Friday, July 12, 2013

Self-Publishing Under Protest

It's been over four months since I last posted. During that time, I produced a lot of paintings, but that particular calling is losing its urgency, and I'm slipping back into writing mode with a vengeance.

There are a few queries out there, and I pop them off on a whim when I spy a new agent, or one who's just moved house. In fact, I'm now dealing with an English agent for Place of Dreams, and as soon as I can afford to do an actual print run of all my  manuscripts, I'll be going the snail-mail route with other English agents. Those sweet, eccentric Brits. I can say that, because I am one...although Canada and Australia have smoothed out most of the quirkiness.

In the meantime, I wanted to tell you about the book I initially called "Strachan's Attic", but which is now renamed, simply, "The Attic". (It's odd, but I see no other current book for sale with that title.)



I wrote this novel for a family member, Pat, who lived through the strange, somewhat surreal years of World War II in England. She was a very young, barely out of high school, truck driver in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, and I grew up hearing of her exploits - many of them funny, considering the circumstances - and conjuring up the images she described. Wartime is unlike ordinary life, of course, and we can feel some of that when we watch the nightly news, trying (if we have the slightest trace of empathy) to imagine how people keep their sanity through all they experience.

Even when I was very small, I always knew I would be a writer. I seem to have been born able to read, although that's impossible, but I certainly don't recall the first time I read something, so I must have been very young. My mother constantly bought books for me, and I still remember the thrill of opening up a new one. Along with a set of paints, and a coloring book, this was all I ever wanted as gifts. Nothing much has changed, except I no longer use coloring books.  Needless to say, in the back of my young mind, I longed to put the wartime stories down on paper. Undoubtedly, being so young when I first heard them from my mother or other family members, or directly from the long-retired WAAF herself, they made a deep impact.

And finally I wrote Pat's book. Although much of it is highly-fictionalized, it is as realistic, as hard-hitting, as faithfully recorded as I could manage. It is, ultimately, a love story. There were so many of those; senses are heightened and emotions are enhanced in a war zone. I believe I have captured this. Pat read the manuscript and loved it, but I so wanted to give her an actual book, tangible proof that her life had such a huge influence on me.

So, my friends, hold your breath...I am self-publishing it. In fact, it's all ready to go.

I've regularly more or less scorned the idea of what I saw as vanity press, but in this case, it's necessary. My WAAF is no longer young. And nor am I, for that matter. It's time to do this now.

I haven't decided whether or not to make the book available to the public. I need to consider this carefully. The book was written for her, but the few people who have read it - family, friends, a couple of writing buddies online - all enjoyed it, so it's reasonable to assume that others would too, although I'm also realistic enough to acknowledge that my MS readers would have resisted being unkind..

Perhaps I'll run through the process of self-publishing in another blog. For now, I'm too much of a novice to speak about it with any authority. But the book looks really good, and I believe I can do no more with it. If I do make it available for sale, I'll need to research the promotional side of it, I suppose. But then I never expected to reap a financial reward from it. All I ever wanted to do was see my sister's face when she held the book in her hands.

Yes, my WAAF is my sister.


2 comments:

Melissa Marsh said...

I think it is a lovely idea to get it published for your sister. And as someone who has read this book, I would love to be able to tell my other WW2-writing friends/readers about it because it is SUCH a wonderful story. I STILL think about it, Fran, and how well done it was. If you do decide to make it available to the world, I will spread the word!

Fran Caldwell said...

Melissa, my best reader! What a wonderful offer. I believe I'm going to make it public, but I have to be brave to push that particular button. Will let you know...well, I guess I'll just blog it. Thank you so much.