Here is the final segment of my interview with Tiffany Fletcher. If you haven't done so yet, please consider following my blog and posting a comment below. You may win a signed copy of her book!
ME: Getting a book published, any book, is a dream shared by so many people. Could you tell us about your journey from writing the first draft to publication?
TF: It took me three months to write the first draft of the book. It was much longer than the final copy, and written much differently. I purchased "Writer's Market" and sent query letters out to all the agents and publishers I thought might be interested. I received a lot of rejections. One publisher, however, who was not interested in publishing it, but was interested in the story, sent it on to an agent friend of his. The agent then contacted me and asked if they could represent me. I sent her the manuscript and she said that it read too much like a family history and that I would have to get an editor to fix it so that it was marketable. I couldn't afford an editor, so I asked my husband (who is a much better writer than I am) to see what he could do with it. We sat down together and figured out what the arc of the story would be and what we would keep from the original manuscript. My husband then took what we had and within three weeks, had re-written it into what it is today. So I guess you can say it was a collaborative effort but he didn't want to take any credit for it. He said he did it for me so that I could tell my story (I just have to say that he is an amazing man). My agent sent the manuscript to several New York publishers but it was rejected, using the poor economy as an excuse. Covenant even rejected it due to the economy. Almost a year later, my husband, who is a school teacher, was taking his students to a writing conference and asked me if I wanted to help chaperon his students. At first I told him no, but he insisted that he felt I needed to be there, so I looked at those who would be presenting and learned that Cathy Jenkins, senior editor at Covenant would be there and that she sat on the board of mental health for her county. I knew I needed to talk with her, so I registered and attended the conference with my husband. While at the conference, I was determined to speak with Cathy and when I found an opening, I took the chance and pitched my book. I mentioned that Covenant had already rejected the manuscript, but that I felt that they needed to take another look at it. She said that they had recently made some policy changes on publishing, and to resubmit the manuscript with her name on it. Four months later, I was invited to a meeting with the board of directors at Covenant where they asked me several questions about my book, my background, and all sorts of things. A week later, the manuscript was accepted for publication.
ME: If you could offer advice to your readers, or to those with their own stories to tell, what would you tell them?
TF: The advice that I would give to my readers is to always remember who you are and that God loves you. Whether you suffer from mental illness, know someone who suffers, or have no idea about the illness, the message is the same, God loves you. And because God loves you, shouldn't we love one another? Trust, love and forgiveness are the three gospel principles I speak about in my firesides. If we learn to trust, love, and forgive others, and ourselves, we will find that God will do the same for us, and we will find true happiness and lasting peace.
For those with their own stories to share, I would tell them that it is important to believe in yourself, and to believe in your story. I am my biggest advocate. I believe that the message that I share is something that people need to hear, that it will benefit them and make their lives better. It is important to believe in yourself because if you can't sell your story, no one else will be able to. I would also tell them to seek out people who you can connect with. Cathy Jenkins was a great person to connect with because she had family members who struggled with mental illness. She knows the stigma associated with it and what it's like to suffer in silence. She was a great advocate for me in getting my book published, and so was my agent. My agent believed in me and my story and was a great source of information. You need to get people on your side who will be willing to fight along side you. That has been my greatest blessing.
ME: You have done firesides in Utah and are considering coming to the west coast in the future. In the meantime, how can your readers outside of Utah reach you? (you might want to mention your book club meetings here.)
TF: I have a bog motherhadasecret.blogspot.com which I have set up that talks about the book. In the past, I haven't really used it for regular posts, but I have had several people ask me to start writing regular posts for their benefit. I am trying to get a schedule in place that would allow me to do that, so check it often. I am also on Facebook. In addition to this, I attend book club meetings all over the country via gmail video chat. I enjoy meeting people and discussing my book with them, and the experiences I have learned along the way. It is a great opportunity for me to meet people that cannot attend local firesides and events. Anyone who is interested can contact me by email at or . I would really like to do more events outside of Utah, but because I pay for all of my own travel expenses, it really limits what I can do. If any or your readers have suggestions, please feel free to let me know. I am always looking for new ideas.
ME: Finally, is there a chance we might see more books from you in the future?
TF: I do plan on writing more books, but right now, my busy schedule doesn't allow me a lot of time for writing. It is my hope that I will have another book out within the next year. My real love is children's books, and I would love my next book to be along those lines. I am really not certain what the future will bring. I really feel that the Spirit prompted me to write "Mother Had a Secret" and when the Spirit prompts again, I hope that I will be listening. :)