Saturday, April 18, 2009

Victoria Bylin’s Five Best Moments as an Author

Many thanks to Anita Mae for inviting me to join the Prairie Chicks today! It’s a pleasure to be here. Since this blog is geared to the writer’s journey, I thought I’d share my five best moments as an author. They may not be what you’re expecting. Believe it or not, getting the call isn’t on the list. That’s on a list called “My Five Scariest Moments as an Author.” In fact, it’s No. 1.

For today, I want to focus on the fun stuff, the things that I hope will encourage everyone who has ever sat in front of a keyboard with a story in her heart. Here we go with my list of “Best Moments.”

No. 1: Finishing My First Book. I will never forget printing out my first-ever manuscript. It was called The Safest Place and I’d poured my heart into it. I loved this book. I believed in it. And most important of all, I’d met my goal of finishing a book-length work of fiction. It didn’t matter if it sold or not. (It didn’t.) For those moments, the book was real.

No. 2: Mailing a Finished Manuscript. I love taking a ms to the post office. It’s the one time I don’t mind waiting in line because it gives me a chance to be grateful. Whether a book is under contract or not, finishing the story is pure joy. The book is done and it’s ready to go. We have no control over what an editor buys, but we do control our own efforts. I love that feeling of accomplishment.

No. 3: The Rita Awards! Abbie’s Outlaw finaled for the Rita for Best Short Historical in 2006. I was stoked! That book is still my personal favorite. To receive respect from others meant the world to me.

No. 4: My First RWA Conference. I’d never been to an RWA event in my life, but my husband encouraged me to get on the plane to Denver for the 2002 national conference. I’d just sold my first book to Harlequin Historicals and was as green as a newbie could be. I met so many wonderful women . . . fellow writers who became good friends. That conference changed my life. I can’t wait for Washington DC this year! If you’re going, come and say hi at the Literacy Signing. I’ll be there!

No. 5: Email from Readers. There’s nothing more satisfying than an email from a reader saying that one of my books helped her through a hard time. One reader said Abbie’s Outlaw made her want to go back to church. Another reader asked to read the closing letter in Of Men and Angels at a friend’s funeral. Most recently, a tired mom found encouragement in In a Mother’s Arms. Those emails are humbling and encouraging, and I’m honored by them.

So those are my best moments. What about you? What was your best moment as a writer? Was it writing a great scene? Finaling in a contest? Maybe you got a request from an editor or an agent. It’s all exciting and it’s all progress.

While we’re all here, let’s do a book drawing! Anyone who comments will be eligible to win a copy of In a Mother’s Arms. Let’s talk!
I first heard about Vicki during a discussion of Historical authors. Intrigued by this author whose logline is: Highly Spiritual - Deeply Human, I bought a used copy of Abbie's Outlaw and lost all sense of time in a story that enthralled me with it's gritty realism. It received my highest book review rating. Soon after, I snapped up a copy of Of Men and Angels which also received my highest rating. The intensity and depth of emotion in Vicki's characters reasonate with me long after I close the book.

Vicki can be found at She keeps a current blog at


Anita Mae Draper said...

Vicki, welcome to the Prairies. I had hoped to finish reading The Maverick Preacher before you came for a visit but it's been too hectic here to get much reading done.

Still, Joshua is the type of hero I've come to 'need' from you. He's real, down-to-earth and purpose driven yet he recognizes Adie as the only person who can fill his starving soul. Nicely done. You've matched them perfectly.

I'm not sure I'll be able to get back her until later this afternoon. My 10yr old and I are heading to the coin show to showcase our displays. Mine is on Motherhood and I have a dozen coins with women breasfeeding, and others protecting, rocking and playing with their babies. I wonder what the 'old guys' will think of that, eh. My son's is on dinosaurs. :0

I'll hook up when I can find WiFi. Meanwhile, there should be enough other Chicks to keep you from getting into too much trouble. :)

BTW - great post, Vicki. I'll think about my best moments while I'm digging through buckets of ancient coins. Maybe I'll look for an 1879 Morgan to make my wip more realistic. Later...

Victoria Bylin said...

Hi Anita Mae,
Your coins on motherhood sound fascinating. bet you can work that into a book. I'm thinking about a heroine who collects them because ???? That's the perfect kind of detail for a historical romance.

