The Birth of a Book

Do you have the desire to tell a story? The story of your life, another person’s story, or just one that lives in your imagination. Well, desire is all it takes. Too many people think because they don’t have a degree, aren’t good with grammar or spelling, that they can’t write. I’m here to tell you that isn’t so or I wouldn’t have been able to put the first word on paper. English was my worst subject in school, and I have a degree in homemaking and doing hair. Furthest thing from a degree in writing. I’ve always loved the art of story-telling and had a love for words.

I had a client who wrote short stories for a magazine. When she came to get her hair done, she would share with me what she was working on. Many times she’d ask me which way I thought the story should go. I gave her my opinion and sometimes she’d take it. She invited me to a writer’s club that she belonged to. From going to that group, I started Edge of Heaven. I never intended to write a book. My intentions were to put together the memories of my grandmother, Lucy Davenport Carpenter, and the way life was for my family living in the Great Smokey Mountains for my children. I developed myself a formula. I wrote in scenes and tried to keep three scenes to a chapter. Of course the scenes in the chapter needed to relate to each other. If I wrote a scene that came to me and it didn’t fit where I was working, I’d save it and insert it when I felt the timing was right. The hardest part was keeping a time-line. That is making sure the story was happening in sequence. That is still hard for me. When I read Dan Brown’s writing, I’m amazed at how quick his events happen. You would think you were in a time travel book, but it works for him. That is the catch. You have to find what works for you and do it.

Edge was finished at three O’clock in the morning at the same friend’s house. She said we’re not stopping until this story is finished. I’d write and she’d critique. About three hundred and seventy-five words later than when I first put ‘Lucy Davenport’s pa reached for the last corn fritter’, till I wrote the last words, ‘for this is home’, I knew I had a book. It had been a journey and I might say a hard one but a good one, also.

It took me two years to make the trip but now the real work was starting and that was to find a publisher. After several queries to big publishers, I was told that this might sell to a regional press. I queried Bright Mountain Press in Asheville, North Carolina and was told that if I knew my grandmother well enough to know this was her story they would be willing to publish it. I responded that I’d been raised in the same household with her. That satisfied their requirements, and we were off to publishing. Of course, I had no idea what was to follow. There was lots of editing. Luckily, not much to change in the storyline. The editor had me soften the dialect which made it much easier to read. At first, I wasn’t comfortable with the changes but realized that I needed to listen because she knew what would sell.

The final thrill came when she called me and told me what day Thompson Shore Press would be printing the book. Thompson Shore was in Ann Harbor Michigan and since we lived it Flint it was easy to make the trip down and watch it come off the press. I got to hold the first copy in my hands. That was when I knew I had the ‘Fever’. Writing was in my blood. Good or bad, that was what I was created for. So if you have that little nudging down deep in your soul, get busy and put something on paper. Don’t worry that it’s not perfect. It can be fixed. Just write your heart out and you’ll have a story. Good Luck and God bless you in your journey.