You can be anything your heart desires, if you want it badly enough. That was what my father always told me when I was growing up. He’s been dead for many years now yet I still recall so many of his words of wisdom—well, maybe not all of them were words of wisdom. Like the: Eat your spinach. It’ll grow hair on your chest.
NOW you know where I get some of my wry humor!
At one of the writing conferences I attended, a NY Times bestselling author said that we should reach for the stars. Dream big. Don’t just shoot for something little. But have a lofty goal. Something that seems unattainable. Like—“I’m going to be a NY Times bestseller.” That was her goal. And then she made it.
I’m thinking: that’s easy for her to say. A big publisher picked her up and so sure, she made it.
But there’s some truth in what she said. Ever enter a contest just for the judges’ critique? Or do you hope to final? To win? To catch an editor or agent’s interest?
Do you write a novel, several, just because you have to quiet the demons running rampant in your head and once you tell their story, you can have a break? Or do you want to share your stories with readers and hope they fall in love with your characters, their worlds, their plights as much as you do?
Unfortunately, to get anywhere in this business, you have to work hard at it. Writing the story is the key. Revising it over and over again until it shines is one of the most important things you can do. But once you’ve submitted, and gotten the rejections, dozens maybe, what do you do?
You can be anything your heart desires, if you want it badly enough.
Always remember that.
What I do is start from scratch. I’m an eclectic reader and writer. So if one genre wasn’t working, I’d try something else. My critique partners LOVED my vampire romances. They said I’d found my niche. I had loved Dracula ever since I was 13 and my mother had taken me to see him at a college play. My mother was really ahead of her times. She loved Star Trek and vampires, and how cool is that?
But I hated that the vampire had to die, that he was unloved. So I created my own version. But what happened about the time I was shopping my vampire stories? No, not Twilight. That came much later. Everyone was writing them. Everyone. If the author was a NY Times bestselling romantic suspense author, she was now writing vampires. If she was a NY Times bestselling historical romance writer, she was writing vampires. If she was a NY Times bestselling romantic comedy writer, she was now writing about vampires.
Yep. No chance there. Most of the houses already had their own vampire authors…the authors probably didn’t love vampires from an early age like I had, but they were published, already had a huge following, and that’s all that mattered.
Moving along—what else could I write that would be as sexy as my vampires, with the same light darkness/dark lightness—I love romantic suspense, but I can’t write without humor—so my writing is something in between.
I had grown up also on werewolves. And they had the same problem as vampires. They were unloved. Yet the poor man couldn’t help what he was. I always wanted the underdog to have a happily ever after, even if it was supposed to be a horror story.
At the same time, I had also loved Jack London’s tales, Call of the Wild and White Fang and so I decided to write a werewolf story where the shapeshifters are like real wolves, not beastly characters, and in their human form they still have the wolfish senses.
I never ever ever thought that one story, that had been requested by several agents and publishers and consequently turned down by every agent and publisher until Sourcebook’s editor, Deb Werksman, gave it a read might want it. Here’s what happened.
She called me and I thought she was a telemarketer, and I even asked if she was selling something.
She was not a telemarketer and we had to sort of start over again with introductions.
She had only read through half of the book and loved it, but wanted to know if I’d sold it yet. Nope. She would read the rest and get back with me if she liked where I went with the story.
Some notes: She wanted to know if it was unique. Long after I had written the book, I’d judged some contests that had a couple of werewolf stories. One, the shifters turned into beasts, dogs, all kinds of stuff. In the other, not really based on wolves. Others that I hadn’t read, but looked up were historical. And I also gave her specifics in my story that were truly unique to my world.
She got back to me about it sometime later, can’t recall now when, but it seemed like FOREVER, and said she loved it and wanted to take it to the acquisitions board. YES!
But it wasn’t a done deal until they bought it. And they might not like it! It took FOREVER to get back with me because the board didn’t meet like it usually did. When she did, the book was sold! And she wanted to know what else I had. HEART OF THE WOLF made PW’s Best Book of the Year, only 5 mass marketed books that made it that year, and the first for Sourcebooks in their romance line.
I was over the moon. I still never thought that I would become a bestselling author. My daughter would tell me, “Mom, if you don’t think you will be, you won’t be.” Which brought me back to my dad’s saying, “You can be anything your heart desires, if you want it badly enough.”
I always wanted to make bestselling status, and I’ve worked hard with promoting in every way, shape, and form that I can think of. But basically after 15 years of writing, revising, submitting, and tons of rejections, and 9 books into the werewolf series, I finally made the USA TODAY bestsellers list the first week out with A SEAL in Wolf’s Clothing!!!
My advice: Keep writing. Switch genres and see if another might be the one that suits your writing style best. Make your book as unique as it can be so that readers will be able to identify with your world and know it’s yours. Never quit learning the craft. No matter how many books I’ve written, I’m always learning how to improve my writing. “Never give up. Never surrender”~~Galaxy Quest
Write as if the next book will be “the one” that will make it. That’s what I did and it finally worked!
Set writing goals, finish the books, and with each new story, fall in love all over again. And remember you can do whatever your heart desires if you want it badly enough!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
USA TODAY bestselling author, Terry Spear has written over a dozen paranormal romance novels and two medieval Highland historical romances. An award-winning author, Terry’s Heart of the Wolf was named a Publishers Weekly’s Best Book of the Year in 2008. A retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry Spear is a librarian by day and spends every spare moment writing paranormal romance as well as historical and true life stories for both teen and adult audiences. Spear lives in Crawford, Texas, where she is working on new paranormal romances! For more information, please visit http://www.terryspear.com/.