I'm glad you're enjoying "Maverick Preacher." I've had Josh in mind for a long time. Adie was harder to write. I wanted her to have a chip on her shoulder but still be likable. It gave me a lot pleasure to match her with Josh!

Linda Ford said...

Hi Vicki,
Great post. One of my favorite moments is also when I put a manuscript in the mail. In fact, I've started a tradition. I buy a bouquet of flowers for myself to celebrate.

Another is when a scene unexpectedly works. Just yesterday I had a scene that I couldn't figure out the details on. I had decided to move on and forget it--have it referred to but off stage. Instead I made myself do some brainstorming and came up with what I hope is a great and surprising scene. I know I was surprised when my hero and heroine kissed. I call it an accidental kiss. LOL.

Linda Ford,
(waving hi to Anita Mae)

Victoria Bylin said...

Hi Linda, What a lovely way to celebrate a finished ms! Flowers are so fitting. I know what you mean about a surprising scene. That's always fun, especially when it involves the romance!

Jana Richards said...

Hi Vicki,
Thanks so much for joining us here on the Prairies. It's great to have you.

I love your post. Sometimes we get so caught up in our lives and our work, that we don't take the time to look back and remember how much we love what we do. Or maybe it's just me who forgets to count my blessings every once in a while. Thank you for reminding me.

Finishing a manuscript is very satisfying, and like you said, even if it never goes anywhere, it's a huge accomplishment that should be acknowledged and celebrated. I love Linda's idea of buying herself a bouquet of flowers. If I ever finish my current WIP that's what I'm going to do.

One of my favorite moments was several years when I first started writing and just joined Saskatchewan Romance Writers. I took a WIP to the group for a critique and was on pins and needles waiting for their opinions. They gave me lots of ideas for improvements but basically told me I'd done good. Their encouragement meant the world to me and told me that maybe, just maybe, I could write.


Karen said...

Hi Linda. Great post day. I like the idea of celebrating every success.

I have to say my number one moment thus far would be finishing the first draft of my first manuscript. That was a huge moment. My number two moment would be sending the first portion of said manuscript to a fellow writer to critique. It was a giant step out of my comfort zone and I'm so glad I took it.

Thanks for guest blogging here at the Chicks.

CherylStJohn said...

I love all your books, Vicki. I can't wait to read this one.

Janet C. said...

Hello, Vicki - and welcome to The Prairies :)

Great post. Sometimes in the frenzy of submitting and getting rejected I forget that I've had some great moments.

Finishing that first manuscript (yeah, it's a great feeling of accomplishment), having people read it and like it (like Jana said, that first time when another writer says 'This is good' can not be beat), the first rejection letter (after I got over the pain - and still have that with subsequent rejections - it means I'm sending it out), the request for a partial (a definite squee moment), the people I've met on this journey (my writers group here and online, The Chicks, published authors - writers are a fantastic, generous group of people). Wow, 5 already. Yes, must count my blessings.

Thanks to Linda who stopped by with a great suggestion. Perhaps that's what I need to do when a rejection comes in (no one suggested that to the Muse last Friday). Flowers are always good for cheering up :)

Thanks again, Vicki. I hope you have a great day here with us Chicks.

ban said...

since i've never finished a ms i'd have to mirror jana's favorite moment - the first time i showed my work to others and got positive feedback (hate that word), encouraging me to keep going. now i'm working towards #2 :D
ps: after anita's wonderous reiews, i'm gonna have to look up one of your books !

Victoria Bylin said...

Hi Jana, Encouragement from friends and fellow writers is so important on this journey. Not too many people understand the desire to tell a story and tell it well. That first critique sounds both brave and wonderful!

Victoria Bylin said...

Hi Karen, I admire you for stepping out of your comfort zone and sending the ms to a friend for a critique. For some reason, I found it easier to send a ms to an anonymous editor. That first rejection wasn't fun, but I learned from it.

Victoria Bylin said...

Hi Cheryl! I love your books, too! You have been--and continue to be--an inspiration to me. Can't wait for your first LIH. It should in the next shipment from the book club.

Victoria Bylin said...

