With yesterday's surprise launch of Mr. Good Enough, I wanted to tell you a little bit about the story's backstory. 🙂 Hope you'll indulge a few writerly ramblings for a minute today!
I've been writing romances since the fall of 2002 and joined Romance Writers of America in 2004. I wrote a couple books that will never see the light of day, because they're bad. (But they did teach me a lot about writing!)
In 2005 or 2006, I read an advice column where a guy in his late forties had written in to say that he was happy enough with his long-term girlfriend, but he didn't want to propose just in case something better was out there. Except he was getting older, and what if this was as good as it got? Should he just settle for good enough?
And the idea for Mr. Good Enough was born.
(Side note: The advice column was a Dear Prudie article, and if anyone can find it for me, I will hug you and kiss you and love you forever, because my Google-fu has failed me and I can't find it.)
I wrote the first draft of Mr. Good Enough when I was pregnant with Munchkin. I revised it sometime after he was born, and then I revised it again, and then in late 2010, I finally decided it was ready for the world, and I started querying literary agents in hopes that one of them would think it was good enough.
Obviously that didn't happen. 🙂
I pitched the book to a few editors along the way, and I entered a couple contests with it, hoping they, too, would think it was good enough.
I came close a couple times, went through a round of revisions with an agent who ultimately passed (though with wonderful things to say, and I'll forever be grateful to her for her time and support and the confidence the experience gave me), took second place in the Southern Magic Romance Writers' Linda Howard Award of Excellence in 2012, gathered a few more rejections, and became very, very discouraged.
My dream had always been to be published with a New York publishing house, and if agents and editors didn't think my story was good enough, then it wasn't good enough. They complimented the writing, but ultimately the rejections had a theme: “This just isn't what we're seeing selling right now.” So I wrote a few notes about potential future books in the series (Yes, Jaime, I know a little bit about Parker's story, and I kinda have a crush on him too), then put Mr. Good Enough to the side, and I picked up my revisions on Southern Fried Blues.
Because Southern Fried Blues would be good enough. I was sure of it.
And… it wasn't.
Except it was. You, my readers, have laughed and cried with our characters (they're not mine – they're ours to share), You've told friends and written reviews and lent Southern Fried Blues and Mr. Good Enough to other readers.
You've given me the gift of not only being good enough, but of being confident in being good enough.
I don't talk much about being a self-published author, because I think books are books, and most readers I've met care more about getting a good story from their favorite authors than they do about who put the book out on the market. There are self-published books I love, and there are traditionally-published books I love, and as a reader myself, I love having my pick of all kinds of books. As a writer, though, I'm so, so grateful that self-publishing is a viable option for authors like me.
It took me a long time to pull Mr. Good Enough back out of the digital box it had been sitting in, to look at it as both a business woman and as an author with a small but growing audience of readers who were falling in love with Southern Fried Blues. And the funniest thing happened.
I found myself laughing. And crying. And saying, “Oh, this needs to be updated, because everyone has smart phones now.” And ultimately, I found myself falling in love with the characters I hadn't visited in two years. And that was when I knew that Mr. Good Enough was good enough too.
All my love and appreciation,