Thursday, August 18, 2016

My Proudest Moment: #AKwritingChallenge Day 1

When I first read this topic I thought, "What in the world am I going to write about???" 

I was making it too hard. How typical of me.

I have had a lot of really proud moments in my life - but I decided to go with one that has to do with writing. Fitting, I think. Don't you? I'm glad we agree.

On July 22 of this year, I wrote a post for #LifeBooksWriting called My Publishing Journey. To get the whole story, you really should read that post, but I'm going to pull a little bit of what I wrote there and put it here.  

First, a little back story. 

I began writing my first novel somewhere between 1995 - 1998. I actually can't remember exactly when it was, (which is unusual for me - I'm kind of a freak when it comes to remembering dates) but I do know it was in that time frame. I had a strange dream - one of those dreams that happens right before you fully wake up in the morning. This fragmented, but very persistent dream became the seed that eventually grew into what is now The Color of Thunder.

It took a long time to get there, though. 

I stopped writing the book when my daughter was born in 1999, and didn't pick it up again until about 2011.

Excerpt from My Publishing Journey

I hadn't looked at it in years. When I re-read it, I realized it didn't even have an ending ... and, while I still absolutely loved the whole idea behind the story, I wasn't connecting with many of the character. I set about editing what was already written. I gave it to Steven who read pages and pages ... until he finally said, "This isn't working." I was not the writer I had been more than twelve years before when I'd started the book. I'd grown, gotten better. He said it was obvious which parts I'd changed and which parts I'd left alone. The solution? Start all over again. Take the same ideas but make it an entirely new book.

This was going to take some time.

The first thing I did to give myself a new start was to change the name. 2011 was the same year that E.L. James published her hugely successful book Fifty Shades of Gray. Not only were her story and mine complete and polar opposites, but I wanted an original title. I chose The Color of Thunder. You really have to read the book to understand why it's significant, but it really is. I'm glad I changed it. I like it even better than the original. 
I focused on the writing. I gave the book an ending and revamped everything from cover to cover. I also made the characters ones I fell in love with. Oh, how I love these characters. I poured every ounce of my heart and soul into this story ... and came up with something I am still incredibly proud of.

And in December 2012, it was published. I remember finally seeing the book for the first time. We lived in Germany. There had been a huge mix up with the APO address that went on for weeks, but I remember very clearly the day my proof finally arrived. 

This box traveled to several states and a few different countries before it finally got to me.

This was pretty amazing, but strangely, this is not what I really think of when it comes to recalling my proudest moment.

That came a couple weeks later when I received the big box of paperbacks and publicity materials at the Ramstein post office. I remember it was a bit wet out - drizzling, I think, - but I knew what the boxes contained, so I stood at the back of my car and opened them while they were in the trunk. When I finally saw all those shiny, purple covers, that's when I broke down into happy, emotional tears. It was finally real.

A kind man saw me crying and stepped up to ask me if I needed help. I looked at him with tears spilling out of my eyes and grinned like a maniac. There were probably a lot of things I could've said, but what came out of my mouth was, "Aren't they beautiful?"

The man, clearly convinced I was unhinged in some way, smiled and nodded. "Great title for a book," he said, before hurrying off to the safety of the post office.

As far as being an author, I'd have to say that this was my first proudest moment. I'm lucky that there have been others since then - and I'm fairly certain there will be more to come.