How BIGGER THINGS came to be

Image credit: Margaret Speirs

Image credit: Margaret Speirs

I’ve had a few people ask me about the writing and birthing of BIGGER THINGS, so for your reading pleasure (or not, lol) I’m sharing a blip that I originally posted on the Compuserve Readers and Writers forum. 🙂  E.

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The beginning: Once upon a time, quite a few years ago, I was walking my dog along a quiet, totally deserted street. Suddenly a woman spoke so clearly that I actually paused and looked around. “Everyone gets a happily ever after, yeah right,” she said. There was, of course, no one there, but I had this person, fully-formed in my head, blathering away at me like we were good friends and I knew I needed to write her story–and then the story of her two lifelong friends as well.

The Middle: BIGGER THINGS wasn’t my first novel, but it was an early one. It took a while to finish it because I was learning as I went (which is still true for every book), and I struggled with how to organize it. Once I realized it was written in seasons that worked as a metaphor for the changes in the friends’ lives over one pivotal year, and that it was interspersed with letters to a columnist called “Fat Girl,” everything took off and came together.

The Climax (which was, like so many early publishing attempts, actually an anti-climax): I had a finished, polished, “long enough” novel, the first I’d written that I wanted to publish. I believed in the story and was super excited about it. I had worked it over a lot–and had it worked over by other people (which was sometimes super helpful and other times . . . the opposite of that). I wanted an agent. I sent it out and sent it out. And sent it out. I had quite a few requests for full manuscripts from “big” agents. It was horrible. Almost without exception they all said really, really, really positive things–then went on to say they didn’t know where it would go on the shelf, how it would be marketed, or who it would sell to. I probably quit too soon but I was a bit disheartened–and more and more involved with/excited about other writing projects.

The end (which is actually another beginning): I shelved BIGGER THINGS and tried to move on, but it stayed lodged in my heart (corny as that is!) and frequently muttered that it wanted to be shared. . . . 

In the years that passed I sold two short novels under a pen name, a variety of short stories in addition to my non-fiction, and wrote five other novels, two that start a mystery series I’ll be pitching to traditional publishers; one that’s Book 1 in a romance series for Winding Path Books. Yet BIGGER THINGS kept whispering. And the publishing world kept changing.

I love romance and women’s fiction–and my romance and women’s fiction author friends and clients were doing marvelous, exciting, FUN things with indie publishing, but I hung back. . . . What writer doesn’t dream of New York, right?

Then one day I was walking on my property, contemplating an old cabin and what it could become, and a woman that I recognized spoke in my ear. “Oh, for crying out loud. Just publish me yourself.” I’m obedient. I dug BIGGER THINGS back out, did yet another rewrite and a polish and another polish. I met some amazing, talented people as I hired a designer, a formatting guru, and yet another editor. . . . and I have loved every bit of the process.

I have a lot of editing experience and have done some desktop publishing (small stuff, like chapbooks, anthologies, etc.), so Winding Path Books isn’t a brand new world to me, but it is a thrilling one. I’m wowed by the resources and tools available to any writer who goes looking.

There can be a lot of negativity and fear in author circles–or, at the very least, a lot of uneasiness–about the future of publishing and making a living off of your writing, but I’m excited. Never in history has there been more avenues to share your passions or the things that keep you up at night. I only see new bridges to cross, new lands to explore, more opportunity for adventure.

I’m solidly pro both indie publishing and traditional publishing, and I don’t see an either/or attitude as beneficial to anyone, particularly to any authors. Both worlds offer unique advantages and disadvantages, but the biggest, most exciting pro of the indie world is the door it opens for great books and stories that don’t fit easily into a perfectly-defined traditional market spot, how it helps them find their home. 🙂

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