GUEST POST: Defining Success and Setting Yourself on Fire by Kim Liggett

I met Kim Liggett when the Muses were guests at Free Expressions’ YOUR BEST BOOK Conference (information about next year’s conference here) last October.  So much has happened with Kim since then!  She signed with Adam’s Literary, sold her first YA novel (see announcement below), and now she is writing her very first blog post here at YAMuses.  I know her story will inspire and encourage.

Welcome, Kim!

"Arianne Lewin at Putnam has acquired a YA romantic thriller from debut author Kim Liggett-Peplowski, BLOOD AND SALT, in a two-book deal at auction. Pitched as Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn, the story centers on 17-year-old Ash Larkin, who becomes entangled in a centuries-old quest for immortality. Publication is scheduled for fall 2014; Josh Adams at Adams Literary negotiated the deal for North American rights."

Defining Success and Setting Yourself on Fire

By Kim Liggett

No one thought I could ever write a book. Including me.

I was a terrible student, plagued with dyslexia and ADHD. Luckily, I had other skills. I sang and danced and beauty pageanted my way into a scholarship at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.  With all the wisdom of a teenaged girl, I left ninth grade, got my GED, became an emancipated minor and moved to NYC. As I drove out of my small mid-western town, I gave everyone the finger and screamed something like, “I’m going to be a movie star, you losers.”

Super classy, I know.

I worked as an actress for many years. I was an especially good understudy, and rose to non-fame as girls #3 and #5 in several Afterschool Specials, and who could forget my famous jumping scene in the acclaimed Shasta Cola commercial?

Fine…I could still sing.

I worked as a backup vocalist for a lot of big acts in the eighties and released a full-length jazz record, which we fondly refer to as the local release that was internationally panned.

Even though I had a wealth of experiences, what others would consider “successes”, I felt empty inside, a total failure. I had big dreams, natural talent, but lacked the true passion—the steam to see them through.
I kept going back to that Arnold H. Glasgow quote, “Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.” Somehow, I sparked, sizzled, had a flash in the pan, but I never felt the need to break out the kerosene.

Until I started writing.

It wasn’t easy for me. I had to give myself a crash course in basic grammar, the fundamentals of writing, and most importantly, I had to learn how to work with my dyslexia.

Soon I started to dream again, to hope.

I finished my first draft of BLOOD AND SALT. Rejection letters followed. Instead of treating this as yet another failure, I realized that the conventional idea of success didn’t matter to me anymore. The glory was in the work. I dug into my nearly yearlong revision with a passion I’d never experienced. I felt free.

Finding my amazing agent, Josh Adams, and getting a two-book deal with Putnam/Penguin was just an added bonus, to say the least.

Before you start thinking how mature I sound, I should probably let you know that I fashioned the small mid-western town in BLOOD AND SALT after the town where I grew up—full of inbred cultish freaks. Yeah, that’s me giving them the finger one last time. “I’m an author!”

Keeping it classy, I know


KIM! o happy to have met you at YBB! I needed to read your blog this morning. I'm sure your words of wisdom will inspire many to keep on, keeping on! In my work, I meet many students with challenges that render them fearful of moving on with their education because they feel they can't write. Writing in any capacity, whether journal writing, writing college essays to earn a degree, or writing a novel will set you free.

I'm getting my middle finger ready fact, I think I'll put some bling on it. I AM AN AUTHOR....(practicing)
Kudos to you and best wishes.

Kim you're awesome! Thanks for this entertaining, laugh out loud, touching look at your road to "now." I love the way you describe yourself leaving town, god, how many of us dreamed of doing that. If not to our towns, to our teachers, bosses, etc. Love the honest look at the aftermath. Just look at you now!

Such an awesome and inspiring story! Love it, and can't wait for the book!

This is such a hilarious post! Yay for perseverance!!

Congratulations Kim!!! I love your story. Thanks for sharing it!

Elle- Can't wait to meet you at SCBWI NY this weekend!

Edith- Glad you laughed! And I'll be seeing you in Feb.

Rosemary- Thanks for all your support! xo

Janis- Love the blinged out finger- even better!

Great post Kim! And it's funny how "another man's waste is another man's treasure" or how ever that goes, as you feeling empty over taking the world by storm, chasing your dreams and making appearances on stage and film would have the rest of us screaming "SUCCESS," but I get it. Glad you are finally shinning bright, and I'm sure this is just the beginning of it. Thank God for small towns you can't wait to get out of, eh? Like, ehem, Sarnhole, that is featured in my latest manuscript! lol

Talia! Thank you. Really looking forward to seeing you this weekend. So many things to discuss- including SILVER!

Jackie- Haha! I'm feeling pretty good now. Long road ahead, but it's fun to use my brain! xo

One day, I will get to see this Shasta commercial. One day...

Your perseverance is so inspiring, Kim. Thanks for showing us how it's done :)

What a great motivational post! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. I think you hit on the key here - write something close to your heart- because authenticity is the way to success.

PS. I knew you were ready for the spotlight when I met you.
Congrats again!<3

Gina- I'm still getting residual checks from that heinous Shasta commercial. Apparently, South America loves my side ponytail and general perkiness.

Carolyn- Authenticity is the only way to go! Let your freak flag fly! xo

This girl is on fire! Go get 'em tiger.

I love this! Thanks for posting, Kim. You're a natural blogger! And I can't wait for the book...such an amazing path to publication.

Bret! Thank you. I'm not gonna lie- I was terrified to write this. But who can say no to Donna?!#!

Congrats, Kim! Can't wait to read Blood and Salt, and thanks for guest posting on the Muses!

Kim, you are an amazing writer & daily inspiration! So grateful to call you my friend. Congrats on all your success & I *can't wait* for BLOOD AND SALT to hit the shelves. I'll be at the front of the line at your first book signing! ;) xoxo

V- Thanks for having me! Meeting you guys at YBB meant the world to me. I learned so much. xo

Thanks for sharing, Kim. And of course, can't wait for the book in '14.

Also, I'm with Gina. I think I need to see this Shasta commercial...

Thanks Dave!
I shout "Shasta!" while jumping in the air, smiling and working some killer jazz hands. It's pretty epic.

Awesome and inspiring post, Kim! So happy you shared your journey, and I know you have even more inspiring stories ahead of you!

Thanks Lolo! be continued.

I love this post. So inspiring! You're a rock star, Kim! I cannot WAIT to see BLOOD & SALT on book shelves. :D

Ghenet- Thanks for being so supportive- always. See you at Write Night! xo

"The glory was in the work." THIS.

Great post, and BLOOD & SALT sounds very intriguing with such an evocative title...!

Thanks Rosie. Can't wait for you to read it!

Kim- You are a natural writer but I didn't know you could sing too. We should have had you SING your ms. at YBB. Wouldn't that have been a blast? Excited for you. Great blog post too!!

Carol- That would be a pretty naughty song. I don't sing anymore- not even in the shower. It's weird. Thanks for the support! xo

Thank you so much for posting with us this week, Kim! I wish I'd had a chance to meet you at YBB--and I am very much looking forward to BLOOD AND SALT.

Katherine- Thank you. I can't wait to meet you someday! You're such a beautiful writer. xo

Special thanks to Donna for the gentle nudge-- for holding my hand through the submission process--and for being such a lovely friend.

GREAT blog, Kim! Loved every word. I'm so glad to be agency *sisters* with you and hope we get a chance to meet someday. What an intriguing path to writing - wow. Trying to remember if I ever saw those commercials . . . are they on Youtube? LOL. Can't wait to read your book - congrats!

Yea Kin! You rock--so happy for you!!!

Kimberly: Can't wait to meet you, too. We'll make it happen.

Amy: Thank you! It's been a crazy ride. xo

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