By Denise Domning
When my first book came out in February of 1994 my youngest son, who has Asperger’s Syndrome Autism, was in the middle of his very violent teen years. Then, two months later on April 28, 1994 my older son, Adam, was murdered.
I state that so you’ll know where I was as I launched my writing career. Instead of loving the wonderful things that were happening to me—my first book was purchased by the second publisher to look at it and it went on to win an RT award for Best First Medieval—I used my deadlines to escape the violence in my home and my grief.
Suffice it to say, it was not a good time for me. I don’t know if it showed in my writing, but it definitely took a toll on me. Before my seventh book was published I’d had a complete immune system collapse and was living in a virtual bubble. By the time Harper bought Avon and I ended up on the “to be let go” list, I was more than ready to quit writing.
From the moment I stopped signing a contract with a publishing house, I started signing contracts with individuals for projects that wouldn’t have my name on them. You know what’s really strange about that? Although I was still working at the computer, generating content for some book, I told everyone I wasn’t writing. How was it that I could think writing for someone else wasn’t really writing?
Whatever. What’s important to note here is that . . . it didn’t work. I am not a good ghost writer. If my name isn’t on the cover, I’m not invested in the project. I discovered this about two years ago in the middle of Monica Sarli’s memoir, after working on the book for three years. I gave up and gave her her money back only to wake up the next morning overflowing with ideas for how I could make her memoir work. But only if I became her co-writer.
She was thrilled. She just wanted her story told. It didn’t matter to her that our names would share the cover.
The words flowed. We signed with the Don Congdon Agency last year, working extensively with Katie Kotchman to turn the project into what Katie calls a “genre buster”. Two weeks ago she started submitting. We’re out to more than a dozen publishing houses as I write this and have gotten our first rejection, albeit a really nice one.
It’s all so very exciting. I can’t believe I’m working toward being published again. This time, I’m ready for it. I know what will be expected of me and what to expect of the house that eventually buys her story.
Even better, ideas for new projects, projects I’ll write all by myself, are starting to stir. I wonder? Do you think maybe I’m back?