My Novel Went to the Publisher Today

Canadian Thanksgiving – today is the day I sent my novel, disappearing in plain sight to the publisher. I loaded it up to my author account page with FriesenPress , and bob’s your uncle as the saying goes – away it went. That last moment, before I pressed start upload was filled with an almost indescribable feeling of fear and anxiety – I felt as though I was putting my one-year-old granddaughter down on the divider of a major freeway and walking away without a backward glance.

Today was the culmination of years of work. I first began this novel in June of 2009. I had never intended to write a novel – I was supposed to be writing my PhD candidacy papers. I had two months to accomplish this task. I came to the cabin with several boxes of printed articles and research material so I could do just that.

Then this story started to build itself inside me. I don’t know how else to describe what happened. A character appeared here, a scene constructed itself there, a bit of dialogue between characters hammered itself together – I started to hear these people talking in my head as I walked the trails around the cabin. It wasn’t something I could ignore, so I started to write everything down. It was like an avalanche – it was like being in the grip of a really bad flu – the kind where no matter what you should be doing all you can do is moan with your head over the toilet. OK – the imagery of me vomiting up my novel is not what I wanted to convey – but I couldn’t stop the story from spinning out in my head and I couldn’t stop dutifully taking it down.

Then life happened (a wedding, a trip, a long drawn out death in the family) and when I finally came back to the writing work, the trail of both the novel and the candidacy papers was about as cold as any pieces of writing could go. Nary had a crumb been left anywhere to mark the way.

I struggled to get on with the PhD in the face of mounting extensions and totally justified supervisor frustration. An ultimate reassessment of what I wanted to do with my life resulted in withdrawal from the doctoral program.  We celebrated the decision with a driving trip down and around Northern California and that’s when all the ideas for The Jennerville Women’s Chamber of Commerce started bubbling up. I became enthusiastic about writing again and spent a big chunk of time outlining Jennerville. But disappearing in plain sight stayed in the drawer.

More life was happening – another year going by. I did take the notes for Jennerville and disappearing in plain sight out now and then and fiddle with bits and pieces of them – nothing sustained and nothing serious. When I remember back to that time, I think that I was waiting for something to happen. I needed a kick-start to give myself permission to be a writer. The details of that would make a good post, too – but another day – OK?

In the fall of 2011 all the stars and the planets aligned themselves correctly. I opened the file folder – clicked on disappearing in plain sight and got to work. Several drafts later and it was April of this year and I thought, at long last, the damn book was done. Oh, silly, silly me. I sent it out to be read by a few people I trust and I got some nice comments – people liked the story but there were issues. A crash course in the mechanics of writing was needed and some serious structural problems had to be addressed. Well – I got myself a superb editor who was willing to baby me through a line by line copy-edit of the entire manuscript, taking the time to teach me as we went. I tackled the structural issues. It was painful and I let go of pieces of the story that had been there since the very first draft. And today I got my reward! Today I got to turn my  novel over to the world.

I feel as though I am standing on the peak of a very high mountain. I’m going to savour the moment because I know I only need to turn around to see that there are many, many more mountains to climb – some much higher than the one I have attained. But that’s OK – one step at a time.

Today I am grateful for all the people in my life that helped me get to this mountain top – if you’re reading this blog, you know who you are. What the heck? I’ve got to get the rest of you reading my blog!



My Self-Publishing Decision

The act of beginning to write, trying to say anything of importance, as T.S. Eliot (1990) so aptly describes, feels to be “a raid on the inarticulate, with shabby equipment always deteriorating” (p. 203) and yet somehow I have forged on.

Yesterday I finished rewrites on Disappearing in Plain Sight and today I printed out yet another hard copy, which I have vowed to leave in pristine shape. I don’t want to restructure or rewrite anymore. Ya right – good luck with that one. I know I still have grammar edits to do and typos and unclear or overly run-on sentences to correct – I’ll work on those things with my copy editor, but when it comes to restructuring, moving pieces around, etc. etc. – no more – please. It felt positively traumatic to pull the whole thing apart and then carefully stitch it back together again – necessary, but painful.

I have decided to go with FriesenPress  ( ) for my adventure in self-publishing. A few things swayed me in their direction – some the result of solid research and reflection and some not. They are able to offer everything I want out of this self-publishing experience in one place, working with one person to overview the entire process. To me this means (and I sure hope it works out this way) that I will be able to establish a relationship with, what they call, my author account manager who is dedicated to the task of coordinating every aspect of my book project – and that is a direct quote!

I was also swayed by the personal touch – when I first filled out the author information form, on their website, in order to download their author’s guide, I was required to give my phone number.  Within a day I received a personal phone call. A follow-up call came after a few weeks and finally I was offered a number of extra services on top of the package I had already been leaning toward, for no extra cost.

FriesenPress also offers me distribution and marketing assistance. Going piecemeal about e-publishing, getting a book cover design, getting the manuscript formatted into print-on-demand shape, would have cost less for sure – but there would have been no help with marketing.

When I was teetering on the fence, I happened to check out their blog ( ) and I was very impressed – informative blog posts, a series of podcasts, and a great feel to the whole site. And finally – my non-researched swaying point – my mother’s maiden name was Friesen. I know even letting something like that enter into one’s consideration when making such an important choice is silly but still . . . remember my blog – My mother was a real writer ( – what can I say? FriesenPress it is!

Feel the fear and do it anyway!

Eliot,T.S. (1990). T.S. Eliot: Collected poems 1909-1962. London: Faber and Faber.