It Takes a Village to Write a Book, and I'm So Thankful for Mine
Updated: Mar 2, 2019
This is my final post before my debut novel, Wolf Smoke, is released. Reflecting back on the long journey from first draft to a published book, I think it’s only fitting to acknowledge all the people who helped push me this far. Their assistance is all the more remarkable considering that until recently, almost all were just strangers on the internet. I’m lucky to now call many of them friends.
Setting out to write Wolf Smoke was a lonely experience. My husband openly thought it was a waste of time, and my family responded with mild indifference. My only support system was a duo of neighbors, Karen and Sherry, urging me forward. These two women were successful in their own careers, and gave me a morale boost just out of the desire to propel another woman forward. They read my manuscript, gave honest feedback, and most importantly, believed in me and my story. Without them, it's quite possible I may have given up the idea as a lost cause.
Several months later, the manuscript was complete, and I jumped straight into querying—with minimal success. Without critique partners or beta readers, I had no way of knowing what was working in my story and what wasn’t. With PitchWars right around the corner, I decided to enter, hoping for any shred of guidance. What I found was even better—my critique partners; Chris, Katie, Glen and Kara. A ragtag group of thriller, fantasy, and sci-fi authors, our only common threads were our tendencies to write about murder and mayhem, and that we all desperately needed some writing buddies. Together, we dubbed ourselves the Dark Scribblers, and with their help, guidance, and occasional tough love, I was finally able to smooth the rough edges and turn Wolf Smoke into something presentable. The final step was to seek some professional help.
While Colleen Oefelein kindly offered to whip my query into shape, I handed my manuscript over to Haley Sulich, owner of Write Plan. Both women sliced and diced their way through my work, whittling these documents down to their bare essentials. (I’ll admit, after Haley’s critique, I needed the Dark Scribblers’ shoulders to lean on.) But all of their suggestions were ultimately necessary, and paved the way for cleaner, more powerful storytelling. After implementing their changes, I knew I was finally ready to jump into querying, far better prepared than my first go-around.
While pitching in #PitMad, I was lucky enough to receive two offers simultaneously. One of them was from Carrie Gessner, the owner of Sky Forest Press, a feminist publishing house with a focus on female-driven sci-fi and fantasy. I fell in love with her mission statement, and after receiving help from so many talented women, signing with a feminist publisher felt like kismet. She put together a contract, and I happily signed on the dotted line.
The next ten months were a whirlwind of proofs, revisions, cover art (shoutout to my cover artist, l0cke!) and marketing, all spearheaded by the Sky Forest Press team. When the nerves and stress got to me, I found solace and camaraderie in the Dark Scribblers and Twitter’s writing community. We traded our stories, our hopes of success, and our fears of failure; all of us sharing one simple goal—to finally have our stories heard.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who supported this dream. I would never have made it without you.
Wolf Smoke is available for preorder.