It’s time for a happy dance! I’m delighted to announce that I have a contract with BuddhaPuss Ink LLC for the publication of my novel, IN THE CONTEXT OF LOVE.
After years of hard work that includes writing and editing, securing a literary agent, the disappointment of the manuscript not selling, being sidelined by a family tragedy, more writing and editing — writers take heart — I am proof that if you believe in something don’t let it go!
The idea for my novel began percolating in the 90s when I was deeply moved by a jarring magazine article (I won’t divulge the content, lest it be a spoiler). Over time, I misplaced the article, but the premise stuck with me until I decided to use it as material for a novel.
I was still relatively new to writing book-length work. Outside of a few short stories and a “starter” novel, my writing and publishing career has been in poetry. I was eager to learn all I could about fiction writing, so I returned to school for an MFA to work on the novel, at the time titled THE REAL STORY.
After countless queries, I acquired an agent who helped me further hone my manuscript. It received praise from many editors, but didn’t sell. My heart sank when my agent suggested I work on something new, but I knew that’s what I had to do. It’s a tough task, though, when you’ve put time and sweat into something only to have it languish.
Then, in 2011, my eldest son took his own life. There’s no way I can describe the grief, despair, and utter confusion that brings a parent to their knees when such a thing happens. It was a rude awaking to realize there are no guarantees in life… for our children, our loved ones, or ourselves. His death was a vacuum that left me unable to write for over a year. I would sit at my keyboard, frozen, remembering the times he would call me in the afternoon to talk, knowing the phone would never again ring with his call. Writing was the last thing I wanted to do. I’d sooner sleep on the floor.
Getting back to normal life when you lose a child of any age isn’t possible; rather, you find a new normal that involves living with loss. When I thought about how proud my son was of my creative work (as are my other two children), I realized I needed to get back to writing. My heart wasn’t in the new novel I’d started, however. I returned to the earlier manuscript. I had faith in the story – one excerpt has been published and two excerpts have won awards in regional prose competitions.
Along with other changes, I retitled the manuscript to IN THE CONTEXT OF LOVE because, at its heart, it is a love story. With the help of an editor/author, Marcy Dermansky, I changed the beginning, cut out the superfluous, sped up other sections, and added more of what she thought really mattered. Encouraged, I started pitching it to small presses.
I was thrilled to learn BuddhaPuss Ink was interested. The founder of this terrific independent press, MaryChris Bradley, is a 30 year veteran in the book industry who is committed to their authors. She says:
One of the blessings of being with a small press is that each book gets more care and attention. What many people don’t realize is that publishing houses live and die on their backlist. Yes, new titles give them a burst of income, but that’s often followed by returns that eat away at the frontlist revenue. It’s the day in, day out, solid titles that sell well beyond their initial release that give a house stability. As a fairly new house, we don’t have the luxury of signing lots of titles/authors, knowing that only a few will be successful and will join an already rich backlist while the others are quickly forgotten and remaindered. We have to pick our titles and authors carefully. We tend them and nurture them, and build our backlist as we go.
Our company mission is to put readers first, and we are committed to finding and growing new authors at a time when the major houses seem to have turned their backs on writers without an already well-established track record or movie credits to their name.
BuddhaPuss aims to be a small, but solid house known for great fiction, and nonfiction, written for readers with brains. I’m thrilled to be a part of that! And I know my son would be proud of me.
Commence dancing. The press announcement can be read on BuddhaPuss Ink’s blog.