Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Realization of a Dream

Over ten years ago, I started a novel called When The Sky Falls.  It was about the Roman conquest of Britain and inspired by a book called The Life and Death of a Druid Prince: The Story of Lindow Man, an Archaeaological Sensation by Anne Ross and Don Robins. Reading about this young, obviously aristocratic man who had been strangled, stabbed and then pushed into a marsh to drown, my writer “wheels” immediately started turning.

I wrote the first version of the story in about nine months and sent it to my then-agent. She told me it didn’t work. It was too depressing, didn’t fit any genre and the perspective was too detached to grab the reader. Discouraged, I put it aside and went back to romance. Two years later I dug it out and started working on it again, trying to fix the things the agent had pointed out. I expanded it, tried to make the story more personal and compelling and came up with a more positive ending. But when I sent it to a good writer friend she tactfully told me I had the skeleton of a good story but it wasn’t there yet.

More rewriting. Eventually satisfied I’d fixed the problems with the book, I started sending it out. Based on responses, I tweaked the story and changed the title to The Silver Wheel.  More submissions. When editors and agents mentioned the length (almost 160,000 words) and the youth of the protagonists (the main characters are in their early teens when the book begins), I decided to break it up into several books and market it to YA. The first section became Lady of the Moon  

Off and on over the next five years I put it aside, got it out again, added and subtracted from the story, tried to make it have a more feminist slant, make the heroine stronger, etc., etc.  I got nowhere. When a year ago, I sent it to my current agent and he declined to represent it, I decided it was time to self-publish.

I put it aside while I e-published my backlist and some original romances that were more marketable, but dragged it out again this summer. I added back most of what I’d originally cut and went through the grueling process of proofing and editing. After going through the manuscript four or five times myself and having several friends proof it, I feel it’s as good as it can be. The first part, Lady of the Moon, is already out as an ebook and the full story will available soon in ebook and print.

Given that I'm terrible at promotion and this is a relatively obscure time period, the book may only sell a handful of copies a month. But still, it will be available to readers, and my vision that I have developed and honed for ten years (I must have written close to half a million words on this story) will finally have an audience. It's a great feeling!

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