Brook hopes you'll make yourself at home and read through her scrolls to learn more about her work as an author, her research, travels, thoughts, and adventures!"
Authors get asked so many different questions. But perhaps the one I'm most frequently asked is "How long did it take for you to write your book?"
The answer: "A long time."
What most people who are NOT authors don't realize is the the actual writing is only a fraction of the entire process. So, in this week's blog, I thought I'd briefly share the basic process of what's involved in creating a historical novel, independently.
First is the research. I am researching even when I'm writing. Sometimes I have to stop cold and fish out a book to look up facts. One nagging subject early on in Son of Rome was what Roman saddles were like. Believe it or not, some have been discovered by archaeologists and recreated. Roman saddles made up for their lack of stirrups by having four saddle horns. So regardless of whether a cavalryman looped his leg around one for balance on the fly or used them for hanging tack and saddlebags, they were obviously practical. But a well-researched novel stands alone, and as an author, that's my intent.
Writing the novel itself is a creative and fun task. However, we do it in multiple drafts. The first draft is always one that we look back and laugh at. Full of errors, too many words, scenes that don't tie in to each other, and holes in plot and character... I could go on and on. Yet a first draft is a vital skeleton upon which we go back to in the second draft, third, fourth... and so on, fleshing out, editing, and correcting. For people (like me!) who love writing, it's how I love to unwind after the workday. I write.
After the manuscript is as complete as possible, an in-depth developmental edit is essential to tightening the entire plot and solidifying each character. It's also a good way to get input on descriptive elements in scenes, along with dialogue. After a developmental edit, I rework the entire manuscript. Sometimes, this means cutting or adding an entire scene. Many authors find it painful, but for me, it's cathartic, because it makes the whole package more appealing to the reader. It's my favorite part of the entire book-writing process!
After that, comes a copy-edit. This is where an editor makes certain that every 't' is crossed, and every 'i' is dotted. It's where grammatical issues are cleared up and any clumsy phrases or inaccuracies in historical detail are corrected. Yes--a good copy-editor has to research too! My editor, Jenny Quinlan and I have discussed Latin word endings a great deal, trying to come up with ones that will serve my work the best, in context. She has also questioned me on Roman saddles, so it's a good thing I did my homework!
Now that I have a fantastic network of author-friends, I'm able to send my work to them to read as a "beta-reader". It is one of the professional favors we authors do for one another, since the more eyes that are on a manuscript, the better. Once I read and make decisions on their suggestions, I go ahead and send my work to my "advance readers" who will be the very first people to write reviews on Amazon for me.
Right now, Second in Command is in the final phase before publication: formatting. Formatting is when a manuscript is placed into the appearance it will have in either a print or e-book. I have to have both, since I sell both. Roseanna, my formatter, knows her stuff and adds elegant little details, such as the Greek meander pattern at the beginning of each of my chapters and the lovely rosettes readers see between each of my scenes. I might add that she also inserts the maps I have had designed especially for the book.
During a formatting, I'm required to proofread the entire manuscript. This enables me to catch computer glitches that have over-corrected paragraph placement, left out punctuation (always a scary thing to try to catch!!!), and even be sure there's no deleted text. (Yep, that's happened, too.) Because I'm an OCD perfectionist, this is the most stressful part of the entire process for me. However, I'm more than half way through the first proofing. There will be a second and possibly a third before October 25th's launch date.
So, there are only a few more weeks before Antonius: Second in Command will be available. I hope you join in the journey with me, because it's a real roller-coaster ride! If you've not yet read Antonius: Son of Rome, there is still time to do so before Second in Command's release. And I hope you'll consider subscribing to my web-page for updates and weekly blogs.
Lastly, I have great news, in case you haven't heard. A reviewer in England, Mary Anne Yarde of The Coffee Pot Book Club, awarded Antonius: Son of Rome a FIVE-STAR review! For an author, that's pretty awesome, and Mary was most gracious with her review. You can read it here:
The little world of Brook Allen--proofing my formatted print version of Second in Command.