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IWSG: More BIG writing news!

My apologies for being so quiet on the blog lately, and for my tardiness returning comments. With shooting the TV show, working on two novels, and trying my best to catch up on things that had been neglected during the school year, it’s been an extremely busy summer.

But that’s not the only thing that’s been going on, and I’m so happy that I can finally share the big news!

My wonderful agent sold the audio rights to Dragonfly Summer, a novel I first wrote when I was still working at the museum and dreaming about writing full time. I’m so thrilled that Dragonfly Summer will be an Audible Original! Audible is the world’s largest seller and producer of audiobooks, and the marketing and editing expertise they’ll bring to the table is phenomenal.

With this development, I’m more confident than ever before that I made the right decision when I made writing my full-time career three years ago. I also no longer feel the pressure to keep teaching along with my writing, but will keep the classes and programs I find enjoyable for as long as I can.

After so many years of hard work, I finally feel the pendulum is swinging in the right direction, and I’m profoundly grateful for my agent, Rosie Jonker, whose belief in this book and my potential never wavered, and to Lara Blackman, my editor at Audible, who fell in love with Dragonfly Summer.

Some of you know that many years ago, my life was forever changed by tragedy. At the age of seventeen, I lost my best friend Darbi in a car accident. As terrible as that experience was, and it took me a long, long time before I could say my friend’s name without crying, I had some sense of closure. When I became a journalist, I witnessed the horror families go through when a loved one is missing. It struck me that, as absolutely horrible as Darbi’s death was, at least I knew what had happened to her. But what if I didn’t? That idea was the spark that ignited what became Dragonfly Summer.

When I was in college, a phenomenal woman came to speak to my journalism class. Outspoken and sarcastic, with a dry sense of humour, this alumnus had gathered her meagre savings after graduation and booked a flight to a war zone. Once there, with little experience and no connections, she managed to find a freelance cameraperson who was willing to work with her. She started doing live broadcasts and sending the clips to anyone she thought would be interested. CNN quickly hired her as a foreign correspondent, and she risked her life covering wars overseas for years, once feeling a bullet pass so close to her face that she could smell her hair burning.

It’s no exaggeration to say I was in awe of this woman’s bravery, not to mention her guts. Who goes into a war zone without a job offer, with only her ambition, raw talent, and a thousand dollars to her name? I never forgot her, and she became one of my heroes that day, as she talked about her experiences with sensitivity and insight. Choosing the right protagonist for Dragonfly Summer didn’t come easily, but after a couple of false starts, the character of Jo took shape when I modelled her after my hero. Though Jo is not Jackie, they definitely shared many things in common, including fearlessness.

Years after the book was finished, I took a director of marketing position, where I was thrilled to discover that one of my coworkers was Jackie. I couldn’t wait to tell her how much she’d inspired me during that visit to my college class. I told her that she had also inspired the character of Jo, which seemed to amuse her. Unfortunately, she never got a chance to read the book.

Jackie became a close friend and mentor, but sadly, at the much-too-young age of 51, she passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from breast cancer. Since she didn’t want people’s pity, she kept her illness private, and I hadn’t even known she was ill until I was told of her passing. I was in Italy when I heard the sad news, and I lit a candle for her in a cathedral in Venice. Jackie was a well-traveled, adventurous woman, and I figured she would have liked that.

Dragonfly Summer was written in honour of these two amazing women, and the incredible impact they had–and continue to have–on my life.

I only wish they were here to see it published.

IWSGThe purpose of the Insecure Writers’ Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak.

Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. To see a full list of IWSG authors, click here.

1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.

40 Comments

  1. Avatar

    I think the book sounds like a lovely tribute to two influential women. Congratulations on the audiobook deal
    Debbie

    Reply
  2. Avatar

    Great news about Dragonfly Summer J.H!
    lovely comments about your friend. Myself and family are going through a similar experience right now, so I think I understand how you felt.

    Reply
  3. Avatar

    Congratulations, my friend. Going through the fire is a part of life. Glad you made it through to the other side.

    Reply
  4. Avatar

    Congratulations! I look forward to reading this one.

    Reply
  5. Avatar

    Congrats! It’s sad that the people who were your inspiration for your book aren’t here to see it, though.

    Still, I’m so thrilled to see how well you’re doing. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Avatar

    Although the situation that was the catalyst for this story is a sad one, it’s one that speaks to me very strongly. I can’t wait to read/review it!

