I was talking with my sister on the phone the other day, telling her about the recent success of my book, and she reminded me of something rather prophetic that I said to her during our annual Vegas weekend in January. I had announced several times that this is “the Year of Jane”. Some of you may recognize that phrase from the successful CBS sitcom “The Middle”. Last season Sue Heck declared her senior year of high school to be “the Year of Sue”. Everything she did that year was the culmination of all her past years, and the catalyst for what was to come…college life.
For the Year of Jane, everything I’ve done in the past to hone my skills as a writer has been in anticipation of this year, 2016, the year I publish my first novel. No, I don’t have a contract yet, but I have known from the moment I started writing this one that it will be published. I have never referred to “if” I publish, but always “when” I publish.
My blog is a success and I’m up to 121 followers with readers from all around the world. My Facebook author page is growing, as is my Twitter feed. (I’m finally getting the hang of using those hashtags!) Then last week the highpoint of my writing career so far. I get the phone call that tells me my book is a finalist in the historical category of WisRWA’s 2016 Fab Five competition.
WisRWA is the Wisconsin chapter of the Romance Writers of America, and the Fab Five is their annual competition for unpublished romance writers. To enter you need to have a completed romance novel and to have not published a romance novel before. I have a completed novel, Mary Bishop. Yes, I’m in the middle of some extensive revisions, but it was what I considered complete until my critique group pointed out some holes in my plot line. So back in February I submitted the first 2500 words of my novel. Lucky for me, this included my one-paragraph prologue and all of my first two chapters. Each chapter introduced one of my two timelines that run throughout the book so it was a good introduction for the judges. The first round is judged anonymously by my peers and the top five (Fab Five) from each category are chosen to continue to the final round. The final round is judged by an editor and an agent who work in that romance subgenre.
This is a huge opportunity to be read by someone in the industry, and possibly have my entire manuscript requested and, ultimately, my first novel published. You can see why I’m insisting that this is, indeed, the Year of Jane.