WMW Introduces J.E. Seymour
J.E. Seymour lives in a small town in seacoast NH. J.E.’s first novel, “Lead Poisoning” was released by Mainly Murder Press on November 1st, 2010. J.E has had short stories published in three anthologies of crime fiction by New England writers - “Windchill,” “Deadfall,” and “Quarry;” in Thriller UK Magazine, and in numerous ezines, including Shots, Mouth Full of Bullets, Mysterical-E, A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp and Shred of Evidence. J.E. is the markets coordinator for the Short Mystery Fiction Society and a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. You can visit her website here.
Path to Publication
It was a long, long road to the first novel. I’ve been writing pretty much all my life, but never really thought about “being” a writer. I wrote, illustrated (and did my own binding, with staples) my own little books when I was about nine years old. I did some writing, with encouragement from teachers, in middle school (won some sort of prize for poetry,) and high school. Then I started my own business, teaching riding lessons and training horses. Not much free time. I still made up stories though, and I would tell my students the stories while we worked, mucking stalls or grooming horses. I started writing some of them down, probably about 1986 or so.
In 1989, I went to college. I started out as an elementary ed major, but switched to writing when I finally realized that was what I really wanted to do. I had encouragement from my professors, but not much luck with publication. Never mind publication, I hadn’t even finished a novel. I did start sending out short stories, and getting rejection letters. After I graduated, I had kids to take care of, three of them, one right after the other. By the time my youngest was old enough to nap for long stretches I was writing again. I got serious about it, joining some online writing communities and taking a class. The class instructor was very encouraging, and recommended me to her agent. Which is how I got my first agent. End of story, right? Happily ever after? No.
This was a long time ago. My youngest is about to turn fourteen. My first novel came out last fall. In between there, my first agent tried to sell my first book, which really needed work, although she didn’t suggest any changes. She dumped me after six months. No interest in the second book. I finished the second book and found another agent. He did nothing for six months, so I dumped him. In the meantime I was taking classes, and I got into Bread Loaf, which is a big literary writers conference, and it’s hard to get into. Still no luck selling the books. Wrote the third one. Met a local mystery writer at a library event (where two people showed up, poor guy – and he’s a big name writer.) He suggested I try to break in with short stories. So I started sending out more shorts. My first short story appeared online in Shots Crime and Mystery Magazine. My first in print was sold to a New England based anthology. I’ve sold more short stories since then, but still had no luck attracting an agent. My third book, the one that came out last fall, garnered 80 rejections from agents. Yes, I counted. After the agents all rejected it, I went to small presses. Mainly Murder Press picked up Lead Poisoning in November of 2009. It came out in November of 2010. I still don’t have an agent.
The moral of the story is to just keep writing. Keep moving forward. Write another book, and another. Keep sending out short stories. I get really nice rejection letters now. I’m on a first-name basis with the editors of those two big mystery magazines. I still take classes. Just did a workshop a couple of weeks ago through Sisters In Crime. Join your local chapter of SinC, or MWA, or both. Find a writers group. Start a writers group. Most of all, keep practicing.
I’m not saying that the way I got here is the only way to get here. I knew I didn’t want to self-publish, so I stuck with traditional publishing even though it took a long time. Persistence paid off though, and I can say I have a book out with a real publisher. The key for me was to just keep trying, while striving to make my writing better.
Thank you for taking the time to share your post with us J.E. Seymour. It was inspirational.