Have You Written A Novel? Author Roberta Gately Says Chase Your Dreams And Enjoy The Journey

If you’re in the writing, editing, revising, querying, or submission trenches, it’s good to remember to keep your sense of humor—and your eye on the prize. Author Roberta Gately shares her story of missteps and determination that led to her first and second novels being published.  

Please welcome Roberta to Women’s Fiction Writers!

Amy xo

Have You Written A Novel? Author Roberta Gately Says Chase Your Dreams And Enjoy The Journey

by Roberta Gately

So you’ve written a novel, and after congratulating yourself heartily, you think – yikes, what’s next?   As an aid worker and nurse, I’d been writing articles for years, and I tackled a book because when I was working with the International Rescue Committee in Iraq in the early days of the US invasion, a New York Times reporter told me I should.   What higher recommendation, right?  So, I toiled away at a memoir – an account of my adventures (and a few misadventures) and then, (cue the applause), it was done.  I was thrilled, certain the publishing world would come knocking on my door.    But, I quickly realized they didn’t know me, didn’t know I had the next great book,  and I’d have to call them, so unbelievably, I did.  I reached a harried receptionist in one or another publishing house, and told her I’d written a book.

“So, do I just drop it off?” I asked innocently.   (Okay, you could also say inanely.)

There was a long pause.  In retrospect, I’m sure she was thinking – who the hell is this idiot?  But, she didn’t say that.  Instead, she sighed (interpretation – she’d heard that one before) and forged ahead.

“Why, no.  You need to get an agent, and when you’ve done that, they will send it to us.  That’s how it works.”

Aha!  A light went off.  One more step and then it was off to the races.  Only – not really.  The toughest part about writing is that very step – finding an agent.   Undaunted, I researched the whole agent thing and plunged in, sending query after query until finally, several agents were interested.   I had my pick and I picked the one that seemed the best.

But, he wasn’t.  My manuscript languished with him until finally one day, he said a publishing house was interested and I was summoned to New York City to lunch with the big boys.  They loved my non-fiction book, they said, but wanted some changes, and to my untrained ear, it was all gibberish.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  My agent didn’t seem to have understood either, and he became increasingly harder to reach.  I finally fired him and wrote a novel.  I quickly found new agents (through a writer friend) and the rest, as they say, is history.  Once I had my new agents, I knew my novel would find a home, and it did – Simon & Schuster.   “Lipstick in Afghanistan” was published in 2010 and my second novel – “The Bracelet” was released just a few days ago.

The other publishing house still contacts me from time to time to ask how the changes in my memoir are coming.  At first, I used to say, I was working at it.  But when my first novel was published, they wrote to congratulate me, and then they asked about the memoir.

“I hope to get back to it,” I said.

And that’s true.  I do.

Though I haven’t yet.

So if you’ve written something or hope to, just do it.  Chase your dreams.  No one else can do that but you.  And enjoy the journey.  No matter what comes, your journey should be cherished.

For a sneak peek into THE BRACELET click here!

A nurse, humanitarian aid worker, and writer, Roberta Gately has served in 3rd world war zones ranging from Africa to Afghanistan. She has written on the subject of refugees for the Journal of Emergency Nursing and the BBC World News Online. She speaks regularly on the plight of the world’s refugees and displaced. Her first novel – “Lipstick in Afghanistan” was published in 2010. Her second novel – ‘The Bracelet” – was released on November 6, 2012.

You can find Roberta on her websiteFacebook, and Twitter.

7 thoughts on “Have You Written A Novel? Author Roberta Gately Says Chase Your Dreams And Enjoy The Journey

  1. I was also so innocent and brightly hopeful when I started out. I wrote up my list of agents and expected The New Yorker to come knocking. Well. It took a while coming but I now have a women’s novel out there and a book of Africa-based stories being published next year. It’s worth it, dream-chasing. Hard work, but worth it! Good luck Roberta and thanks Amy xcat


  2. Oh, Roberta, your story about calling up the publishing house is priceless! I love how you never stopped knocking on doors and stayed flexible even when it came to finding other agents and publishing houses. Good for you!


  3. Well I’m a very long way from publication but I have learned through my membership of RWA that there are a LOT of steps between finishing the mss and getting published. I’m just focusing on the baby steps in between! ;)


  4. What a fascinating story — I can’t wait to read it (and actually discovered it yesterday at Great Thoughts blog). And the reminder is priceless: “o if you’ve written something or hope to, just do it. Chase your dreams. No one else can do that but you.” Amen! Best of luck with sales on your new book, Roberta.

    Thanks, Amy, for another winner of an interview.


  5. I LOVE that you called the publishing house and asked to drop it off! That takes guts!

    This also reminded me of the first time I wrote the first draft of my first novel. The first thing I did was have it printed and bound at Kinko’s, as if that would make it more official. Little did I know how much work it would still need!

    Thanks, Amy, for the introduction to another great writer! And congratulations on The Bracelet, Roberta!


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