Monday, May 21, 2012

Treasure at Rainbow's End

Today I welcome author Valerie Comer, who shares a bit about her writing journey as she searches for -- and finds -- the proverbial treasure at Rainbow's End.

Looking for the Pot of Gold?
by Valerie Comer

Somewhere, at the end of the rainbow, there's a pot of gold. If you're a writer striving for publication, you're hoping that treasure is a publishing contract.

Of course there's no guarantee, is there? There's also no way to know how long it will take. Some writers sell their first book, others sell their tenth, and some never sell anything at all. Which brings me back to that pot of gold.

You know the saying, "Getting there is half the fun"? It needs to be true in our writing. If our only focus, as writers, is to get published--if that's the only thing that matters to us--then I don't think we're in a healthy place. Enjoy every minute of being a writer. Enjoy creating characters, settings, and plots. Enjoy being able to explore and figure out what you passion in writing is. Don't be in a rush.

I started writing in the spring of 2002. I'd recently landed a job in the small town flooring shop where I still work. My two bosses handle everything outside the building. I deal with sales reps, clients, freight, and the telephone. Still, most days are pretty quiet for me, and the boss guys were (and are) delighted that I can occupy myself for hours at a time without getting bored.

My first novel took me about a year to write and I've never opened it since. I learned two valuable things from it. That I could, indeed, get to 100,000 words, and that I needed to learn how to plot! For several more novels (and years) I tried to learn how to plot and tell a coherent story, but it didn't come easily to me. I've found I'm a good writer (as in, my sentences, paragraphs, and scenes are fluid and interesting) but that the over all structure was difficult for me to grasp.

In 2006 I wrote the first novel that was any good (it's out to a couple publishing houses right now, waiting). I wrote a couple more that there wasn't much market for. Then, in about 2008 I began to hit my stride with Domino's Game, a contemporary romance novel about a local food advocate who falls for the fast food addict next door. I felt like I'd found my voice and my niche, all in one. But, as of this writing, I have not yet sold this novel.

From 2008-2010 I searched for an agent and attended ACFW conferences while continuing to write and revise. I knew I was getting close, but it was so hard to break in. (Can anyone relate?)

In December 2010 I saw that Barbour Publishing had posted a call for submissions on their blog. After a few years of focusing their Romancing America novella anthologies on Christmas, they'd decided to open up for non-seasonal ideas. Each group of four authors was to consist of at least one established author and a maximum of one newbie.

I knew this was my best chance to get my foot in the door, but how? With whom? I wasn't on the inside track with any contemporary romance novelists. I asked around but couldn't find the one established author needed for the proposal. After banging my head against that wall for a couple of weeks, I decided perhaps it wasn't what God had for me, after all.

YA author Nicole O'Dell and I had been critique partners and close friends for a couple of years by that point, and her books were with Barbour. She said that being as it was her life goal to get me published, she'd try her hand at contemporary romance. We chatted up an idea, she pulled two of her friends into it, we created a proposal, and she sent it in. Then she asked what else I was working on. I felt like I was at a crossroads, unsure after eight novels what I should be doing, or even in what genre. Giving up wasn't an option mostly because then I'd need to find something else to do at work for 30 hours a week.

I told her about geocaching, an electronic outdoor treasure hunting game played with GPS (global positioning system) handhelds, and we started batting around ideas for using that as a base for another anthology proposal. Nicole pulled in two different friends and we put together a proposal and submitted it. Soon we had the rejection on the first one, with encouragement to try something else, but before we could complete it, we received "the call" (actually an email) re the geocaching proposal on January 31, 2011. (Read all about it here.)

The email stunned me. I couldn't believe it. After writing eight complete novels, I'd actually sold a novella on the strength of one measly paragraph! A novella wasn't exactly the treasure I'd thought to find at the end of my rainbow, but I was tickled pink all the same. This netted me Joyce Hart as my agent. It's so encouraging to have an advisor and advocate.

Now that I've found one pot of gold (metaphorically, of course), I've eagerly looked around at other rainbows, wondering if--and when--God will bless me with another treasure.

Only time will tell, of course. My job is to keep being faithful, to keep putting the stories He's planted in my head into my laptop, to keep learning and growing. The outcome is up to Him.

Valerie Comer's life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, gardening and geocaching with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Her debut released May 1, 2012, as the first novella in Rainbow's End. "Topaz Treasure" is the story of a closet believer who steps out of her comfort zone to help run her church’s geocaching challenge but runs into her former humanities professor who made fun of Christians, only to discover he’s seeking truth–and romance.

Connect at:

Valerie Comer, Annalisa Daughety, Nicole O'Dell, Cara C. Putman
ISBN: 978-1616266868
May 2012/352 pages/$7.99

Join a geocaching adventure in the spectacular Lake of the Ozarks wilderness, with Lyssa, the enthusiastic volunteer who can’t see past her own plans; Madison, a city girl paired with an outdoorsy guy who gets on her very last nerve; Hadley, who doesn’t know enough about guys to realize she’s met a womanizer; and cautious Reagan, who meets an equally cautious guy. Will they find the treasure they’re looking for … or something else entirely?
Topaz Treasure by Valerie Comer
Lyssa Quinn volunteers at the Rainbow’s End geocaching hunt hoping she can point folks to the true treasure found in Jesus. She’s not expecting her former prof to be there, too. Kirk Kennedy’s treasure hunt takes him down a path he hadn’t intended when he is captivated by Lyssa’s intriguing sparkle. Can he convince Lyssa that there is more than one kind of treasure? Can Lyssa remind him of the greatest prize of all?

Beneath the Surface by Annalisa Daughety
Madison Wallace isn’t the most outdoorsy girl in the world, so spending two months traipsing around the Ozarks isn’t her idea of fun. Especially when her sister backs out at the last minute. Grant Simmons loves the outdoors, but when his grandfather’s health takes a turn for the worse, Grant is without a partner. When these polar opposites find themselves teamed up, will they find common ground and a love worth treasuring?

Love’s Prize by Cara C. Putman
Reagan Graham has never been one to tempt fate. But after four years of making numbers match as an accountant, she’s ready for a break. Colton Ryan is spending the summer before law school trying to relax. His plan doesn’t include falling in love. But the more time he spends with Reagan, the more he can’t remember why. Will Reagan and Colton risk their safe plans and their hearts to take a chance on love?

Welcome Home, Love by Nicole O’Dell
After winning her lifelong battle to get fit, Hadley Parker signs up for the annual Rainbow’s End Treasure Hunt as a gift to herself. Once there, she begins to fall for the syrupy compliments of an ill-intentioned womanizer. Hunt director Noah Templeton tries to warn Hadley before things go too far. But will he manage to remind Hadley that the treasures she truly seeks are already within her. . .and right in front of her?

Disclaimer: I have not read this book and therefore do not have an opinion on it. The views expressed in this guest post are those of the author, Valerie Comer, and may or may not reflect the views of Mocha with Linda.


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1 comment:

Valerie Comer said...

Thanks so much for inviting me, Linda!