Jennifer's Journal


Thursday, August 25, 2005


Some months back, I did an email interview with fellow author and non-fiction writer, Deborah Bouziden, for what I expected to be a Writer's Digest article.  This week I received a copy of the finished piece.  Instead of appearing in the magazine, however, the interview was published as a feature in the 2006 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market, the 25th Anniversary Edition of this "Bible" of the freelance author published by Writer's Digest.  The title?  "Jennifer Blake: Living Legend of Romance Reflects on Her Career and Offers Insight into Craft"
Wow.  What a grand--not to mention highly flattering--accolade.  Still, the greatest thing about it to me is the indication of how far I've come.
Writer's Market was the first book for writers I ever bought--until that purchase, everything I'd read on the art and craft had come from the library since I could barely afford typewriter ribbons and paper back then.(Writer's Market was originally a single volume with markets for every kind of writing in the world within its pages instead of being divided into different categories as it is now.) But I had written a novel and was ready to start sending it to publishers.  From this 1969 Writer's Market (You thought I wouldn't admit the date, didn't you?), I chose five publishing houses which were listed as seeking Gothic novels, the type I'd written.  I shipped it to the first publisher on my list, but it came back, unopened, because I had not sent a query letter, a device that was just coming into use.  Since I was unsure of how to go about writing such a letter, I simply shipped the book to the next of my chosen publishers in alpha order, Fawcett Gold Medal.  Two months later, I had a letter from the editor, Joseph Elder, who had plucked my manuscript from Fawcett's slush pile.  He said the book was short for Fawcett's list but he would buy it if I could add 30 pages according to his suggestions.  I added the pages, and the book was purchased (for the magnificent advance of $2500, the equivalent of approximately $25,000 today) and published in 1970 as The Secret of Mirror House.
From using Writer's Market to launch my career to being showcased in it--that's quite a journey.  And I wouldn't take anything for the honor and joy of it.   


Blogger Steve said...

I can definitely agree with how you must have felt when you sold your first book. The first time I ever saw The Secret of Mirror House was when I sat behind your son in Mrs. MacMillan's Spanish class at JHHS. I asked what he was reading and he said, "My mom's first book. I think it's time I read it." I knew you were writing professionally--that point was made clear when you orated to us in Annette Cope's creative writing class in '74--but the point was lost on me just how much work it actually took just to get a crafted piece off the ground. Mrs. Cope, nie Cheatwood, used to tell me that with my talent for the written word, I shouldn't have a hard time reaching the stars just as you had done. But with my as of yet undiagnosed bout with ADD (and that was not even reasoned in the mid-70's), it was going to be a long time until I finally boarded that rocketship that already took you to where I longed to be. Though I hold you in high esteem for your work, I place you not on a pedestal like some people might do in their admiration of what some might call an "icon." But I look up to you in the manner of which a small town person can achieve greater things than what either family or peers might have him/her believe. Hence, those life stations we believe can never be breached aren't always necessarily fixed. I have broken those chains which bound me to a "nothing special" existence and now feel I am destined for greater things than what my Uncle Jack taught me while I worked at our town's old Piggly Wiggly back in '76. I can and will write! If not for my own sake, then for the sake of those who once believed I could do better than pack home-produced paper bags and cart 'em to people's cars. I do feel I have a fate far greater than that.
Congratulations regarding the article to be included in next years WM. I shall look for it.

10:39 AM  

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