.
I’m a technical writer by day, and I usually work from home, but for some reason, I was in the office on June 14, 2013—almost exactly four years after I wrote that short story. When an email came in with the TWRP editor’s name, I took a deep breath and prepared for the worst. (I had received about a dozen rejections by now.) I was in shock that she offered me a contract. I rose slowly from my chair and gaped at two coworkers, who happened to be conversing outside my cubicle. When they turned to me, I whispered, “I just got an offer to publish my novel.” The words could barely leave my lips. I was probably afraid I was imagining them. I did not scream, perform happy dances, or pump my fist. Not in front of people anyway. There’d be plenty of time for that when I got home.
And there was.
Wonderful story, Monica. That last paragraph gave me a chill. Will any of us ever forget our first 'call'? I'm going to relax while you tell us more about what WHERE THERE IS WILL is about.
When she moves to London following her divorce, Michelle Loeser has no interest in looking for love. She needs to focus on surviving without her ex’s six-figure income, coping with a severe fear of heights, and rebuilding her confidence. And if she keeps her promise to her best friend, she’ll pursue her passion for writing too.
Will Sheridan found his passion early in life. At age eleven, he was cast in the starring role in a film series. Now, at the age of 25, he’s a celebrity at a crossroads in his career. He has no time for women who don’t understand his priorities.
When Will offers to help Michelle acclimate to the unfamiliar city in exchange for cooking lessons, she figures what’s the harm? But jealous fans and coworkers, eager paparazzi, and a distrustful mother see it differently.
I walked into my office cubicle, hung up my jacket, and logged onto my computer like I did every morning. I stood, picked up my empty coffee mug, turned, and slammed into Olivia. “Come with me,” she whispered. I sighed heavily and followed my co-worker into the conference room where I found Paige already sitting at the large table.
“I saw your photo in the newspaper,” Paige said, shoving a clipping in my direction.
“I wouldn’t exactly call it a newspaper,” I replied, but not having gotten a good look at the picture the previous night, I picked up the clipping and examined it. It was of poor quality—probably taken with a cell phone camera. I hadn’t noticed the caption yesterday: Will Sheridan gets attacked by cougar. Despite the lack of creativity in those words, my insides felt like they were being attacked by a cougar. “Nice,” I said pretending to sound disinterested as I pushed the paper back toward Paige.
“Tell Olivia and me what you’re doing in the paper.”
“This is no time to be cheeky. Just what were you doing kissing William Sheridan? We didn’t even know you knew him.”
“You do know him, right?” Olivia interjected.
“No. I just walked up to him in a café, sat on his lap, and planted a wet one on his mouth.”
“You’re on his lap?” Olivia gave the clipping another look. “Why, you are on his lap. And he has no shirt on.”
I let out a deep breath. “I met Will when I first came to London, and we became friends. We’ve spent a lot of time together and gotten to know each other quite well.” Paige’s expression begged me to define how well I knew him. “We’ve become a little more than friends recently.”
“By snogging naked in a café?”
Even I had to laugh at the silliness of Paige’s statement. “I admit, it does look pretty bad, but for your information, Will is not naked, he’s just shirtless.”
“The caption says he’s shirtless and trouser-less,” Olivia corrected.
“He was covered.”
“By a towel,” Olivia added.
“A bath sheet,” I corrected like it made a big difference. I went on to explain what had happened to lead up to the public kiss. When I finished, Olivia stared at me, open mouthed.
“So does this mean you’re dating William Sheridan?” Paige asked.
“Yes, I guess I am.”
I was barely out of the conference room when Paige griped, “Can you believe that American? She thinks she can write a novel and have one our most eligible bachelors.”
Where There Is Will is available at HTTP://AMZN.COM/B00HJE46UA.
Monica, we've heard about your journey to publication and your fabulous book. Now, we'd like to hear about you.
Monica Epstein writes about topics that appeal to women like herself—over 40 and nowhere near ready to throw in the towel and call it a life. Her first novel, Where There Is Will, is published by The Wild Rose Press.
Monica lives in a suburb of Washington, D.C. with her husband, their teenage daughter, and a small collection of hats and fascinators. She dreams of being the Queen of England in her next life.
Thank you so much for being a guest on my beach, Monica. I know our visitors will want to leave questions and comments below.