Friday, April 3, 2020

Birthing a Book

Yep- here's the book cover again.
Year of Genesis: Timeline to publishing

I have often compared writing a book to having a baby. There are aches and pains and lets downs and you feel like it just takes forever. But I think that most mothers, like writers, will tell you that once it has been done and you see the fruits of your labor out into the world, you sort of forget how hard it is when you get the notion to have another.

The Truth about Night was one of these stories I couldn't shake and Merci Lanard was one of these characters that just wouldn't go away. I had to get this book out of my head. It just took WAY longer that I wanted it to. Like an elephant's pregnancy, it just went on forever.

As I mentioned in last months post, Merci Lanard came to me fully formed as I was writing CLAWS AND EFFECT, the second book in the DIARIES trilogy. I wrote that book at a breakneck speed on contract in 2010. So Merci and I met in 2010.

In case your life has been as stressful as mine, let me remind you that it is March of 2020.

I've officially known Merci Lanard for ten years.

Ten years.

Just let that sink in really quick.

According to my word document files, the very first Merci narration was around August 2012. I think I remember taking a few of her scenes to a critique group to test it out. It took me a long time to write the first draft of this one. I wasn't sure if it was a romance or a mystery. But I kept hacking away at it on weekends and after work until I had a final draft (saved as TruthAboutNight-FINAL.doc in Sept 2015). I still laugh at how hopeful and naive I was, labeling it FINAL. 

I started submitting versions of The Truth about Night to editors and agents that I met at conferences. And I got some really good feedback on it. Or at least it looks like I got some feedback on it, because I kept producing new versions:
Version 2
Version 3
Version 4
Version 5
Version 6 - Last saved on March 2017.

What is particularly strange about this narrative is that I was also working on a Women's Fiction book at that same time. That WF book got me my agent. The two of us starting working on edits and revisions for The Evil Ex's Bake Club all the way until November of 2018 when we decided to shelve it. Then I wrote another WF and we shelved that. But that is another story that should be told at another time.

My agent asked me if I had anything else that we could work on and I confessed that I had this strange paranormal mystery. She said that she'd like to see it.

I finished our first round of revisions on it in April 2018.
And another in May.
And another in June.

I will always not need a
pic of James Mcavoy
Version Ten is when she felt comfortable shopping it around and the feedback from the industry was split. It was either too mystery and they wanted me to dial back on that and focus on the hot-and-bothery love interest. Or it was too much romance and they wanted me to turn down the sexy and amp up on the mystery and horror aspects. Yep. Welcome to the subjectiveness that is publishing.

And we tried. I kept hacking and switching and baiting and growing, but it never was right. Like trying to put peanut butter on top of your sandwich. The parts were there, but in the wrong order to fit what other people wanted.

After some true soul searching and market research and a bunch of conversations with my agent, she finally asked. "Which one is the story that you want to tell?"

I answered honestly. "The first one that I wrote, back in 2012. The one about the fierce journalist just trying to figure out who killed her partner. The one with the swoon-worthy literature professor. The one with the gore." All three were such strong tenants to the book, that without them, it all fell apart. Without every single one, it wasn't the story I wanted to tell.

So in Oct 2019, we decided to independently publish The Truth About Night. Version Thirteen.

It took ten years to get this book into the world, but I am proud of it, even the few grammatical errors I have found, because it is mine.

She is my baby.


Amanda Arista
Author, Diaries of an Urban Panther & The Merci Lanard Files

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