    Reply
  7. Avatar

    Whoo-hoo! Congratulations, JH!
    And I love the comparison titles in the novel’ description – ALL THE MISSING GIRLS was amazing. 🙂

    Reply
  8. Avatar

    Oh, wow, that is such amazing news! Congrats! You definitely made the right decision going full-time. I can’t believe it’s been three years already. Time sure does fly.

    I love reading about the backstory behind Dragonfly Summer.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Such inspiring women, and a lovely tribute. Congratulations!

      Reply
      • JH

        Thanks so much, Angeline. They really were/are inspiring. I’ll never forget them.

        Reply
  9. Avatar

    What a lovely tribute to the fantastic women in your life. I have got to read this book.

    Reply
  10. Avatar

    Beyond awesome news, J.H.—and so deserved! I’m a huge audio book fan and am going to search it, see if I can pre-order it right now. 🙂 I’m so excited, too, re: “I’m more confident than ever before that I made the right decision when I made writing my full-time career three years ago.“ HOORAY and GO YOU!

    Reply
  11. Avatar

    ad

    Reply
  12. Avatar

    Having some trouble leaving a comment. First, I’m glad you’re back. Second, congrats on all the success.

    Reply
  13. Avatar

    That is big news. It’s wonderful that you were able to find a publishing home even years after finishing the book. That’s something to give all writers hope.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Reporting from a war zone. A person has to be one to like life and death adventure to do that. That’s why I went into reviewing the arts and entertainment for my journalism career; I’m not as brave as that woman! Lol

      Reply
      • JH

        I’m the same, Steven. While I admired Jackie and somewhat envied all her traveling and adventures, I don’t think I could have handled it.

        Reply
  14. Avatar

    Fantastic news about the audio book, and also fantastic that you are making it as a full-times writer! You are an inspiration and encouragement for sure!

    Reply
  15. Avatar

    Congrats on this latest success! There is no doubt you made the right decision. I love how you’ve taken your personal challenges and turned them into a wonderful tribute to your friends.

    Reply
  16. Avatar

    Congrats on the audio book! I loved reading about the women who inspired your story.

    Reply
  17. Avatar

    This was lovely to read thank you for sharing this with us.

    Reply
  18. Avatar

    Our lives are books in themselves. Thank you for sharing some of yours here today–the painful losses that you experienced, but that shaped you into the insightful person and excellent writer you are today. Many kudos on this latest achievement.

    Reply
  19. Avatar

    Congratulations! That is fantastic news. I love Audible. I look forward to hearing your book. And, yes, they do a wonderful job of creating audio books. Woo Hoo!

    Reply
  20. Avatar

    Well, you made me cry. What a beautiful thing to happen and wonderful telling of the inspiration. Congratulations. You inspire me. Happy IWSG Day.

    Reply
  21. Avatar

    Fantastic news, JH! You are certainly on a role and I’m so happy and excited about the impact of this audio deal – emotionally, physically, and financially – for Dragonfly Summer! I had not heard of this book of yours. When did you write it? And, was it every published in print?

    It’s amazing in itself that you eventually managed your emotions enough to write a book, yet it was maybe necessary to create something out of the experience to honor your friend. You never cease to amaze me!

    Reply
  22. Avatar

    Congratulations! Such a fascinating backstory – both tragic and inspirational. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  23. Avatar

    Congrats on the Audible contract. That is awesome. The book will be a great tribute to those influential women.

    Reply
  24. Avatar

    They will know though.
    Congratulations on the audio book. It’s really cool to hear one’s words come alive that way.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks Alex. I like to believe that too. 🙂

      To be honest, I never have the guts to listen to my own audiobooks. I love the narrator for Forest of Ghosts, but other than the clip he sent me, I tend to avoid it.

      Reply
  25. Avatar

    That is awesome! I’m so excited and happy for you. Congrats!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Loni! 🙂

      Reply
  26. Avatar

    Congrats on the audio deal. The book sounds like a wonderful tribute.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Patricia. I hope it is. I doubt anyone who knows Jackie will read it, but some of Darbi’s family might.

      Reply
  27. Avatar

    How wonderful! Audio books open up a whole new market.

    Being a full time writer is a big deal. I only know a couple.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Diane. All my books are available in audio, but this is my first “audio first” deal.

      If you check out the Facebook group 20Booksto50K, you’ll “meet” many full-time writers, a lot of them making six and seven figures–on their own! It’s incredibly inspiring.

      Reply
  28. Avatar

    Congratulations on the audio book deal! So happy things are working out for you!!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Damyanti! I’m pretty happy too. Rosie deserves a lot of the credit–she’s the best.

      Reply
  29. Avatar

    When it rains, it pours. Congratulations on the audiobook deal.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Mark!

      Reply

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