Okay, so writing one book hardly makes me some kind of expert. But, at the advice of my girlfriend’s brother/blogging genius/tech guru, David, I decided it’s probably time to start this process. Hopefully, I’ll come up with something worth reading.
In the months so I’ve been blessed enough to be able to call myself a “(soon-to-be) published writer” (it still sounds kind of ridiculous), there’s one comment I’ve heard over and over again from everyone who’s heard– well, aside from “you’ll never go to PA school now. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, in all seriousness. “I should write a book, too.”
I’ll put my feelings on the issue aside (along with my desparate need to respond with “good idea. Tomorrow I was thinking about becoming a painter”) for the sake of putting up, what I hope, is some helpful advice on the matter. Until my book is actually released, into my hot little hands, in beautifully satisfying paperback, I will go through with you all the process of how I got here. Maybe it will prove interesting. Maybe it will even be helpful for those of you who want to delve into the publishing world yourselves. Or maybe, it’ll just kill some time during commercial breaks while you’re watching Real Housewives (because, let’s be real, we are a generation that can’t stay focused on one thing for more than thirty seconds).
Aside from the ever popular “I should write a book” phenomena, I am often greeted by a lot of confusion, as people, even those closest to me, had no idea I was a “writer.” So, how did I get here, anyway? Considering nearly everyone who knows me in my current life knows I work in cardiology, and am going to gradiate school in August to become a Physician Assistant (not for this blog, but if you don’t know what it is, you should really Google it… It’s kind of a neat career and odds are, your primary care doc is, or will be one). I remember being in, like, second grade, or something lame like that, and sitting up against the wall of the school during recess writing a story with one of my friends while the other kids played. That was what I loved to do. I loved creating characters. I loved playing with words until I could come up with the perfect sentence that would give me chills everytime I read it. And, best of all, I loved bringing it to my Mom, and watching how proud she was when she’d see my work.
In college, I majored in English Teaching. It was safe, relatively managable, and I had a talent for writing. Seems logical, right? My school offered a fantastic “Writing Fiction” course, taught by one of the best professors I’ve ever had– and definitely the one who had the biggest impact on my writing. Back then, my idea of writing “fiction” was to take something that happened to me, and change the names of the characters (come on, we’ve all been there). On a side note, the other downside to that kind of writing is that everyone who is familiar with your work will forever ask you “so this character is you, right?” No, Mom. Just because Charlie has short hair and is charming and works in healthcare, and doesn’t look half bad in scrubs, doesn’t mean she’s ME. GEESH!!!
Anyway, over time, this professor got me outside of my comfort zone. I began writing short stories using my dreams, my fears, my imagination… not just my direct experiences. I took that class three times (not because I failed, you jerks… because, for whatever reason, the school allowed it).
Writing was always a hobby. It was something I was sort of okay at, and really enjoyed doing. Admitedly, once I started working full time in health care, that hobby took a backseat to blood and guts and hospital time. That was, until I was working in the Emergency Room one night, several years ago. I’m no going to name names (mostly for the sake of saving my own face) but one night, while I was working, the idea for Searchng for Forever popped into my head… And it went a little something like this– “young paramedic has affair with sexy, older doctor…That’d be hot. I should write that story.”
I don’t want to get TOO personal here, but I did write that story. I wrote it for fun, and I wrote it as am appropriate, safe way to escape my unhappy relationship. Whenever I wrote, I became Charlie Thompson. And I became Natalie Jenner. I was no longer a married 25 year old EMT trudging through class after class in hopes of someday making it to medical school. I was older, and wiser. I had a dream job, and a dream partner. Who doesn’t want all of that? When I started Searching for Forever (which was aptly named my my publishers), I never set out to write a full length novel. And I certainly never set out to get published. Ha. Published. I knew the odds of ever getting paid to write. I wasn’t crazy to think I ever could!
It took three years to finally finish the book. In between Organic Chem Hell, and applying for PA school, I’d tweak it a little. And then, about a month after I found out I was accepted to Notheastern University’s top ranked grad program, I figured, “my lucks been pretty outstanding lately, why not?” and I stuck this bad boy in Amazon for Kindle as an ebook. For those of you who really do want to “write a book” you can actually self-publish for free on Amazon, and they’ll pay you a good chunk of the sales. This is a good way to do it. But nothing beats a real publisher, getting out there, handing people hard copies of your manuscript that YOU wrote… With YOUR name on it. On a whim, I sent it in to Bold Strokes Books– one of the biggest, and best publishers out there for LGBT literature. I was a HUGE fan, ever since I started reading basically everything ever written by their fearless leader Radclyff. If you haven’t yet, go buy her books. All of them. She’s an amazing story telle. And nobody does lesbian romance quite like Radclyff. Needless to say, she inspired me. She writes a lot of medical based lesbian stories (she’s also a retired surgeon), an obviously, I connected with those the most.
To my surprise, a week after I submitted my manuscript to Bold Strokes, they wanted it. I was shocked. No, shocked doesn’t even cover it. To set the scene a little, I was wandering around the Dollar Store, picking up stuff for my girlfriend’s stocking, when I got the email. “We’ve reviewed your manuscript Getting There (that’s the terrible, working title I’d thrown in there after not being able to come up with one for three years) and want to offer you… blah blah blah.” My heart was racing, my palms were sweating… well, you know all those sayings. I called my girlfriend, who just about fell out of her chair as well. And, of course, I called my mom– my biggest fan, since birth. She was beside herself– that kind of mom-pride where you know they’re about to run out on the street and tell complete strangers how awesome their kid is, and you just thank God she’s like, ten states away.
Accepted to PA school. Getting my book published by Bold Strokes Books. Is this real life?
I’m still not totally sure, guys. But I’ll keep writing on here in hopes of figuring that out.
*Next up… the editing process…and other annoying computer issues.