Back when I sold my first book - SASS: NOW AND ZEN, a friend told me, "This will change your life forever." At the time I thought the statement was pretty dramatic. I mean, yes, I'd been chasing the publishing dream for years and yes, I'd just achieved that goal, but even then I was smart (wise? savvy? jaded?) enough to know that one publishing contract didn't mean I'd "made it".
But you know what? She was right. Things changed. Not the 'now you're a rock star" kind of change, but for sure, definitely, absolutely that little fork in the road set me on a different path.
One of the cool changes that came from being a published author was 'joining the club' so to speak. I'm still a total fangirl who doesn't even think I'm in the same universe as my favorite authors, let alone the same league, but whereas before I was a wannabe writer, when my first book was published, I became an author, just like them! And as an author, I got to be included in things that were previously beyond my grasp - such as group signings, school visits, contributing to anthologies, and being invited to participate with a group of completely cool authors on this blog. That, to me, was one of the most exciting, life-changing moments of all. It's been an honor and a joy to get to know my TFC sisters over these three years. *sniff*
The years have brought about other huge changes for me as well. When we first started TFC, I was in transition. I'd just left my first agent and signed with Elaine Spencer at the Knight Agency. I think that's the first time I really felt "legitimate" as an author.
My family was still living in Japan at the time, and I was busily researching for my next book, SASS: THE FINNISH LINE. That's when I discovered that women ski jumpers weren't (and still aren't) allowed to compete in the Olympics and I joined the fight for their inclusion. (You can read about it and sign the petition at the Womens Ski Jump USA website.) THE FINNISH LINE was released in the fall of '07, and earned a blurb from Olympian Gold Medalist Nikki Stone and a 'recommended read' nod from the Women's Sports Foundation.
I was busily writing my next book, DEATH BY BIKINI when my family and I made the move back to the States. That was a fun change because unlike the SASS series, which was written by a bunch of different authors, this was my own series. All me! Scary and fun at the same time. DBB presales were strong and it went to a second printing before the pub date. And then Scholastic Book Club picked it up to be included in the school book fairs. By the time it was released in May of '08, I was flying pretty high. That continued as DEATH BY LATTE was released in the fall and DEATH BY DENIM the following spring. (Side note: This spring the books will be re-released in a bind-up edition with all three under the title "THE DEATH BY BIKINI MYSTERIES".)
Meanwhile, like everyone else, the three years brought a lot of downs to go with all those ups. My publisher decided we should 'end strong' and not do a fourth DEATH BY book - even though they had asked me to leave the ending of book three totally open for one. (So now I get a ton of letters from readers wanting to know when the fourth book is coming and I have to sadly tell them... it's not.) I proposed a bunch of ideas that didn't go anywhere. I banged my head against countless walls.
BUT the frustrations all seem worth it when the good stuff happens. In the summer of 2008, I sold my first YA paranormal. It evolved into what is now TRANCE and will be released this fall. Fast forward another year (and countless proposals later) and I sold a four-book MG series about the international adventures of Cassidy Barnett. Those books will come out one per season starting in 2011.
For me, a former mom-wannabe-writer, these were some pretty huge changes in just three years. There's been good and there's been bad, but you know what? It's all been worth it.
How about you? What kinds of changes have you been through recently? Comment below to win your choice of one of the above mentioned (published) books. I will randomly draw a winner to be announced Monday, March 15.
BONUS: I just learned from my editor that I should have my TRANCE ARCs by the end of the month. In addition to the book-choice winner, I will draw one winner of the very first TRANCE ARC to anyone who blogs, tweets or posts about the TFC party today or tomorrow. (Post link in comments.) Ready? GO!
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, TFC!!!!!