I first became aware of Kelly Gay through Colleen Lindsay's addictive blog, The Swivet. Colleen--or La Gringa, her non de plume--used to send me free books back when she was a publicist. When Colleen became an agent, the flow of free books dwindled to a mere trickle, but I got to learn about up-and-coming new authors that she picked from her slush. Kelly Gay was one of the first. That was when I started following Kelly's blog. Within a few months, Colleen and Kelly sold her first novel, THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS. It will be published in the summer of 2009.
We've been commenting on each other's blogs over the past few months. She recently put up a post that I found especially interesting, so I asked her to write a guest post on the same subject. Well, that sort of expanded, and now we are going to check in with Kelly at various milestones on her pre-published career. What milestones, you ask? We'll work that out as we go along. In the meantime, expect a guest post from Kelly every now and then. Here is her first.
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by Kelly Gay
When Tia contacted me about writing a series of guest posts showcasing an author in the pre-debut stage, I was a little stunned. I mean, after all, I’m a big fan of Fantasy Debut and blogging here is quite an honor. Of course, I jumped at the chance! :)
While my urban fantasy, THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS, won’t be released until next summer, we’re hoping this insider series of the “in-between stage” (being contracted but not yet having a book on the shelf) will be of interest to Fantasy Debut readers. The topic that inspired Tia’s idea was “Switching Gears”, what it’s like to go from an aspiring writer mindset to that of contracted author.
It’s been six months since I signed with my agent and nearly three since I sold to Pocket Books in a two-book deal. And quite frankly, it’s taken a little while to get used to the idea and to my new routine. I was used to scouring the web for industry news, writing up queries, polishing partials [e.g. the first three chapters-Tia], pitching to editors and agents at conferences and being the best aspiring writer I could be. After a decade or so I became pretty good at it. I had a lot of confidence in my pursuit. That pursuit became my comfort zone. And after my sale, after all the furor died down, I suddenly felt out of my element. Stepping out of one's comfort zone can be an odd feeling.
And don’t get me wrong. I want to be exactly where I am. I didn’t work all those years not to be, and I wouldn’t change this for the world. I’m living my dream, and I'm insanely happy about it. But like anyone else with a life long dream, suddenly going from the pursuit of the dream to the actual dream itself is a huge, mind boggling change. I made it my business to know exactly what I was getting into. I researched, talked to published friends, and I have a good grip on what’s expected of me and the work I need to do. But what I didn’t expect was how surreal it felt to let go of my old routine and immerse myself into a new phase of the writer’s journey. I prepared myself in every way except mentally.
Now that I’ve had time to identify the feeling that gripped me, which is really just a temporary loss of confidence (and a little dose of panic) :), I realize that while this stage is new, and I’m out of my comfort zone, all those years of trying to sell myself and my work has made me strong and able to handle most anything. I may be a new author, but I’m also a skilled writing veteran with a thick skin. Writing manuscripts, queries and synopsis, meeting and pitching industry pros, overcoming my introverted nature to do those pitches, all of it has prepared me for this new role.
In retrospect, I realize it’s not so much about letting go of my old mentality as it is about using it and reshaping it in order to forge ahead into new territory. And it's okay to panic, or have an "Oh sh**! What now?" moment after you sell. I think everyone goes through this to some degree (and/or perhaps in differing stages of the game). As for me, I'm happily settling into my new role, savoring the new challenges thrown my way, and I cannot wait to share my imagination and the world of Underground with others.
I hope you enjoyed this little foray into my moment of switching gears panic and resulting commentary. :) There should be some interesting milestones along the way. Revisions, cover art, marketing, etc . . . Stay tuned! And thanks so much for stopping by!