A Girl With a Dream to publish a book

Welcome to June!

Many years ago, I was a young girl with a dream. Now I’m a middle aged woman on the brink of having it realized. My first completed manuscript is coming back from my editor with the first round of edits this week. I can see myself taking another step closer to my dream, to publish a novel. And it is pretty exciting.

This girl has always been an avid reader. The Little House on the Prairie series and Nancy Drew mysteries were books always found on my book shelf. But there has always been a creative writer inside of me. I started writing in diaries with thoughts about a day in the life of a young girl growing up. Secrets about who I liked and what I thought about things that went on in school, only shared with the lined pages of that little book with the lock on the edge.  I still have those diaries in my hope chest. I can see them in my mind. One green, one red and one blue.

From writing in my diary, the creative writing evolved itself into silly stories that were caught in my imagination and needed to come out. Being at the time before computers became common for all to have, I wrote them down in three ringed notebooks or on pieces of notebook filler paper. I have a few of those saved in my writing archives.

In elementary school, we had units on creative writing during English and penmanship class. I have a packet of poems and thoughts about Christmas a teacher put together from one of my classes in my archives too. In another grade we learned how to write in a journal. Our teacher had us start with basic facts about ourselves. Who is your dad? What color is your house? What is the name of your pet? This question was a hard one for me to answer because at that time my family didn’t have a pet, so I would have to write that fact in my journal. Kind of made me feel sad, or I guess feel different from the other kids. Then our teacher would have us write about a place you visited with your family on vacation to give us all an idea that we could write about. Little did I know then these activities would become a part of the foundation for the writing that I do now.

Then came all of the research papers written in junior high and high school. I really enjoyed researching different people and learning about who they were and their role in history. I also love researching historical events and finding out why they happened. I remember getting into mythology, the gods and their functions in the myths. I even put together a family tree to follow who was related to who. Not as an assignment for school, but because I was keenly interested. Abraham Lincoln and Charles Lindbergh were and still are fascinating people to me, so I wrote school papers about them. I believe some of the Charles Lindbergh research I did brought to light an interest in aviation and ultimately obtaining a pilot’s license. It also intrigued me enough to go visit his family’s home in Little Falls, Minnesota.

When I look back on it, my novel writing really started with a short story that I wrote in 1994 about a weekend I spent at a Bed and Breakfast over Memorial Day weekend. It was a last minute decision to take the trip, which isn’t like me to do. My experiences from that weekend worked their way into a WIP I started called Mentoring a Dream. That story brought many things I was dealing with personally and professionally together into a story. It was about what I was doing with my life, things that I wanted to do and dreams of mine at that time, written through a character based on me. It was like I was figuring out who I was and where I wanted to be through writing. I’ll talk more about my Mentoring a Dream WIP later on this month.

All of these writing experiences have brought me to where I am today, working hard to make my dream of publishing a novel come true. It feels so good that achieving the goal is getting closer to actually happening.

Writing and publishing a novel is not an easy journey by any stretch of the imagination. There is a lot of work involved. With all of the self publishing and promotion things added into the author’s work load these days, it isn’t just a writing journey anymore. Many publishers want to see an author platform and fan base before they will pick up a book to publish. So, building a social media presence has become a part of the writing journey an author must do to publish successfully, whether it is being published by someone else or self published. Add that to all of the hard work already done to write it and self edit it to get it ready to send it out to alpha and beta readers, it is a pretty heavy work load. Once it comes back from those readers, it gets polished up and sent out for a professional edit to tear it up and make it even better. This is where I’m currently at in my writing journey. When I get the suggestions back this week, I’ll clean it up and send it back for one more read through by my editor.

Now, I get to take a break, right? No. When a writer gets to a place where the story is finally working and readable, there is a cover design that has to be thought about and created. Until I started on the road to publish, I don’t think I was fully aware of all of the pieces that have to come together for the finished product, the actual book. I currently have a rough idea put together of what I want the cover to look like, but I may need a professional to come in and put that piece together for me.

