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How I Got Started Writing Novels

Posted in: Journal by LaRene Ellis on February 10, 2010

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Journal

For five years of my life, I had been a real estate agent and enjoyed it. Finally at the end of my fourth year, I decided to get my real estate brokers license. After, I received it. I made the choice to go out on my own. For me, it was the smartest thing, I ever did.  What happened next made it possible for me to deal with the changes that were about to take place in my life.

It was November 2000 and for the first time in my career, I had sold my entire inventory. It was strange to have no buyers either. In my area, November and December are traditionally our slowest months in real estate. Ever though, I have written and presented offers on Christmas Eve. This year, it was going to be different. I was tired and grateful to take a break.

Five days into my vacation, I had the most bizarre event take place in my life that has permanently changed my life. I woke up discovering that I couldn’t speak. My voice was gone. When I tried to force a whisper, it caused my lungs to go into long coughing spells. If I laughed, the coughing spells would appear. It sounded and felt like I was coughing up my lungs.

The problem didn’t make it easy for me to go out into public. I wasn’t sick. The doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with me. They just called it a virus assuring me that I would have to ride it out. Little did I know that it would take me ninety days for my voice to return and my lungs be able to take a deep breath again.

The winter was long and cold. We had little wind and storms in our area. When you live in the tops of mountains, you can easily get an inversion where the cold air is trapped to the floor of the valley. This happens when you have little wind or storms. Even if no one lives in the valley, it can happen.  Our inversion spread from Provo, Utah to Pocatello, Idaho and it was thick.

I struggled to go outside and breath the air that winter. Never in my life had my lungs been a problem for me, so why was the winter of 2000 to 2001 different. My health problems trapped me inside a room in my home. I couldn’t be away from the humidifier or air purifiers without my lungs coughing to hard it could cause my bladder to have problems.  They weren’t portable. So every morning, I picked a room and stayed there all day breathing fresh, moist air.

In November 2000, I did not have an email address and I don’t think I knew someone who did. Maybe, I did know someone. I just didn’t use them because I was terrified to write. I do know they weren’t as popular then as they are today. Either way, I had to write down my thoughts on a note pad if I wanted something. Remember, I told you earlier that I found writing emotionally painful and it terrified me.

This virus seemed to perfectly design to force me to face my fears. In the process, I discovered something very special regarding me. Those ninety days, I spent trapped in a room with a humidifier and air purifier has forever changed my life. It changed my career and how I view the world in away, I cannot ever go back…

This post is getting a little long. In my next post, I’ll tell you what happened, during those ninety days. My hope is it inspires you find something special about yourself. I’ll see you next time.

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This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Journal

The last time, we talked. I was trapped in a room within my house. My constant campaigns were a humidifier and air purifier. Quickly, my bedroom became boring even though I had a television. I watched movie and read books. In the past, they had been a wonderful way to spend my time. Now, I found myself becoming quickly bored of the constant diet of them. My mind craved for something different. What? What could I do when I couldn’t speak a word or leave my new friends.

In real estate, I was constantly on the go physically and I had to use my mind daily. You are always thinking about how you are going to sell someone’s house or help a buyer find their dream house. With nothing to think about, I was lost. This was a new feeling and it left me frustrated and panicky. What if I never get my voice back?

Years ago, I met a woman who had lost her voice and all she could do was whisper. It was something permanent with her. The thought seemed to torment me. Would I become like her? I needed to think about something else. But what?

It was nice to see my children. I’m a mother of six. They were all adults at this time so I was really left me to myself. My oldest son didn’t live too far from me and he would stop by often on his way home from work to see how I was doing. It surprised him to find me one day in my office with my air purifier and humidifier. It took work to move everything back and worth.

He wondered, what could I possibly being doing in there? I couldn’t use the phone and I had no email address. Quickly, he started to pressure me into divulging my activities. Successfully, I sidestepped them.  I didn’t want to tell him why I was there. It embarrassed me to tell him that I was writing a story. I started to dread him stopping by. I was having fun and I didn’t want my newly created world to be shattered by him telling me that I couldn’t do it.

I would like to take you back to why I decided to move my friends into my office.  After a couple of day in my bedroom, I decided to move into my office, looking for something to keep me from going stir crazy. It was worth the work of moving everything, if I could find something to entertain my mind that would allow me to avoid my thoughts. The woman I talked about earlier had permanently lost her voice and could never speak above a soft whisper. I remember her story was surrounded by a mysterious illness. My situation was so unique it reminded me of her.  It concerned that I would end up like her?

I wanted to do something that would help me not think about her. So I moved into my office finding nothing that I could do without my voice. Shortly after being in my office, an idea came to me. What if I could write a story? Immediately, I went into a panicked state. The thought had triggered my past emotional pain. (If you want to know why I had a fear to write, you can read about it my book, How to Rebuild Shattered Dreams.)

