The Series: An Author’s Journey
A Separate Heaven actually began as a single book. The storyline came to me while I was out walking. Each day as I walked, the characters developed and the story grew. Three months passed before I decided to put it down on paper and, even though the characters were already set in my mind, that was when they came to life for me, when my fingers hit the keyboard.
I showed it to a few family members and close friends who not only said they enjoyed it, but passed it along to others. The response was overwhelming. That’s when I knew I had something special, when people I didn’t know were contacting me and asking for the next chapters.
I decided that the storyline would span twenty-five years. At this point I decided it would be two books, a novel and a sequel.
As a “test project,” I sent the manuscript to a few agencies and two publishers willing to accept “un-agented” submissions. Their response was not positive in the sense that they declined to represent me, but one agent was kind enough to tel me that, with an unknown author, agents and publishers were very reluctant to consider a book with less than 80,000 words but, even more important, ideally, it shouldn’t extend beyond 100,000 words. It was an eye-opening experience since, at this point, my manuscript contained over 400,000 words. Now that I’ve learned a few ins and outs of the business, the thought of those early query letters makes me cringe in embarrassment. But the dilemma was resolved by a decision to publish the manuscript as a series, hence the seven books.
It was then I decided that since I’d had no formal training in journalism, maybe I should consult and editor. Once again, I turned to the internet and went online and found several reputable editors listed, some of whom were willing to do a free sample edits. I chose a woman (Marti Kanna – New Leaf Editing) whose firm is based in Washington. It was only by chance. I liked the name of her company and had a good feeling about her when I read her background. That was all my selection was based on. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
In the end, she took me under her wing, so to speak, and had guided me through the mire of the world of writing and editing. She has provided a valuable education for this writer, and my gratitude to her knows no bounds. You will find her listed in the acknowledgement section of each of my books.
If I could tell aspiring authors only one thing it would be this (I found it years ago, and it si taped to the door of my computer cabinet as a reminder): “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”