Monday, December 19, 2011


by Judith Arnold

Janus is the ancient Roman god of beginnings, so it’s appropriate that January—the beginning of a new year—is named after him.  However, Janus has two faces, one looking forward and one looking back.  The arrival of a new year is an occasion for looking forward, but it’s also an occasion for looking back and assessing the year that has reached its end.

As I was living through the past year, I worried that I wasn’t accomplishing much.  Yet when I look back, I realize I accomplished three major things with my writing.  Thank you, backward-looking Janus face, for allowing me to see this!

My first accomplishment: I sold my novel, Good-Bye to All That.  This sale has a story attached to it.  I’d written the book a couple of years ago.  My then-agent read about forty pages of it and told me she hated it so much she could not bear to read further.  She and I agreed to part ways.  I met another agent who asked to read the manuscript.  He read it and fell passionately in love with it.  He shared it with everyone in his office, and they all loved it, too.  I signed with him.  He didn’t sell the book.  So, early in 2011, I parted ways with his agency, as well. 

Within a month, I’d sold Good-Bye to All That on my own.  My new publisher is thrilled with the book, which they’ve scheduled for a March 2012 release. 

Lesson learned: have faith in yourself.

My second accomplishment: I established myself as an indie-publisher, issuing e-book editions of some of my out-of-print novels.  I re-edited each book, struggled with formatting, commissioned new covers, learned how to upload the books to various sales venues, decided the covers weren’t working and commissioned a second set of covers, promoted the books, experimented with marketing strategies and swapped information with other indie-publishers.

There’s a story attached to this project, too.  It’s the story of a technophobe who used to fantasize about living in a remote cabin somewhere, pounding out novels on a manual typewriter, mailing them to a publisher and never thinking about them again.  Yes, I’ve traded my old cast-iron Remington for a computer, but I still curl into fetal position and whimper whenever it suffers a glitch.  Even uploading (or is it downloading?) my blog posts to the Girlfriends Book Club is a challenge for me.

Yet I somehow figured out how to publish my books electronically.  After months of crazy-hard work and a learning curve as steep as Mt. Everest, I have managed to make these old books of mine available to a new generation of readers, and I have plans to make more of my out-of-print books available in the new year.  Woo-hoo!  The Queen of the Technophobes can do this! 

Lesson learned: have faith in yourself.

My third accomplishment: I finished writing a book that has been burning inside me since I was—no kidding—twelve years old.  I started writing it then, but moved on to other things.  I gave it another shot in my twenties, abandoned it and focused on writing plays, then romance novels, then women’s fiction.  A few years ago, I tried to start it again, but quit after about thirty pages.

In 2011, I decided the time had come to liberate this book from its cage inside my soul.  It’s a story unlike anything I’ve ever written.  It’s deep and dark and big, and it fought me every day, every page, every word.

I have no idea if it’s commercially viable or if it will ever mean anything to anyone besides me.  I’m not yet ready to show it to an editor or even a friend.  But I wrote it, and—to recycle that Mt. Everest metaphor—I climbed to the top of the world and here I now stand, cold, tired, gasping for oxygen but relieved and pretty damned proud. 

Lesson learned: have faith in yourself.

My advice to all of you as you step across the threshold into 2012, as you shift from Janus’s backward-looking face to his forward-looking face: Try something new.  Don’t be afraid to climb the mountain looming in front of you.  If professionals and experts tell you what you’re doing is no good, trust your own judgment, not theirs.  Keep going. 

Have faith in yourself. 

And have a Happy New Year!

Judith Arnold has published more than 85 novels. Her new novel, Good-Bye To All That, is scheduled for March 2012 release, and her indie-published  e-books are available at Amazon, B&N and Smashwords, through Backlist eBooks ( or at her web site ( 


  1. What a great post, Judith. Thanks for sharing your challenges and your accomplishments. Congrats on the new sale and on getting your backlist up in ebook format! Good luck with the most recent book, too!

  2. Very inspiring!! Thanks, Judith. But really all you had to say was that you published more than 85 novels - that alone is inspiring.

  3. I'm not sure what has me more flabbergasted: the picture of the two-headed god or those 85 novels - man, I feel like such a slacker!

  4. Wow, what a post!! You have totally inspired me, Judith!

    And yes, I must echo the group sentiment: more than 85 novels-- WOW!!

  5. LOVED this. Such an energizing post. Good for you. You're amazing.

  6. This is a great much needed post. I would love to hear more about your journey sometime.

  7. Wowy, zowy, what a year you had Judith! You are the definition of persistence. May we all keep that example in mind for 2012!

  8. Just loved your post, Judith!! You always have such inspiring things to say! I wish you the best with your e-endeavors and your latest book. I hope you find it friend/editor/reader ready very soon!

  9. Thank you! You are an inspiration. What needed advice Have faith, have faith, have yourself.