Being a self-published author is an interesting thing. There is a lot about the industry of storytelling to learn, it’s not enough to just write a book. However, there’s nothing like the School of Hard Knocks to get you that education. As they say, “Good judgement comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgement.”
When I released my first book I thought I knew a lot. I had a story I loved, it felt right, it read well. I’d edited it several times, than ran it through several beta readers, and edited it some more. Each revision polished it further and further until I had reached the limits of what I knew. Once there, I paid a professional copy editor to fix grammar and typos (she actually told me she was impressed, it was one of the cleanest manuscripts she’d ever seen). I then sent out ARC versions before official release, and received decent reviews.
Along with this I had a pressing need to get this first book out. I had started writing it a decade before and it was time to stop jumping from project to project and actually finish it. The time had come in my life to buckle down and focus, and something inside me pushed me, telling me that no matter what, I needed to have it out by the end of the year. So I did. I made my book as good as I knew how, and released it.
Hindsight being 20/20, I know now what drove me to finish it when I did. I didn’t know it at the time, but a personal loss had loomed before me, and I will be forever grateful that things went as they did at the time.
However, personal circumstances have no bearing on the Industry. The years that followed the release of my first book I delved deep into learning and improving my skills, both in the art of storytelling and in wordcraft. Significantly improved, I went through the process with my second book, and found still a steep learning curve as I received feedback from my beta readers. Again, I made it as good as i knew how, and sent it into the world.
And I continued to learn, and practice, and grow. As I prepared to finish writing the final book of the series, I went back to the first for a refresher and updating my in-world bio, and what I found amazed me. Suddenly, I felt that I understood everything everyone had been trying to tell me about writing and storytelling all this time. Suddenly, I knew what the difference was between my writing and those whom I love to read. And so I set everything aside to recraft my first book, and tell it the way it was meant to be told.
Or at least try to.
When I complete it, I will finish Miguel & Mariah book 3 and re-release the entire set, hopefully with all new & matching covers as well.
Here is a sample of what I am doing to Amaranth Dawn. I hope you enjoy!
Mariah was distracted, looking forlornly across Lake Maracaibo which glittered in the morning sunlight. So it was that, true to form, Elisa saw him first. Bethany nudged Mariah and pointed discreetly, drawing her eyes to the young man walking down the gangplank. He was well dressed, tall, dark, and walked with a sack thrown over his shoulder, looking merrily out at the world. The girls stifled giggles as they passed him and Mariah couldn’t help but notice his gaze following them as they walked by.
“Did we have to come this way?” Selena asked with a sigh as she picked her way through the muddy, busy street.
“There was no reason not to,” Bethany said with her usual conciliatory manner.
“Except that you thought it a bad idea,” Elisa pointed out. “And it would take longer, and—”
“Oh hush,” Bethany said to her sister. “I thought it might be nice, and Mariah wanted to come this way.”
“Nice,” Elisa muttered. “If you like the smell of fish guts.” She swung her skirt to the side at the last minute to avoid brushing against a fishmongers cart..
“You would think it’s nice, Elisa,” Mariah cut in, throwing her comment over her shoulder to her friends behind her. “We all know it’s your favorite perfume, but you could really learn to be more judicial about it.”
Selena laughed, and Mariah knew Bethany would be holding back her own laughter, but Mariah felt little joy in the barb. Elisa would fume about it for a while and then try to come up with some cutting retort. The girl was actually getting better at it.
While Mariah’s mind knew she should care—about something, anything—her soul simply didn’t. She walked on, ignoring the chatter of her friends, and made her way to the pier. The glitter of the sun on the waves was the only thing bright, all else was muted. Dull.
The three other girls milled around her for a minute, forced by Bethany to give her some time.
Elisa said something in a giggling whisper that Mariah didn’t care enough to hear, but Bethany nudged Mariah. Looking up, she saw her friend gesture discreetly to a young man walking down a nearby gangplank. He was well dressed, tall, dark, and walked with a rucksack thrown over his shoulder. He looked out at the world with his head high and a grin, as if expecting something wonderful. Mariah scowled. How could anyone be so cheery?
“Come on,” Mariah said, a moment of recklessness overcoming her apathy. Lifting her head, she led the girls deliberately toward him.
“What are you doing?” Bethany whispered urgently at Mariah as she took her arm, but fell into step beside her.
“Seeing if Elisa can catch herself another salty puppy,” Mariah said, just loud enough for the other two to hear. Elisa and Selena stifled giggles and Bethany tightened her grip on Mariah’s arm in disapproval as their small group passed the young sailor. Despite her efforts to not look at him, Mariah couldn’t help but notice that his gaze followed them.
One last one, because I think this is fun.
“I’d be delighted,” Mariah murmured, again looking at Miguel’s hands. She then found she couldn’t take any more and excused herself.
With as much dignity as she could muster she returned back into the house and when she was sure they couldn’t see her, she fled to her room.
“I’d be delighted,” Mariah murmured, again looking at Miguel’s hands. Thoughts of what those hands might feel like if she touched them invaded her mind, and unable to handle the turmoil inside any longer, Mariah excused herself.
The scrape of wood against the paving stones told her that Miguel had stood when she did, but she stubbornly refused to look toward him again. Keeping her eyes strictly on the door to the house, she walked with enough quiet dignity to have made Doña Olivia proud. She could feel him watching her, his gaze burning into her back as she walked away. The few strides to the door seemed to take an eternity, and the moment she was out of sight of the dining patio, she fled to her room.