16 July 2014

Long Way to the Top: Lynda Cox's Debut Novel

If you have a dream, don’t just sit there.
Gather courage to believe that you can succeed and leave no stone unturned to make it a reality.
~ Roopleen

The countdown to Kodiak begins! For the month of July and most of August, I’m concentrating on writing my memoir, so there won’t be as many blog posts.  Have a book-filled summer!



A
s I scribble down notes for yet another chapter idea, I wonder why the heck I ever thought I could write a book, much less one that anyone but my therapist would read.

It’s a common doubt that writers (and most artists) share: will anyone accept the work we have created?

It’s also one that should be locked away until the work is finished.  There is no magic formula, there is no easy way.  And the road to publication is long and filled with rejection potholes.

Today, Lynda Cox, tells us about her journey to publishing her first book, The Devil’s Own Desperado.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Long Way to the Top
Lynda Cox guest blogging here. Give me a few seconds to make the introductions and then we can get down to brass tacks, as my grandmother used to say.

I’m a fifty-something grandmother raising one of the grandkids, and when I’m not writing romances, I show collies. I’ve been involved in the sport and insanity known as dog shows for better than thirty-five years.

I’ve been a Star Wars AND Star Trek geek all of my life. I grew up watching syndicated westerns, with a steady diet of John Wayne westerns thrown in. I’m also a huge Harry Potter fan.
The AC/DC song “Long Way to the Top” kept running through my head while I was thinking about writing this blog.

In my late thirties, I enrolled in college. My first day of classes, I looked around and realized that I was old enough to be the mother to almost every kid in the classes I was enrolled in. During my freshman year, I took a creative writing class. Maggie Wheeler, the instructor in that class, encouraged me to keep submitting.

So I did…and kept getting rejections.  But I didn’t stop writing or submitting.

It took almost twenty years to get published. I refined my writing, submitted my manuscript to an agent, and received countless form rejection letters.  Sometimes, I’d get a very personal letter that gave me hope to keep on trying.

There were times I stopped writing, but never for very long.

After my undergrad degree in English, I went back to work on my master’s. I concentrated in creative writing. One of the instructors I had as a grad student also served on my master’s committee and that man pushed me harder than I had ever been pushed. Aaron Morales told me after I’d defended my creative piece for the masters that the reason he pushed me so hard was he hadn’t seen the kind of writing talent I had in a long time. That was funny, coming from someone who’s almost twenty years younger than me.

But Aaron not only pushed me to go in directions I never would have thought I could go with my writing, he pushed me toward publication.

In a class of twenty five students, more than fifteen of us were published at the end of that semester.

Because I was concentrating in creative writing, I could take Aaron’s class more than once. Each semester, I found myself being published in a literary magazine: Blue Mesa Review, The Heartland Review, and Indiana English.

Those short stories opened the door for me to be published in novel length. I was better prepared to research where to submit. I now had publication credits in highly respected literary magazines. I decided I didn’t need an agent, that I’d work my way up through the slush pile. I submitted to The Wild Rose Press and waited. I received the standard form response that my query had been received and I should hear something in six to eight weeks. Almost twelve weeks went by without a word, so I sent an e-mail to The Wild Rose Press, asking if there was any news.

I received a very personal e-mail back, apologizing for the delay, and oh, by the way, if I would be willing to make some changes to the manuscript they were very interested in publishing my romance novel. I was working at Indiana State University at the time, directing the operation of the Writing Center, and I made my boss, the department chair, read that e-mail because I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

I made the changes that Susan—who then became my editor—asked for and within a week of submitting the changed manuscript, I had a contract for The Devil’s Own Desperado.

From signing the contract to release date was just a little under a year. I spent that year alternating between being so happy I was giddy to incredible self-doubt. The self-doubt grew worse when I thought about submitting a second romance to The Wild Rose Press.

What if I was only going to be a one hit wonder?

That doubt was removed when I was offered a contract for my second book, Smolder on a Slow Burn.

After The Devil’s Own Desperado was published, one of the professors at State asked me to come and talk to his Popular Literature and the Mass Media class, as one of the books read in that class is a romance novel. I was shocked to learn that Dr. Connelly was using my romance in his class. One of the questions the students asked was if I’m any different now that I have a published novel to my credit.

And the answer is, no. I’m still the same person I was before I signed my contract, before I saw the cover to my first book, before I held my first book in my hands. I’m just one of the lucky ones to have a romance novel published.

Yep, I’m one of the lucky ones. And, it’s still a long way to the top.

Lynda J. Cox will tell anyone who will listen that she was born at least one hundred and fifty years too late, and most definitely in the wrong part of the country. Her heart has always belonged to cowboys, the wide open spaces, horses, and Lassie. She grew up on a steady diet of cowboy movies, syndicated Westerns, and Lassie. All of those influences play a role in her life now. She writes western historical romance and raises and shows collies. She holds a master’s degree in English with a concentration in creative writing from Indiana State University after earning her BA from the same university as a non-traditional student. (Think being old enough to be mom to 90% of the students in her freshman cadre.) She’s kept busy with two spoiled rotten house cats, a 30 plus year old Arabian gelding who has been nicknamed “Lazarus” for his ability in the later years of his life to escape death, and quite a few champion collies. When she isn’t writing, she can be found on the road, travelling to the next dog show. She loves to chat about books, the writing life, and the insanity which is called a “dog show” and can be reached through her Facebook page.

Media and Web Links
lyndajcox.com

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