Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Guest Post: My Road to Becoming a Published Author by Jana Begovic, author of Poisonous Whispers


by Jana Begovic

Ever since I can recall, I've been fascinated with storytelling. As a child, I would spin tales, talk to an imaginary friend, and devour fairy tales. As a teenager I wrote maudlin love poems, and as a young mother, fables for my son. My love of the written word propelled me toward the studies of languages and literature, up to the post-graduate level. Those phases of my life unfolded in ex Yugoslavia, my native land.

When my family and I moved to Canada, my dream that I would one day write a novel followed me into my new life.  But settling into a new cultural environment, and trying to rebuild a career meant indefinite postponement of dream chasing. And as time is a winged creature, years flew by during which I employed my writing skills in producing  trip and other reports, specialized language testing manuals, a scholarly article and minutes taken at international and domestic meetings.

When I finally found the time and inspiration to write a novel, I immersed myself into the process without even thinking of the genre. I gave my imagination free rein, letting it play and meander along the plot and fabular digression lines. The story of love, loss and betrayal I was sculpting with words ebbed and flowed for two full years. Encouraged by the raving comments of my Beta readers and my first editor, I mustered up the courage to start submitting my debut work to agents and publishers.

At the same time, I realized how little I knew about publishing except that authors sold the rights to their books in exchange for royalties from sales. However, I discovered soon that predators lurked among editors trying to ensnare unsuspecting authors into their vanity nets; that rejections were the norm, and that professional editing was a costly but indispensible step if a manuscript was to be presentable; that big publishers lived in ivory towers to which only agents had access, and that these agents themselves lived in similar towers.

Polite and mostly formulaic rejections started arriving soon after I dispatched my first few query letters.  One publisher called and explained I would be considered for publication only if I built a fan base first; the same publisher asked for an R&R, but I abandoned the idea after reading negative reviews about the company.  Another publisher said my story was interesting, the characters well-developed,  but the  books written in the historic present did not sell well.

My last submission went to Roane Publishing and the acquisitions editor immediately requested the full manuscript. A couple of weeks after, when the name Roane popped in my inbox, I felt a wave of impatience wash over me thinking it must be another rejection. To my delight, the email was full of praise for the manuscript; however the editor found the two main characters needed more differentiation as they sounded too similar. I immediately found the observation insightful and perceptive, and set out with both enthusiasm and trepidation to work on revisions.

Several weeks after, I was notified the manuscript was accepted.  Fireworks of happiness went off in my mind. After the contract signing, the editing began and my initial angst that my authorial intent, tone, and the ambiance I created might be changed by the editor was quickly dispelled. The editing process with Lynne Street, and the final consultations with the Roane Publishing owner, Rebecca Hart were fully collaborative, productive, professional and enjoyable. Moreover, in consultation with the editor, the publisher graciously allowed the manuscript to deviate from the usual length and style of a traditional romance. Now, I feel privileged to call myself a Roane author, and hope my debut novel finds its way into the heart of many readers.


About the author:

As far back as she can remember, Jana has been fascinated by storytelling and intoxicated with the written word. As a young child, she began spinning stories, talking to an imaginary friend and devouring fairy tales. As a teenager, she wrote maudlin love poetry; and as a young mother, a collection of fables. Her love of reading and writing drove her to study languages and literature, resulting in B.A. degrees in English and German Languages and Literature, an M.A. Degree in Literary Studies, as well as a B.Ed. Degree in English and Dramatic Arts. She works for the Government of Canada in the field of military language training and testing and her work, as a subject matter expert, has taken her all over the world. She was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina but has lived in Canada since 1991.

“Poisonous Whispers” is her debut novel. Currently, she is working on her second novel, as well as a collection of short stories.

She lives in Ottawa, Ontario with her husband.