Friday, April 12, 2013

My Journey to Publication by H.L. Wegley

H.L. Wegley

Recently, author H.L. Wegley shared his experience with us on trying to write in a woman’s point of view. If you missed it, you’ll want to check out “A Man’s Perspective on Writing Romance. I’m so glad he agreed to make a return visit to Seriously Write today so we could learn about his personal journey to publication and what he gleaned along the way.
 ~ Dawn

My Journey to Publication
by H.L. Wegley

Computing security. There's an oxymoron—an area where there are more jobs than people qualified to fill them. When I retired from my 50-hour-a-week job in the cubicles of corporate America, I’d accumulated enough work experiences to write a techno-thriller on computing security.

But my left brain taunted me. You can't write a novel. Eventually my right brain threw a right cross, KO’d the left side, and I wrote a ten-page outline. When my wife and I decided to skip the dreary Seattle spring weather, in seven sunny days at Lake Havasu I turned my outline into three spiral notebooks filled with pencil lead.

Nothing to it. Seven days in the sun and voila, a manuscript. But I knew nothing about plot points, character arcs, point-of-view, or how to write dialogue. I had a manuscript, a romantic thriller. But was it any good?

An ad in Writer’s Digest for a novel-writing workshop caught my attention. I signed up. When the instructor critiqued 50,000 words of my MSS, it became apparent I needed to learn the craft. After buying several books, including James Scott Bell's Plot & Structure, and rewriting my story, naming it Network of Terror, I submitted it to an agent. He rejected it.

About this time, I discovered American Christian Fiction Writers and took their novel-editing track, submitting each chapter to their critique group. There I learned more in three months than all my previous efforts combined.

I rewrote my rewritten story, renaming it Hide and Seek. When I pitched it at a conference, it drew interest, but no contract. By this time I’d written a sequel and started a third book in the series, a series that appeared destined to die in three-ring binders on my bookshelf.

Just before giving up on Hide and Seek, I submitted a mini-proposal to an OCW conference. An acquisitions editor requested a full book proposal. I submitted and waited. After 6 weeks, an email arrived stating that, if I agreed to a few changes, I’d be offered a contract. I declined … just kidding.

Eighteen months and 2 rewrites after drafting my first novel, I had a contract. Since then I've received contracts for two more books in the series.

What have I learned?

First, learn the craft. I’ll never master it all, but if I hadn't started learning it, my stories would remain unpublished.

Second, find people to critique your work. For 20 years I developed software. This requires a testing group, people who can wring out the bugs. We need the same thing in our writing, a critique group.

Third, create characters readers care about. A good plot is necessary, but that alone won't keep most readers turning pages for 6 to 8 hours.

Fourth, honor God in your writing. There’s a redemption story inside each of my stories. I'm not saying everyone should do that, but hold tightly to the Christian worldview. Without it, as Randy singer says, you’ve got “… a great escape to nowhere.”

Click to reach Amazon.
H. L. Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He is a Meteorologist who worked as a Research Scientist in Atmospheric Physics at Pacific Northwest Laboratories. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked more than two decades as a Systems Programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area, where he and his wife of 46 years enjoy small-group ministry, their seven grandchildren, and where he pursues his love of writing. His publisher recently released Book 1 of a contracted 3-book romantic thriller series.

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  1. Awesome post and great tips, Harry. Thanks for sharing your journey today. Congrats on Hide and Seek and the follow-up contracts!

  2. As far as a series goes, I'm in the same boat you were, so I appreciate the encouragement, Harry.

  3. Loved hearing about your writing quest, Harry, and the tips are great. Wishing you continued good luck!

  4. Thanks for your encouragement Dora, Sandra, and Tanya. I'm a little late checking in today as I've been traveling since 5:00 AM. But I finished another chapter on my WIP while in the air. Speaking of that -- gotta run because my heroine is in trouble with the FBI and needs my help. She doesn't know I'm only going to make things worse. :)


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