About twelve years ago, I took a year-long writing course called A Novel Approach. Over that year we were led through the process of writing a book. It was exhilarating, challenging, and sometimes downright gruelling when writing 3,000 words between classes, but I did it.
The book I produced was just okay, and using feedback from my instructor and beta readers, I rewrote it and then offered it to my adoring public, aka kind friends who supported me.
A couple of years later, needing a writing challenge, I pulled out my manuscript and rewrote it in an entirely different way. Feedback was warm, but I wasn’t bowled away by rave reviews.
Last fall, I retired from my job and decided to fill my newly-free time with writing my second novel. I built the frame, and partway through adding some muscles to those bones, I happened to dig back into my files and noticed the first book I’d written. Curious — and finding any excuse not to do the hard work of brand new writing — I read it.
Well, guess what? It wasn’t that bad, so I decided to go back to it. I reviewed it once, editing each paragraph, adding, deleting, tweaking descriptions and dialogues, and correcting typos. Then I went through it twice more. There was a lot more work to do.
Finally, I sent the manuscript to my beta readers, asking them to be brutal in their assessments, and I got terrific feedback. In addition to pointing out (more) typos, I got suggestions about continuity and places where readers questioned what was happening. Some asked for more information that would validate my protagonist’s decisions.
They also cheered me on:
“I started reading your book and thought I would read a little bit today and more tomorrow etc. Well, I could not put it down. I am already on page 78, and that’s with jotting down the odd notes. It is amazing! You do a great job of keeping the reader on the edge of their seat, taunting them with little snippets of information that will lead to an ominous-sounding ending.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Isla’s Chance”, and I honestly feel it measures up to other books of the same genre.
“Well, you sure are a writer! I truly enjoyed your story! Enough little twists and mysteries to keep me reading. Lots of lovely detail! I really liked how well you went from present to past. The lead-ins were very well done!”
“You dealt beautifully with a lot of challenging topics in the story … women’s limited options in the 50’s/60’s, unhappy marriages, treatment of and attitudes toward developmental disabilities, communicating with one’s children (when teen and adult), infertility, dealing with onset and progression of dementia … wow!”
So, I took the final list of suggestions and went back to editing. Again. Hours, and hours, and hours later, I had inserted, rewritten, tweaked and fixed it until I could no longer see the forest for the trees, and then I sent it to my most critical reader (my sister!) again. At last! A two-thumbs up.
Leaving nothing to chance, I reread the manuscript slowly and thoughtfully, still tweaking the occasional word and still finding the occasional typo.
Now I offer the book to you.
Check the tabs at the top of this page, and you’ll see that you can read an excerpt.
And if you like what you read, you can purchase an electronic copy, or an honest-to-goodness paperback book.
I’m nervous, and I’m excited. But, most of all, I hope you enjoy the ups and downs, twists and turns, that you will take if you read “Isla’s Chance”.