Big Personalities

As I knew would happen, I ended up having a wonderful time catching up with my writer friend, her husband (also a writer), and one of their very good friends and critique partners.

It is almost always invigorating to hang out with other writers. There are just certain aspects of your VERY BEING that are not easy to convey in words–and I often find I don’t have to with other writers.

We simply get each other.

This is an integral component of “finding one’s tribe” I believe. It’s like coming home for those of us that spend such lengthy time in pursuit of a profession that requires us to spend a great deal of time alone.

Not that most writers don’t PREFER to be alone most of the time.

But we’re still, mostly, human after all. It’s good when we can find each other in the world.

There’s a conversation we had (myself, my friend, her husband, their friend) that I’ve been thinking about it since Saturday. We got onto talking about the Big Personalities of the world.

You know, the ones you can’t help but slow down to watch on the social media freeway. We each had a few names, and some of us confessed that we really enjoyed watching these larger than life lives play out on our screens.

We all know some of these Big Personalities in our real lives. Sometimes they have reputations for sheer talent, sometimes for bad behavior, and sometimes because they live their lives out loud with a wild abandon and utter disregard for the more banal social mores that keep most of us safely ensconced in sensible shoes.

With the exception of Big Personalities that harm others, I kinda love that these people exist in the world. These people that go big, go home, and then share all their escapades with us.

It reminds me: you only get to live this particular life one time…why the hell would you ever waste even one day of it trying to fit in?

It’s Friiiiiday

It’s early, so you get a picture of my fancy feet. Everything else is still waking up.

Status: Silly happy that it’s Friday

One of the really frightening things about being back at work now is HOW FAST the days and weeks are zooming by.

It dawned on me about ten minutes ago that it’s September 6th today–7 short days until my review of the copyedited manuscript for Her Perfect Life is due back to my editor.

What??!! How did that happen? Where did the last week slip away to?

It disappeared into countless meetings and stacks of paperwork that have nothing what-so-ever to do with my writing life. I realize that maybe sounds a little grumpy, but I’m actually not. Just slightly terrified at the prospect of keeping ALL the plates in the air…you know?

Going through these copyedits–this is my FINAL opportunity to make any changes before it goes to the printer for the advance reading copies.

There is a slight pressure I’m experiencing…it’s taken up residence right around my solar plexus.

So obviously this weekend will be spent working on copyedits. BUT as I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ll also be sneaking down to the Colorado Gold Conference to have a catch-up-cocktail with one of my writer friends.

And I’m so excited to see her!

You know those friends that you maybe only see every 6-12 months, but as soon as you sit down together it’s like no time passed?? Yeah…this is that. Plus she is hilarious and super smart and basically tons of fun to hang out with.

So that will be my Saturday evening, but other than that I will be chained to my laptop for the weekend.

And grateful for the opportunity to spend my time working on something I love.

On Accepting the Unexpected

Rebecca Taylor in front of the Chateau Marmont

So as many of you already know, I’ve been working at making a career as a writer for quite some time now.

To recap for anyone joining, I started writing my first book while pregnant with my daughter–she’s 16 now.

There have been many ups and downs over the years, but between switching markets a few years ago, signing with my agent, and then landing a two book contract with Sourcebooks, there was a part of me that actually believed the most challenging parts of my journey were behind me.

Over the summer, my editor emailed to tell me she was leaving my publisher. She had other opportunities she was exploring.

She went on to reassure me that I and my book were being left in more than capable hands and that she looked forward to watching my book’s entrance into the world next year and would continue to cheer me on–albeit from the sidelines now.

I told her how much I would miss her, how grateful I was to have had the opportunity to work with her, and how very happy I was for her to be starting a new chapter in her life.

And I was happy for her, truly–and also completely terrified for myself.

What did it mean that the person who acquired my book, the one who loved and championed it within the publisher was now leaving eleven months before my first book would publish?

I didn’t know.

So I Googled and found that I wasn’t the only writer to ever find herself in this exact circumstance. Apparently there is a term for books that are left mid-cycle:

Orphaned.

And readers, I don’t mind telling you, I hadn’t cried up until reading that word, but “orphaned” hit my emotional nail square on the head.

So I spent the next several days worrying and feeling very sorry for myself. I may have also asked the writing gods, more than once, “Why…why me??!”

But once the storm passed and I moved into whatever stage of grief acceptance is, I realized a few things. First off, my editor was right; she was leaving my book in more than capable hands. Secondly (and this one took me a little longer) no one is more in charge of my career than I am.

Meaning what, exactly?

Meaning that I have a great agent, I had a wonderful editor, and I now have a new wonderful editor–but the through line that connects every aspect of my writing career HAS to be me. Regardless of change, hirings, leavings, markets, great luck, terrible catastrophe, highs, lows, and smooth sailing–I am the only aspect of this career over which I really have any control.

And that was ALWAYS the case.

So, I dried my eyes, took stock of all the writerly blessings still before me, and got back on with getting on.

