Last night I gave my very first author talk at Ocean Grove library. It was a bleak, rainy night but 15 hardy souls turned up eager to hear about my publishing journey.
I told them about my journalism background and how while working on a suburban newspaper I interviewed a girl about her pet ferret Basil. Basil had just won a ferret race and was a cheeky thing, stealing Tim Tams from the pantry and getting into her sister’s underwear drawer. I filed this away in the back of my brain thinking ‘Wow what a great idea for a story!’ And that was that for about five years or so.
Then in 2005 I enrolled in Writing for Children at Victoria University and under the tuition of children’s author Sherryl Clark I wrote the first draft of what would become Ferret on the Loose. I began sending it off to publishers not long after that and after seven rejections put it aside in that proverbial bottom drawer and went on to write other things.
But as I worked at becoming a professional writer, I began to join organisations like the Victorian Writers Centre and the First Tuesday Book Group. I also subscribed to an online newsletter for children’s writers and illustrators called Pass It On. One day PIO (as known in the industry) had an ad from New Frontier Publishing asking for fast-paced fiction for 7 + year olds that was plot-driven and funny. And that’s when I reopened that bottom drawer, pulled out my Ferret manuscript, revised it and sent it off.
About six months later I received the magic email. We’d just got back from holidaying in Queensland and I was checking my emails. I never thought I would receive an acceptance via email. I always thought it would be the magic phone call. But there it was sitting in my inbox. Such had become my cynicism and familiarisation with rejection that I immediately thought ‘Here we go, another rejection!’ Dear Heather, thankyou for your submission of Ferret on the Loose….we would like to publish your story as part of our Little Rockets series…’
OH MY GOD! I screamed, over and over, running around the house. My family thought there was something very wrong!
‘I’m getting published!’ I screamed. There wasn’t something wrong. There was something very, very right! And that was the beginning…
* Next week I will post about my Ten Top Tips for Getting Published that I shared with the good folks at my author talk.