Journey to Publication
Written by
Annette Drake
August 2013
Written by
Annette Drake
August 2013

I sat across the room from my manager. I knew her look of compassion to be sincere, yet that comforted me little when she said, “I’m terminating you.”

I had just finished a 12-hour night shift in the cardiac ICU, and despite the adrenaline streaming through my veins, all I felt was fatigue. I walked to my car, texting my husband on the way, “Just lost my job. Be home soon.”

What would I do now? Find a job. Absolutely. I enjoyed buying groceries. But in this job market? Now, I had a termination on my employment record. The job market in my community was ugly, with few jobs and a plentiful supply of applicants. What would I do?

I wrote fiction. I had at least three abandoned novels tucked away on various computer hard drives. While I filled out online job applications and stumbled through the maze of unemployment compensation, perhaps I could finish writing a novel.

I attended a weekly writing critique group on and off for more than a year, but working 12-hour night shifts took priority over sitting in a library conference room and sharing my stories. Now, I was free every Wednesday night.

Start a blog, my sister-in-law told me. A blog? No. That was for young people. My 45th birthday loomed. Then my oldest daughter offered to visit over a weekend and help me start one.

There was a place downtown that offered free computer classes. Really? For free? A week later, there I was, sitting in Blogging 101 and asking the instructor how to make my blog less amateurish. She opened my URL, told me it was a good start, and then to both of our amazements, she realized she had read my blog before. It was my tagline that stood out in her memory: “Hands and arms inside the cart, please. Next:…”

I found a website called Well, that was cool, I thought. A place for just women writers? Huh. I looked at a book entitled “No Gentleman Is He.” The cover caught my eye. Great cover! I wondered who the publisher was? Tirgearr Publishing. I had never heard of them. How did you pronounce that word? I browsed their website. Oh, they only accepted completed manuscripts. Which one of my manuscripts was closest to being finished? Celebration House. It was a romance. If I worked 10 hours a day, could I finish the book and submit it to them? Sure. Why not? I had time.

I discovered e-book publishers, such as Tirgearr and Carina. But e-books were for young people, I thought. I didn’t own an e-reader, and I didn’t have money to buy one. Wait. It said on the Amazon website you could download the app for Kindle onto your PC or laptop or phone. That was cool. I owned a laptop. I wondered if I could do it. Ten minutes later and holy buckets! I did it. I snuck into the e-book world.  

It was 5 a.m. on April 10th. I checked my bank balance. Yep. We were still broke. I checked my email. There was one from Tirgearr Publishing. What the heck? I’ll sprinkle a tablespoon of rejection into my morning coffee.

Hi Annette,

We put the book before our editors and they've come back with a very positive response…

If you are still interested in placing this book with Tirgearr Publishing, I would be very happy to send you a contract to look over. Let me know where you stand and we'll move forward with this book.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Tirgearr Publishing

A week later, I brought the first chapter of my book, Celebration House, to the local writers’ guild to share. I read the opening section and then told of my journey to publication – being fired, starting a blog, seeking out free computer help, submitting online and reading the acceptance at 5 a.m. I answered their questions as honestly as I could. After the meeting, I was approached by a woman who told me that earlier in the day, she had been fired from her job as a home-health nurse. My story was just what she needed to hear.

It felt devastating to be fired, to fail. But if I hadn’t, my manuscript would still be forgotten on a shelf in the closet. Instead, it was published on August 1. My failure in the role of cardiac ICU nurse paved the way to a title I had only dreamed about – published author. I can’t help but wonder, where will failure take me next?

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  • Jan Moran

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful story, Annette, and wishing you much success!

  • Ardyth DeBruyn

    Great attitude, Annette! I hope book is a wonderful success and your other books are soon to follow!

  • What an inspiring story Annette -- I am so glad you found us at She Writes!  And big congratulations on the publication of your book.  What an achievement.  

  • Y. E. Sano, Ph.D.

    This is inspiring. Just what I needed. Best of luck with your book!