The idea of Earrings of Ixtumea came to me back in 2002 as a dream. I have very vivid dreams. I could see myself in a thick jungle setting, following behind a very buff warrior. At the end of the clearing he pulled aside the huge leaves of a tree for me to witness my first glimpse of an ancient world.
The idea of writing a fantasy with Latin mythology woven throughout had been with me since my days as a bilingual teacher in a LA county school. I loved fantasies but was sick of the usual British-orphan-is-the-chosen-one. Plus I was taking post graduate classes, one of which was Chicano Studies, that opened my eyes to the rich history of my own ancestors.
I learned so much those two years. Plus I couldn’t deny the yearning I had to go back to writing. I’ve always been a writer but put it aside when a college professor told me that I wouldn’t be a great novelist until I experienced more of life. I was only nineteen at the time but his words crushed me. But after nearly twenty years, I decided to try again.
I started by taking a novel writing class at UCI extension program. While there I met my now writing mentor Lou Nelson. She helped me learn how to do plot work and actually write my story using a story paradigm. I learned about character arcs, faulty thinking, and denouements. I also found my passion of writing had never left me.
But I found having a newborn, teaching full time, and writing was a hard balancing act. I decided to take some time off from teaching. It then took me another two years to write and finish the first draft of Earrings. I went to a number of writing conferences to help me network with other writers. I also got to pitch my story to some agents and editors. The biggest highlight for me was meeting one of my favorite fantasy writers, Terry Brooks, at the Maui Writers Conference. He asked me which of his books was my favorite and when I told him, he admitted that was his too.
Writing the story is the easy part. Then came the querying. At first came the form letter ‘no’ but then some personal comments came back. But the one that really helped was from an editor of a YA imprint who took the time out of his very busy schedule to offer to help me with suggestions on how to strengthen my story. I called. He went over what my strengths were and then gave me very valuable feedback on how to tighten my story. No, he didn’t offer me a contract but I’ll never forget his kindness. Yes, I sent him a thank you card. And, yes, I used the suggestions he gave which ended up making my story stronger.
I ended up going with an epublisher who’s idea of making e-serials out of stories intrigued me. I thought Earrings would be perfect fit. Plus I love unique ways of doing things. A month later my book came out in e-book format and now it’s out in print.
The one thing I’ve learned through the whole process of writing and publishing Earrings is this; don’t give up. Try, try, and try again. Also if an agent or editor offers suggestions, take him/her up on it. I know this sounds cliché but each ‘no’ is a footstep toward receiving that elusive ‘yes’.
Author of EARRINGS OF IXTUMEA
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