Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Credit Where It's Due

How you get "your big break" so to speak is so random. A series of small and large twists, decisions, and coincidences that lead to somewhere... where you are today.

Kerry Madden and Denise Hamilton are two of the reasons why I'm a published author. Kerry is an author of young adult fiction set mainly in Appalachia. Denise is an author of the Eve Diamond mystery novels set in Los Angeles. Both write great books. And both thought I had lots of talent and potential.

Here's the story in reverse.

John Scognamiglio is my editor at Kensington. Love him. Great guy. Smart, talented, and makes the process so fun and learning-filled.

Denise Hamilton mentioned me in a conversation she had with John, when Kensington did the soft cover version of one of her novels. That led to my manuscript for Down For Whatever going from the bottom to the top of the editor's slush pile, which my agent Nicholas had submitted a few weeks earlier.

I met Denise because I was taking Kerry Madden's fiction class at UCLA in Fall 2001. They are long-time friends, share the same writer group, and Kerry invited Denise to class to talk about publishing, writing about L.A., etc... I shared some of my work with her.

I took Kerry's fiction class at UCLA because in September 2001, after having read my billionth novel (an exaggeration), I decided that I wanted to write one.

So I went to an open house the UCLA Extension Writers Program hosted. Found a day of the week I could "give up" to learning some craft. Signed up and paid for a class that afternoon. Just so happened to be Kerry Madden's Monday night class. 12 weeks. Just so happened that she thought I had potential and gave me feedback (on what is partially chapter 6 in Down For Whatever) that challenged me to look at expanding to a novel format. Who knew?

I think life is so interesting. Where we are AT THIS MOMENT is a result of many choices we made, when a decision to go THIS way or THAT way had to be made. Sometimes a choice to to THIS will lead to meeting people, places, things that bring us closer to our dreams. But I often think about the alternate choice we didn't make, and where that would have us at this moment. Who knows?

It's good to give credit where it's due, and I know that Kerry and Denise helped open some doors that a newbie like me five years ago would never have been able to open.


LadyLee said...

Now, what really impresses me here is the beginning for you... You knew enough to go and take classes on craft. I rarely hear of such a thing, and people chide me when I say that I am taking classes instead of rushing to get published... First things first is my motto!

Dubbed As Trent Jackson said...

And Fred...
It is because of you that I am a blogger today!!! If it wasn't for you coming to my very first signing and showing support, I wouldn't have been successful as I am. I really appreciate the kind words that have inspired me to grow professionally and personally!

Thanks! We must catch up soon.