Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Long Journey

How One Book Became an Epic Series: Part I

Nearly thirty years ago, I started writing a fantasy novel. My first version was about two hundred typed pages and I was convinced I'd created a good story.  I packed it up in an envelope and sent it off to a few publishers. Back then, that was the only option for getting a book out.

Now, I'd written it originally on steno pads by hand. Then I'd laboriously typed it up on an electric typewriter as computers were still in their infancy. Somewhere along the way, I did get some of it typed an printed on an IBM mainframe computer at school where I worked. The copy was a dot matrix version on rolls of computer paper. (Only you older readers will know what I mean, I fear.)

My queries to publishers didn't get very far and I still have several vanilla rejection letters lying around. They were form letters with nothing in them to encourage me.

I have a friend who is a professionally published writer and I showed him my manuscript. He liked the story and suggested it needed a rewrite. Soon, we were meeting several times a month, fleshing out characters, descriptions, and action to bring the skeleton of a tale I'd written to new life.

Over the next few years, I wrote and re-wrote, developing Kingdom Beyond the Rim into a full fledged epic fantasy of nearly a thousand double spaced typed pages. By then, the personal computer market had exploded and I had a PC and a laser printer at my disposal, so life and editing had taken a much better turn.

Off wen the manuscript in a cardboard box--still no digital submissions at that time--to potential publishers. Caught in the evil circle of:  "You need an agent to submit a book, but you can't get an agent unless you've published,"  the market was limited.  My book would vanish into the abyss of publisher slush piles for months on end, only to return to me without a dog ear or smudge on a single page. At that point, I surrendered. I still felt I had a book worthy of print, but without a way to get it published, things looked bleak.

Over the next few years. I found myself still writing. As a high school English teacher, I was always creating lessons, worksheets, stories, and all kinds of materials for my students. I used my fantasy character and setting to develop a writing site for my classes to use to learn how to write creatively themselves. Always, in some way or another, Jamus, my main character, and the world of Magiskeep just keep on living.

Then, through the pure fun of playing computer adventure games--most notably Sierra's Quest for Glory series, I joined an on-line message board, The Half-Wittenberg Door, and the Saga of Magiskeep was born anew. .

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