Why I’ve Decided to Self-Publish

Self-Pub Series2

Many years ago, when I set out on this journey to become a published author, I believed I would’ve made it by now.  I believed I would write and write and write until I was good enough to be published.  I believed if I sent enough queries and attended enough pitches, I would find that one person who believed in me.  I believed I could work really hard, do everything right, and  I would be rewarded for it.

I was wrong.

I’ve come REALLY close.  I mean, so close that I could smell the paper of my freshly printed contract.  I’ve made it through multiple rounds of editors and multiple layers of agents, just to be turned down after months (years) of being in limbo.  And you know what they’re all saying?  It’s not that I need to rewrite.  It’s not that I have terrible grammar.  It’s not that my story has no plot.

It’s that I don’t fit.

To the literary folks, I’m too commercial.  To the commercial folks, I’m too literary.  I have too many viewpoints to sell as debut.  I’m a fantastic writer, but I’m too similar to someone on their list.  My voice is a little too quiet for some lines, too loud for others.  My stories are too dark and heavy for some publishers, or too light hearted for the subject matter.

Seriously.  These are a sample of the rejections I’ve gotten.  And while it hurts to hear these things, at the same time I completely understand.  They aren’t wrong, and I do not begrudge any of these folks for any of these rejections.  They need to find the one that fits perfectly with them, just as I need to find the place I fit perfectly.

Only…what if that place doesn’t exist?  This is the question I began asking myself mid last year.

I know what you’re thinking, because I’ve heard it before.  Hell, I’ve said it before.  Jenna P, keep looking!  You are SO close!!   Well, I can assure you that I have queried or pitched every agent that has represented women’s fiction over the past fifteen years.  I know this because a super nice small press e-book editor who gave me a super nice, “You don’t fit with us, but you need an agent because this is going to sell with a bigger house!” was kind enough to take a look at my long list of queried agents, and HE told me it was the most comprehensive list he’d ever seen.  In fact, I may have pitched a few that were deceased (kidding!  I did my research!).  But in all seriousness, last time I checked I had queried/pitched over 200 agents and/or editors, had 13 partial requests, and had 14 full requests.  And that’s just on my current manuscript; that doesn’t count the other two I’ve shopped around.

Trust me, I’ve reached to the ends of the earth on this one.

I know what you’re thinking now too.  Jenna P, write another one!  And I am, slowly but surely.  And maybe I will send this one out for a round of shopping when it’s finished.  But here’s the thing – I’ve been at this for over eight years.  I’m ready.  Not the I don’t want to wait anymore kinda ready, the nice and ripe kinda ready.  And after pitching 3 manuscripts that don’t fit, I honestly don’t think I can change the fourth one to fit.  It’s not in me.  I’ve tried.  I’ve tried to add more romance or mystery to make it more “commercial,” but it’s just not my cup of tea.  I’ve tried to cut from 4 to 2 POV’s, but I don’t like how the story drags.  I’ve tried to make my voice less literary or make my story more commercial, but that’s like changing out my skin.  I was totally losing touch with why I love to write.  It wasn’t fun anymore.  I had stripped away every single piece of me that set me apart from every other writer out there, and I couldn’t let that happen.

This is who I am.  This is how I write.

That’s when I had to have a heart to heart with myself (and my husband, and my friends, and just about anyone out there who would listen).  The same questions kept coming up.  Why am I writing?  What do I want out of this?  Is it to sell a million copies?  Is it to pay the bills?  If you can’t write when you write their way, is there a point in this anyway?

The answer to all of the above is no.

Don’t get me wrong, it would certainly be nice to sell a million copies and let my husband be a stay at home dad.  But those aren’t the reasons I write.  I write because I love the written word.  I write because I love constructing my thoughts and feelings into beautiful stories.  I write because I want to share those stories with the world, and maybe (just maybe) help someone to see a different perspective in life.

I write because it’s the only thing I’ve ever done that I truly feel like I was made to do.

That’s why I write.  My motivation, if you will.  My goal is still to be a published author and maybe make a little bit of money at it, even if it’s just enough for a weekend trip to the mountains once a year to write some more. And you all already know that a goal without motivation is pointless.

I know what you’re thinking now – Jenna P, you can’t have your cake and eat it to.   You’re right.  I can’t.  At least taking a traditional path and following rules I don’t want to follow.  I need to find a way to break the rules and still get to where I want to be.  I need to find a place where I can be literary/commercial, commercial/literary, multi-pov’ed, dark, heavy, funny, AND be a published author.  I need to find a way to beat this unbeatable conflict that is sitting before me.

See what I did there?

That is why I’ve decided to pursue self-publishing.  Because I BELIEVE with every part of my body and soul, that I can be who I am AND get to where I want to be.

