Five Year Plan, Shmive Year Plan

A few years ago, my BETA reader informed me that she wouldn’t be reading anything else I wrote, until I actually finished something. Honestly, it made me angry. Enough so, that I didn’t spoke to her for a week.

Her words lit a fire under me. I finished a novel.

It wasn’t a good novel (it was atrocious), but it was finished. I decided in that moment I would make a five-year plan. If I wasn’t published (or at least contracted) in the next five years, I’d stop the madness. Because, truly, writing is a tiny step into madness. I become someone else (or several others), my life intertwined with that of the imaginary speakers in my head.

The Five-Year Plan looked a lot like this:

  • Finish a second novel
  • Find a Critique Partner
  • Enter (and hopefully win) a few contests
  • Submit to publishers and MAYBE get a request for a full manuscript
  • Join local chapter of RWA
  • Pitch my novel to as many places/people as possible and perfect my pitch.
  • Finish second novel and repeat process.
  • Get published.

In less than a year I completed the first five tasks (except the winning part, now knowing how subjective contests are, I don’t care much about that, I could write a blog about the lady who hated me because she sympathized with my antagonist). In the past month, I completed the last two, by selling my first submitted manuscript to The Wild Rose Press (the company that first published my mentor, who is an AMAZING author and even better friend) and finishing Novel Two, it’s in the process of being polished so that I can submit it to my editor.

When I first signed my contract, I was terribly sick. I spent nearly two months with bronchitis. It was awful. There was no celebration. The contract offer was made while I sat in the waiting room of a clinic. When I signed the contract, I took a nap immediately after. There was no celebration, no profound moment of excitement for what I’d accomplished.

This morning I received a reminder about pitching in May. There was a moment of panic. Oh my God, I need to get something together to pitch! What am I going to do? I’m not ready! I’ll never get a contract like this!

Wait a minute …

I sat in front of my computer, dawn slowly creeping in through the blinds, my usually noisy house … quiet, and the reality of my situation truly hit me. I’ve been a writer my entire life, with one goal. I had five years to sign a contract.

I accomplished my dream in less than a year (with tons of help from some amazing people: V that means you!).

Now, I have a new five-year plan. Promo, anyone? But for the first time in my life, I know professionally what I want and more … I know I can do it. I cannot wait until I get to share The Finish Line with all of you.

24 thoughts on “Five Year Plan, Shmive Year Plan”

  1. Congratulations on your achievement. I find that having a written out plan is the best way to bring goals to fruition. Kudos to your beta reader for the push!

    1. Thank you, Charlotte! My BETA reader is pretty awesome. She read a lot of early, horrible stuff, and never lost faith in me.

  2. Being a writer is a lifetime endeavor. It’s painful, and delightful. It’s lonely, and filled with a hundred voices screaming in your head to be heard and understood. I love my job, and hate it at the same time. It’s like living on an abandoned planet with no one to share your burden. And still I write, escaping into my make believe world for hours with only my characters for company. Friends and family roll their eyes at your passion, and yet you write. I’m so glad you hung in there to see your dream materialize. There’s no better feeling than holding your book in your hands for the first time. Welcome to the Garden. I’m excited to read The Finish Line.

  3. That’s awesome! Congratulations. As a fellow new Wild Rose Press author, I look forward to getting to know you better and hope you find time to celebrate your accomplishment.

    1. Newbies, together! Yay! lol … we keep saying we’re going to celebrate and haven’t yet. Maybe, one day. I look forward to getting to know you as well. <3

  4. Setting goals is the first step…completing them is even harder. You should be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Well done. Not giving up is key. Congratulations, Leslie. Good luck with your release.

    1. Thank you. I’m proud, but more so … stunned. I don’t plan on giving up any time soon. Again, thank you! I’ll have a release. Holy crap.

  5. I love The Wild Rose Press and learned a lot while with them the first time. I’m back again, writing under another name with the Wilder Roses. We have to be determined in this business and thick-skinned, which I’m not. I put so much of myself into my stories, so much time and attention to detail that when someone writes a review saying I write like a fourth grader, I’m hurt. But an author can never, ever, ever reply to a bad review…ever…no matter how badly she feels the need. I’m proud of you for setting a goal and working hard to achieve it. The road is never easy. And the learning curve is continual. Go You!

    1. For starters, whoever said you write like a fourth grader is an idiot. Seriously. I dare them to even attempt to accomplish what you continue to accomplish.

      And also I get the feeling this is your way of telling me to keep my big mouth shut when I get my first bad review? That, in truth, will be my toughest battle.

  6. It seems like yesterday I was a newly published author, Leslie. Now, three years later (just finished book 8 and sending to my editor), I continue to strive forward with new ideas–creative and marketing. Each year, I re-think my marketing strategies and map out a plan for the year. There are days when I still struggle with being a “newbie,” and I have to remind myself of all the accomplishments I’ve achieved. They are amazing! I’m so happy you continued to move forward and finish your story. Congrats and don’t ever give up!

    1. Just there mere mention of a marketing plan and I’m a breath away from breaking out in hives.

      Congratulations on your eighth! I’ll be lucky (with everything going on at home) if I get to three books in three years.

  7. Great blog! One correction…” a tiny step into madness”…don’t you mean a flying leap? Ha ha. It’s heartening to know we all experience similar feelings on this journey. Celebrate today!

    1. Well I mean, I was trying to put it mildly? Ha! It really is a flying leap some days.

      The best thing, I think, is knowing we aren’t alone.

  8. Great post! Great job on setting and reaching goals. So much about being a writer involves persistence and drive. I hope the marketing part goes great for you, too. But if it doesn’t and/or things don’t always go so well, remember that you’ve done this, gotten published, and know that no one can ever take away that accomplishment. Heartfelt congratulations.

    1. Thank you so much, Mary. I’m lucky to be surrounded by an amazing mentor and some rather awesome authors to fall back on for support when things go wrong. I’ve been blessed to witness their grace at various stages of their careers. I can only hope I do that well with failure. lol (Though, I managed a chuckle when Harlequin rejected me for being too wordy).

  9. Now that we’re both WELL again, it’s time to hit that postponed celebration! And I’ve been dying to be able to try out that new place around the corner from you! I’m just so stinking proud of you for not giving up, sticking to it, learning all you can and more from your mentor and fellow writers, and finally seeing your dream realized! And all while homeschooling and taking care of the many loved critters and your soul mate, and all the other things in between! My sister of my heart and dear BFF you are AMAZING! YOU are going to be a huge success sister! NOW, how about that celebration lunch with those awesome margaritas you bragged about? And while we’re at it – you have GOT to come see Cynder aka Bat Girl daughter of Legendary Long Whiskers! And TANK! My brood of Maine Coons have grown beyond last you saw them! Your son will freak out! Bat Girl looks SSSSOOOOOOOO much like pops! Perhaps in a future story line you can include our favorite critters as the comedy portion who decide to take up with one of your characters or two lol. But seriously, sweetie, I am as proud of you as anyone can be. I have enjoyed every part of the growing process of your writing, your stories and am looking forward to being one of the first to buy your book! Autographed of course 🙂 Loving you with all my heart and soul…your shoulder to lean on, your ear to listen with, and arms to hug you along the way. You are one awesome lady! And I look forward to seeing all those voices in your head come out in print!

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