The panicked feeling dissipated when I promised to never allow anyone to read it. Secluded in my office, I felt protected and the story seemed to ward off my negative thoughts. Little did I know that I was about to embark on the most fantastic journey. It was beyond anything I had ever imagined.

I had no clue that I was a creative person and my mind was starved to be one. Since, I had never allowed myself to ever think or do anything with writing. I used to make fun at being a writer. My favorite phrase was, “Why write it when a picture could replace a thousands words.” If it weren’t for this experience, I would’ve never discovered a hidden talent, love and passion for something that I had thought to be unattainable.

One thing, I did years ago before this experience. I took some classes on how the mind worked. We learned that our thoughts are always vibrating and moving. This is why sometime, we can be talking with someone and we both get the same idea or thought at the same time. We both happened to latch onto the same vibration as the thought. So our minds had the same thought.

I wanted to be a receiver of a new thought.  Today, I needed it to be a story. So I asked my mind to connect with a wavelength of one and bring it to me. Being a mediating state, I kept my mind clear, waiting for something to happen. How long I sat there, I do not know. I just sat there until it happened.

“Time Out, I hate time Out.” The words started to flow into my mind and I immediately started to type them into the computer. The story changed my life and I dearly love it. This post is getting long. So I’ll continue the story in part 3. If you want to keep up or start from the beginning of my journey to becoming an author. You can subscribe to my email update; you’ll receive the previous post and the future ones.

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This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Journal

This is my favorite place to Write.

The words of the story started to pour out and I was quickly became entrenched in these people’s lives. I knew a paragraph ahead where the story was going and their always seemed to a new twist that I wasn’t expecting. There were no preconceived ideas on where the story was going. I just let it flow. If I had planned on writing it for someone else to read, I wouldn’t have made it past “Time out. I hate time out.”

There was another factor that would have stopped me from writing the story if I had known before hand. When I finished writing my story, I was shocked to learn it was placed in the Sci-Fi genre of literature because it took place in another galaxy. I do not like mythical creatures and weird monsters so I had always shied away from reading Sci-Fi. Yet, I dearly love Star Wars. They are no mythical creatures or monsters in it. George Lucas wrote a story of a struggle between good and evil that took place in another galaxy and so did I.

Each day, I found myself spending eight hours a day in my office writing. At night, I found my condition, making it hard to sleep. The experienced taught me that I like to take a deep breath in my sleep. This would cause me to wake up coughing hard and it sent me running to the bathroom. My bladder didn’t do well when I went into these coughing spells. For some reason, I would never just cough once. It would go on and on. Then I would be quiet for a period of time.

For some reason, my coughing would happen around five in the morning. I would lay there trying to go back to sleep but my mind would wonder where the story was going next. So I would get up and move my humidifier and air purifier to my office. This shocked my family. I’m not a morning person and seldom was awake at sunrise. They are really beautiful. I never appreciated sunrises until I started to write.

My oldest son lived less than a mile away and he would stop by to see how I was doing. When he found me in office working on something mysterious, he became suspicious. He wanted to know what I was doing that seemed to make me so happy. I tried to discourage his interest but he seemed to be relentless.

When I told him, he wanted to read my story. There was no way. I wasn’t going to let anyone destroy my newly created world, by laughing at me. The joy of living in my secret world was wonderful and I was weary of criticism. Day after day, he would stop by and ask to read my story. Finally, I broke down because he promised not to laugh. He had never done anything to break my trust in the past so I let him into my world.

Each day, he stopped by to exchange pages. It my amazement, he was excited to know what was going to happen next. It wasn’t only me. With the holidays coming up, we met as a family. Everyone was there but one son who was living out of the country. At the table, my oldest son started to ask me about the history of these people. Where did they come from? What was there culture like? Why was it so different from ours? Without thought, I knew and would write it down on my pad of paper that I carried everywhere with me. He happened to be at the opposite end of the table. So everyone read my answers as the paper traveled to him. I still didn’t have a voice.

My second to the oldest son asked to read the story. He shocked everyone.  This boy or man had never read anything for fun. He made fun of those who did. He read but for information only. I trusted him and made him promise to not share it with others outside the family.

A couple of days later, I heard from my second son.  One morning, he called to leave a message on the answering machine that he was angry with me. The night before he had stayed up until two in the morning reading. He was upset to hear the alarm clock go off at six in the morning, telling him it was time to get up for work. He was caught in the intrigue of the story and discovered how fun reading for pleasure could be.

They pushed me to publish the story. Yeah! I wasn’t going there and I refused. It took me two months to get through the first book. Instantly, I knew there was another one. So I continued writing because I had no voice. The first of the year is your prime time to get listings in real estate. With no voice, I was still trapped in my office.  So it meant that I wouldn’t be able to bring in new money for about six months with my pipeline dry.

