Today, we welcome Hope Ramsey to Happy Endings to share her journey to publication. My apologies for being late with this post – I got hit in the head with a softball yesterday (so I’m not really supposed to be here at all… lol). So without further ado, here is Hope:
HOPE RAMSAY: FALLING INTO PUBLICATION
Just last month I achieved a life-long dream. I sold a four book series of romances to Grand Central Publishing. The first of the books, which feature a small, South Carolina town named Last Chance, will be available in bookstores next April.
My road to this pinnacle of success has been exceptionally long. I completed my first novel in 1982 just months before giving birth to my first child. That book was written on an IBM electric typewriter — on paper — and edited with a very sharp pencil. Before sending it out and collecting my first rejections, I had to retype all 400 pages and do it without typos. After that, I swore I would never write another book without a word processor. (For those of you too young to know what a word processor is, just ignore the last sentence.)
In 1988 I purchased my first PC for the whopping sum of almost $5,000. It didn’t do much, it had almost no memory, and the book had to be saved on five inch floppy discs. But it allowed me to edit on the screen instead of with a pencil. Between 1988 and 2010, I wrote something like fourteen novels. I collected so many rejection letters on these books that I stopped counting them after a while.
I suppose it’s common for people to liken a journey like mine to a monumental climb up a steep mountain. But that’s really not the right metaphor for my journey. I didn’t climb my way to success, I fell there.
In fact I fell so many times it’s almost embarrassing. Just consider these boners:
- The opening line of my first novel — a traditional fantasy — started: “It was a dark and stormy night.”
- My second novel, a Washington DC pot boiler was 200,000 words and nothing much happened.
- My first romance had absolutely no conflict in it and the hero was a hard-to-like congressman.
- Until last year, I never made it out of the bottom third of the Golden Heart, and I must have entered that contest eight or nine years running.
- I have never won a chapter contest, despite having entered dozens and dozens of them over the years.
- I have been dropped by no less than three well-known agents when they couldn’t figure out how to sell what I was writing.
And the story goes on and on. I fell, and fell, and fell, all the way to a four book contract.
The point is that every achievement requires failure. To walk, a baby has to learn how to fall. To earn that gold medal at the Olympics, Lindsay Vohn had to fall, over and over again. Nothing that’s worth having comes without failure. It’s like the old Japanese proverb says: “Fall seven times, stand up eight.”
My current agent — the one who ultimately made the sale to Grand Central Publishing, God bless her — told me the other day that I had the patience of Job.
But she’s wrong about that. It isn’t patience that got me here. It was a set of well-developed calluses from falling so many times that another tumble hardly hurt any more. And that’s the point, when the falls stop hurting so much, you was able to see thought the pain and realize that every fall had something to teach me. And those falls, collectively, helped me to write a really great series of books.
Oh, yeah, and I didn’t exactly do it alone. I had a group of great writer friends, and an equally loving batch of family members, who kissed my boo boos and lent me a hand every time I landed on my ass.
So the next time you get a rejection letter, or some judge shreds your contest entry, or some reviewer pans your latest book, just remember that to get to the best and highest places in life, you have to fall.
Visit Hope at: www.hoperamsay.com