Wednesday, November 18, 2009

THE HELP YOU GET ALONG THE WAY

I’m blogging today about becoming a finalist in the EPIC Awards. Now wait, don’t go yet. This is not “all about me”—I promise.

Most people that I’ve met in the last half of my adulthood would never describe me as “shy,” but as a youngster, I was—horribly. That’s one reason I turned to writing. It was a great way for me to get my feelings out without actually having to say them. I could have someone else say it all for me.

I imagine that’s how many of my fellow writers started, too. I sometimes wonder what might have happened had we all known each other when we were younger. Would we have developed into the writers we are today, or would we have found our “niche” with one another and NOT turned so much to writing?

If you can relate to the “shy” part, then maybe you felt this way, too: I was never competitive. Not like so many sports contenders might be. The things I enjoyed, writing and music, were open to everyone, I felt. I am not a “joiner” and I am not one to enter a lot of contests. I entered Fire Eyes in the EPIC Awards, and something odd happened when I did.

From the moment I entered, my attitude about myself changed. BEFORE I entered, I thought, “I probably don’t have a chance.” But my mom always used to say, “If you don’t enter, you certainly are NOT going to win!” I remembered those words, and sent in my entry that very day. Once it was sent, I began to feel some confidence growing. As I analyzed WHY, here’s what I came up with.

Fire Eyes was a joint project. I wrote it, but I couldn’t have if I hadn’t had the cooperation and support of my family—my kids and my husband. While I was writing it, my oldest sister, Annette, was constantly asking about “how it’s coming” and she was the one I could bounce ideas off of. Once written, my business partner read it for glaring mistakes, and my best friend of 45 years read it for moral support. The Wild Rose Press accepted it, and my editor, Helen Andrew, was so phenomenal in helping me mold it and shape it into the story that was released last May. My cover artist, Nicola Martinez, did a superb job on the beautiful cover. With all these people behind me and my story, my confidence rose. Whatever would be, would be—and entering the competition was a win/win situation. Even if I didn’t make it to the finals, I would still have taken the chance and had the experience.

When I received the news Sunday evening that my book was, indeed, a finalist, I thought immediately of all the people who had helped me get to this point; people in my life who had faith in me, and in my ability, and in the story itself. I thought of that saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It’s true, even in the broader sense of our lives as writers. The experiences we had growing up, people who encouraged us even then, our spouses, our children, mentors and teachers we’ve had along the way, and peers that have helped and encouraged us. Editors, artists, publishers and organizations such as EPIC that give us a chance to compete and strive to be better and better.

Does anyone have a “special person” that helped them along the way? What about a “collection” of special people? With Thanksgiving drawing near, I’d like to say that my “collection” of special people in my life is the thing that I am most thankful for above all else. Without them, my dreams could have never happened. I could never have done it alone.

18 comments:

Emma Lai said...

My husband and mother-in-law have helped me most. Though my dad's unwavering belief that I can do anything hasn't hurt either. When I finally worked up the nerve to tell him what I was doing...he essentially said, "That's great, honey. My high school english teacher wrote romance for Harlequin back in the day." You never know who's going to surprise you.

Congrats Cheryl!

Mona Risk said...

Cheryl, it's great to see you giving credits to the people who helped you along the way. Yes it takes a village to write and publish a book, and I would add to promote and sell.

Many people have helped me along the way to publication, critique partners, family members, mentors.
Unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to enter EPICS as it was restricted to books published between October and May 2008. Maybe next year.

Meanwhile I enjoy celebrating with you and the other finalists I know.

Cheryl said...

Hi Emma!
That's great that your dad had such belief in you! My parents did, too, to a point. But although they SAID "you can do anything" they tried to steer me toward more conventional careers--teacher, etc. I only wish they could have lived to have seen my successes in my writing endeavors. You sound like you have a fantastic mother in law, too!
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi Mona,

Oh, yes, you are so right about the "promote and sell" part of it, too, Mona. I truly do suck at promotion.LOL I can use all the help I can get in that area, for sure. I'm so sorry you weren't able to enter the EPIC competition. I wonder why they set those publishing guidelines. Hopefully, next year you will be able to enter and have huge success. I sure hope so. It's interesting how they choose the finalists--it's not truly done by category, but by an overall point system--so some categories might not have any finalists, and others might have several.

