Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Prairie Chicks Welcome Back Jess Granger

We're very pleased to have Jess Granger with us again today. Her debut novel, Beyond the Rain, will be released this month. Here’s a portion of her bio –

My imaginative childhood grew into a thirst for knowledge and adventure that I’ve kept to this day. I love to travel and try new things. I worked as a balloon artist in restaurants, rehabilitated injured hawks and owls as a volunteer at a raptor management center, traveled all over the country during my trumpet playing days with the Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh, managed to wander to Europe to explore Germany, France, and Spain, and finally settled down with my wonderful husband to raise a couple of kids, a couple of cats and one fantastic All-American mutt.

Check out Jess’ first visit with The Chicks . And please visit Jess’ website and her Butterfly Blog.

When I got the call, I was nine months pregnant and over my due date by a week that felt like an eternity. Everyone in the romance industry was packing up to leave for the RWA national convention in San Francisco. That’s when the phone rang, the moment I least expected it, even though I had joked with my critique partner about how I’d get the call right before I went into labor. Ha ha, very funny. That’s exactly what happened.

With an offer in hand, the next day I emailed a list of agents and called a couple seeking representation, but everyone was at the national convention. I was fine with that because less than two days later I had a baby and I really didn’t want to field phone calls from agents in my labor and delivery room. Dealing with the phone calls from the baby’s grandma was enough.
Just after I got home from the hospital, I received an email from my agent saying she’d like to take a look. Fantastic! I sent her the manuscript Friday. Saturday she called me back and said she loved it. Sunday I agreed to sign with her agency. Monday she sent it to the second wonderful editor involved in this story. Tuesday we had a second deal on the table, and finally Wednesday we made our decision and a two book deal was born.

To the untrained eye, it looks like a contract and a baby magically appeared in the span of a week. Technically, that is what happened. But there’s more to this story.

The year before all these amazing things happened to me was the longest and hardest of my writing career. While others around me sold, I was still trying to get some attention for my novel. I believed in it. I knew I had finally written something of a quality that could sell. I wrote a story with specific publishers and a specific audience in mind. I knew this one could be the one. But I was cautious. I wanted to play my cards right.

I entered the manuscript in about six contests during that year, each with an editor or agent judging that I thought might enjoy the story. During that time, I kept doing more research, contacting more agents, trying to find that one foothold that would catch this thing on fire and have it shine for everyone to see. Months dragged on, agonizing months where each day felt like those last days of my pregnancy. I was tired, the size of a whale, and just wanted to see my baby and my ankles again.

Sure enough, the first editor noticed after she judged it in one of these contests. I placed third in that one, but hey, I wasn’t about to complain. When she called and offered me the contract, I was cool as a cucumber until I hung up the phone. The first thing I did was hug my hubby and cry.
So why was I crying? Because of the seven years that came before the call. It was the year 2000 that I decided I wanted to write a Romance and eventually make it into a career. I could do it. I had talent. I had a degree in Literature. How hard could it be? Please excuse my sarcastic chuckle over here. It took me seven years to learn what I needed to know before I could write a novel that could sell. I started as a writer who changed my writing to cover my weaknesses. I moved on to learn my strengths as a writer by practicing with some fan fiction in front of real readers. Then as I started to gain a foothold on what I really wanted to do with my writing, I learned everything I could from all the wonderful writers that served as mentors and guides. Finally I crafted a novel. My fantastic hubby supported me through all of it with little proof that I’d ever sell. The only proof he had was my stubborn unwillingness to give up and waste all that time I’d invested.

And that’s all that matters. Don’t give up.


Yunaleska said...

Thank you for posting your touching story!

Jana Richards said...

Hi Jess,
Thank you for your inspiring story. This is not an easy profession we've chosen. It's easy to get discouraged. I feel reassured knowing that sucess is possible with hard work.

Now that you've got a couple of kids, how do you find juggling your job as a mom with juggling your job as a writer? Do you find the writing gets harder or easier once you've been published?

I want to thank you for your help earlier this week. I've had terrible issues with my computer lately. The blog post and pictures that Jess emailed me totally disappeared. I emailed her in panic begging her to send me another copy, and she quickly and graciously did so. Thanks again for being so understanding.


DebH said...

hi Jess

i'm looking forward to reading your book. the excerpt you posted really hooked me. thanks for sharing your story and letting us know that "instant" success isn't necessarily so instant.

thanks for sharing with us.

Ban said...

I must say - there is great freedom in writing with the belief you are writing 'just for you' with no delusions of being published - cuts down on a LOT of the stress. 'Course I WOULD like to be published one day but for now, while still in the infant stages and still unsure of my abilities - I'm happy to tell myself my only goal is to finish, which is hard enough ...
I enjoyed your last post btw :D

Jess Granger said...

Thank you for having me here, Jana! I'm so glad to join you again.

I've found that if I fight for the time to write, I completely immerse myself it in because it is the one thing that is adult, that I can control, that is completely mine.

As a mom, being able to control things is a constant struggle.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Jess, I'm so glad you came back to share your call story with us. Very inspiring.

I'm curious though, what kind of a time frame did your editor give you to complete changes to your ms? Or didn't you have any changes? I mean, I was always so drained after my kids were born. How did you manage?

Molli said...

Enjoyed your post, Jess. Gotta love those stubborn genes, not to mention supportive spouses / friends. Thanks for sharing your story with us, and for reminding me that I have to keep at it not just in terms of writing but learning, too.

Jess Granger said...


I don't remember how long I had to do changes for Beyond the Rain. I think it was a month or two. Maybe three. I know I had them in before Christmas. My editor asked me to do a little filling out to draw out the connection between my hero and another character. That was the main thing I had to work on, then I also added some clarification to certain things. But she didn't ask me to cut or rearrange anything, so editing didn't take that long.

Good question, thanks!