As a general rule of thumb, I try to stay away from too many personal things here, but I realized something a few days ago and I thought it might be nice to share my thoughts on it. My first novel is a year old now. My baby is one, guys.
Awakening of the Queen was the product of years, and probably a dozen instances of giving up. I originally conceived of the idea of a princess and a mage saving the world at the tender age of ten after reading the Dragonlance Chronicles series. Big surprise, right? Anyway, I got to work right away. I ended up with eighty-plus handwritten pages and half a story, which sat neglected for years.
In my senior year in high school, we had to do a “Senior Project” in which we researched and demonstrated a skill that we could use in a future career. I decided to dust off the ancient half-written purple inked manuscript and redo it right. I used Dungeons and Dragons DM guides and lorebooks for the basis of the project, and talked about common tropes, popular fantasy races and monsters, and character archetypes. I wrote two chapters of my story, which was wildly different from Awakening of the Queen today. It was more romance and less dark. The princess was pretty useless and spent most of her time crying and hoping her mage boyfriend would save her. Gods, it was awful. (Up until a year ago, you could actually find it in the depths of Elfwood, if anyone remembers that site, but I deleted it as soon as I remembered it existed.) I got a B+ on it.
I redid it a few times, adding to it and rewriting it multiple times between the age of 20 and 25, but I was so concerned with handling life that my writing was just a distant memory. During that time, I grew up a lot. I learned a lot about myself and the world. So when I returned to my writing at the age of 26 as a way to cope with crippling depression and budding anxiety, I tore the whole thing to pieces, metaphorically at least. I wanted to do it right this time. I wanted to get it out in the world, any way I could. If I could just complete this one project, I knew I could do anything.
I told myself it had to be published when I was 27. I don’t know why, exactly. Twenty-seven just sounded like a magical number to me. If I couldn’t do it, I’d give up. So, for nearly two years I worked tirelessly, writing and editing, asking a dear friend to beta read it, editing again, and once more for good measure. I was riding a manic high the last six months before I published it, and I barely slept or ate, but it felt amazing. All my dreams were coming true, finally.
Which brings us to today.
It’s been just over a year since then. I’ve edited it again, and added a pretty cover with art by a friend, but it’s done. It’s been read, and digested by others. It’s been praised and even ripped apart by a grumpy old English teacher who never read fantasy. (Do I sound bitter? I don’t mean to, I actually thought it was quite funny because at the end he said that “magic flowed from my fingertips,” and that my book taught him a lot about magic and life.) Mostly, it’s been ignored, which is a bit disappointing, but ultimately, what I expected. After all, who takes a chance on a newbie self-pubbed author with no associations and no idea how to market, with the brazen audacity to charge $4.99 for an ebook? Not me.
Despite everything, I learned a lot about writing, formatting, editing, design, social media, and even marketing in the past year. I had several college courses teach me a bit more, and I learned some things from other authors’ blogs and social media. Overall, my results were pretty standard.
Currently, I’m working on the sequel to Awakening of the Queen, a book which delves deeper into the workings of the Mage’s Guild, High Council, and associated college. It follows Raine, Kirin, and Adrian mostly, and the consequences of their choices. I’m roughly four chapters in, and I have no determined release date, only that I want it out before my 30th birthday. If you’re wondering, I’m 28 now, and will be 29 in two months.
Reflecting on my first novel is strange. I’m incredibly proud of it, and proud of myself for committing to such a huge undertaking, but I can also see its flaws. Some parts bother me when I think about them, because they didn’t feel natural enough. They weren’t executed in the most effective manner, and I have spent a little time beating myself up over it, but I’m still happy with the outcome. If I had to do it all over again, I’d probably add a few things and change a few things, but it would probably be the same book, same characters, same plot. I’ve always been told to write the story I wanted to read, and that’s exactly what I did. I gave life to my characters, and even bared my soul a little, and that’s all I ever hoped for.
Until next time, stay safe, and keep dreaming.