Long Time No See by Deborah Schneider

by Marie-Claude Bourque

I am delighted today to host author and 2009 RWA librarian of the year Deborah Schneider with a very inspirational post today. She reminds us all why it is that we write.

Long Time No See by Deborah Schneider

When I sold my first book as part of the New Historical Voice contest sponsored by Romantic Times Magazine and Dorchester publishing, (this was before the American Title contest Marie-Claude won) – I thought my publishing career was on a straight shot to the top.

I was already nearly finished with the next book, I had a big-time NY publisher and a few months later, I even acquired an agent. Yes, I was on my way. It was all going to be easy street from now on.

Then, something funny happened on the way to famous. Actually – nothing.

My editor never found time to read my option book. She kept promising when we talked, she said great things about my writing and about the first book. We met at a conference and even though my friend told me I was being paranoid, I got a weird vibe from her. I started to think that maybe my debut book wasn’t going to skyrocket me to success.

Eventually I shopped the option book around to agents and editors. It was a Western, set in Montana, (not Texas). I was told to consider changing the first chapter, take out the prologue and cut the word count, (when that particular publisher thought 82,000 words was long).  Most of the time I just heard, “not right for us” and “good luck”.

In the meantime, life went on. I had a family to help support, a child with a chronic disease and a demanding job. There were years that are now a blur of running to the office for a few hours before racing to the hospital to be with my son. I was still writing, or at least trying to.

And then one day, as my son lay in the critical care ward of the hospital, I closed up my laptop and said, “maybe this just isn’t going to happen again”. I realized that I only had the strength for a certain number of things and that sending things queries and partials out and getting rejected was more stress than I wanted to add to my life.  So I stopped writing.

But the stories just wouldn’t go away. Characters appeared in my thoughts and I wondered what was going to happen to them. I heard the voices of imaginary people and could see them in that secret movie place writers go to when they picture the story. Even if I wasn’t typing out the stories, they were still there.

And that’s when I realized that the important thing wasn’t getting an agent, selling the book and hitting the lists. For me, the important thing was writing the book. I was looking for outside validation from agents, publishers, reviewers and readers when really, I was the most important audience member.

So I went back to the keyboard and started another story with new characters. I found joy in the research, happiness in the process of creation and peace in the pages I added one after another.

A funny thing happened when I let go of all that “selling the book” stuff. I sold another book. It wasn’t to a big time NY publisher this time, it was to a small publishing house owned and operated by two women. I discovered an editor who loved my voice and wanted to help me CRAFT a better book. I was assigned to an artist who created a cover I think is breathtaking.

Publishing is a strange and tough business. You have no control over anything but your own attitude and the pleasure you take in the writing. For me – when I focused on the important thing, the reason I started to write in the first place, success followed.

Now that I’m enjoying the first rosy days of publication for Promise Me, I think of it as the “little book that could” and I’m the writer who couldn’t give up.

St. Valentine’s Day Contest

Follow my blog tour and each time you make a comment, you’re entered in a contest to win a free copy of “Promise Me”, chocolate, a $10 Starbucks card and some lovely Valentine’s Day goodies.

Thank you so much for sharing this story with us Deborah. I know that sometimes I get so caught up in the worried of publication that I forget to just enjoy the storytelling.

To learn more about Deborah Schneider and her writing, please visit her at www.debschneider.com

 

33 Responses to Long Time No See by Deborah Schneider

  1. Deborah–

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–I am SO very happy for your new success! You’ve done so much to support other writers, including me. Just know we’re all happy dancing for you right now.

    Alexis

  2. Though I don’t read much current romance fiction, I thought this article about having a healthy attitude toward writing was absorbing and valuable. I began writing an arts criticism and philosophy blog because I got tired of looking at self-published web material that offered too little for READERS. I call that “blogging for hits”, and it parallels the over-dependence upon the response of outsiders Deborah writes about. I’m happy to have discovered Marie-Claude’s blog here.

    If you have good stories to tell, you should be telling them with little regard toward selling them.

    If you want to be write to make money, be a journalist. That’s challenging to do well also, and a much easier way to make a living as a writer than fiction.

