Once upon a time, I thought it would be easy to write a second novel. Here’s the “story behind the story” for Lighthouse Loyalty. I wanted to share a glimpse of the research, writing, editing, and publishing with you.
“Could You Write A Lighthouse Book?”
I was at a living history event and making arrangements to promote my first novel (Blue, Gray & Crimson) when I met Bob and Nancy Munson again. It had been several years since we had seen each other, but this wonderful couple had encouraged my adventures and teaching through living history. Pleased to meet again, we stood in the shade, chatting about history and work; eventually, I mentioned my writing.
Bob and Nancy were excited and asked if I would consider writing a historical fiction book about a family living at a lighthouse. I’d never thought of that, but by the end of our conversation, I saw an opportunity and started considering the possibilities. Bob had expressed he wanted to read a family-friendly lighthouse book that highlighted the courage, loneliness, dedication, and duty involved in mid-19th Century lightkeeping. It was a challenging and intriguing idea to me.
To The Lighthouse
The Munsons work and volunteer at a National Park that preserves a 19th Century lighthouse, and they invited my mom and I to explore the lighthouse. We spent a day touring the old structure, looking at artifacts, taking research photos, climbing to the watchroom and lantern, and then sitting in the library archive room to discuss historical settings and details for the story.
I went back to the lighthouse a few months later on my own. I wandered through the parts of the building that are open to the public, moving slowly and taking in all the little details and feelings. This particular lighthouse wasn’t the model for Herdmann Point Lighthouse in the story, but the opportunity to spend time in a lighthouse was a valuable resource to my planning and book plotting.
Lighthouses were a new interest for me. Sure, I liked them, but I didn’t know much about them until I started tackling this project. I spent months researching lighthouses across the country and then started narrowing the regional setting for the book, eventually settling on the Long Island Sound. Then I found floorplans for lighthouses in that area, studied the coastline, looked for details on the flora and fauna in the area.
However, it wasn’t just lighthouses; I read books and accounts of 19th Century whaling and details on Civil War maritime challenges, trying to get a complete picture of the maritime communities, people, places, and culture that would have influenced the fictional characters in the story.
Writing & Rewriting The Story
Autumn 2015. Just a couple months after the release of Blue, Gray & Crimson. I had stacks of research notes. I thought I had a decent conflict. So…it must be time to write the second book. I started. And then I got distracted by some real life situations and didn’t start writing again until spring 2016. By June 2016, I had a rough draft completed.
That summer I did some editing, let my mom read the draft, and got distracted again. (Ugh!) Well, I was writing, editing, and publishing With Gladness. More months went by without significant work on the manuscript. Thankfully, I worked with an amazing manuscript critique editor who asked the hard questions and made me re-work the entire book plot.
I made a writer’s retreat in March 2017 and wrote for twenty hours (straight), only taking breaks for power naps, stretching, and snacks. When I came home, I knew the story was significantly better. And serious editing began…
Twice (I’ll admit it), the manuscript almost landed in the trash bin. Thankfully, my ever-patient parents counseled taking a break and coming back to the work when I wasn’t so tired. I was blessed with a good editing and proofreading team too.
Book publishing has its challenges and triumphs.
One of the highlights was working with Cheryl Schoenberger to design cover art for the book cover. In December 2016, we completed a photo shoot with a young model and chose the picture inspiration and color palate for the artwork. Cheryl Schoenberger completed the oil painting, Hope’s Light, in Summer 2017.
There were some last minute corrections to ensure historical accuracy during the final stages before sending the manuscript for formatting. I was thankful to find the errors, but it was stressful to find them that late in the writing and publishing process.
Gazette665 is the book publisher and worked with a team of professionals for the book’s final cover design and interior layout. The book is set to release in October 2017.
So, there’s a little bit of the story behind Lighthouse Loyalty. I’ll be sharing more through up-coming blog posts or through presentations and book events.
This isn’t the end of the story though. The book is now available and the story will continue as you read the book and share feedback.