A Bedtime Story From a Newbie Author

A question I get asked fairly often is “What’s it like to write a book?” My first answer is, “It’s weird.”

Two things about me:

One--- I am a book whore. I am faithful to no genre. I love ‘em and read ‘em all, but I have to admit; Romance/Chick Lit does hold a special place in my…heart.

Two---I will fight you if you try to take my book.

My biggest physical fight with my second oldest sister was over “Gone with the Wind”. I was eight and she was twelve. It was her book. I was halfway through reading it. She decided she wanted it back.  You just don’t do that to somebody (me) in the middle of a book, it’s unheard of. There was no way in hell I was giving up Rhett Butler without a fight.  We tangled. It was savage. That huge mother of a paperback was torn in half. Hands scratched and bleeding, I took off with my half. I beat her up the stairs to my room and locked myself in. I pushed my dresser in front of the door as a safety precaution and made sure my windows were locked. (I was pretty sure she could fly.)  Ignoring her vicious threats and banging fists, I said a little prayer to the Book Gods and looked down at the mangled half in my hands. YES! To this day, I get a little flutter at the thought of Master Rhett.  

I started messing with writing a book; I think it was last December. It started out as a serious thriller with a serial killer plot.  As I wrote the first chapter, Anabel kept thinking funny thoughts, not taking the situation seriously enough, and being a total smart ass when this guy broke into her home to kill her.

I knew then I had to write chick lit.

When I was told that people reading reviews on your books don’t take families or friends reviews seriously because they are partial to the author, I was so jealous. I wished I had their families. Mine are all avid readers and badasses; especially my mom. There’s not one in the bunch that will tell a white lie. They wouldn’t ever say they liked what I wrote if they truly didn’t, any more than they will admit, not even once, that I am the cutest and smartest person in the family.

After they all read the first few chapters a few measly times, they started cursing at me. I was told quite rudely to not ask them to read another word until I was HALF DONE WITH THE BOOK minimum.  Geez, how was I supposed to know when I was halfway finished with my first book?

My second answer is, “Writing a book is kinda lonely.”

About three quarters of the way done, and ignoring the mean girls I call my family, I started wondering what the hell I thought I was doing. Why did I think I could write a book? Who would want to read about my stupid ideas, anyway? What did I know about writing a sex scene or conversation or action or descriptions?

I was a down, confused, and disheartened baby of a wannabe indie author.

During this sad, sad time, I had given chapters to several other people who wanted to read my book. I never pushed anyone or asked if they had read it yet. I figured they’d get around to it when they did, and human nature being what it is, they’d just feel guilty if they were bugged. I eventually did get some good feedback, (along with furtive, appraising looks from my men friends. Their common question after chapter one was always a version of, “Is this your autobiography?”), but it was ALL good feedback. That meant they all had to be partial and biased, right?

What I needed were some gen-u-ine strangers to read my book. These were the people that could be as ruthless and horribly critical as they wanted, and I needed. They could tear me from limb to limb, should they so desire, and I’d have to grin and bear it, right?

So that’s what I did. Other people gave my book to other people that I had never spoken to in my life. I eagerly awaited any and all strangers to read my book and rip me a new one. And waited, and drumming my fingers, I waited some more.  After a solid fifteen minutes of that, I gave up waiting. Sighing pitifully, I kept busy writing and tweaking. (My book, just so we’re clear). 

Then one sunny day, from a total stranger I’d never met, whose opinion I all ready respected more than the opinions of anyone that knew me since those folks could NOT be trusted to know their own minds, IT HAPPENED!  I got my first, unbiased, official, stranger review on A Date with Fate.

She was kind enough to permit me to post our email exchange here.

**One caveat before you read. If you have not read my book yet, I’d suggest you go read the first chapter sample on Amazon in the book’s “Look Inside” feature or download the sample to your electronic device.  You can follow my link from here by clicking on my book title in the left column. Then click on the cover. Otherwise, prepare to be spoiled …


Dear Tracy

Thank you for letting me read your work.  Your book captured my interest right from the beginning, in spite of the fact that I started it with some pre-conceived notions that were totally wrong.  I heard you really liked zombie books, so throughout the whole first chapter I thought the guy in her house was going to turn out to be a zombie!  At first I thought, oh she is fighting him and he is strong, he is going to eat her or something, then I thought, hmmm, seems like she thinks he is a little sexy, so maybe there is going to be some zombie/human lovin going on (oh my!) and wondered how that was going to go since typical zombies are so ugly and the whole eating your flesh thing…  So at the very end of the chapter, when he kisses her, Bam it hit me, this is NOT a zombie book, ha!  After that, I stopped second guessing what was coming, and settled in for a very entertaining read.  I absolutely love, LOVE the humor!  Your book flows at a nice pace, it is interesting and humorous, and it kept my attention.  I hope this next sentence comes across the way it is intended, and that is, your book reads like a real book.  I felt like I could have been reading a paperback I just picked up at the store, and I usually only buy books if they have good reviews on the cover or if they are on the New York Times best seller list.  I didn’t get the sense that this was a first attempt, or even a rough draft, it read so good.  Many years ago, my boyfriend at the time decided he was going to tap into his creative side and do a little writing.  He gave me his rough draft and it was bad.  Really bad.  (I let him down gently, and he rebounded with a short lived but enthusiastic stint of making tie-dye t-shirts before he moved on to something else.)  So I know bad writing when I see it, and happily your writing falls in the two thumbs up category.

The short version of my review is this:

Lady, you got yourself some talent. 

I am very happy for you that you decided to pursue writing because you seem to have a natural gift.  It was a pleasant surprise and a total relief that it was so good because what on earth was I going to say if it wasn’t?  Luckily for me I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the adventures of Anabel Axelrod (that name! ha, I love it) and can’t wait to find out what comes next.  That’s my shameless attempt to get an advanced copy of the full manuscript, because I really would like to read the entire book. 

Best of wishes to you Tracy, on what I sincerely believe could be the beginning of a successful writing career.

I wait in breathless anticipation for the next installment…

Amy C.

Tracy Responded:

Amy, Amy, Amy....

 I do not know you, but I Iove you more than white cupcakes with buttercream frosting. Not only are you so nice for agreeing to read A Date with Fate, but you took the time to write a review. I would thank you for that, regardless what you said in the review. The lovin' you more than cupcake part is for writing such a good review.

Your letter made me burst into tears, and I NEVER cry except if I am in a rage or watching parades in person. (Those black MIA flags just kill me and make me bawl like a baby.)  Your review also made me laugh, especially the zombie parts--hahaha. Although, knowing me, I just might find a flesh-eating zombie rather sexy, but we'll keep that between us girls.

 I will cherish your review, not only because it is my first from a person who does not know me from a hole in the ground, but also I have been doubting myself. Writing is a solitary pursuit in many ways, so thanks for validating my last few months have not been a complete waste of time.

 Woman, you made my day, my month, my YEAR! Thank you so very much!



It was time. I was excited. My book was almost finished. I was tweaking the hell out of the last couple of chapters. I could now approach the scary females in my family and force them to set aside whatever they were currently devouring (horror, serial killer, paranormal, thriller) and read my wimpy chick lit book. This would be the ultimate test. If my mom and sisters liked it, my life would be complete.  I had even run into a cousin at a wedding party. She reads like me, which is to say she’s inhaled books her entire life. She’s got the badass blood running through her veins, too. I bravely sent her the almost completed book to read, as well.

Their responses were…well, let’s just say THOSE email exchanges will have to wait for another post. I’m spent. Sweet dreams.