  3. Candi Wall says:

    Deborah,

    What a wonderful post!

    Your story is so inspirational. It shows how fickle this business can be and how quickly we can veer away from what we really hope to accomplish.

    I almost felt like you’d been inside my mind when you mentioned the characters not leaving you alone. When life takes over, those characters might take a back seat, but they won’t stay there for long.

    Writers – true writers – find peace in writing, creating, refining. It’s something we have to do rather than something we just want.

    I’m so happy for you and thank you very much for sharing your story with us.

    Happy writing!

  4. Paty Jager says:

    Deborah,

    It’s so true. If you forget why you are writing, the pleasure in it seems to go away.

    A writer always has a story in their head. I think what keeps us sane is letting it out for others to enjoy.

    Thank you for a great post!

    Paty

  5. A heart rending story, and so exactly how it is. Good luck for the future .

  6. Thanks for dropping by everyone. I do agree, Deb is an inspiration.
    The pull of promoting/selling vs writing is so strong, it’s nice to pause now and again and just remember that our characters are indeed talking in our head.

  7. What a wonderfully inspirational story this is and “just what the doctor ordered” when a writer gets down on herself. Glad you didn’t give up, anyone with that amount of passion for storytelling just has allow those words to take form. Thank yo for sharing yourself here today.

  8. Lack of book sales stalled the publishing side of my writing life. My editors and publishers were supportive but business is business. Like you Deborah, I’ve overhauled my attitude and I’m having so much fun with my characters and stories. My goal is to get back in with a much wiser and open heart.

  9. I’ve been in a writing slump myself lately, due to too little returns for too much effort. So it was inspiring to read your words and remember, I should be writing for the JOY of it, not some artificial measure of success. Thanks!

  10. Tanya Hanson says:

    Hello, Deb, what a thoughtful, pertinent post. To say I’ve “been there” is an understatement. After a debut debacle of my own, I tried every trend out there…even got some editorial interest. But when I finally retired from teaching for good and had time to do what I wanted, my hubby said, you’re still gonna write those cowboy stories aren’t you?

    And that’s what I do. It’s what I’m meant to do. I know I’ll never be rich and famous. Western themes may have their ups and downs. But I just want to make characters I love live on in a time and place I love. Right now, it’s Nebraska LOL.

    Best of luck, Deborah, with sales and blogs. Here’s to many, many more books, my friend! oxoxoxoxoxox

  11. Thank you for reminding me of why I started writing in the first place – because I had stories to tell, the stories of people I really care about. I recently started writing a steampunk interpretation of Dracula, even as my subconscious shrieked, “But that’s been done so many times!” and I am very excited about the possibilities. I have two literary novels sitting on my hard drive that I would love to sell, but it doesn’t seem to be happening. I keep reminding myself that these are good books, whether anybody else realises that or not. Thanks for helping me remember what is important, and what’s not. 🙂

  12. eve sanders says:

    so inspirational–thank you for sharing your story!
    You just reminded me that writing should be done for the pure joy of it–the business part will eventually fall into place!!

    Congratulations!
    xxx Eve

  13. Deborah says:

    Thank you all for stopping by and I’m so glad you found some inspiration in my little blog. We all can be bombarded with so much information in this business of publishing, that we do lose sight of what really matters. I wish wonderful stories for all you, because we are all — first and foremost — storytellers!

  14. Deborah,

    Just goes to show you’ve got to go with your gut feeling about people. You knew this agent was all talk and no walk and acted accordingly. When you finally returned to writing just for the peace and joy of it, the stars realligned for you. Such an important message.

  15. Beth Steury says:

    I can SO identify with Deborah’s story! For years I wrote nothing but that didn’t keep the words from filling my mind, the stories from forming, or the characters from developing! Life kept happening and I just couldn’t get back to putting it all down on paper. FINALLY I am doing just that and it feels awesome!

    Beth

  16. Oh man! A friend sent me the link to this and it is a blessing from God. I too am trying to get an agent. I too have a son with medical problems. He was born with a rare brain disorder and hospitals have become the norm for us. Thank you for showing me it can be done. I can’t give up my dream. It is just going to take me more time, because of hospitals. But I am almost ready to query. YAY! Blessings to you. (^_^)

  17. Micole Black says:

    Hi Debrah,

    Thank you for reminding us why really write. I have recently come to the same conclusion. I am the most important person in the audience! 🙂

    Good luck and yes, your cover is breath taking!!!