Look for my first release, THE RULES OF HALF, this fall.  Until then I’ll be sharing everything I learn about this process with all of you in my new self-publishing series.  Stop back frequently to check out the next phase of my journey!

Jenna P

Who makes it happen?  YOU make it happen!


My Top 15 Favorite Romance Movies

I confess…I don’t celebrate in Valentine’s Day.  The Accountant and I decided many years ago that it was one holiday we would sit out.  Flowers are expensive, it’s impossible to get a table at a restaurant, and we’ve just used up all our other gift ideas at Christmas and my Birthday.  We don’t even exchange cards or say Happy Valentines’ Day anymore.  It’s as if the entire holiday doesn’t exist in our world.

But being that there is this holiday called Valentine’s Day and most Americans will be celebrating it this weekend, I thought that I needed to do something romancy related on the blog this week.  So here you have it…

Jenna P’s Top Fifteen Favorite Romance Movies!

#15      West Side Story


Why I love it?  There’s something so intriguing to me about forbidden love.  Romeo and Juliet, Guinevere and Lancelot, Tony and Maria.  Sometimes these stories end well, most the time they don’t, but one thing’s for sure – they always remind us that true love can be found anywhere and anytime.

#14      City of Angels


Why I love it?  Seth gives up eternity as an angel to be with Maggie.  There are a lot of guys who wouldn’t even give up a baseball game.  And even after she dies, he still thinks the short time they had together was worth it.  How stinking beautiful is that?

#13      Say Anything

say anything

Why I love it?  This Scene, of course!  Admit it – you’ve had dreams about Lloyd standing outside your window with a boom box blaring Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes.  One of my all time favorite songs!

#12      Titanic


Why I love it?  A girl who seemingly has everything gives it all up to be with a guy who has nothing – including a heartbeat.  Rose could’ve gone back to her old life after Jack dies, but she doesn’t.  He showed her there was more and she was determined to find it, even if on her own.

#11         Sweet Home Alabama


Why I love it?     I LOVE love triangles, especially ones that take place in the deep south!  You know someone’s heart is going to get broken and there’s no way to stop it.  Watching Melanie choose between her past (Jake) and her future (Andrew) was both enjoyable and sad.

#10         A Walk to Remember


Why I love it?     Love turns bad boy good, and gives dying girl her last wishes.  What’s not to love?  Plus it has a killer soundtrack.

#9           Tangled


Why I love it?  Two words – Flynn Rider.  I don’t care if he’s a cartoon.  He can rescue me from a tower any day!  LOVE him.  By far my favorite Disney hero.

#8           Some Kind of Wonderful


Why I love it?  Boy searching for true love finds it not with the most popular girl in school, but with his childhood, tomboy best friend.  Awwwww…..

#7           50 First Dates


Why I love it?  Adam and Drew are just awesome together.  And could you imagine the patience it would take to make your significant other fall in love with you every single day?  Double Awwwww…..

#6           Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

Why I love it?  You know a movie is special when, after seeing it for the 100th time and knowing he’s going to jump up in just a moment, you still cry when he gives out that last breath.  Gets me every single time, even when we watch it live at Hollywood Studios.  My kids make fun of me.

#5           The Notebook


Why I love it?  The TENSION between Noah and Allie!  That is all.  Okay, maybe I like looking at Ryan Gosling too.

#4           Jerry Maguire


Why I love it?  Football, love, a journey of self-discovery?  You had me at Hello.

#3           Definitely, Maybe


Why I love it?  Ryan Reynolds – SWOON!  And there is something so sweet about a girl helping her single dad reunite with the woman he should’ve been with all along.

#2           Silver Linings Playbook


Why I love it?  It’s amazing to me how two people who are so completely broken alone can be so completely complete together.  Plus, I love Bradley Cooper.  LOVE him.

AND…#1 on my list…

Chasing Amy


This is one of my favorite movies of all time, for one simple reason – the scene where Holden finally confesses to his lesbian friend Alyssa that he’s in love with her.  They are in his car.  It’s pouring down rain.  She’s just bought him a cheap painting from a hole in the wall diner.  And out it comes.

