It must have been fifth grade when I began my writing journey. I was really into this NES game called Dragon Warrior. It was your standard medieval fantasy with blobs, wyverns, and other assorted monsters that need to be fought on a -Fight- -Run- -Spell- -Item- turn based system in stunning 8 bit graphics. Standard now, of course, but it was revolutionary at the time. And the best part, was that all the characters spoke in King James English. I guess you could call that page and a half of sloppy handwriting “fan fic,” complete with King James English. But it was my first attempt at writing and that counts for something.
I didn’t write again for several years, focusing instead on music and art. Yes, at one point I drew too. Are you surprised? I haven’t drawn since High School. But in Junior High I started a series of sketches that had a story behind them. This germ of a story took root and ignited that fire of writing. Pictures are worth a thousand words, and those thousand words were screaming to be written down.
High School is when I really started writing. I did about four short stories, which I still have but haven’t read in years because I’m sure they really suck. I also hand wrote about 150 pages of a novel based on that story germ from Junior High. It was full of narrative summary, anachronistic dialogue, and teen angst, all wrapped in a medieval candy shell. I still have those notebooks somewhere, and I do intend to actually bring this story to life properly one day.
In college, writing went to the wayside as I studied academics and my future wife. Who am I kidding? I mostly just studied De. And I would tell everyone when we’d talk about books and such that, “One day I’m going to get back into writing.”
I made good on that promise after I graduated in 2002. I began what I affectionately call My Practice Book. It’s real name is Among Dragons. And it’s a prequel to that horrific attempt to write I made in High School. This book is on my list to be rewritten and reworked, because it’s actually a decent story even if the writing stinks. I had a copy printed, and it sits on my shelf as a reminder of how much I’ve learned.
My intention after completing this prequel was to go into the trilogy of books based on… you guessed it… that story I started in High School. I reworked it, reoutlined it, and made it into something exciting and worth writing. I wrote about fifty pages and then hit a block. But it wasn’t a writer’s block, per se. It was a block of distraction. You see, my creative mind was dwelling on something else that had recently come up.
On a Goth girl with the gift of prophecy.
So I began to write Winter’s story. Four years ago, last December, I finished the first draft. I still have the first draft on file. A second draft followed, then beta readers and a third draft. I tried my hand at submitting the third draft, but received nothing but no’s. A year or so passed and I finally got a critique to tell me what I was doing wrong. That’s when I made my three golden rules of writing. I did a massive rewrite and fixed all those problems. Well… most of them.
The new version was better than ever. I made a new cover and uploaded the book to Lulu so my friends and family could read the book. This is the version I sent to MLP for the Premise Contest in 2009. But there was still work to be done. After the contest I had another great critique, which told me I needed to make some cuts. A LOT of cuts, because I was just too wordy. This time (yes, others had said the same) I listened. I cut about 10,000 words during that edit.
Last spring I took the trimmed down version and made an eBook which I gave away free. I did that through Lulu, so anyone with the link could go download it. I don’t know who all downloaded, only that maybe about 15-20 did.
Last fall, I received an email from one Kat Heckenbach. She had downloaded and loved it. She passed it on to a friend of hers who was reading it and loving it. That would be Grace Bridges.
Grace sent me a message. And while it was glowing and full of praise for the book, it contained one small sentence that almost made me want to throw out the computer. “For your own sake, I wish you would find a bigger publisher than me.”
Do you know how aggravating it is when the ONLY publisher/agent who would actually read it, says they don’t want to publish it because they’re TOO SMALL?
Anyway, I pinged every small publisher and agent I could think of, all with the same result. MLP was on hold for another year at least. So I started asking around about what it would take to become my own publisher. One of the people I asked was Grace. 😉 (I’m not completely dumb.)
Grace finally relented, and said that if this was how I wanted to publish my book, then she’d do it for me.
We decided to keep it quiet. You see, I had already made plans to film a promo trailer at the end of December. I thought it would be great if we could make the official announcement WITH the trailer, but it would take some time to get it finished. I got Grace on board and we started making the plans. Last night, on my Facebook fan page, I debuted the trailer to the world. (You’ll find it at the bottom of this post, but please finish reading first!) The announcement is now finally official. I’d like to thank Grace for taking a chance on me, NAF’s own Kristen and Kat for the dual layer editing, the talented Holly Heisey for the amazing cover, and Mary Unsworth, who brought Winter to life for the first time. I also want to thank all of NAF and our readers for joining me on this journey over the last year or so. And lest I forget, my wife DeAnna, who has always believed in me. Finally, I thank God, for giving me a dream and allowing me the opportunity to see it come true.
It’s a little scary releasing my ink and paper daughter into the wild. But I always hoped this day would come. I can only pray that I’ve raised her well and that she’s more than capable of handling herself. She’ll be available to the world on June 1, 2011.
Once upon a time I played in the sandbox, building castles. Later I moved on to making forts in the gullies. When gullies weren’t enough, I sought out the hills nearby. Four years ago I began to climb a mountain. Now standing on the summit I can say, yes Mr. Baines… the cheesecake is good.
But there is more to this mountain. A new summit waits just behind me… a new adventure. It’s time to start climbing again—me and my ink and paper daughter.
(Mind the E’s. There are four of them.)