A (Man’s) Writer’s Best Friend

IMG_0180I wrote this post for an online community I belong to. Knowing some of my readers are dog lovers, I thought I’d share it here as well.

I grew up fearful of dogs. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them, it appeared to me they didn’t like me much. Dogs, at school and in the neighbourhood, often attacked me. Yes, they smelled my fear.

The worst situation involved a big sheepdog charging out from behind a brush fence, tore off the rope leash restraining it to maul little ole me. A tetanus shot, blood-drawn bite marks on my chest and a ruined tee shirt summed up that particular episode.


I met Brandy as a pup. It took me a while to feel comfortable with her, in fact probably a year or so. Even though a pup, she was a jumpy one, as I learnt was common with many dogs.

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Treat your story as a gift

Photo courtesy of "anankkml"/Freedigitalphotos.net

Photo courtesy of “anankkml”/Freedigitalphotos.net

The contract was signed and now we had to complete the final draft. Lion Fiction had kindly provided me with an experienced editor to work with to tighten the manuscript. In addition, I had to lose an additional 20% of it, that being 30,000 words or 60 pages.

It was now 8 years since the first 700-page draft. It’s incredible how many scenes and characters I’ve deleted including entire sub-plots. I hope one day some of those characters may make a re-appearance. In particular, there were a number of angels and demons that I let go. I think of like the casting call for a movie or TV show. Some actors get the nod, many don’t. Those that missed out were just not right for this publication but may well be in a future one.

My experience of working with editors has been exceptionally rewarding. Both Claire, who worked on the original draft, and Jan, on the latest one, took the opportunity to teach me how to write. They re-wrote a small sample of the manuscript, say a few pages, explaining why they made each change. I was then able to incorporate those methods in the rest of the manuscript.

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Rounding the Last Bend – The Journey to a Contract Concludes


Photo courtesy of xedos4/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I walked back to my desk to be surprised by the new email that had just arrived in my Inbox. Ten minutes earlier I sent the email that I hoped would release me into a new life. With nervous anticipation I clicked on the email to open it.

Good morning Ian

This sounds interesting.  I was the UK publisher for THIS PRESENT DARKNESS and PIERCING THE DARKNESS.

Can you send me the text?

Are you serious?

Hallelujah. I’m bouncing around the room with excitement. It’s end of day Friday and the weekend beckons.

As a write this post, it’s almost two years to the day since that email arrived. If you recall from my previous post in this series I mentioned I had been provided with an introduction to the acquisitions editor of a UK publishing house. In my proposal I made reference to Frank Peretti’s “Darkness” books playing an important part in my writing journey.

This is another one of those moments that some would call coincidence or luck, but I term a “God-thing”.

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The First Offer – The Journey to Publication continues…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It took me three months to shake up the manuscript. Remember I hadn’t touched it for five years and the world had changed. If you’re catching up with my story please have a look at these two earlier posts: here and here.

I was surprised how quickly the writing bug came back. I hadn’t written much on anything non-business during my writing hiatus. I quickly settled into a groove and found modifying the story and characters relatively painless. My struggles with the craft continued. Of course it would until I developed a healthy routine of regular writing and studying of the craft.

The new completed manuscript was reduced to 450 pages and 155,000 words. I had managed to reduce the volume by almost 25% from the previous draft.

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The Angelguard Journey to Publication

Photo Credit: www.aboutmyplanet.com

Photo Credit: www.aboutmyplanet.com

I rushed out of the company’s lobby and hopped into a vacant taxi, a bevy of emotions bursting within me: shock, anger, hurt, disappointment and confusion. But surprisingly, genuine peace. I called Fiona and shared the news. Her response was also mixed. Could see the positives but the immediate financial impact wasn’t ideal.

“Hey Bill, you know how I asked you to pray so that I could attend Presence? Well, God listened and answered.” My friend Bill, was my second call.

A few weeks earlier, my client and I had agreed a launch strategy for the new business. It was to be in Melbourne, the week of my church’s Annual Conference, titled “Presence”. It’s a four-day event where all of our churches around Australia attend. My heart had sunk as I had sensed a strong nudge from the Lord the previous Sunday at church when the “Presence” trailer ran.

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Not long now to lift off – Angelguard launches February

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

I’m excited. Angelguard, my debut novel, releases in the US and Canada in February. The UK launch follows in late March and finally, it hits Australian shores sometime in early May.

It’s been a long journey as it is for most authors.

Over the next few weeks I thought I’d share my experience, warts and all, of writing the novel and getting published.  Further, I’ll talk more about the novel, giving you some behind the scenes access to the characters, the story, and the future story lines.

Today, I wanted to start with an overview of the ten years from its inception to this point of imminent release. It’s useful for you to read this post that features on the slider on my home page (“What Inspired Angelguard“) and the “About Me” page as they provide some initial background.

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‘V is for Vulnerable, Life Outside the Comfort Zone’, Seth Godin

Photo Credit: Penguin Group USA

This is a very powerful little book.

Seth draws his inspiration for this little gem from Dr Seuss, who taught him to read. We’re told this in the short introduction that concludes with:

“I want you to do what you’ve you’re meant to do, what we’re all meant to do, which is the hard work of creating art. 

The artist wonders, ‘How can I break this?’ and ‘Is it interesting?’

Go break something.” 

This is an “ABC book for Grown-ups”. Two pages for each letter (except LMNO) illustrated in a wacky engaging manner by Hugh MacLeod.

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