I always say you can’t really set out to write a certain kind of story. You have to write organically, let the story go where it feels like it should, and then try and figure out where it fits when you’re finished. That’s probably terrible advice. But for me, it works. You can’t force it, you know? Be true to your story, without trying to make it fit. It’ll be better for it in the end, I think.
This is how my first novel was written. I didn’t set out to write an LDS novel. I wrote the story that was in my head and in my heart. Only then, when the story was finished, did I worry about where my novel was going to fit. The House at Rose Creek is a conversion story. It isn’t overtly Mormon and has been enjoyed by many that aren’t members of the LDS Church, (or so say a few random reviews and many friends and family members) but there was enough in the book specific to the faith that I knew it’s best chances of getting published were with one of the independent publishers based in Utah, that specialize in LDS Fiction.
After revising and polishing and revising and polishing, and then revising and polishing one more time, (a lengthy and grueling process that involved removing 7,432 ellipses, fixing 451 run-on sentences and trashing 3,149 ridiculous lines of dialogue… I’m probably exaggerating. A little. Or maybe not at all.) I took a deep breath, did a little dance, and submitted my manuscript via electronic submission to Covenant Communications.
And then, the waiting. OH THE WAITING. I didn’t write much while I waited. I probably should have. But I think a part of me was waiting for validation. Writing is a lot of work! If I wasn’t any good at it, why put forth all that effort to write more books? (I’m not saying this wasn’t dumb. Don’t do this! If you love writing, WRITE! If you aren’t good enough, keep writing and get good enough!) I was also busy doing other things. Having babies. Taking care of 4, then 5 kids. Month after month passed by and I just. kept. waiting.
I submitted my manuscript in October of 2009. 18 months later, in March of 2011, I received an email from my would-be editor that said Covenant wanted to publish my book. The wait was worth it! After all those months of neurotic email checking, hand wringing, and hopeful dreaming, it was happening! IN 18 MORE MONTHS! Heh. More waiting.
I was given a tentative 2013 release date and was encouraged to keep writing, stay in touch, and let my editor know if I ever had any questions. So I did. I waited. I wrote my second novel. I had a sixth baby. And THEN! THEN!! In February of 2013, I got an email from my editor. It was time to start working on the book! She sent me my first round of edits which of course made me die a little on the inside and then I got right to work fixing and polishing. (And to think I thought it was ready when I first submitted.) Two more times we went back and forth, looking things over until finally, everything felt ready.
In March I saw my cover design for the first time and was given my official title, The House at Rose Creek. (My working title was Hearts of the Fathers, which wasn’t up to snuff according to the marketing/design people over at Covenant. I think they were right. I love the official title.)
In April, I was given final proofs… no big changes, I was told. Just the big stuff. Misspelled words. Grammatical errors. Of course, that didn’t keep me from begging and pleading with my editor to make ahem, several other changes as well. But this one scene was just. so. cheesy. I couldn’t leave it in. (My editor is awesome. She took it out. )
THEN… Big long drumroll… In July, the book was released! From start to finish, writing the book, waiting for acceptance, then waiting for release after acceptance, the process took 4 1/2 years. Long time, huh? The good news is subsequent books won’t ever take that long. My second novel was accepted in just under three months, and was given a release date just over a year out. So that’s a bright spot in the process… you only have to wade through the slush pile once!
I’m sure every author’s experience is unique, but from what I’ve gathered from fellow authors, my process is pretty typical for publishing within the LDS market. Because it’s a small, niche market, publishers allow you to query them directly, without representation by an agent, so in many ways the process is simpler than publishing nationally. I have thoughts on publishing with and without an agent, but I’ll save them for another blog post. (Soon!)
If you’d like to read more about my road to publication as it happened, you can read these posts here:
On My (Pre-published) Writing
Book Year is Here!
Book Progress (A Title!) And Other Details of Life
The House at Rose Creek