A fictionalized look at the life of an astronaut wife in the days of Apollo

The next ten years (writing what it was like to be married to an Apollo astronaut)

Posted by on Feb 17, 2013 in Blog, Uncategorized | 2 comments

When I finished the first version of my “what was it like being married to an Apollo astronaut” book and had what I thought was a presentable manuscript, I sent out query letters to about 250 literary agents.. Some were very kind and said thank you but they couldn’t take any more clients right now or that this was not a genre for thier agency. Others tried to give me some practical ideas about how to revise it. And still others didn’t bother to respond although I had put the required SAS in each envelope or offered a terse “not for me” on top of my query letter. Some comments fell just short of “who the heck do you think you are anyway?”
I dutifully set out to rewrite the novel and continued going to workshops and classes. After writing, rewriting and rewriting, I sent out another 200 or so query letters and got substantially the same responses. I had spent about ten years by this time plowing and planting this same field to no avail whatsoever. At this time I was mentally exhausted and demoralized by such a long fruitless effort. My social life was the pits because all I did was go to work, go to class, write and go on the occasional bike ride along the beachfront or hike by myself. So I packaged up the whole mess and deposited it in my file cabinet to languish for several more years.
I retired and spent the next six years living in Sedona, Arizona, a heavenly place where I spent a lot of time hiking among the fabulous red rocks, taking fun and interesting classe involving various body and mind bending classes such as as yoga, consciousness and the subconscious and other ‘new age” topics at the local two year college.
Near the end of the six years, I dug out the novel, reread it with fresh eyes and attitude.  I decided there might be hope for it. So I set out to rewrite it again. (Is that redundant?) This time I went to a workshop in Sedona that espoused self-publishing and offered a program called Publish Now.  It pretty much walked you through the whole bloody mess. It included a mailing list of several hundred literary agents (who knew there were so many?), helpful suggestions about query letters, style and copy editing, building your own website, formatting. along with a company that would print on demand so you didn’t have to order a minimum of 1000 books to sit in your garagee and mildew, or in the case of Sedona to let the pack rats chew it up.
I hired a graphic artist to create on paper the vision I had in my head for a cover. That was an amazing sight to see a piece of paper with my cover image and the words Keeper of the Flame along with my name. All of that took another two years including more rewrites and lots of proofing. Once again I sent out query letters to almost 400 agents and once again . . . Yes, you guessed it. Only this time I got a much more positive response and a couple of dozen who wanted to see part or all of may manscript which was very endouraging but unsuccesful in the end.
Not one to take no for an answer, in November of 2012 I was ready to publish! That was scary and exciting because it felt like the point of no return. I was about to put my words  into print – a literary Indiana Jones stepping out into the abyss in faith that there would be something solid for my foot to land on. Shortly, I had the first copy of the book in my hand. I carried it around with me like a new baby eager to show everyone who would look and listen.
Then reality sunk in. I had to be my own marketing expert, publicist and distributor. Once again I was at the starting gate with no idea where the track even was.
Tune in again for the wonders of being your own publisher. And for thos of you who have been bitten by the writing bug, keep on truckin’.


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  1. Donna Slaughter

    What a long road it’s been for you. Let me know when you’re in So. Cal. again – would love to see one of your presentations.

  2. Gratia Lousma

    As I read your novel “keeper of the Flame” it was like a trip back in time. Many things have changed,but we walked that road for the first time with no road map to follow. There were many highs and lows,but I can say with certainty we did the best we could and gave it all we had.
    It was a joy to walk with you Jo Anne. and have captured and now share those moments of the early days of the Space Program.
    Thank you,and wishes for much success.
    Gratia Lousma(Astronaut Wife)

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