The Making of 30 First Dates

Making of 30 First DatesI’ve been shocked by how many people have said to me, when they hear I have a novel coming out, that they’ve always wanted to write a book. It’s not something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always been a reader, and for 15 years I’ve been a professional writer. But I used to joke that I was “the only journalist I know with no desire to write the Great American Novel.”

I really meant that — it wasn’t something I said to cover up a secret ambition.

So what changed? Well, it all started about five years ago. At the time I was working as an interior designer, my only professional job that hasn’t involved writing or editing. I guess I missed it, because one day as I was driving in to work, an idea for a book hit me like an epiphany. I hid out in my office that morning, typing away. Less than a year later I’d finished a novel.

That book wasn’t 30 First Dates.

After typing The End on my first literary effort, I did the really hard part of fiction writing — I started researching how to get a book published. I’m glad I finished the manuscript first, because otherwise I’d have been too discouraged, intimidated and otherwise freaked out to continue. It turns out fiction is a tough, tough business. (If you want to know why, read the first sentence in this post. There’s a lot of competition out there.)

I started reading the reams of advice out there for fiction writers, connecting online with other writers and editing my first book. I started a blog that now lives right here. I sent out a few queries, only to be met with a few rejections. I learned that I was writing in a “dead genre” (chick lit, which was as overplayed at the time as vampire/zombie/soon-to-be dystopian books are right now). I got discouraged. And then I got over it.

In 2013 I started a new book. Its working title was “Erin’s Story” because its main character, Erin Crawford, was a secondary character in that initial book I wrote (called Now a Major Motion Picture). I really liked Erin while I was writing NAMMP (which will hopefully live on a shelf one day alongside 30 First Dates) and I decided she deserved a starring role of her own. Erin’s general zaniness, smart mouth and spontaneity gave rise to 30 First Dates, and I got started simply by asking myself the question, “What will Erin do next?”

I was on-again, off-again with my writing throughout 2013. I’d write a few chapters, set it aside, get busy with my day job, write a few more chapters. Then late last year, I decided to make a New Year’s resolution for 2014: I’d finish 30 First Dates by the end of April and, unlike my first effort, I’d resist all discouragement and query it out until I got a bite.

This time luck and knowledge were on my side. I made a LOT of trips to Starbucks to finish the manuscript. I edited the draft. I stopped calling my work “chick lit” and re-dubbed it “romantic comedy,” which is just as apt a description and, more importantly, NOT a dead genre. I created a spreadsheet (those who know me best might collapse in shock from reading that statement, but it’s true) and kept track of agents and publishers I’d queried and their responses. Shockingly I got a few nibbles and several bites. At least half of the agents I queried requested partials (meaning sample chapters) of the book, and four or five requested fulls (meaning the whole book).

I had three requests still pending when Gemma Halliday Publishing made an offer for 30 First Dates. I was thrilled to say yes, and the rest is (almost) history. I’ve spent the last several months learning the ropes and going through the process of working with a publishing house to create a book. I signed a contract, submitted the manuscript, approved a cover design and worked with an editor to produce a final draft. The book is now in the final stages of copy editing and formatting, and in exactly two weeks it’ll be out there in the world.

My head is still spinning.

The hard work isn’t over. In this day and age authors play a huge role in marketing their books, and so along with my day job I’m working to help my publisher get the word out about 30 First Dates. I’m also working on books three AND four, and my New Year’s resolution for 2015 is to finish book 3 by the end of April and book 4 by the end of September.

So, that girl who didn’t dream about writing the Great American Novel — she’s gone. Seeing my characters spring to life in a couple weeks on the pages of a real, live book is definitely a dream come true.


Comments

The Making of 30 First Dates — 15 Comments

  1. Hi Stacey – I just finished reading 30 First Dates and I really liked it. While I figured that Erin and Ben would end up together, it was getting a bit heartbreaking that they were doing so much to stay away from each other. I would LOVE to read more about them and hope that you write a follow-up to their story soon! looking forward to your next book.

    • Hi Sherialyse,
      Thanks so much, and thanks for taking time to reach out to me. It means a lot to me to hear from someone who loves Erin and Ben! I definitely want to revisit their story one day. Meanwhile, you can learn a bit more about Erin’s past in my next book, Now a Major Motion Picture. It’s going to be out in June! (I’ll announce that officially soon…)

  2. Hello Stacey,

    I am a devoted romantic comedy reader because it gives me the chance to check out from the realities of my day to day work. I just finished reading 30 Dates and was sad when it concluded because I really did enjoy the story line. I really do hope that you continue writing an even one day come back to the story line of Erin and Ben.

    • Thanks so much! I’m so happy you enjoyed the book. I’m working on two new books now, and one of them includes snippets from Erin’s life before 30 First dates. Maybe one day I’ll visit Erin and Ben in the future, too. Thanks for the feedback!

    • And by the way, that’s why I read (and write) romantic comedy, too. It’s a GREAT escape from day-to-day work. I watch out for new books by my favorite rom-com writers. Thank God for good books!

  3. Hi stacy,

    im one of gemmas reader and had the opportunity to order
    Your book. I must say it was a refreshing change of venue as most of
    The other books are murder mysteries. Im not complaing, really enjoy
    Those too.

    I almost wondered if yours was non-fiction with the blog and all. I dont
    Want to give anything away, but really like the direction the story took.
    It was a fun fast read and totally believable. Look forward to reading more
    From you.

    • Hi Marcia,
      Thanks so much! I’m happy you enjoyed the book. Definitely not non-fiction, although I wouldn’t mind taking some cues from Erin and having some of my own adventures. Maybe one of these days I’ll post my own bucket list on my blog. 🙂

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