My publishing houses, that is. Freya's Bower, first, and the editors I met there who taught me that editors can fix my grammar without ruining my story. These ladies, and one gent (and you know who you are, all three of you) still good friends, I might add, even as we all move forward in our careers, gave me the absolute best foundation I could have asked for in this business. From them I learned to be proud of my own gift, and to listen to those who know more than I do about it. A small publishing house does not equate to a poor publishing house. This one is one of the best.
Next in my career came Loveyoudivine Alterotica, a publishing house that runs on passion and bravery. They take chances and encourage their authors to go out on that limb, to dance naked in the moonlight. I'm not much of a dancer, but they have taken a few chances with my writing that have allowed me to stretch my wings into genres I wouldn't have otherwise dared. They showed me I can do things I didn't think I could, and that I can be exactly who I am, and it's okay to be that person. Writing only improves when it comes from a place of truth. And they helped me find my truth.
Pink Petal Books was my third publisher, and once again, I came across editors unafraid to trust my voice, but also willing to work with me to make it stronger. This is the place I learned that I could rework entire stories, make them stronger, better, tighter, and not lose my voice in the process. A good editor, I learned, doesn't force you to write what they want. They force you to write what you want. And not be afraid to do it. This is where my editor told me, in essence: "I can see what you want this story to be. I can see it's potential to be that. Now do the work and trust yourself. GO. Work hard, and bring me what I know you can do, and then we'll talk." On the surface, it might sound like a rejection. In truth, it was just the vote of confidence that I needed to take that final step into a world I was scared to create. And I'm not talking about the fictional one inhabited by ageless gay shapshifters in love. I'm talking about the one in which I can stand up and say, "I'm a Writer. It's not what I do, it's who I am, and I'm good at it, and I work damn hard, thankyouverymuch."
Total E-Bound. This was my first stab at what, to me, was a Big House. This was my foray into the world I'd just created. The first time I submitted a story to a publisher I didn't already have a personal relationship with. This was my introduction into a career. It felt like a rocky start to me. I was like a newborn colt, all wobbly legs and uncertainty, and the TEB folks were patient and professional and utterly supportive of those first shaky steps. I'd hardly say I'm a front runner, even now, but I know I could have made a lot of very bad mistakes if not for the calm patience of the TEB staff.
Finally, Dreamspinner. Way back in the days before I ever submitted my first story, I had what I thought of as a fantasy list of publishers I wanted to work with. That was about four years ago, and DSP was just a fledgling company. But it was on that list. Top of it, in fact, and I dreamed of being good enough to find my stories a home at a publisher dedicated to what I loved to read and write. I didn't really think it was a dream that would ever find a place in the reality of my two-jobs-two-kids-hand-to-mouth existence. And here I am on the very edge of what could be a future of making a living at what I love to do. That's a future that would not exist without Dreamspinner and the vision their staff has of the world and our place it it.
In fact, that future wouldn't exist without any one of the publishers or editors I've had the good fortune to work with. So try, dear fellow writers, to remember that for every horror story out there, there are enough wonderful people willing to help and encourage. All you have to do is open your mind to the possibilities, and you'll find them. Or they will find you. It will happen.