Waiting in the Chute

I think I know what those roughstock riders feel like. There they are, sitting down close and tight, hand gripping just right, maybe visualizing the ride and remembering to breathe. Can you imagine the adrenalin pumping through those pulsing veins? One slight dip of the hat brim, the gate swings wide and there they go, out for the ride!

I am ready to give the nod; ready for my gate to swing wide. My debut novel, Summer of ’58 is in the chute.


In a matter of weeks, I will have my first novel in my hands. Getting to this point has taken an unbelievable amount of work and learning. The phrase “hang tough” comes to mind.

Before my story became what it is now, before I knew what I was doing or what I needed to do, I began querying agents and publishers. I received enough rejection notes to start all our winter fires in the wood stove. That is when the learning process began.

I knew I had a good story, a good novel, but something was wrong. After several breaks from writing and rewriting Summer of ’58, I decided to grab the bull … I learned what I needed to do.

I listened to people who I trusted to give me good information and fair criticism. I held tight to my characters, but rearranged their lives. I made some of their roles more important and some less so. I took them different places at different times. But I kept my story. I doubt that anyone, doing anything, is happy about receiving criticism. Disapproval stirs up the defenses, hurt feelings and causes anger and resentment, all of which make for a closed mind. Granted, some people handle critical comments better than others, but delivering constructive criticism tactfully is apt to be more helpful.

And so, I listened and learned and worked my creative juices to a pulp. I met Duke Pennell of Pen-L Publishing at the Western Writers of America Conference last summer, having been introduced by Rod Miller, fine poet and author and friend. Duke agreed to look at my manuscript. Soon after, Pen-L sent me a contract. Duke and Kimberley Pennell’s publishing company has made me comfortable with each step of this journey. Duke is direct and fair. Kimberly is good at (among many things) calming me down when I think I see a crisis coming. They both possess a great big sense of humor.

Now I’m learning about marketing, planning book signings and looking forward to knowing my book is in the hands of readers everywhere. Please join me here on my blog and on my author’s Facebook page, Janice Gilbertson Author, as I announce what’s next in this exciting ride.

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