Singer, songwriter & author, Laura Roppe, shares her journey from book idea to The Ellen Show and beyond as she courageously turned her own Cancer diagnosis into a story of triumph.

When I sat down to write my first book, a memoir called Rocking the Pink, it was without any knowledge of the business side of the literary world.  All I knew was, I felt compelled to get this book out of my system.  I wrote and wrote, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning, trying to purge the urgent pages from my body.  And then, when I had my “masterpiece” in hand, I realized I didn’t know what the heck to do with it.  I didn’t have the faintest idea how to even try to get it published.  And, should I even try to get it published?  Was it of professional quality? 

I let my best friend read my manuscript.  She absolutely loved it!

“No offense,” I told her, “but of course, you love it! You’re my best friend! You love me!”  

“Well,” she replied matter-of-factly,” it sounds like you need an objective opinion.  You should get a total stranger to read it, then.”

Well, that was a great idea.

A friend of a friend connected me with a marvelous professional book editor, a wise and talented woman named Beverly Trainer.  I contacted Beverly and asked her to read my book from cover to cover and just tell me honestly what she thought, no holds barred.  Beverly was cautious.  “I don’t want to crush your dreams,” she said.  “My opinion is just subjective.”

“Crush away,” I responded.  And I meant it.  I needed to know if the book was worth pursuing.  Of course, I thought it was as good as anything I’d read in the memoir genre (but, then, doesn’t everyone fall desperately in love with their own creations?), but I didn’t want to spend who knows how much time chasing rainbows if my work wasn’t up to snuff.

Beverly agreed to my terms, and promised she’d be brutally honest.

When Beverly called me a week later, I detected a note of surprise in her voice.  “Laura,” she said, laughing, “your book is absolutely fantastic.  It’s going to be tremendously successful.  You absolutely should pursue getting it published!”

As excited as I was to hear her words of encouragement, and as much as she’d already buoyed my lifelong dreams, I instantly realized I still had no idea how to even begin.

“How?” I asked.  “What should I do?”

“Lucky for you,” Beverly said, “one of the best writers’ conferences in the world is taking place right in our neck of the woods in about three months:  The La Jolla Writers’ Conference!

Beverly explained I’d get invaluable feedback at the Conference on the art of writing and the business side of things, too. She also told me that the networking opportunities would be fantastic, as many agents would likely attend the conference.

Thankfully, I took Beverly’s advice and attended the La Jolla Writers’ Conference in November 2010. And, man oh man, that woman knew of what she spoke! 

The Conference was a wealth of information about every aspect of the literary world.  There were seminars and helpful advice about every aspect of writing and seeking publication, an also invaluable one-on-one feedback about my own writing.  I met agents, editors, authors, and fellow students who imparted great tips, encouragement, advice and inspiration.

And now, here I am:  In the two short years since my attendance at the LJWC, my literary dreams have come true.  I met Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency at the Conference, and signed with her a week later.   A few months after that, Jill deftly secured a fantastic book deal with Seal Press, an imprint of Perseus Books in New York.  Thereafter, I secured dream endorsements for my book from Jack Black, Robin Roberts, best-selling author Joni Rodgers, musician Lita Ford, Grammy-winning songwriter Mark Hudson, and more. 

Finally, in March 2012, I walked into a Barnes & Noble and pulled my book, Rocking the Pink, off the shelf, giddy about its release in all physical and e-book bookstores across America! And the excitement has not stopped there.  Jill, the phenom that she is, also secured an audio book deal for Rocking the Pink with Brilliance Audio, a subsidiary of Amazon; and, on October 2, 2012, the audio book was released – and it was even narrated by me and included my original music! 

I thoroughly enjoyed the process of narrating my audio book, so I was beyond thrilled when Brilliance Audio recently asked me to narrate the audio book for another author’s book!  (Who knew audio book narration was even a possible career?)

And, to top it all off, I recently had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to happy dance on the Ellen Show, hold the manly hand of Liam Neeson, while he wore a hot pink speedo, and act like a complete lunatic, all in the name of raising money for breast cancer (and having a damned good time, as well).  When you are in the mood to laugh, check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibFpkUHvcYk

LJWC has opened up a whole new world, a whole new life, for me.  If it were not for my attendance at LJWC, who knows if my dreams would have come true as they have?  I can honestly say the Conference changed my life, and for that I am forever grateful. 

I am often asked by aspiring writers if I have any advice on how to pursue getting published.  And I always, always say, “Well, first things first:  Go to the La Jolla Writers’ Conference!”

Laura will be doing a book signing at Warwick’s in La Jolla, CA on October 27 from 2-4.  For more information about Laura’s triumph over Cancer and her book, Rocking the Pink, please visit her website.

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