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One Writer's Journey to Publication

How are you, gorgeous? Thanks so much for your support as I go on this crazy publishing journey.

How did Oceans of Sand (my YA Fantasy novel coming June 2023!) come to be? How long did it take to write? How did I get a publishing contract? The answers to these questions and more below!

Jessica Flory
Author in Progress

The Beginning

In elementary school I wrote pages and pages of stories. They were about me and my friends going on adventures, and something magical always happened. I wrote and illustrated my very own "Choose Your Own Adventure" book. (It included jumping on couches to escape lava, and you had to choose which way to go, haha!)

In fourth grade I was so proud to fill an entire 70 page spiral-bound notebook with a story about a unicorn named Sunshine. (She had a picture of a sun on her butt, so My Little Pony fan-fic?) I remember pretending to take notes during church, but really I was working on that story (uh-oh!), and I was thrilled when it was done.

In sixth grade I formed my first writing group! It was me and my friends and we called ourselves WAGA (Wonderful Amazing Glorious Authorhood). Yep. Super creative.

Really Going Now

In Junior High my parents gifted me with my first laptop, and I pounded out another story about a unicorn named Canterlee. (Sorry to disappoint, but there are no unicorns in Oceans of Sand.)

My mom read it. I think she was the only one. But I was just SO PROUD that I had written a story and taken someone else on a journey.

I kept writing on and off through high school and college, working on an adult fantasy novel called Heart of Fire. I was getting better but still needed a lot of polishing.

In College I Took Brandon Sanderson's Class!!!

In college at Brigham Young University, Utah, I got to take a class from my favorite author of all time - Brandon Sanderson!!! (If you haven't read any of his stuff, DO SO NOW!) The class was life-changing. Brandon's class, along with reading a heck of a lot of writing books, drastically improved my story-telling abilities.

During this class I wrote my second full novel (We're counting Heart of Fire as the first. Sorry unicorn stories.) This one was called Bonded, a YA Sci-Fi about two kids who were born telepathically linked. I actually really liked the characters, but the plot had issues.

Brandon Sanderson himself critiqued some pages of my work!!! I was over-the-moon. The fact that he actually liked them and had lots of good things to say just filled my little writer heart more than I could express.

It was also in this class that I joined my second writing group. Members have come and gone through the years, but I'm still with that writing group today! They were absolutely invaluable in making Oceans of Sand its very best, and they're among my biggest cheerleaders and closest friends. We call ourselves the Hot Mess Writers Group. It's pretty awesome.

I graduated from BYU with a degree in Molecular Biology and a lot of creative writing classes under my belt. My background in and love of science plays a big part in how I dream up settings for my books. (In Oceans of Sand, the moon is so close to their world that its gravity pulls the sand into waves.)

Writing, Writing, and More Writing

Fast forward a few years and a few kids later, and I wrote my third novel. This one was called Tasting Color, a YA Fantasy. Tasting Color was about a boy who, you guessed it, could taste color in a fantasy world where to do so was looked down upon. He was cast out, a slave. It wasn't a terrible concept, but the plot wandered pretty badly.

All these novels, mind you, I tried to publish. I sent them out to agent after agent, publisher after publisher, and no luck. Looking back I see the problems with them, but at the time I didn't get it.

I kept writing and kept studying, read this life-changing book, and my craft slowly and surely improved. I wrote every day for 15-30 min a day when my kids were sleeping or having quiet time.

Enter... Oceans of Sand!

And that's how Oceans of Sand was written! Little by little, 500 words a day over the course of about a year. My critique group read it, liked it, suggested improvements, and I implemented them. I tried querying agents, again with no luck.

Then my husband got me the BEST Christmas gift ever - a ticket to Life, the Universe, and Everything (LTUE), a fantasy writing conference! I was absolutely thrilled!

Jessica Flory at LTUE
Me in Brandon Sanderson's Panel at LTUE

I attended LTUE earlier this year and had a BLAST at all the classes. I also had the opportunity to pitch Oceans of Sand to Lindsay Flanagan, an editor at Immortal Works. (Yes, I was terrified.) She liked what I had to say and asked to see sample chapters. I sent them to her, and she asked for a full manuscript.

My first full manuscript request!!! Oh my gosh, I couldn't believe it! I was so excited, and it was excruciating to wait the next few weeks while she read it.

When I got the email from her extending an offer of publication, I cried. I was so happy that literal tears fell down my cheeks. It was a lifelong dream come true.

June 2023 I'll Get to Hold My Book

It's like having a baby, but less painful, haha! I am SO unbelievably excited for this book to be in your (and my) hands! Thanks for going with me on this exciting journey!!!

You're the best! And don't forget to subscribe, hang out with me on facebook, instagram, and twitter for all the updates about Oceans of Sand.

Do you like to write? What's your genre of choice?

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