Hi Janet C, It's interesting you'd mention that first rejection. I remember being disappointed, relieved and then proud because I'd taken the chance and sent out the ms. I also spent HOURS deciphering the rejection letter : ) In a strange way, I found the whole experience encouraging.

Victoria Bylin said...

Hi ban, My second ms was a thousand times better than my first. I hope you have that same experience. Something happened with that story. I began to feel it as I wrote. I finally understood deep POV, and finally figured out what "plot" meant. Enjoy!

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Hi Vicki, I loved hearing about your moments. Lots of exciting things to look forward to!

I haven't yet gotten to the point where I can rejoice and/or panic about submission, but I try to celebrate the little moments along the way.

Some of my favourite moments so far have been hitting those midnight strides when words and hours just fly and nothing in the world is more satisfying than composition, the moment (as you mentioned) when I suddenly felt like storytelling just 'clicked' for me and I wasn't just putting words on a page anymore (unfortunately it happened halfway through the ms, so the beginning needs a machete), and a small but lovely moment... when I was browsing one day with my mom in a book store and casually pointed out to her where my books would sit on the shelf. I quite literally saw the realization dawn on her face as she realized writing could be more than a hobby.

Anita Mae Draper said...

So, I'm in my hotel room and woke up when I almost fell out of my chair after drifting off while waiting for the internet to kick in. The wireless service is awful! Just when I get a good long, comment going, it disconnects and I lose my comment. Again. Hopefully, this will go.

Had fun today zipping the kids to coin mtgs and recitals. I love digging through buckets of coins. Bought another 10 ancients and he threw 2 more in. These are the ones from the Romans in Britain and I have to soak them in warm oil. I love seeing which coins I get.

I accepted an assignment as a mystery shopper for today since I knew I'd be in the city today. Spent an hour and a half shopping and making notes. I had 12 hrs to report in and just finished. It took a ridiculous amount of time because of the internet svc.

The kids swam in the hotel pool in the evening while I went to a coin auction. Bids started at $2. The highest lot – an 1872H Canadian quarter went for $5,100 Cdn. Wow!

I can see you’ve been busy here. Vicki, thank you for guest hosting. I wish I’d been around. I haven’t even thought about my special moments. But I can’t type any longer. I’m heading to bed...

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Linda - almost missed you out there in Alberta.

I see Cheryl is here today, too.

Thank you for coming today, ladies. Not sure where all our regular mbrs are - it was rainy here where I am...

Now, I really am going to bed... :)

Victoria Bylin said...

Hello Hayley,
I hear you on taking a machete to the beginning of the manuscript. That happens allthe time with me. I'm more of a pantser than a plotter, so I spend the first part of a book wandering in the dark looking for the story. When I find it, I go back and edit the beginning until it's right.

Thanks for chiming in!

Victoria Bylin said...

About the book drawing . . . The names went into a hat and the winner is . . . drumroll . . . Karen.

Karen, if you'd email me at I'll get the book in the mail to you.

Thank you all for coming by! I enjoyed chatting : )

Karen said...

Thanks for picking my name, Victoria! I will do so immediately and look forward to a wonderful story.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Vicki, sorry about the OT Sat night. I've had time to think about my best moments as a writer. When I first read your post, I immediately thought about the contests I finalled in but upon reflection, I have other wonderful moments, too:

- seeing my pic on the eHarlequin home page as Member of the Month is a high point for me. It was something I hadn't gone looking for, like a contest hoping to win. Someone else picked me without my knowedge. And that MOTM tagline
is added to every comment I make on the site.

- when I get an email from an author, like you, who remembers that I'm a writer, too and not just a reader who has your books on auto-buy.

- when I update my status on FaceBook to say I'm working on my wip and an established author asks if it's about Charley's Saint or Outlaw by name and I haven't spoken of it in weeks or months.

- when I rec'd 3 requests out of 3 editor/agent interviews at the ACFW conference.

- when I rec'd my 2nd rejection from Steeple Hill and the editor requested to see something else

- and, like Linda, I'm thrilled when I'm driving down the road and I think of the perfect solution to scene that's escaped my grasp for weeks. It's my 'Ah-ha!' moment and it will stay with me all day.

Thank you Vicki, for reminding me to think of the little successes as well as the big ones.