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Opportunity Knocked

The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck. ~ Tony Robbins

I’ve spent the last three years writing and submitting my butt off trying to get published in romantic suspense. So what’s my first book credit going to be? Scrivener For Dummies.

Say what?

Here’s how it happened.

When I quit my stressful day job four years ago to stay home with my kids, I knew I wanted to use the time they were at school to pursue my long-delayed dream of writing.

But what to write? Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Thrillers and mysteries were my books of choice before I discovered romance, but I didn’t have those stories in me. So it made sense to me that I’d write nonfiction. After all, I’d done well on written assignments since high school, kind of enjoyed writing my thesis, and actually aced the undergraduate writing exam when I retook it in grad school. Nonfiction made sense.

Until I started researching the life of a freelance writer. What topics could possibly hold my interest long enough to make enough money selling articles? If I wrote a book, what the heck would it be about? I didn’t have a topic burning inside me waiting to get out. I wasn’t an expert on anything I cared to write about, and the topics I cared about had all been written to death.

I was just about frustrated enough to give up when I found romance, and realized the ideas in my head were love stories. Aha! From that day forward I set myself to romance, eventually folding in my love of intrigue to write romantic suspense.

Along the way, something funny happened. A friend introduced me to the writing software Scrivener, and I found a new love story. Without realizing it, I’d found a topic worth writing about. The techie in me couldn’t help but explore Scrivener’s tools, and when I realized other writers were unaware of them, I started blogging about the cool features I unearthed.

Then I started digging for more neat things about the software so I’d have something to blog about. Bonus: I learned something new too. Suddenly my site became a resource for other Scrivener users, and hits were coming from all over the world, especially when the friendly guys at Literature & Latte (L&L) mentioned a post.

My growing following of readers began telling me I should teach classes and write a book. Oh, silly readers, I write romance. All this extra Scrivener stuff is just for fun.

But I love teaching, and that idea took root, so when one of my chapters offered a free class on how to create and pitch an online class, I took it. What I learned gave me the confidence to create and pitch a Scrivener course, which has become, happily, quite popular.

Through word of mouth, continued blogging, and continued support from L&L, my name got around. People bandied about titles like Scrivener Goddess/Ninja… It was a crazy thing that I never planned for, and didn’t do much to promote other than blogging, and tweeting about my blog posts.

So in February, when the folks who publish the For Dummies books found themselves working on a Scrivener book without an author, they went hunting on Twitter and found me (and several others). After an exhausting proposal and outline process, I got the call on February 24th!

And here I am, back where I started, writing nonfiction. The actual event that got me here was a blip and makes it sound like some kind of dream scenario. Like that writer whose first manuscript is picked up on her first submission. Or Daryl Hannah getting discovered while walking across the USC campus.

Sure, it was good luck. But becoming the writer for Scrivener For Dummies has been four years–maybe a whole lifetime–in the making. My good luck was “the meeting of preparation and opportunity” in the truest sense I can imagine. The luck part was that I didn’t go looking for it.

Not generally the best strategy for getting published, but hey, I’ll take it.


35 Responses

  1. […] Read more. Share with friends:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  2. That’s a good story. Clearly you didn’t know you were preparing for this opportunity but you were and when it presented itself you were ready, funny how it works out sometimes.

    I’m very proud of you and a published author, is a published author so this experience is going to benefit you tremendously, no matter what you write next.

    Vince Lombardi:
    “Winning is a habit. Watch your thoughts, they become your beliefs. Watch your beliefs, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character.”
    “The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.”
    “Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, and a customer will recognize both.”
    “If you don’t think you’re a winner, you don’t belong here.”

    I’m not usually one for inspirational quotes but this one from Vince Lombardi made me think of you.


  3. What a great story! I love Scrivener too…so glad I found you! Congratulations on the book. 🙂

  4. So cool for you, Gwen. And for us – when we have a question about something in the book, you’re right here! So love this. Can’t wait to get my hands on the index cards!

  5. This just goes to prove that luck favors the prepared mind. My father always used to say that to me, and… look, it’s true. many congratulations, Gwen. And, you are at the half-way point! Yeah!

