Welcome to Michael Rupured who shares the ups and downs of becoming a published author.
OMG, I’m an Author!
Until Thanksgiving, my first novel, is coming out in December or January. I found out August 15th and am still on Cloud Nine. A copy of the contract on my bedside table assures me when I wake up every morning that it wasn’t just a dream.
My story is a little unusual. Before last year, I believed with every fiber of my being that penning a novel required something I lacked. Exactly what was missing I couldn’t say. I just knew I didn’t have it.
I love to write and always have. My mother remembers me filling pages of lined paper with row upon row of tiny little O’s. I’ve kept a journal since 1979 and am known for the long letters I write to my friends. My day job in academia requires a lot of writing, too. But writing a lot and writing a novel are entirely different things.
After several series of posts on my blog about my wild and reckless youth, my “fans” (friends I’ve had since grade school) encouraged me to write a memoir. So I did. I let a hundred or so of my closest friends read it. They said it was great and assured me I’d have no trouble getting it published.
Turns out, they were wrong. I didn’t understand the problems with my memoir until March 2011 when I joined the Robot Unicorn Cult, better known as the Athens Writers Group. Members submit 5000 words of a work in progress, and ten days later, we share our thoughts on it.
At first, my comments revolved around missing or extra commas and the occasional misspelled word. The other writers talked about things like conflict, stakes, and tension; showing instead of telling; and issues with character arcs and dialogue. Though I was in way over my head, I kept coming back.
Reading anywhere from four to eight submissions every two weeks exposed me to a lot of different writing styles and genres. Listening to critiques from half a dozen or more experienced writers taught me a lot, too. With much encouragement from the other writers, in April I started writing my first novel.
A few weeks later I submitted the first 5000 words of Until Thanksgiving for critique. They ripped it to shreds. They ripped my revisions to shreds, too, and the revisions of my revisions. The fifth chapter in that first draft became the first chapter of the book I hope you’ll buy when it comes out. The rest was backstory.
Especially in the beginning, they said things I didn’t understand. I always asked for an explanation, which they’ve always been more than happy to provide—along with suggested reading for more on the same topic. Jessica Page Morrell’s Thanks, But This Isn’t for Us and Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel were especially helpful.
I finished writing Until Thanksgiving in December then spent several months polishing the manuscript. The Robot Unicorn Cult helped me with the query, blurb, and a synopsis that I sent out over the 4th of July Holiday weekend.
Two publishers rejected the manuscript. I heard from one before I got my contract with Dreamspinner Press and another after. Not bad for a first novel.
Beginner’s luck? When you’re talking about something as subjective as a novel, luck does play a role. I’m not going to deny that I am one very lucky man. Quite by accident, however, I did do a lot of things right. Based on my experience, here’s my advice to aspiring writers.
1. Master spelling and grammar. It matters.
2. Start a blog. It’s good practice and essential for every author in today’s market.
3. Find a critique group. Keep trying until you find one that works for you.
4. Be open to criticism. They’re just trying to help, and they’re usually right.
5. Learn everything you can about the craft. The books mentioned above are a great place to start.
6. Know who publishes books like yours. They have an audience clamoring for more.
7. If it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, start writing. Once you start, keep writing until you finish.
Here’s the blurb for Until Thanksgiving:
Gay and pushing forty, Josh Freeman knows his best years are behind him. After his partner of seventeen years has an affair with a younger man, Josh buries himself in a pile of take-out boxes, empty bottles, half-smoked joints, and self-pity. His best friend, Linda does what friends do—gently kicks his ass and encourages him to give the job he’s been offered in Washington D.C. a try—at least until Thanksgiving.
Thad Parker, a DC-based relocation expert, rarely dates and has never fallen for anyone. But when he meets Josh Freeman and shakes his hand, a spark hits him like a lightning bolt. When Josh takes an active interest in someone else, Thad decides to wait.
While he waits, misunderstandings about Thad’s relationship with his older roommate, a reckless encounter with a serial killer, and a brush with death conspire against Josh and Thad’s chance at happiness.
I wish I had more information for you about my book. I don’t even have a cover yet! I’ll keep you posted on my blog (http://rupured.com), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMichaelRupured), and Twitter (https://twitter.com/CrotchetyMan). Drop by any time.