Sunday, January 29, 2012

First times...

First time I decided I wanted to be an author: 2001. I was 25. Before then, it had never once occurred to me that writing was something I'd want to do with my time. In high school, if someone had suggested that I write for fun, I probably would have snarkily replied "Write for fun? Why don't I do math for fun? Right." I always regret this. I feel that I wasted ten years of developing my writing, simply because I never tried until I was an adult.

Fast forward to Puebla, Mexico, 2001. My girlfriend and I had just broken up. So there I was, broke, alone, a miserable gringo south of the border. I had no choice. I had to write a book.

Not knowing how to go about this, I opened up my old laptop and started typing. I basically used my high school self as the protagonist, my high school friends as the other characters, and my hometown as the setting. I never in a million years thought that anything would come of this. But one day, much to my shock, I finished the book, 'Playing With Matches.'

First positive response from a publisher: Well, forty or so rejection letters later, I had run out of places to send my manuscript. I had decided to put the book on the shelf for a while and try something else. However, I ran across notice of a contest for unpublished YA novelists and, after shrinking the font to meet the maximum page number requirement, I sent it in. I didn't hear from anyone for so long that I assumed I lost and no one had told me. However, one day, while running a junior high study hall, I got that e-mail, every author dreams of: I didn't win. But an editor thought the book showed potential, and asked for a rewrite.

That night, I made a vow that I would dedicate all my efforts to making this book perfect. Nothing would distract me. A few days later, my wife tells me to close my eyes and hands me something.

A home pregnancy test. Positive (Yes, we'd been trying...for about two weeks). Realizing I was working under a rather harsh nine month deadline, I redoubled my efforts. And, shortly after my wonderful daughter Sophie was born, 'Playing With Matches' was published.

I could tell you about other first times, but I don't think this is the right kind of blog.


  1. What a great story :) The fact that it's true makes it that much more so.

  2. Great story. Congratulations on the book. (*Going off take a look at it!*)

  3. Love the story of how you found your first publisher...proof that you should never give up on a manuscript!