svance_4X6_72dpi~ By Sarah Vance-Tompkins 

My cherry has been popped just in time for the holiday season

In April I joined a group of romance writers in a private group on Facebook. Our goal was to encourage each other to write and submit a short story in six months. For some this might seem like an overwhelming task, for others a bit too easy. As a novice romance writer, it seemed like a task I could manage.

It was a diverse group of writers who were writing different genres. We shared anthology calls from publishers. And we wrote. And we had successes. And we had setbacks and we overcame obstacles. We became friends and trusted allies. By then end of the six months, we had all written at least one short story.

I wrote a Christmas romance. I eat up Christmas romances like they are Skittles on Amazon. It doesn’t matter what genre it is, put Christmas in the title and I’m buying. They are a great way to escape from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. So writing a Christmas short (in July) seemed like a good fit for me.

The goal of the group was to not only finish a story, but to submit it and share the results, good or bad. I was working on an 85k manuscript for months, polishing and rewriting constantly. It won several awards and I was certain it would be my ticket to success in the publishing industry. But it still wasn’t ready. Writing a short story was the perfect diversion.

But when the deadline for submitting a short story project approached, I still hadn’t sent out my project. I told myself the feedback would be good – even if it was a rejection. And so with (an unusually large) glass of wine in my hand, I wrote a query letter and a synopsis, and sent my short story off to a small publisher who had put out a call for Christmas.

I awoke the next morning a little groggy, but comfortable in the idea that I wouldn’t hear back from them for weeks…if ever. I sent it off to a couple of other publishers too. I was feeling so brave…and surprised when I got an offer and a contract in my emailbox a few days later. I’d heard about this kind of thing happening. It had happened to other writers in my group, but I honestly didn’t think it would happen to me.

I’m now learning about edits from a (very) kind editor. She pointed out my bad writing habits in the most compassionate way possible. I’m looking at book covers. I’m talking about release dates, and I’m shopping around for a blog hop and some giveaways.

It’s a whole new world. And I wouldn’t have done it without a group of writers who encouraged me to try my wings, while they bravely tried theirs.  The fellowship of writers is a gift that keeps on giving. And isn’t that what the holiday season is all about?

Sarah Vance-Tompkins received an MFA in Film Production from the University of Southern California and went on to work in feature film development at Lightstorm Entertainment, The Ladd Company and USA Films, among others. Prior to film school, she wrote and produced radio and television commercials. She has worked as a reporter for a weekly entertainment trade publication, as well as a freelance journalist and movie reviewer. She has been paid to write obituaries, press releases, the directions for use on personal lubricant bottles, and descriptions of engagement rings for an online jewelry store. She works in social media marketing. Email her at sarahevance@gmail.com

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