How Did I Get Here?

Thank you,” the magician told the audience. “Now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, for my next demonstration, I will become a published author!”.

I wish waving a wand helped me become a published author. Truth is, I really wasn’t seeking it.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. Writing, words, and language are my world, and have been since I learned to read at age 4. According to my aunts, my precocious self would read the overhead ads on the city bus while they took me on adventures. And I starting learning French in the first grade and pursued it all four years in high school. I can’t speak it now without taking a refresher course, yet I can still read it fairly well.

I certainly majored in words (journalism) in college and sought professions that would allow me to use them. Some professions were heavily dressed in precise language, and in others, words were simple accessories. I also actively pursued hobbies and sought further education (film) to teach me how to use words in a different way.

Those activities still don’t show a direct path to my current reality, as the author of a romance novel, Lost and Found Again, to be released in May by Garden Avenue Press. This is probably the hidden big story, because the road to becoming an author mirrors the journey of my professional career.

To paraphrase Chris Berman on ESPN, I rumbled, stumbled, and sometimes fumbled my way into the events industry, where I’ve amassed strong, ethical, creative, and credentialed achievements. I initially started as a part-time employee, and when my immediate supervisor resigned with approximately 3 major events left to finish for the year, I stepped into her role and discovered it was a damned good fit. Since that time, I’ve had the opportunity to work with other amazing professionals, which helped my growth and allowed me to contribute to the successful production of numerous domestic and global events.

It was during a layoff that I explored an idea that rolled around in my head for a few years. As an avid reader of romance novels, I’ve always been struck that these fabulous stories seem to stop when folks reach 39 years of age or older. That‘s pretty strange because if there aren’t any underlying health factors, folks can keep falling in love and getting it in until they leave this mortal coil. And even if folks are not in optimal health, love doesn’t discriminate. Finally, HDAs (hard dick aids) help those men whose age and lifestyle prevent them from naturally raising the flag and keeping it aloft, but it will not prevent them from being ID’d as the old man in the club. That’s a story for me to write at another time…

I wanted to see folks in their 40s, 50s, and 60s in romance novels. I kept waiting around for the stories to happen, and finally came to the realization that I would need to write them if I wanted to read them. So, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) in November 2016 to see if I could get this story out of my head and on paper.

I continued writing the story well after NaNoWriMo ended, because it wasn’t completed. Sometime in early 2017, I saw an advertisement for the Writers Got Talent contest sponsored by Building Relationships Around Books (B.R.A.B.), an online book club comprised of authors and readers from all over the world. I entered my NaNoWriMo manuscript, which was an unedited brain dump. To my utter amazement, the writing was able to shine through despite the lack of edits, and I won the first round. For the final round, I needed to add approximately 3,000 words to finish the book, as well as edit what was previously written. Somehow, I got it completed within the 2 week period between notification and the final submission deadline. Then, shocker of shockers, I won! Winning included a contract with Garden Avenue Press to publish the novel.

Becoming a published author is a process that isn’t completed when the words are finally committed to paper. Edits, rewrites, more editing, more rewrites, working on a marketing plan (and a website!), book covers, and multimedia tie-ins are part of the process. It’s almost a relief when the book is launched - almost!

In order to grow in this new industry, I must utilize the same skills that helped me become successful in my day job. Learn, write, fail, keep writing, keep reading, network, and learn some more.

After you read Lost and Found Again, I would love to hear from you! Please click on the Let’s Chat navigation tool in the upper right corner to send me an email. I will respond to each one I receive.

Thanks for stopping by!

Colette Miller Watkins