My children’s fantasy novel came as quite a surprise to me, having been more interested in writing and reading crime and thrillers. It was born in Maine, home of my hero Stephen King, in Dysarts Truck Stop.
My ex-husband and I went to live in Prince Edward Island, Canada, for a while, where he worked for a trucking company. I went out on the road with him as he could be gone for as long as eight days and he needed the company, (looking after). It was a really great experience. We travelled from the Island to many places in America and Canada. As far south as North Carolina, and west to Ontario and north to Quebec, Brrrr!
The most thrilling sight for me, was seeing the Amish in Pennsylvania. They stood by the side of the road complete with long hair and beards, black clothes and straw hats, men that is, no women about. We even saw them in their horse drawn buggies.
So, back to my children’s book and the truck stop. I… had a dream… I did honest, and when I woke up I wrote as much as I could remember. I then began to start writing a few ideas in my notebook and transferring them to my laptop when we stopped. Before I knew it, I had a 16,000 word story that was growing fast and almost completely out of my control. The characters had taken over! This was a first for me, I had read that it can happen in Stephen Kings, On Writing, (a very amusing and informative must read for aspiring writers), but thus far it hadn’t happened to me. Things happened I didn’t plan. It was a very weird but satisfying feeling.
I finished writing the last few pages in England, a complete 45,000 word children’s story. I did leave it alone to ‘prove’ for a while whilst I carried on with other work. When I did read through it again, it was so weird. ‘Did I write this?’ I couldn’t remember writing much of it. Such a strange experience. I then did what I considered to be a thorough redraft. Then sent it out to various agents and a couple of publishers, with a firm ‘No’, response from all.
The one good thing that came out of it was a referral to YouWriteOn.Com from Chicken House. I didn’t look at their website straight away, more’s the pity, as I was wallowing in self pity about my poor rejected baby. It was a couple of months later that I was going through my little pile of rejects that I read the letter from Chicken House again, and thought I’d take a look at YWO. That was a big turning point in my writing career. Lottie – my pet name for Keeper of the Enchanted Pool– was praised, ripped to shreds, criticised, lambasted in every way and loved. It was a metamorphic journey that has turned my very rough draft into what I, and many other think, is a lovely book for children.
But for the help of all the reviewers on YouWriteOn.com, my book would probably still be ‘unpublishable rubbish’, as one unsolicited reviewer told me at the start.
Yes, it was hard work getting the textblock and cover ready to send to the printer. I learned many new things, postscript files, pre-flight checks, distilling etc. Using my printer, Lightning Source’s template for my book cover. It’s a wonder I had any hair left! But, although I didn’t get much sleep and my nerves went through the grinder, I can actually say that I loved every minute of it.
My daughter, Emma Hogan, BA, did a sterling job on a picture for the cover for me. It was as much stress for her, too, as she knows how important the cover is.
Keeper of the Enchanted Pool is published by Arts Council sponsored YouWriteOn.com and Legend Press.