I’m very pleased to welcome Dame for a Day, Gayle Ann Williams! Gayle is giving away copies of her gorgeous book to two lucky commenters over the next couple of days, but if you simply can’t wait and must read it NOW, it’s available on the Kindle and Nook. You can also read more about Gayle at her website. (Oh, you have to click on Fun Stuff there and check out her boots! )
The story behind TSUNAMI BLUE
Hi everyone. First I would like to shout out a big thank you to all the Deadline Dames for inviting me to their blog to be- and yes- I would like a drum roll please- to be a Dame for a Day. (Yes. I’m excited, can you tell? I live on a VERY small island, and I just don’t get this kind of attention.)
It’s amazing to be in such great company, and I want to thank each one of the Dames by visiting their homes. With red velvet cupcakes. And wine.
But since that is not going to happen, because after all it is a bit stalkerish, plus I tend to hoard all the red velvet cupcakes myself, I thought instead I’d share the story about TSUNAMI BLUE, my first published book. Or as I like to call it, “My Wild Ride.”
As you know, my name is Gayle Ann Williams. I live off the coast of Washington, on a small island in the Pacific Northwest. I love the San Juan Islands, and when I sat down to write TSUNAMI BLUE, I knew I wanted to set the story here, in my own backyard. The idea for TSUNAMI BLUE stemmed from my travels in SE Asia.
On Christmas night, in 2004, I boarded a plane out of Seattle and flew right into the Southeast Asia Tsunami. In the air when the deadly wave hit, I knew that if I had arrived a few hours earlier, I might have been a statistic. As I continued to travel in the region over the next few months, I listened and observed, hugged and cried, and yet through all the pain, something else emerged. It was hope. The resilience of the human spirit surfaced. I did not know this at the time, but this experience, this life changing adventure, would become the foundation for my post-apocalyptic novel, TSUNAMI BLUE.
As I traveled the road that lead to a publishing contract for TSUNAMI BLUE, I leaned some things along the way. You might call them “lessons.” And I thought I’d share them with you.
This leads me to Lesson One. You are always learning in this business. Always. This will never stop.
Lesson Two. If your goal is to be published, you must finish a book. There are no short cuts on this one. Yes, you will hear stories about three lines written on a cocktail napkin that rocked the New York world. But these cases are I assure you, rare. Give yourself the best chance possible. Finish the book.
TSUNAMI BLUE, my debut novel, was the winner of the Shomi Dorchester Publishing contest. At the time Dorchester Publishing in New York was looking for a new author. I studied their guidelines. I read the Shomi books. Yes. All of them. I wanted to know the tone, the length, and the kind of stories that they were looking for. But more importantly? I asked myself- is the kind of story I wanted to write? Is this the kind of story I love? And the answer for me was yes. A resounding yes.
So Lesson Three? Do your homework. You won’t be sorry.
And Lesson Four? Write what you love. It will show in the writing. Every time.
Now fast forward with me. I’m getting “The Call” from the delightful editor, Leah Hultenschmidt. I had won. TSUNAMI BLUE was going to be published. And purchased. With a New York contract and royalties, and- wait. I needed an agent. Didn’t I? Well yes, I was sure that I, at least this writer, did.
Now bear with me, and go back to Lesson Three. The one about “doing your homework.” And for me, this was a biggie. I was ready- had been for some time. I had a short list of five agents. And a longer list of ten. I started with my number one.
Lesson Five. Start at the top of your list. I mean why not? The worst that can happen is a no. It may hurt, but you will survive. Plus? It just might work out. Like it did for me.
Miriam Kriss and the Irene Goodman Literary Agency was number one on my short list. I knew what authors Miriam represented. I knew the types of books she loved. Her authors write what I love to read, and these writers are some of the most talented authors in the business.
Now I wish I could tell you it was that easy. But in the end, it is about the writing. About your book. It must be the very best you can do. No exceptions.
So? Lesson Six. Learn the craft. Practice. Study. And write. And write and write and write. Learn the craft.
I’m a poker player in my “other” life, and I do know something about odds. Stack them in your favor. Lesson Three one more time, just for good measure. Do the homework.
Fast forward with me to the release of TSUNAMI BLUE in April 2010. I took out ads, did a blog tour, had numerous book signings and printed very cool bookmarks. I had a launch party, where my brother-in-law lit up the outside of his house blue. The wonderful Stella Cameron joined me. Reviews came in. I got some great ones. RT Book Reviews gave TSUNAMI BLUE 41/2 stars. I cried. I got some not so great ones. I reached for the wine.
Lesson number Seven. Grow a thick skin. You will need it. You will not write what everyone loves. This is not possible. But you can write what you love. This will serve you in the long run.
Fast forward to August. I am happy. Book two in the TSUNAMI BLUE series has been sold. Contracts have been signed. TSUNAMI BLUE is selling briskly. I’m hand-selling BLUE in my little island business. I’ve sold over 1,100 copies. People are following me on twitter. I’m following them back- talking too much about red velvet cupcakes.
One morning in August I woke up to the noise of the internet.
A lot of noise.
Dorchester Publishing was changing their publishing model. No more mass market books. No more printings for TSUNAMI BLUE. Now? EBooks, then into trade. I had a decision to make. And because I had my most wonderful agent, I didn’t have to make it alone. We weighed the pros, the cons, and in two days, I made my decision. I wanted book two back. My agent made sure this happened.
Fast forward nine months. After a long back and forth, with amazing support and help from my agency, I once again secured the rights back to TSUNAMI BLUE. My first published novel was once again, back in my hands.
But now what?
I made a decision. I would put TSUNAMI BLUE up on Kindle and Nook. Book two, already in the pipeline, will follow. I’m happy to say that TSUNAMI BLUE is alive and well, and currently available on Kindle and Nook. And I have beautiful new cover art. So the TSUNAMI BLUE series goes on. I am excited. My agent is excited. And most recently, TSUNAMI BLUE was a second place winner in the dark paranormal category of the RWA 2011, PRISM awards.
And once more, I am happy.
So let me leave you with this last lesson that I learned. Lesson Eight. Every writer follows his or her own path. This is your unique journey. Things do happen along the way. It makes life interesting. And crazy. And hard. And fun. Is it worth it? You bet. Should you give up? Never. Do like I do. Take a deep breath, grab a red velvet cupcake, and jump back in.
Thank you once again to the Dames for having me. I would love to give away two signed copies of TSUNAMI BLUE. These are original mass market versions of TSUNAMI BLUE. Vintage Blue as I call them. They are very cool. And you get a pen. And a collector card. See? Fun!