07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Monday, January 2, 2017

Tough Hide and Determination by Paty Jager

This month we've been asked to talk about something funny on the road to publication.

I wrote two murder mystery books with only taking a few college fiction writing courses. I had little aid in how to write a mystery because back in the day, most mystery groups wouldn't include you unless you had published a book. Then I stumbled onto LaVyrle Spencer and Nora Roberts books and decided I'd write a historical western romance. I wrote the book and found out about a local writer's group. I went to first meeting and they were all poets. They snubbed their noses at me and didn't have anything helpful for a novelists.

Then I found out about Fishtrap, a writing weekend in the county where I grew up. I could stay with my parents and attend the workshops I wanted. I signed up for one where you read some or your work to a New York editor. I was stoked and ready to get some feedback.

I arrived at the workshop early and smiled at the other people as they entered the room. As anyone who has met me knows, I tend to shrink into the corner of the room as it fills. We were instructed to sit around a large table with the young woman at the head who was the New York editor.

She told us she wanted each of us to read the beginning of your work.

The first person read and I thought it was a nice story. The second person read and I didn't understand what they were trying to say with their work. The third persons story was way out there and then there was another story that was wordy and full of beautiful descriptions.

Then it was my turn. I cleared my throat and started reading my historical western romance. You would have thought I had the plague. The other members of the group leaned away from me and the editor stopped me way before she stopped the others. She asked me if I had heard of RWA. I told her no. She asked me to see her after the workshop.

When the workshop was over, I stayed behind and she handed me a piece of paper that had the website for Romance Writers of America. She told me to contact them and they would help me with writing a romance. That Fishtrap was a literary writers organization.

I went home and put in the website, saw that they had classed, workshops and online help. I was in heaven! I received my first RWR- the RWA magazine and saw there was a conference in Seattle. I told my husband I had to go. I needed to attend the classes.  I met wonderful, kind people who had characters running around in their heads too! I'd found my people! One of them asked me what chapter I was in. I replied, "Fourteen," thinking she meant in the book I was working on. She meant a local chapter. I learned of the two in Oregon and made it a goal to pick one of them.

I did and attended meetings once a month in Salem, a two and a half hour drive from where I lived. But I learned so much and met so many wonderful people it was worth the travel and time.

I joined RWA in 1998 and in 2006 and after writing 2 mysteries and 7 historical romance books I was published by a small press. On the way to being published by the small press I had over 100 rejections from agents and editors. But I also had been a finalist in 8 of the different RWA chapters writing contests. It was those contests and Agents saying they liked my books but didn't know where to place them in the New York standards for genres that kept me writing.

I have since left the small press and self-publish all my books. I love the ability to write what I want and promote it how I feel best works for the book. My entourage of editors, cover designer, and beta readers all keep me on task and make my work shine.

Becoming published had it's knocks and required a touch skin when it came to the rejections, critiques, and edits. I also had to use the same drive and determination to get published that I had as a child growing up with two brothers. I was determined to do everything they did as good or better and I have that save drive when writing a book. When I can't write the next book better than the last, I'll throw away my keyboard. Until then, I'll keep plotting, writing, and bringing characters to life for readers. 

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 25+ novels and over a dozen novellas and short stories of murder mystery, western romance, and action adventure. She has a RomCon Reader’s Choice Award for her Action Adventure and received the EPPIE Award for Best Contemporary Western Romance and a RONE for her Murder Mystery. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.
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Madelle Morgan said...

What a journey, Paty! I also took a literary fiction course in my 20s (before I found out about RWA) and your post brought back memories. Back then I was reading sci-fi and Harlequins. I too was a fish out of water! LOL.

Luckily in my 30s I discovered an RWA chapter in my city so I didn't have to make that long drive. :)


Judith Ashley said...

Willamette Writers has softened some, but when I first started writing and attending their meetings, I was the next thing to a leper because I was learning to write romance. I won an hour chat with Alexis Harrington in a raffle drawing. She turned me on to RWA. That's one of the blessing of being a romance author---99% of the time you are greeted with understanding, support and encouragement.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Madelle,
It's interesting how so many writerstudents start out the same. Thanks for commenting.

Paty Jager said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sarah Raplee said...

I started out blessed to have a sister who was already an RWA member! I laughed out loud when you described answering the questionat an RWA regional conference, "What Chapter are you in?" with "14." We all have made newbie mistakes while learning the lingo! I can relate.

Thank goodness you persevered! I love your books, both the mysteries and the romances.

Maggie Lynch said...

Fortunately I missed the embarrassment of the "Literary" assessment of my work because I started writing short stories in SF in the late 1970's. At that time, the only genre I read. Later in life, when I decided to write novels, I checked with a couple SF friends and they told me too things that changed my direction: 1) Don't take Creative Writing courses at universities. They know nothing about genre fiction; and 2) If you want to make money, write Romance. The SF market is only 7% of the market. Romance is over 50%.

I've always loved your books, Paty. They are great stories with good research. Whether you write historical romance, contemporary romantic suspense, or mysteries I'll follow you across genre. Keep up the great work!

Paty Jager said...

Alexis is a wonderful person and writer. I agree the Romance community is a very giving and caring group. Thanks for commenting Judith.

Paty Jager said...

Thank you, Sarah! Yes, that is a moment I look back on now and laugh. I'm glad you enjoyed my books. I enjoy your writing.

Paty Jager said...

Thank you for stopping by, Maggie. I think writing/publishing romance first was good for me but I am having a blast writing mysteries. I'm glad you enjoyed my books. I enjoy yourself as well.

Paty Jager said...

Thank you for stopping by, Maggie. I think writing/publishing romance first was good for me but I am having a blast writing mysteries. I'm glad you enjoyed my books. I enjoy yourself as well.

Paty Jager said...

Thank you, Sarah! Yes, that is a moment I look back on now and laugh. I'm glad you enjoyed my books. I enjoy your writing.

Diana McCollum said...

I sure am glad someone turned you on to RWA! I love your books!