Thursday, April 30, 2015

The earliest notes for my first novel, Heaven's Prey, are dated almost 20 years before it released. In
that time, it went through multiple revisions as I learned how to write. The standard advice to authors-in-training is to finish the manuscript and move on to a new one, learning as they go, but I felt my characters deserved better than that. As long as I could learn how to improve their story, I'd do it.

By the time I signed a publishing contract, I had two stories as ready-to-go as I could make them. Luckily I'd heard multi-published authors talk about the pain of edits, so I didn't bail on my dream when my editors returned files with copious notes and comments. 

What else was there to do than work through it? Because of their skill and my perseverance, my debut novel was strong enough to be short-listed in the suspense category of the 2014 Word Awards (recognizing Canadian Christian writing in multiple genres). 

The editing process taught me ways to improve the sequel before turning it in, but it still needed professional input. Writers are too invested in our projects to be objective. We see what we mean instead of what's on the page.

If editing was the hurdle for book one, self-publishing took that role for book two. My small-press publisher closed its fiction line. I had the option to leave Heaven's Prey an orphan or regain the rights and re-issue it independently. 

The manuscript for the second book, Secrets and Lies, was ready for editing. Friends in the indie-publishing world offered to share what they learned. I became my own publisher.

This was a God thing, timing-wise, and although stressful, it was surprisingly painless. Through my former publisher, I had contacts with the editor and cover artist who'd worked on the first book, and they both take freelance work. 

While my editor worked on Secrets and Lies, I learned how to publish a second edition of Heaven's Prey. This test run meant I knew how to prepare book two on time for its November 2015 release. 
And the hurdle for book three, my current work in progress, releasing this fall: I'd done preliminary character work, and yes, there were vague plot notes, but the first two books took all my attention last year. 

In December I started digging back into the beginnings of No Safe Place, Redemption's Edge #3. It's a whole different mindset to tackle a book I know from draft one will be published. With a deadline.
I'm my own boss, so it's a self-imposed deadline, but I'd like to keep the series momentum with this final book. (Discovering what comes next? That's going to take time. Later.) 

Book one was totally a seat-of-the-pants flight, and the revisions were massive. Number two was more planned, but not as thoroughly as I wanted for the third one. The biggest advantage for them both was unlimited time. If the muse didn't strike, I didn't write. 

These days you'll find me, seat in chair, fingers on keyboard, each weekday afternoon. If the muse doesn't cooperate, it's slow typing, but day by day the word count increases. Because I've discovered the story in advance, I know where I'm going. There are still a few fun surprises along the way.
I'll finish draft one in May and then start revisions. My editing spot is booked for the summer, and I'll contact the cover artist soon. 

The discipline of continuing to write is important. Experts say the best way to market our books is to keep writing quality material. I do what promotion I can, and I love the chance to guest post on blogs like The Borrowed Book, but my biggest investment of time is in the next story.

Janet Sketchley's newest novel, Secrets and Lies, has recently been short-listed in the 2015 Word Awards. Like Carol in Secrets and Lies, Janet loves music and tea. Unlike Carol, she isn't related to a dangerous offender, has a happy home life, and has never been threatened by a drug lord. May those tidbits continue to hold true! You can find Janet online at Fans of Christian suspense are invited to join Janet's writing journey through her monthly newsletter:

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1 comment :

  1. Thanks again for hosting me! It's been fun looking back on my writing path this far :)


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