Thursday, May 9, 2019

New Book Blooms in May

As we are well into spring in most parts of the United States and Canada, our thoughts turn to gardens and lawns and flowers that bloom in May. I remember early May was the time for me to plant pansies for my mother as a Mother's Day present.
Photo by Maryann Miller
She loved those little "people" flowers with the smile she always saw in them. The smile that would elicit one from her, even during the most difficult times of our lives. And there were plenty of difficult times.

It was an annual event - this gifting of pansies - and the flower soon became a binding force between us and my sister. Today, as we look ahead to Mother's Day - our 5th without her - my sister and I will think of pansies and cardinals - the two things from nature that Mother most loved - and that will bring us comfort.

For many years, I wanted to write a book about my mother, who came out of a horrible childhood and challenging adulthood to become one of the strongest women I've ever known. Mainly because when she was left as a woman alone to raise two young daughters, she didn't ever give up on us. Even though she was less than an ideal mother, she didn't go the route her own mother had.

I tried many times to start that book about my mother. First thinking biography - but then who would read it? She wasn't a famous person, so reader interest would be limited. Then I tried approaching the story as straight fiction, but no matter how many times I tried to start the book, I could never get past about twenty handwritten pages - all starting with different scenarios and characters and none of them working past those twenty pages.

I don't know what the problem was, but that stalemate between desire and writer continued for a long time.

Then one day it changed. It was a few months after my mother died, and my muse, or my mother's ghost, started talking to me. I mean really talking and pushing me to my office and my computer. Maybe the story had to wait until then to take shape. I don't know. I just know that the words started flowing and the book developed as a story of real life - part fact and part fiction.

Evelyn Evolving will release as an e-book on May 19th from Creativia Publishing and has been available for pre-order at Amazon for a couple of weeks. The paperback edition is available now.  It has flirted with a #number one new release designation in several categories off and on in the weeks it became available for pre-order, and I am thrilled. As writers, we love all of our books. That's natural. But sometimes there's one that is closer to our heart than others. Evelyn Evolving is that book for me, which is why I didn't give up on the writing this time, even when I wasn't sure what I was doing.

So what's the take-away from all this for other writers - other than the opportunity to pre-order a terrific story at a discount price? :-) There are a few things I've learned in this process that might be of help to you:

  • First, never give up on a story that you know you have to write. Even if it takes years to come to fruition.
  • Don't be afraid to step out of your writing comfort zone. I'd never written a book in the style of Evelyn Evolving and I was terrified through much of the process. "Do Not Be Afraid."
  • Seek professional help when needed. About half-way through the initial writing, I was lost. I doubted whether the writing was any good and was worried that I was fooling myself about whether this book should be written at all. That's when I hired Kathryn Craft, a writer, developmental editor, and former BRP contributor. Even with the professional-courtesy discount, the fees were hefty, especially since I went back to her twice, but I'm glad I did. 
  • Invest in yourself and your books, especially when self-publishing. I didn't self-publish Evelyn Evolving but had I, I would have gone beyond that first step of hiring Kathryn.  I would've hired a copy editor. There are many good ones right here at BRP. Same for a cover artist and someone to format the book.
  • Spend whatever time it takes to write and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until you have the best story possible. When trying a new genre, that is especially important.
So what about you? Have you written out of your comfort zone? Do you feel like a new part of your creativity is blooming when you do? 
Maryann Miller - novelist, editor and sometimes actress. She won her first writing award at age twelve with a short story in the Detroit News Scholastic Writing Awards Contest and continues to garner recognition for her short stories, books, and screenplays. You can find out more about Maryann, her books, and her editing services on her Website and her Amazon Author Pageread her Blogand follow her on Facebook and TwitterHer online workshop on self-editing, part of a series of online writing workshops from Short And Helpful, can be found HERE

9 comments :

  1. Congratulations on the completion and publication of your book, Maryann! It pays to hang in there, no matter how long it takes.

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    1. Thanks Patricia. I'm glad I did hang in there with this one. It took 40 years believe it or not. Not that I focused on the writing every day for those 40years. LOL There were other books to be written. Kids to raise. And other things that sidetracked me. But every few years I'd run across the notebook I'd started working the story in and add something to it.

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  2. Congratulations, Maryann. What an exciting achievement!

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  3. Thanks, Elle. This is a most exciting time for me, even after writing so many other books. This one feels like the first. LOL

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  4. This is so exciting, Maryann. I can hardly wait to read it. And yes, I have written outside my comfort zone. It's a challenging, sometimes painful process; but sometimes stories need to be told. You've obviously done that, which is a major accomplishment. Congratulations! :-)

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    1. Thanks, Linda. You are right about some stories just needing to be told. I am so glad that this one finally got there. :-)

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  5. This sounds great, Maryann. Just ordered the book and look forward to reading it. I've always wanted to insert my mother into a book, but I've never had the story in which to do it. Maybe one day the muse will hit me over the head.

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  6. Polly, thanks a bunch for ordering the book, and I hope you like the story. My mother's life had enough drama and plot twists that the story was there, I just had to learn how to write that kind of real-life story and make it work.

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  7. I have been challenged several times to write out of my comfort zone. MY comfort zone is autobiographical, memoirs, poetry and devotionals. I have been involved in two or three writing challenges within my writing groups that were focused on fiction writing. Scary as heck. I didn't think I could. But it has become a passion now. I have 3 new novels ready for editing. And probably at least that that I am working on. Now...I just have to get past that lump in my chest/throat and submit.

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