It's always an especial pleasure and privilege to welcome Tara Fox Hall to my blog and today she's stopped by to tell us about her personal road to publication. I can't wait to hear it, so over to Tara...
I’ve been a published writer of fiction for the last five years, and have written non-fiction for the last fifteen. As the other authors writing to this topic have already said, getting published wasn’t easy.
Like my dear friend Jenny Twist, I began with articles in a local print publication; my articles were on nature and animals, and published in a little magazine called Catnip Blossoms! which sold—you get one guess—catnip via mail. From the beginning, I was very good at putting a message of hope and inspiration into a page or less, and I wrote many articles over the next ten years.
And that’s how it likely would have stayed forever, until my mom suddenly got sick and was given six months to live in 2006. The book I’d always said I would write for her but hadn’t gotten past the first ten pages was suddenly my number one priority.
I hated novel writing at first. Not only was I unable to think of a good plot or exciting characters, I had never been great with grammar or all the rules of contractions, punctuation, etc. I hated simply sitting STILL for hours on end. Out of desperation, I wrote about what I knew, which was vampires, romance, and horror mixed with farm life, pets, faith, and self-reliance in the face of fictional supernatural situations that my everyday normal life hadn’t equipped me to handle. When I gave my mom the first draft of the beginning two chapters, she hated it because it “wasn’t exciting enough.” So I revised it, adding some gunplay/explosions, general mayhem, deceit and a lot of suspense and hot sex. The latter, which I had always found difficult to write, was suddenly easy, as I had just gone off The Pill after close to two decades and my hormones were raging out of control along with my moods. I poured all that energy and emotion into my novel, which quickly went from a few measly pages to 200K, and then beyond, as Mom demanded sequel after sequel (Her cancer was a VERY welcome misdiagnosis).
I hadn’t planned on publishing my new “epic”, but with both my mother and husband pushing me, I sent the final draft to an “official editor”—read paid editor—and she proceeded to trash it and gave me a long list of recommended fixes (remember above where I said I had plot problems and grammar was not my friend?). I revised further, and then began to send out queries to multiple agents at this editor’s advice. This phase lasted for years, as I revised and submitted, and received thousands of rejection letters (okay, just about over a hundred really, but it felt like thousands). I further revised my queries, my synopses, my first novels (by then I had three: Lash, Promise, and Immortal Confessions), and with the help of a small non-profit, Wolf Pirate Publishing/Wolf Pirate Project, went thought a very-intensive 6 month writing workshop with the book Promise, hacking it to ribbons which I eventually wove back together into two complete and polished books, Promise Me and Broken Promise.
While that experience gave me the skills to successfully handle the editing stages of writing, I was no closer to getting my books published; more queries netted only more rejections. I even tried hiring a submission service, which just netted me a few nibbles but no bites and yet more rejection letters. BUT…this service suggested something I hadn’t thought of before: taking an excerpt from the book and making it a novella, then submitting THAT. They also suggested trying to publish other short works, to give my queries for my longer works more credibility. Suddenly, all my experience with my non-fictional short stories was useful, and might make the difference; the rub was I needed new works to submit, not previously pubbed articles. Energized, I cranked out a plethora of short horror stories— that genre had the biggest market in print, and online flash fiction was all the rage—and I had a lot of nightmares to provide material. I published a few short stories every month in the spring and summer of 2011, then finally was able to place Surrender To Me, an excerpt from my novel Immortal Confessions, with Mélange Books. Mélange also contracted for Promise Me and its first few sequels.
Happy ending? Kind of. I am still with Mélange Books these 4 years later, and the Promise Me Series is on its 11th book, with #12 coming out in a few months (Immortal Confessions is book #5 of that series). Lash evolved into its own series. My fantasy paranormal historical series detailing my weresnake antihero-protagonist adventures is on its fourth book and its second publisher, Double Dragon (the first small press, Bradley, went out of business). My horror stories have found a home at Hazardous Press in their various multi-author anthologies and my own single authored The Tightening Spiral. A new paranormal series will also debut at Mélange in 2016; the first book is called A Good Year. But my joy now is tempered by burnout.
Jan Ruth mentioned the two kinds of writers in her blog a few weeks back. In 2011-2012, I was firmly in the know about everything current, and I devoted all my spare time to learning my craft, and putting out as many works as fast as possible (Writer type B). Now I’m in the other camp (Writer Type A), which is where I initially started out on this journey.
Can I self-publish? Yes, and I have. Those nature stories that started my career are now their own anthology called Deep Breaths: Tales of Hope and Inspiration. I loved putting that book together with a lot of help (thank you again, Su Halfwerk and Jenny Twist J). But do I see myself doing that for all my future works? Probably not, as I just do not have enough spare time anymore. My publishing rate has also slowed tremendously, both from increased workload from my day job, and sheer lack of desire to write stories just to get my name out there. As any writer will tell you, promotion is a huge part of writing, and it takes its toll until finally you crack under the strain. As of this writing, I am officially burnt out. I also have not written anything new just to write since 2014. Am I stopping writing? No, I just need a short break, to ignite my fire again.
And I thank you for listening to me, as reliving my hard-won publication here has created a much-needed hot spark to get me writing again.
Tara Fox Hall is an OSHA-certified safety and health inspector at a metal fabrication shop in upstate New York. She received her bachelor's degree in mathematics with a double minor in chemistry and biology from Binghamton University.
Her writing credits include nonfiction, erotica, horror, suspense, action-adventure, children’s stories, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal fantasy Lash series and the paranormal romantic drama Promise Me series.
Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice. All of her published children’s stories to date are free reads on www.childrens-stories.net.
Contact Tara here: