As most of you probably know, I’m in the final stages of publishing my debut novel. Our beloved dragon asked me to write about the importance of finishing the project, the obstacles I faced, the challenges I solved, and how the whole experience feels, to see my book about to be released.
Whew! That’s a tall order.
I’ll tackle it in parts.
Getting it started...
In January of 2012, I created a document titled Come Back and jotted some ideas I had for a story. Though I considered whether or not it should, that working title didn’t change... one of the benefits of going indie.
My daughter and I had previously read a book that was written like a diary, from the perspective of teenage girl traveling west on the Oregon Trail. The book mentioned various belongings travelers dumped to lighten their loads, so the animals pulling their wagons could survive the trip. I imagined a young lady using these items to survive in the wild, and my story was born.
When I started writing Come Back, I had already written two full-length novels. They weren’t horrible (after applying multiple critiques), but they weren’t of debut quality. I knew I had to do better before I could even think about publishing, so I decided to start fresh.
I’m sure my family wondered if I was truly serious or just lollygagging with my nose stuck in a laptop for hours a day. I’d been writing since August of 2010 and was on my third book. I could tell they didn’t understand my choice to wait like my fellow writers did.
Now, they do.
Getting it finished...
Much of the work I did in the beginning was research. I have a heart for historicals, but my worst subject in school was history. (Go figure. LOL) Come Back is a romance, and that’s the focus, but I wanted the surrounding events to be accurate and setting to feel real. I had to do a lot of reading and double checking to make sure I didn’t commit some huge faux pas.
Weapons of the day had to be studied, as did technology, government structure, and laws. (Ex: hay bale had to be replaced with haystack because balers hadn’t been invented yet.) This is one of the downsides to going indie, no researchers on staff to help you edit. :P
Along with mechanical inventions (or lack thereof), I had to carefully mind etymology. You’d be surprised how many words and phrases I had to cut or change along the way to remove modern language from the text. I’m sure I missed something, and I took a tiny bit of license here and there, but I made a serious effort.
There were plot obstacles, too. The story started as nothing more than visions of a young woman being left behind in the wilderness and a hero rescuing her. I had to build a plausible story around those two simple points. Throw in beat sheets, historical accuracy, and reader expectations, and you get a huge literary mountain to climb.
Last but not least were the emotional lows that came with writing some of the scenes and subject matter. (Come Back is not a light read.) I had to dig into some dark times to make my story authentic. I’ll be guest posting on Liz Blocker’s blog later this week about that.
Was it tough? You bet.
Am I glad I stuck with it? Absolutely!
Awaiting the big day...
By the time you read this, the critiques and proofreading will have been done, the edits applied, and (if all goes as planned) my precious manuscript will be in the hands of the formatter. After that I’ll start final preparations for the release.
I have a printout of the book’s cover tacked to a bulletin board above my desk. I remember the first time the graphics designer sent me a proof. I almost cried.
“I have chills,” I told her. “This is really real, isn’t it?”
I could picture her smile as I read her reply. “It IS real. You’re going to be a published author in a few months. That’s your name on the cover. Imagine holding this labor of love in paperback form for the first time. It’s going to be amazing.”
I know it will.
I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had insecure moments—paralyzing moments, for that matter. Beta feedback has been positive, and that has bolstered my confidence some, but the true test will come when I hand my story over to the public.
What keeps me going is that cover and all it symbolizes. I worked hard and finished something creative and worthwhile. No one can take that from me. Ever.
Thank you, Father Dragon, for hosting me. I’m honored you invited me to your cave.
Title: Come Back
Genre: Western Historical Romance
Category: Adult / New Adult
Expected release: May 12, 2014
'Sometimes a single choice alters the course of a person's life forever.'
Native Texan Melissa Maygrove is a wife, mother, nurse, freelance editor, and romance writer. When she's not busy caring for her tiny nursery patients or shuttling teenagers back and forth to after-school activities, she's hunched over her laptop, complicating the lives of her imaginary friends and playing matchmaker. Melissa loves books with unpretentious characters and unforgettable romance, and she strives to create those same kinds of stories for her readers.
It was a pleasure to have you at the cave, Melissa. I and the dwarves wish you the best of lucks!
Thank you Father Dragon - you have a heart which is possibly a little too big for your cave. And Melissa's work sounds wonderful - and I am thrilled for her that soon, very soon, she will be able to hold her literary baby.ReplyDelete
I agree. Father Dragon does have a huge heart.Delete
Melissa, you took the time to do it right. You'll start off in a much better position than most. (Like me, who still has no idea what I'm doing.)ReplyDelete
One more month and it will be real!
(I disagree. I think you do very well. ;)
I'm still pinching myself. LOL
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
Wishing you the best of luck Melissa. Grandmother DragonReplyDelete
Thanks, Jo. :)Delete
YAY!! This is a great post, Melissa - I really enjoyed reading and learning about your process. And you are a FAST writer. From first brainstorming to published in two years??? That's fantastic. Especially with all of that research (and boy do I hear you on that one...)ReplyDelete
It has been an intense experience, that's for sure!
Sounds awesome. Good luck on your release, it can be scary, but it is an amazing experience.ReplyDelete
Brandon Ax: Writer's Storm
Thank you, Brandon. I hope the book is well received.Delete
Melissa, what a fascinating journey! And it IS real...hard work pays off ;)ReplyDelete
Hugs, Father Dragon!!!
Yes it is. I have to keep pinching myself, though. LOLDelete
Rock it, Melissa! And the dwarves bathed for you too... :)ReplyDelete
The historicals are very hard work but so rewarding for the reader when the author puts in the details they might not even catch but pulls them deeper into the story! Congrats and savor the experience!
River Fairchild – A to Z Challenge, a Jeremy's Angels Co-Host Minion
Seasoned With Words
Yup. They even combed their hair over in a nice, smooth part, but their ears still poke through. :PDelete
What a great beginning for a story Melissa since the Oregon Trail was a rich part of American history. Another fine interview Al.ReplyDelete
Of course, I had to make it difficult and use the Gila. It was fun trying to research a less-written-about trail. LOLDelete
Thanks for visiting, Maurice.
Woohoo Melissa! Congrats on your book. Looks awesome. I'm also glad the dwarfs took a bath just for you (I didn't know dwarfs could take baths ...). :)ReplyDelete
Those little guys smell good. They clean up well. :)
Congratulations Melissa! So much hard work went into this novel and it is about to pay off for you.ReplyDelete
I hope so, Robin. Thanks for your kind words. :)Delete
Congrats, Melissa! I also wrote 2 before the 3rd was pubbed. You're right that etymology and idiom are so important to writing historical. Great post! :)ReplyDelete
The Online Etymology Dictionary is my friend. *grin*Delete
Writing novels takes us on such interesting journeys. I'm amazed at how much I learn when I'm trying to put a story that has accurate background integrated into it. Here's to having all of your research and diligence pay off. Good luck.ReplyDelete
Cheers to that! :)Delete
Congrats, Melissa! So happy for you!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Lara. :)Delete
I LOVE historical fiction. I wrote one and should be starting the edits on it soon. I have ulcer feelings of worry- did I do enough research? I did the same as you, checked laws...read journals- trying to get the voice right-but I know there will be flaws. And wise readers will find them. Like the phrases. I've tried to use sayings I found in journals, but I know I've gotten some things wrong.ReplyDelete
I will have to read yours. Love the concept and it's already right up my alley!
I know I've probably messed some things up, too, but I did try. I just hope the story and the line-by-line writing are good enough that people won't care. ;)Delete
Melissa, thanks for sharing your journey. Sometimes it feels like people just write and publish, and we forget it is really a process and sometimes we write a few books before we find the one we want to publish.ReplyDelete
Hey Dragon friend! SHs. :)
Glad you found my mile-long post helpful.Delete
I know what you mean. For a while, it seemed everyone I knew was publishing. I thought my day would NEVER come.
So happy for Melissa! It's wonderful to read about her journey to this point. And she has to know she is special if the dwarves took a bath and got all cleaned up for her. :DReplyDelete
Yes. LOL Father Dragon told them the Goddess of Grammar was coming, and they scampered for any water and soap they could find. :P
Hard work and perseverance pay off!
And that cover is awesome!
Thank you, Michelle.Delete
We all comment on blogs all the time, but these kind words folks are leaving mean a lot to me. :)
Such a great journey! Can't wait for the release!!ReplyDelete
Me neither! :)Delete
Rushing just to get your book out there is the worst thing a writer can do. You did it the right way, Melissa.ReplyDelete
Thanks for that.Delete
Some of my family members and friends got impatient. I reminded them that once it's out there, you can't get it back. Better to be sure. ;)
Sounds like you had a plan and it's coming to fruition!ReplyDelete
Great idea for a post Father Dragon, giving hope to all who tackle great projects!
I'm nervous, but I'm excited, too. Time (and readers) will tell...Delete
Awesome story. You should be proud of your work, because you produced something wonderful.ReplyDelete
Thanks. That means a lot coming from you. ;)Delete
Research is the name of the game when it comes to separating a good book from a great one. You deserve to reward yourself. Ask Father Dragon to have his dwarves give you a foot message and a pedicure.ReplyDelete
Oo. A mini pedi? Yes, please! :DDelete
I love your premise! Thank you for sharing your writing journey - I can imagine the etymology would be a tough one, along with all the other history research.ReplyDelete
Very much enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing your process. Good luck with the release Melissa!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Maggie. :)Delete
great this articleReplyDelete
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