|Author:||Nola||Published:||6 months ago|
|Tags:||competitions, novel, book proposals, book contracts, FaithWriters, Breath of Fresh Air Press||Category:||Projects|
A shipwreck survivor in 1880s Nova Scotia must conquer her fear of abandonment if she’s to defeat the ruthless industrialist intent on keeping her family apart.
Does that sound like the plot of a novel you might read? I’ve been working on that premise for five years now, and there have been times when I felt like packing it in. I’m in love with my characters and the scenarios in which they find themselves, but it’s been a hard slog. What if my close family and friends are the only ones who ever get to read it? Well, I’m glad I kept plodding (and plotting) because my unpublished debut novel Scattered was the fiction runner-up in this year’s FaithWriters Page Turner Competition, announced a few days ago. I was blown away! Congratulations to the overall winner, Joe Moreland; and the nonfiction runner-up, Phillip Cimei. You can find out more about the contest here.
But wait, there’s more! I was still responding to congratulatory messages on Facebook when Deb Porter, publisher extraordinaire with Breath of Fresh Air Press, offered me a publishing contract. EEK! Consideration for publication was mentioned in the prize package, but it certainly wasn’t guaranteed. I felt incredibly humbled, honoured, and maybe just a little hysterical at the thought of what comes next.
Long-time readers of this blog might be wondering what happened to the parallel narrative I’d been working on previously (i.e. a novel in which past and present stories interweave, as in books by Kate Morton and Kimberley Freeman). Scattered is the same book I started five years ago, but it’s had several transformations. I spent about three and a half years on it before deciding that it just wasn’t working as a parallel narrative and would be better as two separate novels.
As I had more of the historical component written, it seemed logical to finish that one first. It should be easy, right? Just edit out all the modern bits, string it together and finish it off. However, it wasn’t that straightforward. One hangover from the original version was that there was a 35-year time gap, where my heroine Maggie morphed from 20- to 55-years old with the turn of a page. It had made sense in the dual narrative where I kept switching from the past to the present, but didn’t make much sense now that I was focussing on Maggie’s story alone. I persisted with it for another year before realising the time gap had to go. The only problem was that without that time gap, some key events could no longer happen. Some of my best scenes were cut, the last third of the novel was rewritten, and the title was changed to better reflect the new theme.
A labyrinth of other twists and turns resulted from lessons I learned along the way. There was Novelist’s Boot Camp and Year of the Edit with the Queensland Writer’s Centre; an immersion course with Margie Lawson; an intensive with Iola Goulton from Christian Editing Services; a publisher’s appointment with Deb Porter; numerous workshops and presentations at conferences; and feedback, encouragement and the occasional whip cracking from my fabulous writing group and friends. I also believe in the power of prayer, and felt divine inspiration strike many times, from the first inkling of an idea to the navigation through many plot problems and rascally character issues. I am truly thankful for those God moments. My wonderful husband Tim Passmore gave me valuable feedback on my Page Turner entry, along with Iola Goulton, Mazzy Adams, Adele Jones and Kirsten Hart. All of these things helped to get the novel to the point where I could submit a competitive entry, and I am beyond grateful for all of the help I’ve received. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes at least a small town to write and publish a novel.
Now that I have a publishing contract, I can rest on my laurels. Oh wait … was that my publisher in the background telling me it’s not over yet? I still have the last few chapters to write and then a mountain of editing, polishing and fact-checking before I can give it to Deb. She’ll no doubt have other suggestions and revisions, and there will be rewrites, so don’t expect it before Christmas (or before next Christmas). But it’s reassuring to know it’s on the publishing track chugging towards its destination.
From time to time, I’ll give updates about my progress. For now, I’d like to encourage any of you who are plugging away at your first novel or nonfiction manuscript, and wondering if it will ever see the light of day. If you believe in your story, love what you’re doing, and have a teachable spirit, then keep working at it. One day you’ll hold that book in your hand (or see it on your Kindle) and it will all be worthwhile.
Where are you in your journey to publication? I’d love to hear your story.
(P.S. Since writing this blog, I’ve been interviewed on the FaithWriters site about the story behind the story. You can read that interview here.)