    Micole Black

  18. jbrayweber says:

    Great story and wonderful reminder to never give up.

    Thanks, Deborah!

  19. Thank you, Deborah, for sharing. When I read your story, I went, yup … she wrote a western historical and that probably didn’t help. I write westerns, can you tell, and I cannot find a market for them unless they are contemporary and have a rich ranch owner with a secret. Meanwhile, you’ve inspired me to keep writing them. Again, thanks. And good luck with your new publisher.

  20. Boy, Deborah! You have remarkable strength and an unbreakable spirit. Your story really touches the heart as well as inspires. I sincerely wish your child lifetime of good health and happiness.

    When my writing partners confessed they were moved to tears by my story, I felt I’d accomplished my goal as a writer. Like you, that feeling of writing something that feels good as well as touches someone’s soul is all I needed. I’m taking my time now — everything else is gravy.

    Thanks for sharing… ~John

  21. Lynn Priestley says:

    Hi Deb,

    I am new to your blog. This post spoke volumes to me. I recently had a conversation with some writing buddies about what is more important – the recognition or the story. We explored the reasons why we write and what is more important to us as artists. Most felt that the big draw card was the appreciation of their writing that made them the happiest. I didn’t agree. I felt (and still do) that writing for me and me alone was the crucial point of the act for me. Whilst it is nice to have appreciation and I guess the goal is to publish, I still believe that the true genius in writing comes not just from hard work but when passionate commitment to story shines through the prose. There is a unique energy within that and it brings magic to your words. I think it is the desire to find a home on a page for all those wonderful characters that creates a wonderful story because they mesh with your spirit and are born from true intention.

    Sad but true, we all have to live and eat at the end of the day and selling our writing is part of that cycle- so in a sense, we need and crave that recognition but I don’t honestly believe that is what completely fulfils us. For me – writing a beautiful piece of prose that resonates inside and out me makes me feel far more connected and in tune than any acceptance or accolade ever has. I think there is real beauty and joy to be found in writing for oneself first and an audience, second.

    And like you mention- when you focused on the authentic reasons that pulled you toward a writing life – then success followed.

    All the best for your future writing endeavours.

  22. Marie-Claude, thanks for posting this link where I could find it.

  23. Cindy says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! I found this very inspiring!

  24. Boone Brux says:

    Your cover is breathtaking and your post struck many cords with me. I think they are valuable words to live by as a writer.

  25. Jessica says:

    I love this post, though I’m sorry to hear about your son’s illness.
    Best line is about us being our own audience. I write inspy, so God’s my audience too, but I totally get what you’re saying and think you’re right on.
    Congrats on your sale! I hope you have many more. 🙂

  26. Hi Deborah,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I left writing for 12 years and just recently got back to it, but I hand’t published before that. When I started writing again I reveled in the joy of the creative process. It’s nice to know that sometimes letting go of the business side is not such a bad thing.
    🙂 I wish you all the best with your new book.

  27. Wendy Marcus says:

    Hi, Deborah!
    I enjoyed your post. Your words really hit home. Thank you!

  28. saukra says:

    Your post has opened my eyes. Thank you for that. Congradulations! I love the cover of your novel.

  29. Thanks for sharing your moving story, Deborah.

    I’m a self-confessed writing addict and I really understand what you mean about writing. Even if I wanted to, the words and the characters just won’t go away.

    Congratulations on your new novel and wishing you many more successes.

    Dee

  30. Hi Deborah, Good advice for us all particularly in those down times.
    Dale

  31. […] Long Time No See by Deborah Schneider Deborah Schneider gives an interesting look into the work (and time) it took for her to publish her first book. How long will you stick it out before you give up the writing game? […]

  32. […] Leave a comment The link to Deborah Schneider’s courageous and inspiring story, “Long Time No See” landed on my Facebook feed this morning. It’s a gift I’d like to share with all of […]

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