Beyond the Break began with the following question:

What if a heterosexual woman found herself suddenly falling for her female friend?

And then I wondered: What if she were married? Actually…what if they BOTH were married? And what if the reason she fell for her friend was that her friend was the first safe place she’d found since a terrible childhood trauma? And what if their relationship could unfold on its own terms, outside of the tidy check-this-or-this-or-this sexuality boxes we’ve drawn for ourselves?

And, okay, fine, I also asked: What if it could be a hot/sexy story, with no cringing away from the, ahem…details? 😉

And now, my questions are a NOVEL. Isn’t that insane? Beyond the Break is HERE. <<< No seriously, it’s literally right there. Like, if you click there, you can go buy Beyond the Break.

*****

People sometimes ask for advice on how to write a novel, as if it were possible to answer that question in a single conversation or via one text message reply. I mean, honestly, do you think I just sat down and wrote a book? Wait…ok, I guess I did literally sit down and write a book, but it was a tad more complicated than that.

I’ve only written one book (well, two, if you count the super rough one that is currently snarling like a caged demon in the bowels of my hard drive–and I don’t), so I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. But some of you have asked, so I will tell you my personal writing and self-publishing process, and who knows? Maybe it will inspire you to begin a novel-writing journey of your own.

How To Publish A Novel, In 53 Simple Steps:

  1. Set up a blog, and practice writing for 3 years. Ask for critiques, and pay attention when you get them. Cry over what a tremendous failure you are.
  2. Read fiction.
  3. Toy with the idea of writing a novel. Discard the idea, thinking you are for sure not good enough of a writer yet.
  4. Expand your writing horizons–begin publishing your work, for free, on sites larger than yours. Ask for critiques, and pay attention when you get them. Cry over what a tremendous failure you are.
  5. Read non-fiction.
  6. Toy with the idea of writing a novel. Discard the idea, thinking you are for sure not good enough of a writer yet.
  7. But since you can’t let go of the idea, subscribe to websites about novel writing.
  8. Submit to larger, more selective publications–publications that pay.
  9. Get turned down by those publications, and, instead of tossing your rejected work, pass it around to any writer friends you can find and ask them to tell you, being as brutally honest as possible (tell them you have no feelings) why they think the work was rejected. When they are honest with you, cry, but don’t tell them you cried.
  10. Learn from the critiques. Not everyone’s criticism will be worthy of taking to heart, but you can learn from bad criticism as well as good. Pay attention.
  11. Read the news. (Cry.)
  12. The writer friends who offer the best critiques? Keep them close. Critique them in return. Hand them your soul on a tarnished silver platter, again and again and again.
  13. Subscribe to websites about how to be a better writer in terms of grammar and mechanics.
  14. When your work begins to be accepted at larger publications, compare it to the work that was rejected. Ask yourself: What is the difference between the two?
  15. Toy with the idea of writing a novel. Discard the idea, thinking you are for sure not good enough of a writer yet.
  16. But you still can’t let go of the dream. Subscribe to more websites about novel writing.
  17. Read poetry.
  18. Keep writing.
  19. Keep writing.
  20. Keep writing.
  21. Listen to music–with words and without–and pay attention to the crescendos and diminuendos, the expositions, developments, climaxes, and resolutions. Music is writing, too.
  22. Get hit with an idea that makes you want to claw your fucking skin off. Talk to a friend about it. The friend tells you if you don’t start your damn novel, they’ll punch you in the face.
  23. Read books about how to write.
  24. (You should have been reading fiction this whole time, becoming slower and slower with your reading because now you’re analyzing sentence structure, syntax, rhythm, plot points, character development.)
  25. Keep writing.
  26. Keep writing.
  27. Keep writing.
  28. Dream about your characters. Jot shit down on post-it notes and leave them all over the house. Carry notebooks but forget about them and instead dictate ideas into your phone, you modern writer, you.
  29. Start writing your novel. You still don’t think you’re good enough, but if you don’t start it, you will literally claw your skin off.
  30. Give up. This is so hard. You can’t do it. You’re too slow, and you lack tenacity and skill. Cry.
  31. Write other things.
  32. Read every fucking thing you can. When you love something, ask yourself why you love it. When you hate something, ask yourself why you hate it. When you are bored by something, ask yourself why you are bored by it.
  33. Thanks to encouragement from your best writer friends, resume work on your novel.
  34. Finish your first draft. Start crying because you cannot believe you WROTE A FUCKING BOOK. Go out to dinner to celebrate.
  35. Send your first draft to your writer friend. When they send back edits for the first chapter, realize your rough draft was TOO rough to let anyone else see it just yet. Cry so hard that when your husband comes home from work, he sees your swollen, tear-stained face and immediately assumes there has been a death in the family.
  36. Take a couple of weeks to regather yourself.
  37. Begin work on the book again. Edit each chapter meticulously now, sending only one chapter at a time to your critique partner, and only for developmental edits, NOT LINE EDITS, since any more than that would probably kill you.
  38. Edit per critique partner’s recommendations, though you don’t take every single recommendation, because you are becoming more sure of yourself as a writer, more confident in your vision for the novel.
  39. Send 3rd draft to critique partner for line edits (you are also line editing their book, because that’s how this shit works.)
  40. Edit per critique partner’s line editing recommendations, though you don’t take every single recommendation, because you are becoming more sure of yourself as a writer, more confident in your vision for the novel.
  41. Send 4th draft to 5 other trusted writer friends (by now you have a fairly decent-sized network) with a list of questions to assist them in offering a well-rounded critique.
  42. Edit per writer friends’ recommendations, though you don’t take every single recommendation, because you are becoming more sure of yourself as a writer, more confident in your vision for the novel.
  43. Send 5th draft to a professional editor, because you’re fucking serious now. Pony up the cash.
  44. Edit per pro editor’s line editing recommendations, taking most of their recommendations, because they’re a pro and that’s what you fucking paid them for. But still, you don’t take every single recommendation.
  45. Send 6th draft to beta readers, asking them to keep an eye out for typos. They find about 60. Feel stupid.
  46. Hire a cover designer.
  47. Fix typos, edit a little more, send to formatter. Formatter finds about 60 more typos. Feel relieved, because thank god those typos won’t be in the book.
  48. Did I mention that all this time you’ve been growing your social media platform and learning how to self-publish and market a book?
  49. And that you’ve still been writing for other publications?
  50. And reading?
  51. Upload your book to all the correct places, and make sure to have a panic attack every time you encounter a technical challenge.
  52. Receive the proof copy of your book in the mail. Cry, and post pictures of it on social media.

    Beyond the Break
    *crying hysterically*
  53. Launch your book. Yeah. That’s right. You can buy Beyond the Break now. 🙂

*****

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3 Comments

  1. Bought it! Congratulations on all your hard work. Can I feel proud of you even though I don’t know you? 😊

  2. Well written. Very funny. You have a way with words. I have a book completed, done the readers circle thing. About 10 drafts. Got so far, so bloody far and then just gave up because my partner wouldnt read it (no time he says) and I had 2 children and am on the third. No one to kick my butt for finishing a 130,000 word novel and not putting it up on Amazon yet!!! All it needs is the last typo check and the Amazon margin requirements. I havent touched it for about 5 years. Someone kick me up the butt please? (be gentle though;) ! Life really did get in the way. No loving spouse to be able to dedicate my book to – you know how it goes: This book wouldnt exist if it werent for my patient loving husband/wife (who read the book). Well my partner wasnt paitent, didnt read it and the book doesnt exist, except on my hardrive:( So be gentle with that kick in the butt!!

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