I realize this certainly isn’t the last time a storm is going to blow through around here…so I better figure out how to best keep those winds at my back.

The Connections We Make

Rebecca Taylor

This Thursday is the start of the Colorado Gold Writer’s Conference here in Denver. Since the first time I attended in 2010, I have been to this conference several times. It’s impossible for me to say how many opportunities in my writing and personal life ended up coming my way because of joining Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and attending this conference.

There are whole webs of events and people that spun over the years from the initial choices I made to join this organization–to go to this conference.

I didn’t meet my first agent at this conference, or my second…but I did meet a woman who would end up helping me to get a job with a literary agent. I have met fellow writers, and many lifelong friends through RMFW as well. And let’s not forget to mention all I learned over the years from other writers, agents, and editors dedicated to giving their time to teach on just about any and every aspect of writing, editing, marketing, publication, productivity, and emotional hangups you could ever imagine.

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers was the first step I took that led me to where I am today.

I’m not attending the conference this week, only because I committed to attend the Women’s Fiction Writing Association Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the end of the month. But, I am supposed to pop into the hotel bar and have a drink and catch up with one of the writer friends I met through RMFW all those years ago.

If you see me there, make sure to say hello!

A Whirl of a Summer

At The Last Bookstore in LA

I have had the last four and a half days off from my day job, and today I even had the entire house to myself–which almost never happens it seems. Needless to say, I’m feeling very relaxed and centered and like I’ve been able to actually commune with my own brain.

Always a lovely gift.

It’s hard to believe that the summer is coming to a close. This one sped by in what felt like record time. That always happens where there are a few different trips spread across the weeks. The days are still blazing hot, but the nights are getting cooler and cooler–which I love. Yesterday my son was watching a show, and the setting shifted from a scorched desert landscape to a remote cabin surrounded in snow.

My reaction to the sight was visceral–so I guess I’m officially looking forward to the cooler fall temperatures.

Another contributing factor to the fast summer was probably that I was working on completing the larger edits for Her Perfect Life. I just received the copy edits back and now have until September 13th to get those turned around.

I know for everyone else, June 2, 2020 probably feels very far away. But as I experience each milestone of this publishing process, I see how quickly the next ten months are going to go.

We’ve just recently received responses to some of the author blurb requests that we made. I’m so grateful to every single author that has been so generous with their time and their kind words after finishing Her Perfect Life.

Next up with be the actual paperback advance reading copies (ARCs) that will be printing at the end of October! It’s practically around the corner

Her Perfect Life: Cover Reveal

It’s finally the day I get to share the beautiful cover for Her Perfect Life! I couldn’t be more excited. I was thrilled when my editor at Sourcebooks, Grace Menary-Winefield, sent me the draft to share the direction their designer, Olga Grlic, and the marketing department were heading. “I love it!” I said.

From the publisher:

HER PERFECT LIFE is gripping women’s fiction for fans of Diane Chamberlain or Kerry Lonsdale, seeped in family drama, secrets, and redemption.

Do we ever really know the ones we love?

Reclusive Clare Collins crafts her novels like she crafts her life: perfectly. So the world is stunned when the famous author is found dead on the beach from a self-inflicted gunshot — the morning after her latest book hits the shelves. 

Her sister Eileen is at a loss. Clare led a charmed life: success, mansions, money…why would she throw it all away? But while reading through her sister’s latest—and greatest—novel, Eileen discovers a clue that unravels the fiction and reveals the painful truth. Suddenly, the life that Eileen had envied doesn’t seem so sparkling . . .

Her Perfect Life is a page-turning debut that reminds us that no matter the success, everyone has secrets. And some are more devastating than others.

Published by Sourcebooks Landmark. Release Date: June 2, 2020

Cover Designed by Olga Grlic

Home Again

I have been loving this summer. Colorado has been the perfect combination of sunny days with temperatures mostly in the 80s and enough rain to keep the whole state green well into July. I’m writing this in my backyard, under the shade of our awning with the barest of breezes to rustle the tress. I feel so lucky to live here and to be able to enjoy this time.

Speaking of time, for some reason I counted the days until I return to work for the 2019-2020 school year. It’s 19 in case you’re wondering. Which is neither here nor there other than I have been wanting to get a big jump start on my second women’s fiction novel (due to my publisher in the Spring of 2020) before having my attentions divided. Today I hit the 16,000 word mark (it’s planned for 90,000) and while I’d ideally like to be further along, I’m feeling really good about the start I have here.

For some reason, the start of a book is always a bit slow for me. Getting to know my characters and deciding on settings seems to take me some time. It feels like those things are established at this point, at least for one of my main characters. I’m getting ready to jump into the story of my second mc, so hopefully the momentum doesn’t slow down and I can head into the school year with a running start.

