Friday, 29 August 2014

Sundry Digressions and a Publication Dance!

“The irony of human life is that our very desire results in suffering.”
::: Judith Simner-Brown
Dakini's Warm Breath

I know, I know! Where have I been? As my blog title suggests, I was absent and juggling all those jellyfish, sundogs, and the sundry digressions of the writing life. Yes, for months on end. 

My failure to write monthly blog posts wasn't so much a conscious decision as it was the side of effect of focus on practical projects that drained energy from  more fun and creative ones.

It all started during the winter holidays, when life slows down and is more  focused upon family and friends. In January, I began revamping my PhD thesis proposal and investigating more international programs after 2013 was a bust in that department because I hadn't located a matching supervisor. So that saga continues. This year I'm fortunate that two programs have offered me a place, one that hasn't offered a scholarship and the other whose scholarship award decisions won't be made until later this fall. And there are more apps in progress, and one in particular is truly exciting. Fingers crossed!

Because a non-proft website I worked for shut down last fall, I took on more editing, proofreading, and indy book publishing work, which keeps me on a tight, deadline-chasing schedule with little room for my own projects. That is, until this spring when I decided to self-publish my first novel, nearly lost and forgotten in the mysterious binary depths of my computer.

The novel began as a flash story after a particularly poignant dream in 1999 that eventually became a scene in the last chapter. I joined a novel critique group a few years later, and after running some of my short stories by the group members - you know who you are - I decided the story needed to be told as a novel. Actually, I read the story at an open mic at the Hassayampa Writers Institute at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona  in August 1999, and writers who liked it told me the story was too big for its britches. So the critique group became my writing laboratory and I proceeded to make every newbie writer's mistake in the book. It took about four years to write and present all 33 chapters and the epilogue and prologue to the group twice as I also revised and polished, until some of my colleagues finally confided that they were tired of reading it. I switched back to sharing short stories and essays and children's stories and let the novel languish in my computer until the winter holidays in 2009, while I was working on my MA in Creative Writing at the University of Aberystwyth, Wales. 

The long, dark UK winter nights were perfect for deep thought and revision, and so I converted the novel from its original rotating 1st person POV to a 3rd person POV. Afterward, it went back into mothballs because I felt there were still too many problems to make it publishable even though the story stood out with greater clarity.

To make a long story short, the novel still has its drawbacks. I became tired of the story, unable or unwilling to  care about fixing every little flaw, but when I next read through it in 2013 and chatted with a cover artist, mulling over the possibility of self-publishing, I figured it might just work. I started another round of editing but other work took over and back went the manuscript to lurk in the dark corners of My Documents. 

Something niggled at me in 2014. I suppose the fact that as an editor, I've worked on dozens of books for both conventionally published and indy authors and this  spurred me to think, why not? It was time to take the plunge. And so, armed with renewed energy and some trepidation, I began the long process of the final editing and formatting for self-publication. 

Most of us writers aren't our own best editors and I'm no exception. I don't always spot my own errors and idiosyncrasies, especially in a long novel-length format. It's rather like writing a collection of 35 short stories that must flow, one into another, like clockwork. Or if not clockwork, in some seamless puzzle piece fashion that reveals scenes and keeps readers turning pages. 

I hoped to find lots of beta readers, but alas, most of my friends are artists and writers who push tokeep up with their own work.  And so some helped me here and there with bits and pieces and I'm grateful for those, because pointing out flaws in one area can apply to many. Armed with my years of experience editing for others, a text on editing for fiction writers, and several helpful blog pages about self-editing, I combed through the manuscript one more time. So I thought. But ended up reading again and again and again, until I could almost recite the entire novel from memory. 

I had a false start with the first unfinished book cover, which I loved but didn't feel quite right, and the interior formatting tailored to it had to be changed to match my second and  final cover. There were all the usual headbanging glitches with computers, with the tiny little imperfections that you strain to see but miss, and even with the weird stuff that happens to the manuscript during revisions because of general book fatigue. (I'll tell you a secret - I know of at least one little formatting error in the front matter of my print book after weeks of perfecting the final manuscript, but I challenge you to find it!)  

I removed reams of words - about 15k, all told, and many hundreds more words and phrases changed and rearranged. I feel exhausted now just writing about it. The times that I've written something that flows from the pen or keyboard to the page in nearly perfect form have been very few, and I treasure that  free-flying, channeled prose experience.

So, after fifteen years of fooling around with this project and many rejections from agents and publishers (no surprise, a typical initiation for any novelist - and a disclaimer that I haven't tried to submit to any agent or publisher since about 2008), I proudly - and with a some trepidation! - announce the publication of Heart of Desire: 11.11.11 Redux.

Back when the dream morphed into a story idea and the idea began to morph into a short story and then into the novel, I had ideas for a sequel and a prequel. But I became so exhausted with the main production and the time it swallowed that I never started these. Oh, those sundry digressions of the writing life again! I moved on, writing many essays, stories, and my MA novella that is yearning for an addition to make it a full novel. And helped to birth dozens of novels, essays, short stories and even some textbooks and academic books as either the copy editor or proofreader on publishing house projects.

 Anyway, if there's enough interest in Heart of Desire, I'll do my best to write the sequel, which I've given the working title of The Fifth Revolution.  And I'm crossing my fingers that it doesn't take me fifteen years this time! 

Heart of Desire is available in print and Kindle e-book at Amazon US in all e-formats at Smashwords, and at iTunes  for Mac and iOS device. You can read the prologue at my Web site, or a longer sample  the prologue and five chapters - at Smashwords or my Goodreads page.


Interview: Kate Robinson -  Pekoe Blaze 

Presenting Kate Robinson, Dreamer of Dreams - Kev's Blog
Kate Robinson, Author of Heart of Desire - The Thursday Interview