I'm most recently a writer. In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot. As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades. An unwilling transplant from the South, twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US. Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect. When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do. Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Just When the End's in Sight--Again
If you've been here before, you may already know about Offered for Love, which is the fourth book in the Miracle at Valley Rise series. What you may not know is that there were times I wondered if this book would ever make it to print. Or more precisely, if it would go to print with a gaping hole where its final chapters should have been.
Here's the thing. Originally, when I never expected anyone to see this story other than maybe my husband and a couple of trusted friends, these four books were just one long, long book. After publishing what are now the first two books as a single volume, with Heart Of My Own Heart as a sequel, I did some serious rethinking. The original Hearts Unfold was over 600 pages. The paperback looked like a dictionary! While it sold (some) and received very positive response from its limited readership, I knew in my heart it was just too long to be appealing to most readers. So, back to the computer for months of rewriting. I was determined to remain word-for-word true to the original as much as possible, but there's always room for improvement, so word-by-word, I went over each line. The end result, Hearts Unfold--Book One and Entreat Me Not--Book Two gave me great satisfaction when finally published last October. Not only did I feel the writing had been refined, and I hoped improved, but they were wearing beautiful new covers and the series had a new name, which got immediate attention from shoppers on Amazon, judging by the sudden jump in sales. Heart of My Own Heart--(now) Book Three, remained the same except for a slight change in the front matter (those pages you skip to get to Chapter One) and a revised cover. At the end of this volume was the proud announcement "Next in the Miracle at Valley Rise Series--Offered for Love" and the first chapter of the fourth book. Commitment made, all I had to do was actually finish the fourth book, right? Not a problem, since most of it, including the ending and epilogue were already written.
And that was my mistake. Maybe it was the knowledge that out there readers were waiting expectantly. They were even sending me emails and messages asking when the book would be out, heady stuff for a self-publishing newbie like myself! I got a little caught up in promoting and visiting with my readers on FB, I guess. Then there was the inspired idea to write a Christmas piece, just a novella, for which I had an absolutely irresistible angle--a look at the characters forty years later! That went quickly, thank goodness, and Christmas at Valley Rise was ready to publish by the first of November. By then, Christmas was coming. I wanted to at least take a little time off to spend the holidays somewhere other that at my desk. So I left myself an opening, holding to the "In early 2013" date for Offered for Love originally promised. That would give me plenty of time to fill in those few remaining chapters. (Did I mention that Offered for Love for Kindle will be free this weekend?)
January rolled around and I went back to work, confident that the end was clearly in sight. Then, on January 12, two things happened. I came down with the flu, the good old respiratory distress, mind-numbing, aches and fever flu with a side of bronchitis, and our great-granddaughter was born-- three months prematurely. Now the flu I could get over, thanks to modern medicine, but there's this thing I've noticed ever since I started writing. Any kind of emotional situation, especially the kind that makes my heart hurt and sends me into "pray without ceasing" mode, is the equivalent of total writer's block. Creativity shuts down, and any attempt to work through it is a waste of time. The words just aren't there. This went on for over two weeks. I told myself Valentines Day was still doable. If I sort of sneaked back into the work, I might get published by then. I started to see some progress. Just a few more crucial chapters and the hole would be closed.
There came a Sunday morning, one when my husband was preaching out of town and I had chosen to stay at home. (That's a subject for another post sometime.) I sat down at the computer and had a little chat with God, something on the order of "I'll be still and open my heart, and you pour in what I'm supposed to say here, okay? If at all possible, we need to close this gap, this morning, without any further delay." (You already saw this coming, didn't you?) By that night, the book was finished!
I make no apologies for believing this can and did happen. So often, God knows when we just can't get things done and steps in. I'm not saying he wrote those chapters, but he calmed my mind and made it possible for me to do the work I needed to do. The writing is still mine, no better than anything I've been able to do before. But it wouldn't have happened at all without his hand on my shoulder that day.
I'm so happy to hear what readers have had to say about this book so far. They confirm what I felt about it, that it might touch people in a somewhat different way than the previous books have. I know that in writing it, I tapped into experiences and emotions close to my own heart. If--and that's a big if--this is the last time we see Stani, Emily and company, I hope I gave them a proper send-off.
Just in case you missed the news, Offered for Love is free for your Kindle (and any number of other devices) from Amazon.com this weekend--April 20-21. Please help yourself to a copy and tell your friends!