Matthew and I watching the sunrise at the top of Haleakala, Maui

If you follow along on Facebook or Instagram, you know my son and I just returned from a trip to Maui to celebrate his 15th birthday. When my daughter turned 15 she and I went to London for the week–it was something special I wanted to do with each of them, just the two of us. We stayed at The Whaler condos in Kaanapali Beach and had a fantastic time with our rented convertible. Hiking trails off the road to Hana, coursing zip lines, and we even woke up at 2:00 AM one day to make it up to the top of Haleakala in order to watch the sunrise. It’s a trip neither of us will soon forget and I look forward to returning soon with the whole family.

Sunset at Kaanapali Beach

Traveling is always a treat for me, but it has been nice to get home and get back to a writing routine. I have one more summer excursion planned, a weekend girls’ trip to Breckenridge right before I plunge back into the whirlwind school year. I’m considering driving separately so I can stop at the Breckenridge library on my way home. It’s such a wonderful place write.

On Working With a Traditional Editor

My current writing camping spot…the kitchen counter.

The last four months have been a crazy whirlwind of having so many of my writerly goals come to fruition. Right now I’m in the fray and working on the continuation of that dream.

When I have a second to stop and really think about how much has changed since February, I’m still completely overwhelmed with a sense of awe and gratitude so big–I sometimes have to remind myself that this REALLY IS my new reality.

You wrote a book that sold to a traditional publisher.

Not only that, but they also contracted for a second.

When did that become true for ME?? While it at times feels like it was overnight, I know the truth. There have been thousands of overnights between today’s success and yesterday’s start.

And I can honestly say today’s success proves to be worth every “no thank you” that I’ve listened to along my journey. I finally have the opportunity to work with a fantastic editor who is invested in seeing my book shine and do well.

While I’ve worked with some fantastic freelance editors on my other books–I can honestly say that working with Grace at Sourcebooks has been a next level experience for me and my writing. I imagine it’s what it must feel like to work with a professional sports coach–they’re reading you, your output, and pushing to get that last 5% out of you.

And now that we are nearly finished with this second round, and I see that finish line on the horizon, I’m starting to let myself get excited about some of the next phases of development: copy edits, cover design, and hopefully some foreign sales.

And of course…that next book.

From Self-Published to a Traditional Deal: It Only Takes One Yes

I’ve imagined writing this post for a long time…years. Eleven to be exact. That’s how long I’ve had publishing on my brain.

To say I’m still processing recent events with regards to my writing career is simply an understatement. As I was trying to explain to my husband last night, sometimes you want something so much, and for so long, that when it finally happens you’re not exactly sure what to make of it. How does a person process elation?

Last month, two days after my birthday, I received an email from my agent who was 30,000 miles up in the air on a return flight from New York.

Subject: Offer/Her Perfect Life

I glanced at those words and a flood of adrenaline hit my system. My body responded to what they meant before I even clicked the email open.

Before writing Her Perfect Life (my first work of women’s fiction) I wrote six other novels. One mainstream adult and five young adults books–all of them self-published.

But I had long wanted to partner with a traditional publisher.

One of the really great things about self-publishing, of course, is that you have all the control with regards to getting your work out there. The only person that has to say, “yes” is you. And then, once you tell yourself, “yes” you get to work. A. Lot. Of. Work. A lot of learning. A lot of everything. And that is really great because you have all the agency over that process. It feels good, productive…empowering.

There are many aspects of the self-publishing process that I love. But the one I hated was the difficulty of truly wearing all the hats; specifically with regards to marketing and audience reach. For the type of books I was writing, young adult, I found it to be particularly difficult because the wider YA market can be hard to reach without the support and connections provided though a traditional publisher.

So by 2017, armed with very realistic expectations, I was ready to try finding a traditional publisher again. I found a new agent, pitched her a new book in a new market for me (women’s fiction), and got to work writing, revising, and getting ready for my agent to take Her Perfect Life out on submission by the end of 2018.

And on February 26th, two days after my birthday, the offer came in.

Best. Birthday. Present. Ever.

Her Perfect Life will be published in the Spring of 2020 by Sourcebooks Landmark. They have also contracted for a second untitled work of women’s fiction.

Am I happy? That word doesn’t even begin to brush the surface of how I feel. I imagine it’s like finishing a marathon. All those hours, weeks, months (for me years) of training in order to cross that line, throw your arms in the air, and finally declare, “I did it!”

For sure I wasn’t the fastest, sometimes I walked, and I was nowhere near the podium of writers who won their first race. But the elation of getting here? That emotion is just as sweet.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer on my blog, please send it to my email: rebecca (at) rrtaylor (dot) com

This Lonely, Lonely Business of Writing

“A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn’t telling, or teaching, or ordering. Rather, he seeks to establish a relationship with meaning, of feeling, of observing. We are lonesome animals. We spend all our lives trying to be less lonesome. And one of our ancient methods is to tell a story, begging the listener to say, and to feel, “Yes, that’s the way it is, or at least that’s the way I feel it. You’re not as alone as you thought.” To finish is sadness to a writer, a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn’t really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done.”

–John Steinbeck