Eight years ago I wrote my first novel and it went nowhere. In retrospect, I can see why.
Did I make my first ten pages count? Unfortunately, no. My inciting incident didn’t happen until page thirty. Was my book in an easy to pigeon-hole genre? No, not really. I marketed it as chick-lit in my query letter, but now I realize that contemporary women’s fiction would have been a better description.
I’m sure there were other things wrong too. Probably I had too many speaker tags, adverbs and overused words like “just”, “that” and “already.” I briefly self-published the book and then quickly took it down.
For the next two years I focused on reading and my children.
When my son was in Kindergarten he could read Harry Potter. He was also two grade levels ahead in math–and remains so to this day. I found myself having no one to share this experience with but my husband because who wants to hear about a Kindergartener with superstar reading abilities?
It turns out, lots of people.
In 2011 I started Teaching My Baby to Read where I shared my tips as a former K-4 teacher and developed a large following. Its mission is to spark a national conversation about how massive parental involvement is the key to high quality education. Where to Start gives parents ideas for toddlers and preschoolers and Afterschooling is for Kindergarten on up.
Not only did Teaching My Baby to Read give me the opportunity to help parents all over the world support their children’s educations, but it gave me confidence in my own ability to write something meaningful that other people appreciated.
In 2012 The Daily Herald gave me the amazing opportunity of creating “I Brake for Moms,” a weekly column devoted to parenting, humor and modern life in Puget Sound. Over the past two and a half years I’ve written about everything from airplane travel with small children to the politics of gun control. My most popular column ever was about Common Core math.
In 2013 I started writing fiction again. This time I was equipped with experience, connections and a kick-ass author’s platform. I attended local writing conferences to improve my craft, learned from experts and sought out the best beta readers I could find. This time when I sent out a query letters, an agent was willing to take a chance on me.
In fall of 2014, Month9Books offered me a two book deal. BLANK SLATE will release in 2016 and is about an 18 year-old girl whose lack of a virtual footprint makes her so valuable that she is auctioned off to the highest bidder. The sequel will come out in 2017.
Some people say that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become good at anything. That’s a lot of time to invest in a dream. But if your dream is to become an author, those 10,000 hours are worth it!