Finding my voice
The first book I ever wrote was a romance novel based on a dream I had where my husband looked the same, but I knew he was a different man. When I woke up I couldn’t get the dream out of my head and so my novel Return to Me was born about widowed Lana who dies and is transported to a parallel universe to be reunited with her husband, only to find him a different man.
I spent three years working on this novel. My dream was that it would be a stand-alone contemporary for Avon. While I was very passionate about the project, very soon the writing process became like work and writing was a struggle. Finally after three years, and numerous drafts based on critiques from my writing group, I realised I was finished.
Now that I had decided that my novel was complete and that it was the best I could make it, the next step was to submit it, however I was suffering a crisis of faith. I wasn’t sure whether my book was any good. I decided that this was my practice book, the one that allowed me to learn the craft of writing, and now it was time to work on something else, but I still always loved the romance genre and had ideas that I wanted to explore.
After watching the way that the genre was transformed and embraced digital publishing I kept thinking about my languishing manuscript. I thought about self publishing it, but wasn’t sure whether it was any good. I re-read it after 10 years and I decided that it had to be kept hidden from the world.
Another year passed and I was doing Nano and after five years of attempting to finish it and reach 50,000 words in a month, I finally did it. On the forum threads I read about publishers seeking Nano novelists to submit their romance novels. I read my manuscript again and while I noticed its flaws, I also noticed its heart. I prevaricated, but finally decided to bite the bullet and submit Return to Me. All the years that I had spent on it had devoid me of any objectivity about its merit.
I sent my manuscript to my agent who submitted it to publishers and soon two offers followed. I decided on Momentum and within a few months my book was out in the world. Now I needed to write my next romance novel and within six months I had a completed manuscript and in July 2014 my second romance novel Hollywood Dreams was published.
It seemed miraculous that I had established a career as a romance author. I think about the 11 years that my manuscript languished in my metaphorical bottom drawer until I finally decided to give it a shot. While I think waiting so long was the right thing for me, I also learnt the most important lesson of all: ‘to submit and get rejected is better than not to have submitted at all.
This post was previously published on AusRomToday.
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Author of Return to Me, Hollywood Dreams and Vintage Dreams. Short story is published in the anthology Little Raven Two by Little Raven Publishing. Pen name for Amra Pajalic.
Mae Archer's books on Goodreads
Return to Me
ratings: 13 (avg rating 3.46)
ratings: 2 (avg rating 5.00)
Little Raven Two: An Erotic Collection
ratings: 2 (avg rating 4.00)