It will be very satisfying to accomplish this goal. Working through each step of the process has given me a greater appreciation for all of the hard work it takes for an author to get a book published.

 

Sunday Morning

Happy First Day of Spring everyone! Follow me on my journey through Sunday Morning, the one that I experienced yesterday. I took the time to be in the moment. And it felt amazing.

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After coming back inside from a nice morning walk with our dog Maggie, I mixed up my favorite chai tea latte and heated it up. After the microwave beeped and took the cup from the microwave, I considered how quiet the house was with Sam and the boys still asleep. I looked over and saw Maggie standing in the kitchen staring at me, wondering what I was doing. I was leaning against the counter typing the start of this blog entry, while my chai sat there waiting for me. Happy Sunday morning!

After putting the finishing touches on baseball shopping yesterday, we were trying to designate today as a day off to catch up on rest and relaxation before starting another busy week with school and work. But this week brings the first day of baseball practice for both kids tomorrow. It will also be the start of our crazy schedule with both boys in high school ball and summer travelling! We’ll be following four teams again this year. We know that’s just part of being a baseball parent. And we love it!

When I think about my writing, I love the storytelling part. I’ve had a creative mind since I was a kid and would come up with many stories on the fly. I wish I would have either recorded or written some of those down, there’s probably some good material for a book in there somewhere. I also remember the two roles that I liked to have when we all played together; teacher and storyteller. I enjoy helping people succeed and can come up with some creative ways to do it. I know that I have a passion to teach and tried to pursue it, but life directed me a different way. My life path got me a Bachelor’s in Sociology, an Associate’s in Accounting and now has me working as a Flight Scheduler for my “day” job. You just never know where life will take you on your journey.

Still standing in my kitchen, I hear what sounds like coffee brewing. It’s a typical sound that would be heard in many kitchens in the morning. However, not in mine this morning. I have my chai and everyone else is asleep. Must be the sound of one of them in deep sleep then.

I look down into the doorway and there is Maggie, checking up on me again. Dogs are one of the most loyal pets that are out there. She has been in my life now for almost twelve and a half years. I met Sam a year and a half before I got her. I smile at her and get a low growl in return. O.k. she needs a little attention. So I pick up my chai and find a place in the house to sit with her.

Our house is in a bit of chaos due to a cable rewire project. We’re still sorting and purging things to make the new cable outlet position work out and to get our house in order. As all projects seem to take longer than expected, we’re hoping to have some order before baseball gets into full swing.

As Maggie and I are sitting on the floor, she keeps trying to get my attention away from my phone, which I’m typing this blog entry on right now. I decided to set my phone down and just hold her. It’s a good thing for her and for me. As I pet her she just snuggles into my body and I can feel a calm settling into me. When I stop petting her, she starts to lick my chin, to comfort me. Dogs have a great sense of when those kinds of things are needed by the ones that they love. Many writers have written about similar experiences with their pets when they are trying to get work done on their projects.

Once she falls asleep, I’m able to pick up my phone and write again. Is this kind of like multi tasking for a writer? We snuggle like this for about fifteen minutes. I don’t know if she was ready to get up or if I shifted my body, but she woke up and laid down next to me on the floor.

With life’s demands, it’s hard to get good writing time some days. I find myself with quiet moments like this where I can just write and get into a groove with it. Once everyone wakes up though, it becomes harder to get this kind of time. Thank goodness for mobile devices! I’m able to write on lunch breaks at work or even sitting at baseball fields during the kids’ warm ups. I know that people have and still do get it all done with good ole pen and paper. I’ll do that sometimes when I’m having a hard time getting started or in a pinch when the mobile or electronics aren’t available. But I do appreciate my mobile device even more for the time savings it provides and the freedom to write when I’m away from my laptop.

Sometimes my best creative times come when I’m doing something other than actually writing. Some solutions for plot issues have come to me when out walking the dog, taking a shower or washing the dishes. All times when I’m away from the computer or phone and have no paper to write on. I try to grab my writing notebook when I get back or have dried off and get those things written down as soon as I can. If I don’t, they will disappear into the sky outside of my head.

