Without further ado, here's Linda:
I have a good friend, a gifted writer, whose year has started off terribly. Her foster father died unexpectedly. Her father-in-law died unexpectedly. One of her best friends ended up in ICU with an aneurysm. Now, her four-year-old has developed pneumonia. We’re checking for any cackling, old-country types who’ve put an evil spell on her! But seriously, it’s made for a grim beginning to her new year—and made her worry what the rest of the year will bring.
I consoled her by telling her how my 2011 began. I was already down because an editor who’d had my novel for a long time rejected it, at the same time suggesting I send it to a national contest. I had pneumonia—which is quite serious for me since lupus has left me with very damaged lungs. Once I got better, just as January ended and I was about to fly to Washington, D.C. for the AWP national conference, we had a blizzard, and I fell on icy steps, breaking my cheekbone and knee and spraining my shoulder and right thumb.
No D.C. No conference where I meet dear friends who live half a country away. I could hardly feed myself. (You have no idea how necessary your thumb is until you lose its use for a while). It looked to me as if 2011 was going to be a hellish year, just as 2012 is looking that way right now to my friend.
This is what happened in 2011 for me.
1. I received a substantial research grant from an arts organization that had never before given to a writer.
2. I spent a wonderful week researching a book with all expenses, including travel, paid.
3. I learned I was a finalist in that national novel contest that editor had urged me to enter, and I learned that even a finalist would probably get an agent and maybe a publisher.
4. I learned that I was the winner of the Malice Domestic First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition. A $10,000 advance and a publishing contract with St. Martin’s Press. Woo hoo! My year was made right there.
5. I learned that St. Martin’s Press was going to pay my way to the Malice Domestic Conference in Bethesda where I would receive the award.
6. I went to Malice Domestic and had a blast. I met wonderful mystery writers who were so kind to me. My editor, my publisher, and all the St. Martin’s/Minotaur Books staff who were there turned out to be wonderful.
7. I came home with some directives from the St. Martin’s publicity folks. Get on Twitter was one of them. With trepidation, I did—and now have almost 2,000 followers and many fantastic new friends.
8. I came home and found myself in demand for paid readings throughout the Midwest (from the poetry book I’d published in 2009).
9. I started writing the second book in my mystery series.
10. I was asked to contribute a short story to Kansas City Noir, an anthology in the famed Noir series from Akashic Books.
11. With a recommendation from my editor, I secured an incredible agent.
12. I received a beautiful book cover for Every Last Secret from St. Martin’s.
13. I was keynote speaker at the national conference of an important national arts organization.
14. My book launch and other events to publicize Every Last Secret when it comes out began to be finalized.
It took most of 2011 for my broken knee to heal, and I will have to have major surgery on it later, but I hardly noticed as all these exciting things continued to happen throughout the year. That year that had such a sour beginning turned into one of the best years of my life.
So I tell my friend to pay no attention to the bad beginning of her 2012. I know she’s got the potential of having a year like the one I just had, and I think she will. My husband and I spent New Year’s Day marveling at the difference between this New Year’s and 2011’s. I think the same thing will happen for my friend next year.
One thing I’ve learned is never trust bad beginnings. A bad beginning doesn’t mean that the year or the book can’t turn out magnificently well.
Thank you all for having me as a guest on Working Stiffs. I hope you’ll all visit me at www.LindaRodriguezWrites.blogspot.com and check out Every Last Secret at your local bookstore or Barnes & Noble or at http://www.amazon.com/Every-Last-Secret-Linda-Rodriguez/dp/1250005450
Linda Rodriguez’s novel, Every Last Secret (Minotaur Books), winner of the Malice Domestic First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, will be published on 4/24/12. She has also published two books of poetry, Heart’s Migration (Tia Chucha Press) winner of the Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence and finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award, and Skin Hunger (Scapegoat Press) and a cookbook, The “I Don’t Know How To Cook” Book: Mexican (Adams Media). Rodriguez received the Midwest Voices and Visions Award, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, KC ArtsFund Inspiration Award, and Ragdale and Macondo fellowships, among others. She is a member of Latino Writers Collective, Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, Kansas City Cherokee Community, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime.