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
'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!