by Geraldine Mac Donald
The words are trapped inside, held fortress-tight in the Keep, but they singe your throat like firewater, urging your body to spit them out. There’s no way you can guard this forever. It won’t do you any good. You have to share. So first you whisper, cough and sputter, and watch as the eyes of your listeners glaze over in boredom. A second attempt happens almost accidentally when you’re caught in that excruciating lull at the feast where no one is speaking. The firewater boils up, scalds your tongue and prompts you to fill blank spaces, “I’m self-publishing a fiction novel for young adults.”
Instantly you know it can go one of two ways...
The banquet table seated with those formidable knights, whom you’ve just met for the very first time over one flagon of red wine and two rations of blue cheese, will be enthralled, inquisitive, as astonished as you are about this inconceivable crusade; or, they’ll drop their salad forks, and their eyes, in search of an entree that isn’t so tasteless.
I used to be one of those people who might hear such news and on the surface say, “That’s remarkable. Congratulations!” while somewhere deep inside the cracks and crevices of my wretched mind I’d be thinking, ‘Poor thing couldn’t find a ‘real publisher’’.
Never again will I underestimate a self-published author.
Never more will I undervalue their work, or my own.
“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”
(Sir Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven, 5th stanza, 1845)
It niggled at the back of my mind, inconsequentially shelved as Plan B, for the entire two years it took to write the novel. But the closer I got to finishing my hard-earned creation, the further I turned from embracing a traditional publishing method.
I knew the statistics. I’d heard the warnings and advice from all those experts in the field. I knew it was next to impossible to be chosen from the slush pile that comes in over the transom. Yes, I did send it to some major publishing houses who took their slow time to swiftly reject it; and yes I had, at some point, fantasized that they might release me from the burden of having to do it all myself (Not to mention printing ten thousand copies, distributing it to worldwide acclaim and turning me into the next John Green).
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the process of envisioning, plotting, writing, constructing, editing, re-writing, designing and publishing a novel, it’s the fact that every single instance is worth that burden; therefore, it’s not a burden at all.
The advantages are many, but there are some caveats. Let it be known that self-publishing is not for the fainthearted: it's not for the weary or timid writer who prefers to stay secreted inside the castle Keep. One must stand atop the tallest tower and let loose their words on winged arrows to soar across the kingdom. One must champion their work and be royally proud of it. One must lift the gates and lower the drawbridge. One must remove their armour, jump into the melee and take liberty as their own.
Freedom, after all, is what stands at the heart of self-publishing; making it more real, more accessible, and more achievable than ever before. You are not a prisoner of the castle. You are its Ruler.
Sumac Summer is a young adult (YA) fiction drama for readers 11+. It tells the story of Eliza Bergman, a fourteen-year-old girl who is struggling to overcome family tragedy. Her parents send her to summer camp in order to help her heal, but just when Camp Sumac, with its weird girls and snarling horses, starts to feel less like detention and more like fun, disaster strikes and Eliza’s world is fractured. Accompany her as she learns to confront her deepest fears, honour friendships, and make the life-altering changes that she needs to move on.
Sumac Summer is Geraldine MacDonald’s first [self-published] novel.
Now available in digital format on www.amazon.ca, www.amazon.com, and www.kobobooks.com in global territories.
Print editions are available through the author and in the following independent book stores in Ontario, Canada: Books Galore and More in Port Perry, and Novel Idea in Kingston. See websites or stores for details.
Special thanks to the Editor-in-Chief of Blank of Spaces Magazine, Alanna Rusnak, for engaging this community of creatives and giving us a forum for our artistic passions, and for the opportunity to share this blog post. You can reach Geraldine MacDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on her blog and on Facebook and Instagram.
Geraldine Mac Donald is a graduate of Queen's University, a former registered nurse, a medical/scientific translator; a writer, published author, and mother of four. One favourite memory of childhood was when she discovered that town libraries were public and anyone could get a card! It was a life-changing day. Her first novel for young adults has recently been released to rave reviews. Her second novel will be released in 2016. Besides translating medical stuff she writes fiction and creative nonfiction. Geraldine lives, works and plays with her family in Kingston, Ontario.
Watch for a beautiful piece of creative non-fiction coming from Geraldine in our September issue!
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