When I wrote my first book, “Shoot the Wounded” I had no idea about editing, publishing, book signing, book talks, book reviews or marketing. Basically I sat down at my computer and typed out what I thought was a good story and then life got in the way and well…I sort of forgot about it…for ten years! I suppose I had a good excuse for leaving the little gem all tucked away on my computer’s hard drive for so long: I battled breast cancer, I went back to school to get my Master’s degree, I was working at my church part-time on staff as Children’s Minister, and my oldest daughter got married…
It sort of seems weird seeing ten years of my life encapsulated like that but as they say, “That’s the facts, Jack!”
One day I was going through my “old” files on my computer and something beckoned me to reread the “Shoot the Wounded” manuscript that I had haphazardly written ten years previously. At the same time I could almost hear a voice telling me to “Finish this!”
The feeling nagged at me for several weeks and finally I called an author friend of mine to see if she would meet me for lunch. While we chatted over our noodle bowls at a local chinese food restaurant, I grilled Connie about the “publishing biz”. Connie is a renowned author and a gifted speaker and I have valued her friendship and mentorship for years. She said, “Writing a book is relatively an easy thing, it’s getting the word out there and promoting it afterwards that takes the time and effort.” Then she proceeded to scare the living daylights out of me when she suggested I think about going on a speaking tour with her after my book was published. (Read my blog entry entitled “I have a domain” for more details about my fear of speaking in public)….needless to say I am still “thinking”, Connie!
Anyway, our conversation rallied me into taking some action, so I started “fine tuning” my manuscript and I asked my daughter, Laurelle to start proof reading the book. I don’t know how other authors handle it but I don’t much like criticism. I’m a people pleaser. I remembered Connie saying during our lunch conversation that book reviewers can “make or break” a book. Knowing that, I was very trepidatious about what Laurelle’s reaction to reading the book would be. “She’s my daughter!” I thought. “She won’t trash it, she’ll be encouraging because she loves me!” So after sending her the sixth chapter, I finally mustered up the courage to call her on the phone and ask, “What do you think of the story so far?”
I could tell by the long silence that she was choosing her words carefully…she was probably thinking that her inheritance was on the line here!
Now I know what a balloon feels like it when it loses air and makes that sputtering “phthlutzzzz” sound as it spins around the room and then plops onto the floor deflated and useless. Luckily she collected herself in time to realize that her name being struck from my will was a distinct possibility so she sputtered out quick encouragement that gushed panic. The damage had been done.
For weeks I left the manuscript alone. I fretted and moped about the house, indecision getting the better of me. My confidence in myself and in the book had been shattered. In fairness to Laurelle, she continued to diligently proof read the manuscript and even though her comments were more and more encouraging as she continued to read, I refused to believe her sincerity. Finally my dear, sweet husband came home with a bouquet of flowers and a card that read: “Lynn, sometimes the most special thing about a card is the person who receives it.” Love, Charles and he wrote: “Let’s publish your book!!”
Charles had never even read one word of my manuscript but that didn’t matter…regardless of my “okay” writing he believed in me! If it had not been for his encouragement at just the right time, “Shoot the Wounded” would still be a word document filed somewhere on my computer and nothing more.
I literally (haha) attacked the manuscript with rewrites and more rewrites. Then I summoned up the courage to send it to Word Alive Press and their professional editor attacked the manuscript with bold red lines and strike outs. When he trashed my second chapter the first time saying it was “tedious and painful to read”, I didn’t crumble as I thought I might. I rewrote it until I not only got “thumbs up” from the publisher but also from Laurelle, who continued to proof read for me.
Since “Shoot the Wounded” has been published, I have been humbled by the rave reviews and the accolades the book has received. Connie, bless her heart, brings copies of the book with her on her speaking engagements to give away. I have author friends and fellow bloggers who are “fans” and help promote the book. Sales of the book are going well. Truly, I am at times overwhelmed by it all! I’m learning all about editing, publishing, book signing, book talks, book reviews and marketing, and I’m even learning to take criticism better. I’m still a rookie but God continues to direct my path and He has opened doors in ministry for me as a result of my becoming a “published author”.
I am working on the sequel to the book, “Heal the Wounded” and I can’t wait to send it off first to Laurelle to have her proof read it. I’m actually looking forward to her initial review. I’ve discovered through this whole process that of all the people who read my books, I value her opinion and criticism most of all. Her comments have made me a better writer. I went from writing just “okay” stories, to writing stories worthy of her praise. What a blessing! oh…and she’s still in the Will so it’s all good!