It’s Published

A decision is made
Well, after many, many query letters, many, many different approaches and a weekend at the Writers Digest Conference in August 2017, I finally accepted that if I wanted to see Discovery in print, it would have to be self-published. It sounds easy, but comparing it to the traditional publishing route, nothing could be farther from the truth.

As I said in my first post, I love to write. I see patients during the week, and I love that as well, but when it comes to my free time I don’t long to sit outside, or garden, or go to the beach or take a hike. I do those things from time to time, but usually because the weeds are destroying the flowers, or I have guests I can’t ignore. But writing, imagining, polishing, revising, have nothing to do with the business of publishing.

All the steps between finishing up with my editor and sending the manuscript to people I didn’t know existed, planning the cover, hiring a printer, a publicist, and following up on all of that is a full time job; and not a job I’m good at. But it was that or putting the (virtual) pages in the proverbial drawer and locking them up for someone to find after I’m dead. (Hmm, sounds like a new story idea.) Fortunately for me, Bob, my husband, hero⎯and now my publisher, is excellent at business, details, and filing things on the computer.

The Process of Self-Publishing
First it was picking a formatter. Of course, I’d never heard of a formatter, but as it turns out there are pages and pages of them to choose from on Google. They all have excellent reviews and offer different, and to me, mysterious “packages” at different prices.

I’d been reading a blog by Jane Friedman, and in passing she mentioned a formatter called Damonza and gave them a vote of approval. For reasons as yet unknown to me, their prices were well below the others I’d seen online; I hired them and they did a great job. They allowed me to keep making changes for as long as I wanted to, which I now know is not unusual or unexpected.

I’d been strongly advised to leave the cover to the professionals, but in the end I decided to use a portion of one of my paintings, which I thought captured the spirit of the book. They did a great job with it, and most people agree. The title of that painting is Rennes-le-Château, a pivotal location in the book, and it wraps the words inside in an image that I think evokes mystery, romance and a little sensuality that is part Father Saunière’s character, and maybe David’s as well. They have poetry in their souls, which I tried to capture in the painting. See what you think and let me know.

Then we hired Smith Publicity. I was assigned to Sarah Miniacci, a young, enthusiastic, supportive and connected publicist who knows the publishing biz and became my champion. If I believed in angels⎯and maybe I do in some cosmic way⎯she would be one of mine. At the very least, she was a gift, certainly to an inexperienced debut author like me.

Social Media
I never really liked social media. The idea of posting a photo of my dinner, or of myself, never appealed to me, although I must admit pictures of some of the children in my life have made the cut. But now! Now I have been welcomed into a community that shares a love of books. There are other writers and readers, those who blog about books and promote books. And wherever we are around the globe, and no matter our ages or life circumstances, we have our love of books in common and we touch each others’ lives.

So now onto the next steps: getting some events scheduled at small bookstores and being interviewed on a few podcasts. I did one some time ago that needs follow up called GracefullyRadio, and there is one coming up at the end of September hosted by Carolyn Pouncy, author of many historical books, and a series. As an author she goes by C.P Lesley. The podcast is on NB Historical Fiction on Facebook and @NewBooksHistFic on Twitter. I’m very excited for that opportunity. I don’t know whether anyone listening is tempted to go and buy the book, but I find that I love talking about it, and I’m well aware there are too many good books to read in a lifetime. I don’t take it personally.
So these days, being a published author has become part of my identity. It is no longer something I aspire to, or an avocation. Doing this thing I love, spending the time and energy to get it as good as it can be, and sending it out into the world with trepidation and pride, feels like one of my greatest achievements. I hope you’ll read Discovery and start a conversation about it. It has lots of ideas I find fascinating and thought provoking, and I hope you will too.

Welcome Everyone

I’ve learned so much during the years I’ve been writing Discovery and, over the coming months, I plan to share some of it with you. There are the concrete facts of course, the information gathered and made possible by the internet, and there are the delicious surprises that seem more than coincidental. Then there is what I’ve learned about my friends and family members⎯some of whom were devoted enough to read, and re-read, and figure out how to be encouraging and critical at the same time. Of course, there is the endless amount to be learned about the craft of writing, the pleasure of finding exactly the right word, and creating believable, psychologically sound people who become as intimately known as another human being can be.

Primarily, I’ve learned a lot about myself. For me, writing a novel turns out to be an adventure, not unlike a road trip when all you’re sure about is your destination, but haven’t got a fixed route or time constraints. You might want to stop along the way, or take a detour; you might notice something unexpected that begs for exploration. Writing Discovery has been a journey of the mind, and it’s been my privilege to take that journey.

In the process of telling the story, memories pop up, feelings lost in the past re-emerge, long forgotten smells and sights and sounds connect with places, moments and meaning. Writing and rewriting and editing and rewriting again is a daunting task, which would have felt overwhelming if I had known in advance what I was facing. Fortunately, I didn’t.

What I did know is that I will keep at something with dogged determination and a positive attitude; in other words, I persevere. This characteristic has served me well in life and made up for other deficits and inadequacies, which will remain my secret for now. Some people confuse perseverance with being obsessional, but they are not the same at all. Persevering often requires changing course, finding new solutions and thinking creatively.

So much of what I’ve accomplished in life didn’t come easily, and certainly not on my first attempt. But I keep at it in the belief that if I hit a dead end, get rejected, make a bad choice, pick the wrong husband or career, well, I’ll reassess and do better next time. And I do. Of course, perseverance probably comes more naturally to people who are patient, but I’ve found that even impatient people can persevere. After all, doing something active, keeping at something and trying to come up with alternative solutions always feels better than sitting around feeling helpless.

In Discovery, David, the protagonist of the contemporary love story, is the one who perseveres. He is a complicated man, but one of the things I like best about him is that he isn’t someone who gives up. I suppose the time comes for everyone when they have to face ultimate defeat, when every alternative has been exhausted and acceptance is all that’s left. But so far I haven’t been faced with that situation, although if I can’t find an agent after another 50 query letters get sent out, the time may come.

Traveling to the places visited in Discovery helped to breathe life and truth onto the pages, in addition to a lifetime of other experiences. And now, here it is: a book full of ideas, psychological truths and, I hope, inspiration. Father Saunière was born in April 1852 and died in January 1917. He was a remarkable man who lived life on his own terms and left something beautiful for the ages. David and Giselle find each other in 2012, weather adversity, and through their capacity for insight allow love to overcome, as it should.

Which brings me to love, the most inspiring of emotions. When perseverance is used in the service of love, for others, for yourself, for creativity or the betterment of humanity, I think it becomes its own reward. After all, there’s very little more gratifying than working toward a worthy goal, regardless of the time spent or the struggle. It’s a glorious and proud moment when anyone has the opportunity to say, “I finally did it!”

This is my moment. I hope you read Discovery when it is published, and enjoy it enough to contact me and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you.

In the meantime, follow my blog. Comments of any kind are welcome.