My sons and their wives wouldn’t let up on getting the story published. I finally consented to doing it. Shortly, I mysteriously stopped coughing and I could take deep breath just fine. My voice was back so I could go back to real estate.

To keep my promise to my children, I sent the first book to a local small publisher who accepted manuscripts as a contact. I hoped they would tell me that the story would make a lousy book.

Instead, they told me I had a very strong story. They were going to turn it down because it wasn’t written in story form. They were interested in seeing my new writings. This wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I wanted them to tell me that the story was weak. I knew it wasn’t written in story form and they would refuse it.

Disappointed because I knew their answer meant work. For the first time, I really wanted to lie to my children but I couldn’t do it. Everything, I had ever taught my children were on the line. Could I practice what I preached? This was the hardest situation I ever been in.

When I did the research on my story for genre, I had written fiction, Sci-Fi/ fantasy for young adults. This is the hardest arena to get into.  There were so many books to compete with. They are hard to market too. What had I done? My kids were watching me expecting me to live up to everything I taught them about not quitting. In my heart, I didn’t want to get started but I had promised them. So I put my heart and soul into it, hoping they would appreciate my sacrifice.

This is what kept me taking one more step. You probably don’t want to know about the rest. So I won’t go into how I got it published. It wasn’t easy. This is how my career got started. My example to my children kept me picking up myself and moving forward. Many times, I had wished that I never let my oldest son read it. Then I read an email from an excited fan and it gives me the courage to take another step forward. I would’ve never published it or started a new career, if had kept it to myself.

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How I got Published – part four

Posted in: Journal by LaRene Ellis on May 04, 2010

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Journal

I’m a published author with four books and two more on the way. They say it is easy to become a published author. Yet, it can be very difficult. For this amount of money, we can help make the experience easier for you. Is it really true?

People come up to me all the time and tell me that they have a story they want to have published. I see apprehension and excitement in their eyes and I know what they are feeling. When I decided to get my story published, I found it daunting.

For help, I turned to a few books. The first book I read was written by a literary agent and he was very discouraging. According to his book, he receives 5000 requests a week for his services. You can only imagine how many rejection letters he sent out on a daily basis. A literary agent will not take a new author unless they find a publisher first. Most publishers will not look at you without a literary agent.

After reading numerous books, I decided to publish my book myself. With my background, I probably have put more deals together than some literary agents. The biggest problem with self-publishing is you can and usually do make expensive mistakes. This is why I decided to mentor people. I would have loved if someone reached out and talked me through the process when I started. It cost me money and it was very emotional. I never felt so alone in a business as I did during this time of my learning.

Since I love to learn, I decided to go out and see if the books were telling me the truth. I hired someone to get me into some important places. My journey started in New York City. On this trip, I saw and spoke with people who educated me.

The first person I saw in New York City was an associated editor at Scholastic Magazine, named Lisa Feder-Feitel. As we got off the elevator, Scholastic’s offices took me back. I didn’t expect the bright colors and the décor. For a moment, I felt like I was in an elementary school. I had expected to sit in an office. Instead, we sat down at a table where our knees barely touched the edge of it. I expected any minute to have kids join us with their crayons and coloring books. It was really fun and Lisa was very warm and wonderful to talk with.

On this trip, I visited with Mark Schoenwald, an Executive Vice President of Thomas Nelson Publishers. I learned how a large publisher works and how they view new authors. You can read more in my e-book.

My visits didn’t stop with Thomas Nelson Publishers. I spent time with Peter Cannon of Publishers Weekly magazine. He was one of their editors and I learned a lot from talking with him. Publishers want to get a good review from Publishers Weekly on their new book. It helps stores buy a book they have coming out. I thought it was interesting to talk with him. For me, I never bought or read a book because of a review. I bought it because someone I trusted recommended it.

From Peter’s office, I went to a meeting with Bowker. They are the source for ISBN numbers for your books. They have other services that are important to the success of your book as well.

After I met with Bowker, I went into an hour-long meeting with Barnes and Noble’s head and regional buyers. Now, I understand how they work. Before the meeting, I bumped into Barnes and Noble Vice President, Robert C. Knowles, and I had a nice chat with him.

Now, I understood how large bookstores handle buying books. I wanted to know if it was different for small family-owned bookstores. I stopped in and interviewed numerous bookstore owners across the nation. Every bookstore owner had the same attitude on how they chose their books.

While I was there, I had some owners give me the names of independent distributors. Then I called them up to learn what challenges they had working with bookstores. They have a hard job and I really appreciate what they do.

I love the business side of publishing as much as I do writing. Most authors aren’t wired for business. Since I have so much vast knowledge of the publishing field, I decided to mentor others. It made sense to use the Internet. This way, I can mentor and still have a career and life.

If you are interested, contact me below and tell me what you are looking for.

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