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.
Fiona encouraged me to take a sabbatical to attempt writing this “novel that was in me”. When I first sat down I essentially had those two words: “It’s time” and the idea I wanted to write a story about humans colliding with the supernatural world.
I read a bunch of books by authors on writing and their process. Stephen King’s “On Writing” was excellent. It helped reinforce my thinking that I should have a go at writing a story first before spending time on studying how to be a writer. I reasoned that if I don’t have a story in me, why bother learning the craft?
In saying that, developing my craft is absolutely critical and is something I’m constantly doing. And one day I’d like to undertake some formal study because I’m one of those strange people who really enjoys the learning process.
What I found, surprisingly, was the story came out relatively easily. It was the craft that was and, still is, the hard part.
The second key takeaway from King’s book that was reinforced by pretty much every other writer was set yourself a daily or weekly word limit. I liked that as I enjoy working with deadlines.
2,000 words per day was my target. From memory I think that was King’s word limit too. Seemed reasonable. Tried it for a few days and I kept achieving it so on I went.
Seat of Your Pants or Outlining?
As with any industry, writing has it’s own lingo. This is one of them regarding how you start. Do you have a plan or outline (are you a plotter?) or do you use the by the seat of your pants method? You can probably guess I was very much in the latter camp.
But in preparation for the sequel I spent a lot of time reviewing alternative outlining structures. But more on that in a later post.
The first draft
I researched as I went along. The novel is set in the UK, France, USA and Australia and it’s amazing how much you can gain from the internet.
My days were surprisingly full: writing 2,000 words whilst researching the next day’s scenes. Fiona read each completed ‘part’ as I wrote it.
No editing, no re-writing. Just story telling.
Seven months later I completed the first draft.
253,211 words and 697 pages.
Yep. Newbie authors don’t know what to leave out. That was me!
I quickly moved into editing mode and, between doing some consulting work, by early 2004 I had culled the manuscript by 50,000 words and 110 pages.
Then I sought the services of an editor. I found a lovely semi-retired lady, Clare, who lived in a gorgeous southern coastal town and she taught me how to write. And how to edit.
We tidied the manuscript up.
So I started sending it off to publishers in the US and UK.
Yes, many said thanks but no thanks but a few asked for the manuscript. And, sent to it to their “readers”.
After a few weeks the response was still no. But they liked the story. And that planted a seed of hope in my heart.
Then I put it into a drawer as we were running out of money and I needed to return to full time work.
I’ll tell you the rest next time.
Have a great weekend.