I love these quiet mornings for several reasons. They become a great time for me to write, to stop and smell the flowers and to hear the birds sing outside the window. I really liked to be in the moment with Maggie this morning, to take that deep breath and appreciate what I have to be grateful for. My family, my house, and my life.

The Hard Way – the editing step

The name of my first manuscript is currently titled The Hard Way. I’ve been struggling to take the step of having a professional editor look at it. I’ve been checking on different editing sites and Facebook pages to understand how much it will cost. I got a little overwhelmed with the fact that it might be a little out of my price range right now. Wanting to get to the publishing step of my journey, not being able to afford it made me consider whether I really needed to do it or not. I thought, the beta readers that I asked to read it for me should have given me adequate feedback, right? Coming back to the fact that it should be done, I started spinning my wheels to come up with a way to get the money put together for it. With all of the family expenses we have, I wasn’t seeing it to even be possible until our youngest son graduates from high school in three years. This potential road block on my journey to publish a novel has been really upsetting me a lot lately.

By checking out different writing sites, Facebook groups and author pages, I’ve been trying to figure out how I would go about finding the right editor. I want to find one that I can build a relationship with, and not someone who is going to do a onetime read for me and then leave the scene. I know that I’m looking for an editor that works in my genre of YA/Middle Grade. They will be knowledgeable about how the story should read and what is required for the audience that I’m ultimately trying to get my book out to.

After thinking about how important my publishing goal is to me, I took a big step yesterday and started searching for an editor to see if I could make this work. Being a writer with aspirations of publishing a book someday, I wanted to take the right steps to get this done. Many published authors talk about how important it is to have an editor involved in your work. If it is the right person, they are able to collaborate with you to produce a successful book for the readers. The trained second set of eyes can see a lot of things the writer can’t see, like ideas or information that may be missing from the flow of the story. I realize how important it is to have those trained set of eyes on the manuscript before it becomes a book and goes out into the world to the reader.

Yesterday when I started my search, I noticed that some editors offered a free read through and critique of a few pages to provide the writer with a sample of how they edit. I think that this could be a good way to interview an editor. I looked through one of my Facebook Writing Groups and found a YA/Middle Grade editor that I decided to contact. Sending the initial e-mail set the process in motion. I e-mailed back and forth with her and it seemed to be going as expected. I sent her what she required from my manuscript for her to take a look and see what kind and how much editing it may need, in her professional opinion. I’m excited to hear what she has to say. Maybe a little scared too. But it feels good to make that step, a step I needed to take to move my project forward.

I’m sure there are things that will need to be changed and or cut out to make the story cleaner for the reader. A little anxiety wells up when I think about how much of the story the editor thinks doesn’t need to be there, but I feel that it is important to be included. I saw all of the work it took to get the story on the page, but I have to remember that the editor is going to have a good idea about how it should go. These conflicting feelings are a normal part of the process that all writers go through when they send their stories out to be edited.

To make myself vulnerable and put my work out for the masses to see has definitely taken some courage to do. I started with a few friends and had them read my story, which wasn’t too hard for me. We got together for coffee and they gave me their thoughts. Then I decided to present it to my book club for our monthly club selection. I felt a little more anxious about doing that one. They commented and critiqued it during our book club meeting and that was a bit intimidating. But I’m so glad that I did it. Now I’m working on finding a professional editor critique it for me, which is a bigger step than the other editing and feedback opportunities, but those opportunities gave me some experience going into this one.

I got to the point with my own self editing that if I read it again, I either wouldn’t be able to see anything more to change, or I would make too many revisions to things that didn’t need to be changed. In my case, the editor is going to bring objectivity and knowledge about getting a book ready for publication, which is what I need at this stage in the process. I’ve heard that writers must develop a thick skin to accept the critiques and rejections that are received from the editors and critics. But those are usually offset by the readers who love and enjoy the story. Not everyone is going to like what we create, but it must put out there if we want the story to be heard.

I was originally planning to post a segment of my WIP for the blog today. Now I think I’ll wait until I’ve had an editor take a good look at it!