Monday, March 8, 2021

I Wrote a Novel. When Will You Get to Read It?

Almost exactly two years ago, I started a project I wasn't actually sure I would complete. I wrote a novel. I can't tell you how many times over the last couple of decades of my life that I actually planned to write a novel. I have tons of how-to books on my bookshelf outlining how to write one that I bought all those years ago and never made it past the first chapter. I guess in the back of my mind I never really thought I could pour so much time and effort into something that would make me feel so vulnerable. Who would want to read it? Would I embarrass myself? Do I think I'm a better writer than I actually am? 

Then, one day I had a book idea. I got a stack of post-it notes and began to outline the whole story on the wall in my office. I wrote on a new post-it for every new scene idea and then stuck it on my wall. This part all came to me pretty quickly. I knew what I wanted the story to be and how I wanted it to end. So then, I got started. While I have my own business in medical billing, I only had a couple of clients at the time with small practices. So, I had quite a bit of free time throughout the week to sit down and write. I found I did my best focusing at Starbucks. Plus, when you're a gold card member, you get free refills. So, I would plant myself at Starbucks for several hours and write furiously several times a week. It's insane to think about how much free time I had back then. 

Before long, I started getting questions from some of the employees and regular customers at Starbucks
about what I was doing (apparently, I also make facial expressions when I'm writing dialogue). I mustered enough bravery to admit I was writing a novel. It was a big step, but I also didn't know those people and I figured they would likely never read my words. Oddly, though, they became some of my biggest cheerleaders during the writing process (and I picked up a few free frappuccinos along the way).

Once I finished the writing process of the novel, I had the biggest feeling of accomplishment. It took me about 3 months total for the writing process. I remember walking to my car from that last day at Starbucks and wanting to dance around and act like a crazy person, but I also didn't want people to think I was any crazier than I had already made them think. But I filmed myself and any time I want that feeling again, I go back and rewatch the video.

In short order, I started the editing process. I combed through every line looking for typos, missing punctuation, or sentence structure issues. That part I did in just a few days. Then I prepared a copy for my beta readers. I picked two friends (the lovelies Aubree and Danelle) who I felt would appreciate the story, but be honest with me in their assessment. After they were done reading (which didn't take long), D and I met with them to get their thoughts. They did so well at helping me see areas that needed a little tightening, but also the strong points of the story. I loved their enthusiasm and one day when this thing is published, they will get my first copies. My husband was also a great source of help and encouragement throughout the process. While some would see this passion project as a misuse of precious time, he actually believed that I could and would do it.

After getting feedback from my beta readers, I took another week to make tweaks and changes. I tried so hard to be as detailed as possible, but not get too stuck in the editing process. When I heard about Pitch Wars from an Instagram friend (love you, Mev), it was the kick I needed to move forward with the next steps. I had to get started on a query package to submit to the contest to try to get a spot as a mentee. The lucky few who are chosen get mentors who have been through the book publishing process to help walk their mentees through getting their stories polished and hopefully well on their way to publishing. While I was not chosen as a mentee, the process helped me to create all the components of a query package to send to literary agents.

After Pitch Wars was over, I sent my first three queries to try to obtain an agent. Then, I got stuck. Around this time, my business started to take off and I no longer had the wide-open schedule I had when I was doing my writing. Then, my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. When I went to that first doctor's appointment with her, that wasn't at all what we were expecting. She just wanted my help in navigating it because she always felt like she would forget what the doctors would say. But then we found out she had urothelial cancer and late in November (a few weeks after I sent those first few queries), she had surgery to remove a kidney, the attached ureter, and part of her bladder. Along with balancing a steady load of work, I became one of her secondary caregivers (my grandfather was her primary and did such an incredible job). So my focus became working and going to doctor's appointments. The surgery, unfortunately, wasn't enough to beat the cancer. So, I walked with her through several months of chemo. The cancer came back in her bones and then her liver and this past October, she went home to be with Jesus.

I tried a few times in all of that to send out a query here and there, but life was crazy. Plus we ended up in a whole pandemic situation and my focus changed. And then recently I thought, "Why am I just sitting on a finished product?!" So I sent a query. Then another. Then another. I have now sent a total of 10 queries to agents (which isn't many in the publishing world). But I'm not going to stop until the story I finally finished ends up in people's hands in book form. So long story short is I'm not sure when you'll get to read it, but I know I'm determined one way or the other to give you the opportunity.

Now on to the next query. Pray some agent has mercy on me!

To follow more of my novel journey, make sure to follow me on Instagram @lifeherstyle!


  1. Love it!! I can’t wait to read your book someday!

    1. Praying for that day to come! Thanks so much for all your encouragements!

  2. That is sooo exciting. Congrats on the book. I hope you get an agent soon!

    1. Thank you! Me too! I've waited long enough!

  3. This is a huge accomplishment! Writing a novel is a dream of mine - I used to be a book reviewer for some of the bigger labels like Harper Teen and Penguin - I just need your discipline! Three kids makes it an extra fun balancing act haha! Congratulations!