Child of Fire: A Writing Journey From Word One to Holding the Book for the First Time
I just wanted to write down my experience publishing Child of Fire. To be honest, it didn’t feel real until I held a copy of the book in my hands. Ever since I was six years old, I wanted to write and publish a book. That dream has become such a large part of who I have become. Over the years, I made progress, but it never seemed like it would actually happen. Although there is a lot I want to do, and so much more progress to be made, I am extremely happy to have reached this major milestone.
It’s strange to hold a book in your hands that wasn’t written by another Author. I own several hundred books, and reading has been a huge part of my life since I was young. You can’t understand this feeling until you experience it. I knew that it would be a cool experience, and it is so much better than I ever dreamed it would be.
I want to take time to thank Robert Smith for his help and influence over the years. Honestly, without him and his advice, I wouldn’t be holding a copy of Child of Fire today. Or if I was, it would certainly be a different book.
Here is the story of how this book came to be.
The Vomit Draft
The original manuscript, approx. 30,000 words, was written late 2017. Although if anyone were to read it, it wouldn’t be very good, I saw something in the story and the potential of the characters. However, in this version of the story, something wasn’t right. Instead of taking place in Kings Keep, it took place in a small village. The character who would eventually become Caden was named James, and he could use more than just pyromancy.
A few of my friends read the story and gave me positive feedback, helping me understand what was interesting about the story and what wasn’t.
I’m not sure when or where I heard the term “Vomit Draft” but I do know that the name stuck with me. The name represents the idea that the first draft of any story is like the author is vomiting out their ideas onto the page and that the result is kinda gross and messy. But, once everything is spewed out, it can be revised. As Obert Sky, author of Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo stated “Revision is Magic” (Here is a link to his TED TALK)
Why didn’t I finish this draft?
During this stage of my life, I hadn’t learned to finish things. There are perhaps twenty half finished books and stories locked away in my desk drawer that are a result of several years where I never finished anything. This isn’t something that I alone struggle with. I have known and spoken with many different writers that have done, and still do, this. We tend to get overly excited about an idea, begin writing it, get to the big swampy middle, then give up. Some people call it writers block, I call it the climb. The first part of a story comes easy, like starting a hiking trail. Usually a hike begins simple and easy, only to become difficult later. That’s how writing is. The middle is hard, but once you get over that hump, it’s like sprinting down a mountain to finish.
To answer the question. I didn’t finish this draft because I gave up once I got to the climb and moved on to another project. (I didn’t finish that one either.)
Draft Two- The Pyromancer
Queue the true start of writing this book somewhere early 2019. I had just finished a novel during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which takes place every November. The novel was terrible but like most, it still had some good ideas. I am currently in the middle of rewriting that one as well. Fingers crossed I can get that published next year.
November 2018 helped me finally do what I had been struggling with for almost 2 years. Finishing things. With two novels 100% completed, I knew that it was time to come back to “Ravens Cross” and write the book the way the story demanded.
Again, the first 3rd was easy. Getting to the climb, I forced myself to write every day. I was consistently writing 100-1500 words a day. I finished the book around July and let my Mother read it during a two week vacation we took to California. This allowed me to get feedback while relaxing from work and the stress of everyday life.
Thanks to my Mom, I was able to get another persons opinion (as skewed from a mothers pride though it was). As a result, I felt confident that I had finally written a story that was publishable.
Why didn’t I try and publish one of my other finished books?
It’s not as hard as you would think for me to admit how terrible those first few books were. I don’t mean that they were bad like most of the movies released from Hollywood. They are worse.
Most authors will admit that the first few things they tried to write were terrible. But we learn so much from the experience that we eventually write something we are willing to share with the world. I believe that anyone who is determined enough, puts in the work, and is willing to let go and move on from failed projects, can become successful. Just writing a book, even a bad one, is still something anyone should be proud of.
My first books were a mess. The stories were all over the place, they were written poorly, and the stories within them deserved to be written by a much more experienced author. I will most likely return to those stories, rewrite them the way they deserve to be written, and share them with the world.
Draft Three- Ravens Cross
You get burned out after writing a book. Stephen King gave the advice to put the book away for a while, then come back to it. This way you have fresh ideas and a clear mind when you look at the story again. This advice worked well for me.
I started my third draft early 2020, almost a year from the time I started writing draft two. This was where the book went from good to great. Like a charcoal sketch turned into a painting, the book became so much more than it was. I was able to flesh out the world, the characters, and the story. I always wondered why Authors would talk about going through so many drafts of their books. This taught me that the story you set out to tell as an author, at least in my case, gets told during the content rewrite and revision phase.
This draft took quite a bit of time to write. About 6 months or so. The COVID-19 shutdown helped a lot. Gave me quite a bit of extra time to get ahead on the revision. I completely rewrote every word. I would have one screen open with the old draft, and another screen for the new, and I would take time to rewrite and flesh out every sentence, paragraph, and chapter. I also wrote several new chapters, changed events dramatically, and extended scenes well past their original page count.
Here is an example of a page from draft two (The Pyromancer) to draft three (Ravens Cross)
The most important thing that I learned from this experience was how to let the story change and that editing is the process of building up the story, not breaking it down. At this stage, I still wasn’t worried about spelling, punctuation, grammar, ect. I was working on the content or story. Once the story was where I wanted it to be, I could then go back and edit the words that told it.
Draft Four- Child of Fire
It took about a month to complete my final draft of the story. I made a copy of draft three, put it in a new document, and read through it. As I read, I would adjust words, delete unnecessary phrases or sentences, add missing descriptions, and make it as grammatically correct as possible. I also went through to make sure every name and place was spelled the same. Something that I found unintentionally happened during my previous drafts. I think there was one character whose name was spelled three different ways. (That was embarrassing to discover.)
This is also where the book got it’s final name. I had been calling it Ravens Cross for several years and I even had a cover created. But something didn’t feel right, so I began thinking of changing it.
I thought of the name “Born of Fire” and almost designed my final cover with that title. However, as I was reading, there is a scene towards the end where the name “Child of Fire” was used. As soon as I read it, I knew it was going to be the name of the novel. Sometimes, the best way to go about finding names for things is to go with what feels good. If you like it, you’ll know. If there is something wrong, you might not know why, but you’ll feel that too.
This was a fun experience, and perhaps the least difficult draft to complete. The story was there, I just had to smooth things out a bit.
Back in High School, I was thinking of self publishing a book. But in 2014, it wasn’t as easy to self-publish a book without paying a few thousand dollars upfront. After getting back from Mexico in October 2016, my mind was set on finding a traditional publishing house in New York to publish my books.
Up until December 2020, this was my plan. I actually sat on Child of Fire, sending it around to different places, looking for anyone interested in publishing it. As most things in my life seem to, I had a feeling that I should self publish, and everything I needed to do so fell into place.
I studied digital marketing in college, I am currently working in marketing, and I started a small S-Corp where I provide marketing services for small businesses. Everything I needed to be successful was right in front of me. All I needed to do was put in the effort and do it.
Over the last few years, I have taken classes from Brandon Sanderson at BYU, David Farland at Fyrecon, and Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass. Along with other online videos, lectures, and articles written by successful authors in the fantasy genre, I have gained a lot of knowledge about the industry. I believe that I can be successful and time will tell me if I am right.
How did I publish?
Using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, I created an ebook and a print on demand paperback. I will be creating a free tutorial where I show how to format, design, and export a PDF document for self-publishing. Here is a LINK to the page where I will be posing my tutorial and videos.
What was it like to publish my first book?
It was so exciting to hold a copy for the first time. Everything was submitted Sunday May 9th, around 8:00pm. The book went live for sail early Monday morning and I let as many people know as possible. Using Facebook, Instagram, and text messages, I spread the word and I got a lot more attention than I’d expected. It was cool to see so many people show support for my work and to share my excitement.
But it didn’t feel real until Wednesday when my copy arrived. I’ve held so many books in my hands, and to hold my own was an amazing experience. I hadn’t expected to get so excited. With the momentum and motivation to move forward, I plan on getting a good portion of books two and three done in the next few months.
I hope you found this post interesting and helpful. I wanted to share the experience so other writers and aspiring authors can learn from my experience and hopefully make a few less mistakes than I did. It should be interesting to see what changes moving forward. I’m looking forward to seeing what I’ll be able to accomplish.
Thanks for reading!