When I made the decision to write a book out of my family history research, I literally had no idea what I was doing. Not about writing fiction, not about Victorian-era England, nothing. All I knew was that I had a story that I wanted to tell.
Since then, it’s been a slow process but gradually the book I originally outlined to be nineteen chapters grew … and grew. Initially, I’d worried that it wouldn’t stretch to a hundred pages, but with time it took on a life of it’s own. By 2015, I had a full-length trilogy on my hands, but still something wasn’t right. Part Two was too long. I would have to trim the word count when I edited it.
Despite this, I thought my writing was coming along fine. I’d done the best with it that I could and a few family members and friends had said it was good. Surely all I needed now was some line editing and proofreading. It’s funny how many times I’ve been wrong as I’ve gone through this process!
I now shudder to think what would have become of the series had I not used an editor. Suffice to say, it took me about six months to rewrite the book based on her comments and to get to the stage where I was confident enough to submit it to a second editor. This time when it came back, the comments were much more manageable and I published Part 1 of The Ambition & Destiny Series: Hooks & Eyes, in March 2017.
My initial plan was to release one book every six months or so, but it wasn’t long before those plans went out the window as well. When you are writing a series, especially if you have cliffhangers (which I do), you can’t leave readers waiting that long. Thankfully the rest of the books were already written, they just needed editing … didn’t they?
No, they didn’t. Because of everything I’d learned from my first editor, I realised two things:
1) My early drafts were lacking a lot of things like descriptions of settings, and emotions. That meant when I came to edit them, the books would increase in size rather than decrease.
2) The unedited books were terrible! Not the story, that was fine, but my style of writing seriously needed to up its game. I didn’t need an editor to tell me that.
I was going to have to rewrite both books before I could send them to an editor. No mean feat when you now want to publish the rest of the series at three monthly intervals!
The biggest problem was Part Two. At this rate, it was going to rival War and Peace for length and so I made a decision. I needed to split it in half. My trilogy would be no more, and instead, it would be a four-part series. I was relieved when I made the decision because the change meant that editing Part Two would be much more manageable than it would have been otherwise (because it was approximately half the length of the original Part Two).
So, how did it go? Well, as Part Four of The Ambition & Destiny Series, Only One Winner, is ready for publication on 13th March, almost a year to the day after Hooks & Eyes, I can say I did it (yay!) … but I’m exhausted! I feel as if I’ve done nothing but writing and editing for the last twelve months.
But that’s not the end of it. When I originally wrote the first four books, I ended with an epilogue and a summary (intended for family members only) of what happened to the characters after the end of the story. I can’t remember exactly when I made the decision, but at some point, I realised that the summary should be part of the series.
As a result, I am writing this post in a break from writing Part Five of the series. I had hoped to have the first draft finished by now, but as with everything I write, it’s ended up being longer than I hoped. It’s already as long as the previous books, but I still have another six years to cover. I’ll deal with that in the editing! Having said that, it will be one book (that’s my accountability), and it won’t go beyond the year 1911.
So, am I glad I turned my family history into a novel? Absolutely. I have no regrets about writing the books. They have brought my ancestors to life in a way that I couldn’t have imagined from the dry documents of family history research. Having said that, there are things I would do differently. By publishing Hooks & Eyes when I did, I put myself under a huge amount of pressure with the subsequent books in the series. Next time, if there is a next time, I’ll try to pace myself a bit better rather than leaving all the pacing for the storyline of the book!
Only One Winner: Part 4 of The Ambition & Destiny Series will be released on 13th March 2018 and will be at the introductory price of 99c / 99p until Wednesday 14th March.
To celebrate the launch, Part 1 of the series: Hooks & Eyes will be available as a FREE download from 12-16th March.
All books in the series can be read for FREE in Kindle Unlimited and a FREE copy of the short story prequel, Condemned by Fate is available from my website. The fifth and final part of the story should be ready for July 2018.
Why not grab your copies today!