I was never one for breaking the rules. I was the kid in school who always did her homework. Who always arrived on time for school.
Who took notes. Studied for tests. I was that kind of person.
When I became a writer, I still followed the rules. Why wouldn’t I?
I believed that rules prevent chaos, make the world a better place. One of the most important rules was — never pitch a book that you’re writing until you are finished writing it. NEVER.
But after writing four novels and not selling them, I began to grow suspicious that maybe the ideas I was writing about were not marketable.
And then one day . . . last year . . . I decided to do the unthinkable.
I was at a conference and for the first time in my life, I had signed up for an appointment with a top New York editor of a publishing house I respected even though I was only 100 pages into writing my current novel.
Now this isn’t a good idea on many levels.
But I convinced myself that I needed to know whether the idea I was writing about was marketable.
I had the title: Wild Point Island.
I had the genre: paranormal romance
And I had the germ of the idea down on paper — a love story where two people want to be together but they can’t because it’s physically impossible.
Yes, I’ll admit it — I was addicted to True Blood — HBO’s hot new drama and was a Sookie and Bill fan. I loved the idea of Bill (a vampire) falling for Sookie (a half human, half fairy). It was a relationship doomed from the start.
Bitter sweet. And I’d drafted a romance modeled on a similar concept.
My hero, a revenant, who was once human, was now a different life form. He’d returned from the dead. He was 420 years old and was condemned to live his very long life on Wild Point Island. My heroine was half human/half revenant. She lived on the mainland, in North Carolina.
They were both descendants of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, an original English colony that was settled in 1592, but then disappeared when the mother ship returned to England for supplies. This was my hook, and I wanted to see if it was hook enough to sell a book.
I figured that if the editor were interested, she would request at most a partial — the first three chapters — if she requested anything at all — and that would give me time to finish the book, and then I would know that I had a marketable idea.
So I marched into my appointment to do a very wrong thing. I pitched the story I hadn’t really finished and waited with bated breath for her reaction.
Now, if you’ve ever been to a pitch session with an editor at a conference, you know you have ten minutes to sell your story. The pressure is on. Some writers crack under the pressure. They become tongue-tied. They stare down at their notes and the words swim before their eyes.
In truth, I believed in my story, and to my shock and amazement, the editor responded to me immediately. She knew all about the Lost Colony of Roanoke. She’d vacationed down in North Carolina as a child. She loved the idea.
And then she lowered the boom.
The good news.
What every writer who pitches wants to hear.
Could I send her the entire manuscript?
She was, of course, referring to the story I hadn’t yet finished.
I smiled and said, “Of course. No problem.” But I was doomed.
Back home, my husband said, “Just finish it then.”
Honestly, I hadn’t even considered that possibility. Two hundred pages in a month? That would mean with time to edit. . . I would have to write ten pages a day straight for twenty days which would give me roughly two hundred pages and then take ten days to edit . . . I was sweating profusely.
The next day I signed up online for Book In A Month. I set myself a schedule. I grew determined to do this thing.
Finish the book.
It was ugly and beautiful at the same time. I learned two things from the experience. One — I learned that I could write incredibly fast when I wanted to. For the first time in my life, I entered into what writers call “the zone.” When you write intently everyday for long periods of time, you know your story so well, you do enter into the special world of your story, and it does get easier. Two — I learned never to do it again. Break the rule.
I finished. I edited. And I submitted. And it was rejected.
It wasn’t until months later when I had a chance to rewrite the story that I was able to sell it.
So maybe I needed to have more faith in myself and my story ideas.
Wild Point Island was published by Crescent Moon Press on June 15, 2012.
It’s available from Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com in paperback and ebook formats.
And so who am I, this rule breaker?
Log onto my website. Check out my facebook page. Go on, I dare you.
Please click HERE for a full list of Kate Lutter’s books and links to buy from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com