Writing The Stories

Sarah64Each book is unique, and each book has a unique road to publication…I’m learning. Once upon a time, I thought that authors just had to write and every writing experience would be the same. Not true. With Gladness was a surprise and far from my “normal” writing process. Read on to learn more about how this collection of Christmas stories was created.

Christmas Plays

For several years, my brothers and I performed Christmas plays for our parents. I was usually in charge of script writing and costumes. They created the sets in our living room, handled the lighting, and created special effects. (Yes, it really snowed on stage one year!) I kept the old scripts and had jotted down a few ideas that were turned down for performances but still had good storylines.

Patriot Dreams is a short story very loosely based on one of our plays. Unbroken Circle was from an idea that got rejected by “J&N Performers Co.”

Driving Home

One of my brothers joined the military this year. Driving home cross-country after watching him take the service oath, I needed something to think about rather than constantly remembering how different our family life was going to be.

Christmas stories. What if I made a book? It seemed like a good idea and kept my mind occupied for many hours. Then the decision…should I write and publish the book this year or wait a whole eighteen months for Christmas 2017?

Go for it! (Never mind that I had two more trips already filling the rest of my summer schedule.) It would be great to release a new book in 2016, and it would give me the opportunity to trial some new publishing systems that I’d been wanting to explore.

I made the decision on July 4, 2016. We got home, and I started drafting.

First Drafts…Slow Work

With my other summer travels and a new editing job, writing the first drafts was a slow process. And I kept scrapping ideas, re-writing, and re-working. I got tired and wanted to quit, but my mom had read some of the drafts. She said to keep going.

The final story was actually not the last in the book. I didn’t work in sequential order on this project. The last section in the drafting process was the World War II story. I had intended to take one of the old scripts from our childhood plays and rewrite it in prose format; unfortunately, I realized there were some flaws in the original plot and decided to scrap the Christmas battlefield story. In the end – after much internal debate – I decided to write something very close to my heart…the story of wondering and waiting. And so Stars In The Window was crafted, and the first drafts were finished.

The Editing Team

We had a smaller editing team this time (compared to Blue, Gray & Crimson), but the manuscript was also significantly. My mom, dad, and neighbor – Robert Rasband – helped with editing, proof-reading, and suggesting changes.

As always, editing is a challenging, frustrating, and delightful stage. (Nope – that doesn’t make sense unless you’ve actually done editing.) Eventually, we finished. I decided to “go for launch” and the next stage of the process of book-crafting began.

The Photography

I wanted something classy, very Christmas-y, and absolutely beautiful for the book cover. For years, I have loved the decorations at Colonial Williamsburg; I’ve tried to copy some of their wreaths and arrangements. And I have distant plans to spend part of the holiday season in Colonial Williamsburg some special year to enjoy the decorations, music, and experience of life in the colonial holiday season.

Ted and Cindy McCord – family friends – have visited Colonial Williamsburg in almost every season and don’t let me forget my plans to “go to town” for the holidays. Mrs. McCord is a wonderful photographer, and she allowed me to use one of photos of a Williamsburg wreath on the book cover. Doesn’t it make you want to travel too?

The Publisher

Yes, the book publisher is Gazette665. But this time, we did our own formatting. It was a great experience to trial a new system for publishing and find out about other options that are available as we expand our business and title selection.

I was so excited when the first boxes of books arrived. It’s still a long road to go with marketing, and I’m looking forward to holiday book signings. Can’t wait to share my Christmas writing with new audiences!

This isn’t the end of the story though. The book is available and the story will continue as you read the book and share feedback.