I started writing to get ideas out of my head and onto paper to stop the clutter. Up until 2018, I only wrote for my personal enjoyment. It eased the chaos of incoherent ideas from jumbling around my head, to fully realized stories. In 2018, my path changed as I became more confident and considered allowing people to read my story. It's a scary thing to be a writer and have people read something that's been in your head for so long. Will people like it? Will they hate it? What will they think about my writing or characters? Will they harshly criticize it. I came to realize, that as long as I liked the story, someone out there would like it too. And that, for me, is the most important thing about writing. Sharing the story is so important because if you don't share it, how can somebody else appreciate the world you've created? As long as one person likes the story, that is a success.
So, in 2018, I began looking into Canadian publishing companies.
I knew I wanted to self publish, as that gave me creative control to choose what I wanted for my book. I designed my cover page (Thank goodness for an amazing friend who's a fabulous artist [Rebecca Romphf]), I got to decide on the things I wished to keep in my story, and still had the knowledgeable editors and publishers to assist in bringing The Egyptian Heir to life. I've been told anyone can self publish, and it's true. I fully support anyone who's wanting to get out there through any type of publishing style. One thing I learned through this process though, is you have to put the work in more than traditional publishing. You've got to talk to people and network as much as possible. I do not regret my decision on self publishing. The Egyptian Heir became real exactly how I wanted it to be. My hunt for the right publisher was short, yet, it took me until August 2020 to finally pull the trigger.
I was financially ready for it, I had the support of my husband and family, and I was ready to see this through. Little did I know, I was already a month pregnant with my first child and I was going to begin another journey unlike anything I was prepared for!
My husband and I were ecstatic. We were ready for this big change! My pregnancy went without a hitch. I was lucky to have an uneventful one. I respect anyone who has endured some of the worst morning sickness (or any pregnancy related health issues) of their lives! I couldn't imagine.
The Egyptian Heir's first real steps of publishing began in March, in the last month of the pregnancy. Friesen Press has a nice system for payment plans, which is why I began the journey in August, but truly began the process in March. This was the easiest time throughout the whole process. I had started maternity leave a month early so I wouldn't be waddling around at work. I was big, had a sore hip (the baby's head rested on my pelvic bone and remained there from month 6 to birth), and from a previous injury my right shoulder was hurting. It was time to rest before the newest adventure started. The hard work was starting, though, with the arrival of the suggestions portion of publishing. I was able to decide what I wanted to keep or change based on these suggestions. I spent many hours in this last month of calm pouring through what was necessary to change and important to keep.
My beautiful daughter was born April, 2021. Though there were a few scary moments (an issue with the umbilical cord had caused her heart rate to drop drastically whenever I tried to push, and a potential heart problem at the time of her birth [this has since been resolved]) she is a healthy and happy baby who loves snuggles.
Many new parents understand the trials that arrive with a baby. I was sleep deprived, learning to understand what cries meant, and trying to figure out how to keep this little human alive! All of this, combined with midnight editing sessions, made for an interesting six months.
I am fortunate to have my husband there to keep me sane, but also help with the baby as much as he did. In two hour spurts (which was her feeding schedule, literally, on the dot), he walked around and played with her, as I hunkered down to edit, and struggled to stay awake. The baby would be in the bassinet beside me, I would be swaying her and editing at midnight. I must admit, sleep deprivation makes some strange sentence constructs.
Four months of several editing sessions and design decisions produced my novel that I never thought would look so good!
Now, I am published, and my little girl is 8 months old. It has become easier to focus on 'book stuff'. We cuddle and I can finish writing the rest of this trilogy, as well as work on my other books. As I write this, she is sleeping beside me, wanting nothing more than to snuggle and keep warm (Saskatchewan winters, am I right?). It's been a wild journey becoming a mother and fully realized author all within a single year. Though it's been tough and a change in pace, I wouldn't change how we got here for anything! I'm glad I chose to continue with publishing. I know, if I had waited again, it may have never happened.
Do you find it strange that an author was at one time unable to read or write? It is strange to think back to a past me that once looked at letters on a page and just couldn't fathom being able to read that 200 page novel, or write that simple essay for my grade 7 teacher. It's amazing how I struggled so much, and yet, now I find myself enjoying the charm of writing a simple, yet, beautiful sentence. By no means am I a genius with words, and I for sure still struggle with grammatical correctness (I wish to believe that I am not alone in this), but I can find tranquility by writing my ideas on paper.
Reading never came easily for me. It was frustrating and more of a burden than anything. I would do everything I could to avoid reading to prevent my classmates, family, and teachers from finding out that I just... couldn't. I almost failed a couple of grades because of my poor English skills (along with math, though, that continues to be a problem). I vividly remember a time when I was in the older grades, when we would read to our younger student 'buddy', and as we sat in the hallway near the exit doors, all I wanted to do was run away through those doors because I was slow and struggled with the words. My 'buddy' mocked me and asked why I wasn't able to read out loud properly?
I went through speech therapy, my parents got me the Phonics game, and I had a psychologist speak with me. No matter what I tried, I looked at the words on a page, and nothing clicked. Yet, my imagination soared. All of these ideas swirled around in my mind, only needing a way to escape and be put onto paper. So, at 13, that is what I did. I put pen to paper and started to write The Egyptian Heir, and Cassandra Waters entered my life.
I had no intent to go any further than this one short story, but, as I wrote about the magnificent strength of this teenage girl who had to overcome her many personal problems, about a boy who turned from being this awful bully to her protector, and some chilling criminals, I learned that I actually enjoyed writing. My reading skills increased significantly. I was able to complete and truly enjoy the Harry Potter series, the Shadow Children series, and the Inheritance series. My family was amazed as I wouldn't be seen for hours because I was in my room reading or writing. Now, I have my first novel published, with two more to come in this trilogy, and many more stories that I can't wait to share.
Writing has brought me into the magnificent worlds of other authors and I've been able to create my own worlds that I'm finally comfortable enough to share with you. If I can offer any encouragement to my fellow readers by explaining this struggle in my life, it would be that I hope that someone will finally do what they love because everyone deserves to be happy. Who knows, maybe, one day, that will become your passion and way of life. You may struggle and it may be hard, but trust me, it is definitely worth it.
Let your imagination soar, and never be scared to take that leap.