Thanks for your kind words.
Cheryl

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Cheryl,
Nice blog, it is lovely that you want to give credit, and share the glory with the people who helped you along the way. Apart from family and friends were offered moral support, my greatest ally in getting published was my writers group MRWG, which hold monthly meetings not far from home, without these fabulous ladies, their imput and encouragement, I would still be a "striving for publication" author.

Regards
Margaret

liana laverentz said...

Hi, Cheryl, Congratulations on finaling with Epic. I, too, was shut out from entering this year due to the time frame for books allowed, but was blessed enough to win an Eppie in 2007 for Thin Ice. Fingers and toes crossed for you that you get to experience that as well!

Celia Yeary said...

CHERYL--How can we name everyone who helped along the way? I will say I did most everything alone, by trial and error, except when I finally had a few things written, I printed them, punched holes, and placed them in ring-binders. I had friends lined up to read my stories, and waiting when their turn came for the next one. I kept a lot of people entertained for about three years. When I stopped that--because I got a contract--I heard disappointed words from all of them.these friends in town were my very best support--none of them were authors, so they did not see my errors and my inconsistent POV. they only read for the story. How great is that?
Congratulations to you on the Finalist list. This will help you, too, becasue you have something to hold up and say--"see what I did?" Love you--Celia

Cheryl said...

Margaret,
It's great that you had a wonderful supportive writing group. Those are few and far between, sometimes. If you can get a good balance of people that can all get along and SUPPORT one another, that is the key, it seems. I teach classes here in the OKC area and love to have beginners come in who are looking for a place to meet other writers and LEARN. It's a great feeling to be able to help others like that.
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Well, shoot, Liana. I just don't know why they do that with the publication guidelines, but I suppose they have their reasons. It's too bad, though, because it surely does shut out a lot of good writers and books that could otherwise participate. Congrats on your 2007 win--I know that was an awesome feeling!
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Celia, girl, I know you've had a lot of support from that man of yours! LOL He is a GEM. Sometimes even just an encouraging word from a loved one is all we need to keep on going when the going gets tough. I know you've got lots of friends and a great writing group that have been supportive, too. But you're right--it's impossible to think of and name everyone who offered help along the way.
Love ya back!
Cheryl

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Cheryl, you represent Cactus Rose very nicely, dear! Congrats on this wonderful nomination and best wishes for continued success!

Other than family, my greatest help came from RWA to get me started, a great critique partner who got my first book started in the first place, and presently, an incredibly gifted editor.

Cheryl said...

Hi Tanya!

Thank you so much. I'm so lucky to have the great support and friendship of so many talented authors!

Cheryl

Lauri said...

Congrats, Cheryl! I too have a wonderful editor at The Wild Rose Press! Patricia Tanner is awesome!

My family is very supportive, and one hundred percent behind me and my writing. I couldn't find the time to make it all happen without them.

Cheryl said...

Hi Lauri,

Thanks so much, Lauri. Becoming a finalist in the EPIC Awards was a wonderful surprise, and it means so much.

The editors at TWRP are the best, aren't they? We are really lucky to have the support we have from them and our families, too. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Cheryl

Deborah Schneider said...

My son Garth was always an inspiration to me. He was born with kidney disease, and had his first transplant at age 10.
Despite all the tough times he faced, he had an amazing attitude. Whenever I was discouraged, he'd remind of all the things I'd already accomplished. He is my Guardian Angel now.

CJ Clark said...

Most of my help came from encouraging teachers in high school. Then there was a long lapse as I heard that proverbial, "You can't be a writer, you need to get a real job!" With no encouragement from my parents or subsequent husbands it's been an uphill battle, but recently I found a terrific friend in MT who will read,crit,and give me encouragement.

Cheryl said...

Oh, Deborah, that brings tears to my eyes. I know that had to be the hardest thing that's ever happened to you, losing him. But you have a great, amazing attitude yourself. And what a wonderful memory to cherish of him reminding you of all you have accomplished. He is a true inspiration to you, I'm sure, and always will be.
Cheryl

Cheryl said...

Hi CJ,
Well, there is nothing worse than that long period of time where you hear so much negativity. I think many of us have experienced that. I don't get a lot of encouragement from my husband, either, but he IS my technical support, and I suppose that's encouragement of a sort. My parents encouraged me to write as a HOBBY, but like you, I heard the negativity sometimes about how I needed a REAL job. Still, I know if they were here today they would be proud of my accomplishments, and I had so many many others along the way that encouraged me and helped that I can't name them all. This is truly a wonderful world. So many good people. I'm glad you found someone to offer you crit/encouragement/etc. That's GREAT.
Cheryl