“I love you. And not, not in a friendly way, although I think we’re great friends. And not in a misplaced affection, puppy-dog way, although I’m sure that’s what you’ll call it. I love you. Very, very simple, very truly. You are the epitome of everything I have ever looked for in another human being. And I know that you think of me as just a friend, and crossing that line is the furthest thing from an option you would ever consider. But I had to say it. I just, I can’t take this anymore. I can’t stand next to you without wanting to hold you. I can’t, I can’t look into your eyes without feeling that, that longing you only read about in trashy romance novels. I can’t talk to you without wanting to express my love for everything you are. And I know this will probably queer our friendship – no pun intended – but I had to say it, because I’ve never felt this way before, and I don’t care. I like who I am because of it. And if bringing this to light means we can’t hang out anymore, then that hurts me. But God, I just, I couldn’t allow another day to go by without just getting it out there, regardless of the outcome, which by the look on your face is to be the inevitable shoot-down. And, you know, I’ll accept that. But I know…I know that some part of you is hesitating for a moment, and if there is a moment of hesitation, then that means you feel something too. All I ask, please, is that you just, you just not dismiss that – and try to dwell in it for just ten seconds. Alyssa, there isn’t another soul on this fucking planet who has ever made me half the person I am when I’m with you, and I would risk this friendship for the chance to take it to the next plateau. Because it is there between you and me. You can’t deny that. Even if, you know, even if we never talk again after tonight, please know that I’m forever changed because of who you are and what you’ve meant to me, which – while I do appreciate it – I’d never need a painting of birds bought at a diner to remind me of.”

How stinkin’ beautiful is that, huh?  And guess what?  It worked!

chasing amy

So there you have it.  Agree or disagree, these are my favorites.  Haven’t seen one?  Pop a bag of popcorn and pick one up!  You won’t be disappointed!

What are your favorites?

Jenna P

Who makes it happen?  YOU make it happen!


New Year, New Path, New Blog

Thank you SO much for checking out my new blog!  For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Jenna P – retired blogger from the awesome Bad Girlz Write.  If you haven’t checked them out, you definitely should.  Lots of great advice on writing, fashion, and the latest men of Marvel.  Oh, and the Bad Girlz also happen to be amazing authors too.  Check them out!

This being my first official blog on my own, I wanted to let you know a little about me and a little about what you can expect from my new blog going forward.   But first off, I want to wish my amazingly talented daughter, “Spot-acus,” a happy birthday!  How fitting it is that 12 years ago today I set off on a new journey as I became a mom, and today my new journey begins as a solo blogger.  I have to say, I’m equally as scared today as I was then.

In case you are wondering, no, we are not cruel parents and no she is not a dog.  All her lovely freckles earned her the nickname “Spot” on her gymnastics team, and since she is such a warrior on the Floor (and a little independent and stubborn at home) we’ve upgraded her to “Spot-acus.”  Sounds a little more Unstoppable than Fetch, don’t you think?  Spot just started her season as a Level 6 gymnast last weekend in Orlando and she did great, taking First place on Floor and Third on Vault!

My youngest daughter, “Minnie,” earned her nickname because she looks just like me.  Minnie is also an amazing gymnast.  She is the reigning Level 2 Vault and All-Around NC state champion in her age bracket (YAY)!  Minnie is my girly girl, my tender heart, and my free spirit.  Her and her sister couldn’t be more different, but I couldn’t love either one of them any more than I do!

I’ve been married to my husband, whom I shall call The Accountant, for 15 years.  He is my best friend, my hero, and my second half.  I couldn’t ask for a more supportive partner as I climb through the trenches of this sometimes unforgiving industry, or ask for a better pancake maker.  (Seriously — best pancakes EVER).

Okay, so enough doting on my family.  Thank you for enduring.  So what about me?

I’m a roadway engineer by day, women’s fiction writer by night (and sometimes early mornings).  I love alternative music, The Walking Dead, insane roller coasters, Disney, and college football (Go Buckeyes!).  I’m known to be a little sarcastic (not jerk sarcastic…funny sarcastic like Chandler Bing), and I tend to tell it like it is rather than sugar coat it.  I suffer from RBF (resting bitch face), but I SWEAR I’m a super nice person and totally approachable!  If you see me at a conference standing off in a corner it’s not because I think I’m better than anyone, it’s just because I’m a total introvert and I’m giving myself a little pep talk.  Before I die, I want to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, climb a volcano (preferably one that’s inactive), see my great grandchildren get married, and –oh yeah – get published!

As for what you can expect to read about here, well there’s all of that – my insane life as a gym mom, the funny nuances of being an introvert, my constant comparisons to FRIENDS episodes – but also, and probably more so, my adventures of being a writer.  We’ll talk craft, business, women’s fiction, time management, and share in all the ups and the downs of the industry.  I hope to have guest bloggers on to tell you about their new releases and to give more insight than just mine.  But my main goal with this blog is to connect with other writers and women’s fiction readers (and maybe a few fellow gym moms, introverts, alternative music fans, and college football lovers).  So I hope that you will come back and visit me, leave me a few comments, and help make this blog a place where writers and readers can go to discover someone or something new!

Jenna P

Who makes it happen?  YOU make it Happen!