Last month, I was honored to be the featured speaker at my local romance writing chapter. The event was a full circle moment for me as it had been nine years ago that I’d come through their doors for my first meeting. At the time, I’d written one contemporary romance, which had taken me 11 years to complete, and I had literally no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know about publishing, agents, or even head hopping.
In essence, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know yet.
Without the love, support, and guidance from so many men and women from that writing group, I would never have made it to where I am today as the author of three published books with a contract to complete two more. Ironically, the title of my talk was “The Importance of Firsts.” I spoke about the importance of first lines, first pages, and first chapters in making your story grab the reader and strategies to improve them. It made me also reflect on my firsts in the romance writing business: my first romance novel submission and rejection (by Harlequin), my first conference (Romance Writers of America in Atlanta in 2013), my first book (Lovely Digits), and my first award (being a 5th place finalist in the Maggie Awards back in 2014).
It's easy to get caught up in the “next” of everything in publishing: the next book, the next submission, the next cover, the next promo tour, and the next contract. It’s also easy to get green with envy when you see other authors with their latest phenomenal book deal, best seller banner, or star-studded review. But reflecting back on your firsts will help you remember your own grit in getting where you are now and how much joy you have had along the way. It also helps to share those firsts with writers who are just starting out on their publication journey.
So, as you start this first week of March, take a moment and reflect back on your firsts in publishing, the great people and their kindness that helped you along the way, and the hard work and determination that got you where you are today.
We are all so lucky and blessed to be able to share our stories with others, and we should never take that for granted. So, to all of you who helped me get where I am, and you know who you are, thank you, thank you, thank you. You are all my four-leaf clovers.