1. How long have you been writing?
I have been writing ever since I could hold a pencil. My sister recently found some “flash” fiction I wrote while I was waiting for church to start. (My mother insisted on being there and in our seats twenty minutes early, so I had plenty of time.) I attempted a novel about five years ago and have been writing more seriously since then. Squeezing writing in around other things is how I’ve always done it. A few free minutes in class. During a lunch break. While the kids are sleeping.
2. Are you published and if so, how long have you been a published author? If not, what’s your plan?
Yes, My first book, CEOs Don’t Cry, was published in 2009 by Avalon Books. I have two other books published. Courting Sparks with Avalon and Sucker for a Hot Rod with Astraea Press. I have one other manuscript contracted. It is called Hauntings of the Heart and will be published with Astraea Press.
3. Which route did you choose for becoming published, the traditional route, with an agent, the “indie” route, going directly to the publishers yourself, or deciding to self-publish?
I originally attempted to get an agent. I sent out close to forty queries with bites but no full requests. This was on my first completed manuscript. I then queried three publishers, but was starting to think that maybe this manuscript might need to go under the bed. Two of the publishers eventually requested the full manuscript and one of them offered a contract. That was before the “indie” route really took off and the market for ebooks exploded. Strange to think that was only a couple years ago. If I was trying to publish my first book now, I don’t know what I would do. There are so many options to get your work before readers. While I’ve always loved the idea of ebooks—I remember seeing a “new” invention where an entire encyclopedia could be on a disk and thought it was amazing—I never realized how much I would like reading in that format. The new Amazon Tablet is on my birthday wish list.
4. Why did you choose that particular route?
I tried to get an agent first because I wanted someone to do the selling side of the business. I’m not very good at it. I’m naturally an observer, not an extrovert, so it’s really hard to put myself out there and say ‘hey I’m Joselyn Vaughn and my books are awesome.’ I wish I had someone else to do that.
5. How long did it take you to write your first novel?
From the day the first words went on the page to the last revision of the requested manuscript was a year and a half. The first draft took about five months, but there were many revisions afterward. I’ve gotten a little faster. A finished 60k novel takes about a year now. The rough drafts come a little quicker, but they tend to be pretty rough.
6. How long did it take you to publish it?
I started sending queries to agents about nine months after starting the manuscript. The publisher requested the full manuscript a year after that. They offered a contract about five months later and it was published about nine months after that. So I started writing it in 2006 and it was published in 2009.
7. How many times did it get rejected before it got published?
About forty times. I got lots of form letters. One was basically a business card with “No, thanks” on it. A few were promising. One had a handwritten note that my writing was good, but they didn’t think they could sell the story.
8. Tell us about worst rejection letter.
The worst rejection wasn’t from an agent or editor. It was comments on a contest entry. The judge said I didn’t know anything about living in a small town because small towns weren’t like that. Actually I’ve lived in a small town/rural area pretty much my entire life and everything in the story was something that happened. I guess my idea of a small town was much smaller than the judge’s. Now I use it as a reminder that you have to take the good with the bad. And find what was useful—if anything—and toss the rest. I ended deleting that entire chapter because I realized later that the story started two chapters later.
9. What was the best news you ever got in your writing life and how did it make you feel?
You mean other than getting THE CALL? That’s pretty exciting. I got the call for my first book while I was changing my daughter’s diaper. I was too far into the process to pick her up from the changing table and grab the phone and not far enough that I could finish before the machine got it. It was so unbelievable that I had to listen to the machine message several times. The call for my second book came after I had just settled down for a nap. I had a set of 18 month old twins and was pregnant, so afternoon nap time was the highlight of my day and getting into a comfortable position was nearly impossible. I didn’t get up for the phone that time either. I could hear the machine, so, needless to say, I didn’t sleep. It took me a while to build the motivation to move though.
10. What’s the worst piece of advice you ever got?
It’s not the worst. I’m not sure I could say something I’ve been told and acted on was the worst, but I do have one that’s funny. My critique partner always tells me the characters need to be checking out each other’s butts. (You can probably guess she’s what she looks at. J ) I’ve decided this means the hero or heroine should be finding something attractive about the other person. Sometimes you have to look at advice and see what it really means.
11. Now, tell us the best!
It you want to write a book, get a pen and a paper and do it. That’s all you need and the only way it’s going to happen.
12. What’s the one thing you would want an aspiring writer to take away from your personal path to publication?
Don’t get bogged down by rejection. Form letters aren’t personal. Send it somewhere else. There are so many possibilities—even more than three years ago. Try something else and, most importantly, don’t quit writing.
13. Where can we read your blog? Buy your books? Connect with you on facebook? On Twitter? Your website?
You can find out about all the adventures in the Vaughn household which lately seem to focus on the horrors of potty training twins (Will she be wearing Disney princess pull-ups in college? It’s even money right now.) at my blog: http://joselynvaughn.blogspot.com. I’m also on Facebook (http://facebook.com/joselynvaughn) and Twitter (@joselynvaughn). My books are available at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_6?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=joselyn+vaughn&sprefix=josely).
Excerpt from Sucker for a Hot Rod:
Bryce took a swig from his glass. Judi was about to signal a server to take their order, but Bryce stood and walked around the table. He knelt beside her chair.
A jumble of thoughts crowded and bounced through her head like children on an indoor recess.
Candlelight. Soft music. Fancy restaurant. He’s wearing a tie. He’s down on one knee. People are staring. That lady over there is crying.
Then the thoughts coalesced into one direction.
Romantic spot. Kneeling. Oh crap.
She focused her attention on him. He held a small velvet box in his fingertips. His fingers shook.
“Judi Montgomery, will you marry me?” He opened the box and a square cut diamond winked at her against the cushioned white satin.
“What?” She hadn’t meant to say it out loud, but it slipped out. This was a bit more than an oil filter.
Whew! *fans self* As a car lover, I know that makes my motor run. Okay, it made it run even without the car-loving thing. Whatever. Move on. So! I hope you've enjoyed meeting Joselyn. One final piece of advice from her: So to all the struggling writers out there I say, don’t give up. (And stay away from the delete key if you are having a rotten day. J) Terrific advice from one who knows!