Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Beauty of Well-Told Stories

My husband and I recently had the chance to attend the Salt Lake City Comic Con (I'll probably tell more stories about that later), and we got to talking about why we enjoyed the stories we did, the shows we did, and the books we did.

A lot of it has to do with the beauty of a well-told story. There is so much darkness in the world right now, and it's really comforting to hide in a book where there is darkness, yes, but there is so much more hope and a way to fight your way out of that darkness.

In the shows we all love, no matter how dark things get for our heroes, the message we take out of that darkness is not that the world is awful but that the world can be overcome. The world can be great.

Free will can triumph over manipulation.

Human beings have an amazing capacity for love and curiosity.

Friendship can transcend boundaries of race, species, or whatever else.

A good friend can change your life.

Different people can come together to change the world.

No matter how broken you are, you can still be a hero.

There is always a better way than the easy way.

What's on your outside doesn't matter.

Your strength is not weakness just because other people think it is.

You are a hero whether or not the world sees it.

You are a hero even if the world calls you a villain for standing up for your beliefs.

Basically, there is definitely still a place in this world for the so-called "younger" books. Where else would we learn to rise above everything?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Print Version of Birthright Unknown

To celebrate my turning in the files for the print version of Birthright Unknown (which means, hopefully, that I'll be able to hold a copy in my hands soon), I thought I'd tell the story of how this book came to be.

It was my senior year of high school. I'd been doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for a while now, and this would be my third year doing it. I sat down and hammered out a pretty little story about a fairy with a destiny and a prophecy and a lot of the pat things you see in fantasy. It was 100,000 words long, and I was proud of that word count, but I wasn't too proud of the manuscript.

For one thing, it was pretty rushed. I'd finished it literally in the last hours of November, and I'd done the majority of it in the car ride to and from Michigan, where we had Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle and their family who lived up that way. It was a nice, long stretch of time to get writing done, but of course, it was only a few days. I basically had to get the last 50,000 words written in the last week of November.

For another thing, I knew that I was playing too hard to stereotypes. I knew that this book would need some major reworking before I really liked it.

So I was content to let it sit in a corner.

But then I was also marketing Lady Thief to different publishers, and my seminary teacher, Sister Erni, saw how hard I was working at my writing. She didn't know I was a writer, and she innocently asked for something that she could read of mine.

I didn't want to give her Lady Thief because I was doing some reworking after a rejection letter, and so I decided instead to give herBirthright Unknown, with the disclaimer, of course, that this was just a rough draft and had been written in one month flat, so she should not expect too much out of it.

For the next month and a half, Sister Erni would find me before or after seminary and tell me how much she was enjoying the book. She told me about different scenes that she liked and characters that really struck her. By the time she finished the book, she had convinced me that this book was actually worth a shot.

So I sat down and started the long, arduous rewriting process. I was rejected by all sorts of publishers, including the one I currently work for, and I was starting to think my initial reaction was right and that this story wasn't really worth all the time I was putting into it.

But my sister read it and loved it and said it made her cry, so I figured someone might enjoy it. But I decided I'd try an experiment with this one, since really the whole book was one long experiment in whether or not I could get it done.

I tried self-publishing.

I figured that was the way to go, and I'd heard lots of success stories about it. So why not go for it?

And then I started working for a book publisher, and I learned how to do interior design. And I started thinking: I bet I can design the inside of my book to look professional. And then I can get it printed.

So I started working on that several months ago, and in my spare time, I've been cleaning it up. Now, finally, I've finished in InDesign, and I think it's ready to go.

And now that I've spent more time with it, now that I've pruned and polished and gleaned, I love it.