  6. So thrilled for you! I know you are the one I go to for Scrivner advice!

    Luck – 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. So while you might be lucky the publisher liked you, you’d done a LOT of perspiration/work getting yourself there to be noticed.

    Good luck. I hope it sales a million copies.

    BTW- will you be doing Scrivner for PC and MAC or just MAC in your book?

    • Thanks, Cyndi! You’re right, it’s so easy to look at luck as a moment in time without thinking about the hard work that got you there. Like the many hours I spent working on the proposal! 😉

      Wow, a million copies would be nice, though I’m not even sure there are that many Scrivener users. Still, something to shoot for, right?

      The book is intended for both Mac and PC, and mentions differences where necessary and possible. That said, it’s Mac-based because that version has more features. The Windows version will catch up eventually.

  7. Congratulations!!!

  8. Gwen, I’m over-the-moon thrilled for your success. You work hard and are a quality writer and gal. 🙂 So opportunity met with you and you won the prize!! Congrats again!!!

    • Aw, thanks, Jolyse! I think I’m blushing.

      After all this writing is done, I might need one of those fabulous Key West getaways you’re always writing about. Note to self… 😉

      • You’ll love Key West!! BTW, I’m writing a “Hemingway in Key West” post today. I never get enough. Who knows? Maybe my first book will be a Key West travel guide instead of a contemporary romance. LOL 🙂

  9. I’ve been dancing around Scrivener for awhile…now you’ve inspired me to explore. I love “FOR DUMMIES” books!

    • Keri – You and me both! Scrivner and FOR DUMMIES books!”
      Seriously, when I had to take the GRE for grad school, I studies using a “GRE FOR DUMMIES” book! HAHAHAHA I kid you not. I did great on the test too.

      • Cyndi: The thing about For Dummies books is that they’re easy to follow, but really in-depth.

        The first time I picked one up I thought it’d be a light treatment of the subject, but I was pleasantly surprised. I think the title entices those who are easily intimidated, and the format eases their fears while walking them through even the toughest topics. Genius, really. 🙂

    • Oh, yay, Keri! I love For Dummies books too. In fact, I have at least five on my shelf right now, just waiting for one more to join them… 😉

  10. Congratulations, Gwen. I LOVE Scrivener and use a decent amount of the functionality, but really need to make time to learn how to utilize more. I’d love to have a resource book like this. When will your book be on the shelves?


    • Hey, Kelsey, thanks! I’m writing the book and I’m sure I’ll have to crack it open when I want to do something I haven’t used in a while. 😉

      The book will be out late September or early October. Right now, Amazon shows October 2nd. That seems far away, but I’m learning just how much goes into getting a book out there!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Should I be ashamed that I had never even heard of Scrivener before?? I’m so excited for you, and it looks like I’ll need to pick up that book to add to my ‘Dummies” collection – I’m all about improving my productivity with the proper tools 🙂
    Way to be prepared with the opportunity came knocking!

    • Erin,
      So glad you said this. I’ve been reading these posts and thinking what a double-dummie I am that I’ve never heard of Scrivener! 🙂
      Obviously I’m excited that you have this coming out. I need it worse than anyone else (well, maybe Erin and I both need it)!


      • Well, Erin and Pamela, now you have! It’s mostly through word of mouth because users love it so much. And once they learn its powerful secrets, they’re hooked for life. I will never go back to writing in Word. Never. 🙂

  12. Go Gwen!! So exciting! 🙂 Congratulations! I’ve got my copy of Scrivener for Windows and I’m blindly trying to figure it out. lol Love what I see so far and can’t wait for this book and your class!

    • Thanks, Melissa! Let me know if you get seriously stuck on anything. I have both versions at home now. My writing desk looks more like a command center with two laptops and an extra monitor. I’m on screen overload. 😉

  13. […] Opportunity Knocked (everybodyneedsalittleromance.com) […]

  14. Way to go, Gwen. There are opportunities everywhere, and I’m so glad you are getting to make the most of this one. Enjoy every minute! 🙂

  15. I have been so happy for you with this opportunity! It’s awesome when someone who is so generous with their time and knowledge has it pay off in unexpected ways like this.

    And I really need that book. I was so eager to get Scrivener for Windows, but now I’ve had it for months and haven’t had time to learn how to use it. ;(

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