The Darkness of Light: How this book was born

I have always been a writer and dreamed of becoming a published author. While I’ve done some freelance work and had some fictional stories published online, I was never able to complete a manuscript.

In truth, I never even got close. But I tried.

Every version of my failed attempts had the same characters: Mara, Malcolm, and Corbin. They were alive to me. I knew them inside and out, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get their setting right, I couldn’t get their actions right, I just couldn’t tell their story.

In 2009, my husband had an opportunity to work in Mexico. I had a decent paying job as an advertising consultant, but I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to commit myself to writing my manuscript. And so I did. I quit my job and January 3rd, 2010 we packed up and went to Mexico.

To make a long story short, I wrote. I had my plot, my characters, and even knocked out a few chapters. On January 29th, 2010,  I wrote a chapter in which my protagonist’s mother died…

Then on January 30th I got a call from my sister – my mother had a heart attack, and I needed to come home immediately.

My husband and I jumped on a plane and made it home just in time to say our goodbyes. My mom died on February 1st, 2010.

After that day I completely lost my ability to write. Not because I felt like my story caused my mother’s death. I just lost all inspiration and no words would come when I sat down at a computer.

So in May, 2010 I decided to return to college, brush up on my English and History knowledge, and write essays until I could find a way to write stories again.

Fast forward to 3 years later…I moved from Canada to South Carolina, had new jobs, hobbies, friends, and still hadn’t written a word creatively. I’d almost entirely given up on ever returning to the wonderfully dreamy world of aspiring-authordom.

But one day in early 2013 I woke up and my creativity came to life!

Mara, Malcolm, and Corbin were calling me, and I could hear them so clearly I almost fell out of bed.

I swear it’s true. I can’t make this stuff up…well, maybe I can. But I’m not.

I got up and without showering, brushing my teeth or even making a coffee (okay, that’s a lie. I did make a coffee), I started my laptop and my fingers began to type. I was in a trance, and before I knew it, I had a 5,000 word first chapter written out.

When I sat back and looked at what I had done, I was stunned. In the past I’d always written in first person, and while I always wanted to write a historical novel, my confidence in my historical knowledge was shaky. And yet there I was, bed-head and all, looking at a chapter written in third-person, set in the Middle Ages. How did that happen?

It would be great if I could tell you that I spent the rest of my days writing and tah-dah! I had a finished novel. No. Not that easy. I quickly realized that I needed to do my research. While the first chapter was good, I needed facts, geography, details!!!

I went to work on research until my eyes were raw. I don’t know how long I spent on it, but I do know that even throughout the writing process, I was constantly re-checking my facts, google earth, and looking up new information.

Anyway… I became obsessed with this new book idea. I wrote out plot points, planned and planned and yet, every time I wrote, the characters did what they wanted. They wouldn’t follow my plan! I would get so mad some days, because I’d want Malcolm to say this and he would say that, or I’d want Mara to go here, and she’d go there.

When I finally gave up struggling with them, the pages started to flow. New characters were born, and I lost the fear to go where I was always afraid to go before. I had to be brave.

At the end of the first draft I was excited! And a lunatic. I must have sat at the computer for up to 12 hours a day sometimes, and my poor husband had to put up with dirty dishes, tumble-furs rolling across the floor, and the constant tap, tap, tap of keys. Bless his heart.

This continued as I wrote the second draft, and the third, and then the fourth until 2 months later, I held in my hands a 95,000 word manuscript. Imagine!

I had kept the “project” as I called it a secret from everyone, but when it was done I felt brave enough to let someone read it. So I held my breath, handed it over, and stressed about it every second of every single minute that passed.

Then I got a text that said “GIVE ME MORE CHAPTERS NOW!”

I couldn’t believe it! Someone actually liked it! As I got braver and worked out some plot kinks, I started to give the book to friends. I gave it to those I knew would like it, and to those I was sure would hate it.

I can happily report that not one…I repeat, not one of my beta-readers hated it. In fact, they all loved it!

I didn’t write this book for publication. At least that’s not how it started. But due to the overwhelming support for it, I decided to hire an editor, which I highly recommend. When I think of all the little mistakes that slipped past my eyes I cringe.

Now I’m in the process of querying and researching self-publishing options. I have decided to query 30 agents. That’s it. Only 30. And if all of them reject my queries by October 2013, I am going the self-publishing route. I already have a plan in place, and an amazingly talented cover art designer on stand-by. Either way, my dream will become a reality.

I’ll keep you posted!

2 responses to “The Darkness of Light: How this book was born”

  1. Congratulations, Tammy. Get this book published and hurry up and start another. One day, i will join your ranks…well, not as an historical fantasy writer, but just a published novelist.

  2. Best of luck to you, Tammy. I’ve published traditionally via an agent, but I’ve also done my share of self-publishing and enjoy it greatly, so if you have any questions about either route, feel free to ask.

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