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Opportunity Knocked

The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck. ~ Tony Robbins

I’ve spent the last three years writing and submitting my butt off trying to get published in romantic suspense. So what’s my first book credit going to be? Scrivener For Dummies.

Say what?

Here’s how it happened.

When I quit my stressful day job four years ago to stay home with my kids, I knew I wanted to use the time they were at school to pursue my long-delayed dream of writing.

But what to write? Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Thrillers and mysteries were my books of choice before I discovered romance, but I didn’t have those stories in me. So it made sense to me that I’d write nonfiction. After all, I’d done well on written assignments since high school, kind of enjoyed writing my thesis, and actually aced the undergraduate writing exam when I retook it in grad school. Nonfiction made sense.

Until I started researching the life of a freelance writer. What topics could possibly hold my interest long enough to make enough money selling articles? If I wrote a book, what the heck would it be about? I didn’t have a topic burning inside me waiting to get out. I wasn’t an expert on anything I cared to write about, and the topics I cared about had all been written to death.

I was just about frustrated enough to give up when I found romance, and realized the ideas in my head were love stories. Aha! From that day forward I set myself to romance, eventually folding in my love of intrigue to write romantic suspense.

Along the way, something funny happened. A friend introduced me to the writing software Scrivener, and I found a new love story. Without realizing it, I’d found a topic worth writing about. The techie in me couldn’t help but explore Scrivener’s tools, and when I realized other writers were unaware of them, I started blogging about the cool features I unearthed.

Then I started digging for more neat things about the software so I’d have something to blog about. Bonus: I learned something new too. Suddenly my site became a resource for other Scrivener users, and hits were coming from all over the world, especially when the friendly guys at Literature & Latte (L&L) mentioned a post.

My growing following of readers began telling me I should teach classes and write a book. Oh, silly readers, I write romance. All this extra Scrivener stuff is just for fun.

But I love teaching, and that idea took root, so when one of my chapters offered a free class on how to create and pitch an online class, I took it. What I learned gave me the confidence to create and pitch a Scrivener course, which has become, happily, quite popular.

Through word of mouth, continued blogging, and continued support from L&L, my name got around. People bandied about titles like Scrivener Goddess/Ninja… It was a crazy thing that I never planned for, and didn’t do much to promote other than blogging, and tweeting about my blog posts.

So in February, when the folks who publish the For Dummies books found themselves working on a Scrivener book without an author, they went hunting on Twitter and found me (and several others). After an exhausting proposal and outline process, I got the call on February 24th!

And here I am, back where I started, writing nonfiction. The actual event that got me here was a blip and makes it sound like some kind of dream scenario. Like that writer whose first manuscript is picked up on her first submission. Or Daryl Hannah getting discovered while walking across the USC campus.

Sure, it was good luck. But becoming the writer for Scrivener For Dummies has been four years–maybe a whole lifetime–in the making. My good luck was “the meeting of preparation and opportunity” in the truest sense I can imagine. The luck part was that I didn’t go looking for it.

Not generally the best strategy for getting published, but hey, I’ll take it.

This post was originally published at Everybody Needs a Little Romance.

Get Lucky

Do you believe in luck? How can a writer not to some degree? If you're published, you probably feel that there was some luck involved, maybe some cosmic elements that aligned perfectly just as you were submitting queries.

If you're not yet published, especially if you've been working at it for years, I'm sure you feel that luck isn't on your side.

I believe in luck up to a point. The same query landing on the same agent's desk on two different days might not get the same response. That's the luck part. On the other hand, I also believe we have some control over how lucky we get. You have to be writing and submitting for your query to end up on the agent's desk in the first place.

Louis Pasteur is credited with saying, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”

I say, “Prepare your mind, and increase your chances.”

Don't just write, work on your craft. Finish the book. Prepare a synopsis (yes, I know, ugh). Create a query. Get feedback. Write, revise, tweak.

Then, most important of all: SEND.

Make Friday the 13th a day to celebrate. Good luck!

Simulcast on the Romance Magicians blog.