Monday, May 17, 2010

Guest Author Leslie Ann Moore: Luck Favors the Prepared

Leslie Ann Moore, a native of Los Angeles, received her doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the University Of California and continues to practice veterinary medicine in the L.A. area. In addition to fiction writing, Leslie Ann enjoys travel, reading, and attending science fiction/fantasy conventions. She also practices the beautiful and ancient art of belly dance.

Griffin's Daughter, the first in her romantic fantasy trilogy, was named the 2008 Ben Franklin Award Winner for Best First Fiction by the Independent Book Publishers Association.


Realizing my dream of becoming a published writer has been one of the best things to ever happen to me. I’ve been a storyteller ever since I could form meaningful sentences, but I’ve been a serious author only since 2001, the year I met Terry Brooks at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Mr. Brooks is one of the top-selling fantasy writers currently working, and has been so for over 30 years. An inspiring panel discussion and a few kind words from him over a signing of one of his Shannara novels started me on my own road to publication. I even dedicated my first novel Griffin’s Daughter to him.

Terry Brooks sells a lot of books and makes a lot of money. He does so because he puts out a good product, but equally as important, he had a lucky break early on. When he wrote his first novel The Sword of Shannara, fantasy as a respectable genre aimed at adult readers was still in its infancy. There were not a lot of choices out there - The Hobbit, LOTR, The Chronicles of Narnia being arguably the most well-known, and two of the aforementioned were actually written for children. The Sword of Shannara was aimed squarely at adult readers hungry for grown-up fantasy, and it became a NY Times bestseller. Yes, it has been accused of being an LOTR clone, and I won’t disagree; however, it was the right book at the right time.

All of this brings me around to my main point: why Terry Brooks and not you or me?

The simple answer, as much as we all hate to acknowledge it, is luck.

Terry Brooks, as well as being a good writer, was also a lucky writer when it counted the most, at the beginning of his career. He came to the notice of the big boss at Del Rey, one of the few publishers of sci-fi/fantasy at the time, who championed him as an author. Many, no, most writers will never get that one big break, no matter how skilled they are, no matter how good a product they put out.

Don’t worry. I promise this essay will not degenerate into a bitter, depressed rant about how great a writer I am and how I should be famous by now, except I could never get a break. Nope. Not gonna happen. I will say though, that it can be frustrating at times, knowing I do have a good product, but because it isn’t at a major publishing house, it reaches only a fraction of the audience out there that would enjoy it. For, as we all know, the goal is not merely to see our words in print. We want readers as well, lots of them, and we all want to make money at this.

Luck favors those who are prepared, like Terry Brooks, so we all need to be ready. How many writers out there lost their one and only chance because they were caught flat-footed?

I sold my first novel Griffin’s Daughter myself, without benefit of an agent, to a very small publisher who has since gone out of business. I wish I’d had an agent, believe me. The book and its two sequels would have had a much better chance of ending up at a major publishing house. Despite the fact that I’ve yet to make a dime on any of my books, I still feel grateful they have all made it into print. I did get a lucky break - a small one, but it did lead to the biggest break so far. I now have an agent and when my latest project is finished, she will shop it to the majors, something a writer without representation is shut out from doing.

My novels, Griffin’s Daughter, Griffin’s Shadow, and Griffin’s Destiny are three parts of a romantic fantasy trilogy, now published by Ridan Publishing, who swooped in and saved them from going out of print when their original publisher went belly-up. Another example of luck favoring the prepared. When I learned I was to be orphaned, I sat on my couch and had a good cry for about twenty minutes, then got up, went to the computer and posted to every social media site I had a presence on that I had lost my publisher and needed a new one. Twenty four hours later, Ridan contacted me and offered me a contract.

I will continue to write even if I never sell another novel. It’s hardwired into me. I’m sure many reading this feel the same way. I hope, though, that there are a few more lucky breaks out there for me. I know I’ll be ready.

For two lucky readers of this blog, I will give away signed copies of the original, out-of-print edition of Griffin’s Daughter. I like to amuse myself with the idea it will be a collector’s item one day - cue the self-deprecating laugh.

Send me an e-mail at leslieann@leslieannmoore.com and I’ll pick two names at random from all names I receive by 6/1/10.

Good Luck and Happy Writing!



—Leslie Ann Moore

3 comments:

Stefanie Worth said...

Hi, Leslie -- Welcome to Novel Spaces!

I, too, believe that "luck = opportunity + preparation". After all, if you're not ready when your big break arrives, that's not very lucky, is it?

Even for those of us who write fantasy, reality urges us to see every small step as a potential opportunity for something greater in our careers. Well, that's the way my mind works anyway. ;)

Here's wishing you the best of "luck" down the road with many, many sales to augment those early collectibles.

earthprincess said...

Hi, its nice to come across an authors' blog. I consider myself a writer, I wrote a novel and sent it off to a publisher! Three months have not elapsed so we'll see :)

Shauna Roberts said...

Thanks for blogging with us today, Leslie Ann! I hope the original OOP edition of Griffin's Daughter does become a big collector's item just in case I ever am desperate for money. :-)

I'm with you and Stefanie, trying to prepare myself so that when a lucky break arrives I recognize it and am ready.

Jon Franklin, a Pulitzer Prize winner for journalism, advises journalists to always put their best into every piece they write, even if it's about the new dogcatcher in town. He points out that if you save your best writing for when you finally get a big assignment, you won't have the skills built up to do the kind of job you want to do. I think that's an excellent point, that part of being prepared for a big break is to write the best we can on every story and novel and try to do better than before on every one.