My apologies for not having posted personally for a long while. Honestly, my day job keeps me incredibly busy and when I'm also trying to fit in real life--cleaning house, yardwork, cooking meals, trying to exercise, BLOGGING--all the while working 40+ hours a week and writing. Time spent at my happy place (see photo below right) has been precious and SCARCE this past year.
So where AM I right now with my next novel?
I'm in a good place. Last October, after a second developmental edit, I was really ready to pull out my hair. I'd hit a wall--the first time I've ever done so with a novel.
When I was working on the Antonius Trilogy, there was a plethora of information, ancient sources, and site visits for an entire series on Marc Antony. However, Julia Hancock has been much more challenging. She has but one likeness--a lovely portrait. We know scant little about her personally, except for William Clark's letters, her own correspondence to her brother, a few inventories and a recipe. . . We know where she was raised, and that resource has been available to me and invaluable. But we know so little about her tastes; what she loved doing on Sundays, her favorite hairstyles, much less any core-beliefs. Her homes in St. Louis are all destroyed, except for an old black/white photo in the 1850's or 60's of a house reputed to have been the first rental she, William Clark, and Meriwether Lewis lived in for a short time after her arrival there. Despite the enormous research I've done, books read, and visits made both locally and clear to the Rocky Mountains in Idaho, it's been excruciatingly difficult to create a compelling story about Julia herself.
Enter my genre: Historical Fiction.
Inside the St. Louis Missouri Historical Society Library and Research Center
It took my editor, Jenny Q to remind me that I do write FICTION. Yes, it's all BASED on history, but if I am able to create plausibility within a fictional plot, then that's okay.
So since October, I followed Jenny Q's advice (because she really is good at what she does!) and I did a complete RE-write of the entire work. Yes, folks. I re-wrote the ENTIRE THING, adding more conflict, more angst, and hopefully a more powerful storyline that will grip readers.
My manuscript has JUST returned from Jenny Q's capable hands and tomorrow morning, she and I will meet via phone call to discuss it and plan revisions. You know, when you select and work with an editor, it's all about trust. Writing is so subjective. Never will a novel that I write ring favorable for every single reader. However, my job is to try to take an editor's advice and turn a "draft" into a book that you readers will love as much as you did the Antonius Trilogy.
Or more, even.
The next question I'm usually asked is: When do you think it will be published?
The answer? I don't know.
Once I get my revisions done, per my conversation with Jenny Q tomorrow, then it'll be time for a copyedit. Fortunately, I'm already scheduled for one in July, so that shouldn't take long to get done. However, I plan to query agents again after that, and querying takes a ridiculous amount of time. If I haven't heard anything promising within about six months, then I'll probably plan on publishing independently as I did with the Antonius Trilogy.
The St. Louis Arch and river bank very near where the Clarks' second rental house once stood.
I really didn't think the process of writing this book would take as long as it has. For that, I apologize to my readers, and for those of you waiting patiently--THANK YOU!
There have been so many folks already who have given helping hands with this one. I've been working with archivists in St. Louis, an interpreter in North Dakota, and even a Native American linguist who's proficient in the ancient Mandan tongue. Four Beta readers have already read the draft before I sent it to Jenny Q. On my end, there have been few dull moments with this project, and I have loved every minute, despite the frustrations of re-plotting, adding, cutting, and re-thinking the entire story, all the while working full-time.
It's said that "patience is golden", so if you readers will continue to be patient with me as I work through the process, then I shall be diligent on my end to produce a memorable and poignant story that is as much about the United States' early growing pains as it is about Julia Hancock Clark and her hero-explorers.
Read ON, everybody!!!