A big welcome is extended to Peggy Bechko, who kindly relates her story as an author. Her success is undeniable, but here we discover just how narrow the margins are!
There was a day when I was very young, around 13 when I started writing stories. Why? I couldn’t tell you. It seemed like fun.
Then it seemed like something more and I was bitten by the “I want to see my books published and other people reading them” bug. My first novel was published by Doubleday when I was 22; a western, written in the first person, as a middle-aged man. It certainly got a lot of attention from my editor when he realized the rough western (Night Of The Flaming Guns) who’s lead was a gnarled 40-something man had been written by a 21-year-old female. Oh, and by the way, back then I was told “women don’t write westerns”. Ummmmm.
Well mostly, but I had been challenged by a friend to do it. He knew I was writing and said, “so why don’t you get a western published?”
So for the publication of westerns I became P.A. Bechko as of course they couldn’t put a woman author’s name on a western novel (was I born in the stone age?).
So how did it all happen and what brought me to where I am now, writing westerns, romance, SciFi/fantasy (my latest release being Stormrider, available in paperback and Kindle editions) and screen scripts (oh and don’t forget the non-fiction: I just released The New Grown Ups Disney World Guide Book)?
It’s an ongoing process – a career that’s thus far been filled with dreams, focus, determination and good luck that fell into my lap.
The first novel’s publication was chaotic. I’d signed with an agency, the agency went belly-up and I was frantic about the whereabouts of my manuscripts when I got a call from an agent who’d been associated with them with an offer from Doubleday to publish – he became my new agent as he started his agency. He sold several books for me and we became great friends.
Romances were beginning their great growth spurt so he encouraged me to write one – I did and sold that to Harlequin (you can now read a sample and get the romance Cloud Dancer in digital edition on Kindle .
Two more followed. More westerns followed that, publishing with Pinnacle, Manor and other houses. I even ghosted as Bill Haller for SideWinder’s Trail.
My agent retired and I had one more so-so agent after him. Then I had a very bad agent (not in the good luck category there) and broke with him after the sale of several westerns but some very bad blood between us.
From there the good luck followed again as I decided I also wanted to write for the movies and Larry Brody, TV Writer and producer was giving some classes on just that. I enrolled. I worked. Larry and I became friends (I still write guest posts for his blog at TVWriter.com) and I’ve optioned scripts in the US and overseas in addition to having written an episode for an animated series called Diabolik that was produced in France.
What it boils down to for a writer, I believe, is to create, work, learn, put yourself out there and be ready to jump when opportunity presents itself.
And new opportunity did with the arrival of digital publishing and Ebook readers. It’s a new world for writers with even MORE to learn to create, publish and market their work.
There’s still the traditional publishing as well which I certainly intend to keep a finger in, but in the immediate future I’ll be re-releasing my novel Hawke’s Indians, originally published by Doubleday, in digital format on Amazon. Look for it in a couple of weeks.
My newest novel as an original release will be as an Ebook on Kindle. That release will be several months down the road; a paranormal romance with the tentative title of Serpent’s Tail. It’s a whole new avenue.
Every writer will experience trials along the way. I’ve endured a very bad agent (just having an agent isn’t always the best), long droughts between sales, frustrations with editors (one who wanted me to cut a book’s length by 1/3 – I did it by the way, but not the way it was intended and still got the sale), part-time and full-time day jobs to fill in the gaps when the sales were thin and yes, even more dark moments.
But from it all I’ve learned that for me as a writer it’s all about focus, learn, persist and value your own work. There are more critics out there than creators. Be a creator.
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