So, when I was in my early twenties, I wrote a short story. It was awful. I concluded that, in order to write fiction, you had to have an inborn talent, one which I didn’t have.
I tried again when I was about thirty. I wrote a fictionalized account of a coming-of-age anecdote my grandmother shared with me. It was no better than my first attempt, and it finalized my acceptance of the fact that I had no ability to write fiction. I didn’t try again. Until I reached my sixties.
While doing some historical and genealogical research, I learned some things that demanded to be told. And I thought they should be told as fiction, because too many folks aren’t interested in reading history, but they will read entertaining fiction. I knew I had no ability to write it, though, so I tried to convince others to write it. No one would.
I wanted to forget about it, but the story burned in me. So I started trying to write it, with the same pitiful results I’d always had when I turned my hand to fiction. But this time, I didn’t quit trying. I couldn’t quit trying. The story wouldn’t let me.
I found out about an online writing class offered by our local junior college, and I decided to sign up. I would learn enough to write the story, or I’d fail, but either way, I’d give the story a chance to be told. Through that course, I learned of other fiction resources, and I began writing High on a Mountain.
About the time I completed those two classes, I retired and began writing full time. Six weeks later, the manuscript was finished. Or so I thought. (I’d never heard the term “rough draft” nor the concept of doing a “rewrite.” I had typed “The End,” so, in my estimation, my story was done). I did realize that it probably wasn’t the best it could be, so I paid an editor to polish it for me. (I didn’t know it was too rough to apply the polish at that point.)
The next month, I joined ChristianWriters.com, learned about NaNoWriMo and signed up. And when NaNo started two weeks later, I wrote my second novel, ...and night falls. It was during NaNo that I discovered how to let a story flow instead of trying to hammer it out and construct it, as I’d done with High on a Mountain.
A few months after that first NaNo, I attended a nearby writer’s conference and made pitches for High on a Mountain to two editors and two agents. All four requested sample chapters. I realize now, it was the unique storyline and my zeal for it that piqued their interest. But when they saw the writing, well, what happened next was inevitable...rejection, rejection, rejection.
Since that time, I’ve studied, researched, and learned more about the writing process. And I’ve rewritten, edited and tweaked the manuscript countless times (while, at the same time, writing three other novels). And I’ve gotten good rejections on my other novels: “It’s a well-written, intense story, and it will be published. Unfortunately, we can’t publish it because it doesn’t fit our guidelines.”
As I continued to learn about writing, I also researched various aspects of the publishing industry. I encountered one piece of information that gave me pause: it generally takes at least ten years for a writer to be accepted and published. I realized that at my age, I may not have ten years left for the waiting process.
So I decided to take matters into my own hands (as has been my habit in other areas of my life). I learned all I could about self-publishing, learned the pitfalls to avoid, and last February, I published my first NaNovel, ...and night falls, through Amazon’s CreateSpace.
It was a positive experience for me. I loved knowing that folks enjoyed reading what I’d written. I published my other two NaNovels, Scribbles and On Berryhill Road, then followed with Tugger’s Down several months later.
And in March, I finally ushered High on a Mountain into print.
Folks ask my advice about self-publishing, and I have to say, it isn’t for everyone. You must be a self-starter, ready to do whatever is required to promote your book. You must be proficient in English grammar, spelling and punctuation, or be ready to pay a professional editor to polish your manuscript.
You also must have the skills necessary to design both the cover and the interior layout, or be ready to pay to have those things done for you. I’m very blessed in that I’d worked in the field of graphic design. I enjoyed the cover creation, interior design and typesetting for each of my books.
But what I enjoy most is hearing from readers who’ve enjoyed my stories...NOW, while I’m still around to know about it.
Find out more about Tommie Lyn at the following locations: