I’m so thrilled for my friend, Charity Bradford.  Her debut novel, THE MAGIC WAKES, is out now.  Today, I invited Charity to the blog to talk about her journey towards publication.  Enjoy!
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One Writer’s Journey

Thank you Jen for having me over today. I’m overwhelmed at how supportive the writing community is and I hope to share a bit of hope with your followers today.

Well, I’m sure my journey looks a lot like every other writer’s journey to published author. There was a lot of writing, waiting, tears, more waiting, supportive friends and family, rejection, more tears and more waiting. Even after I found a home for my story there was a lot of work…and waiting. 🙂

The dream of seeing my name on the cover of a book started in my teens, but I didn’t get serious until my mid 30’s. Sad, I know. Let’s just focus on the fact that I DID decide to sit down and write that book I’d always dreamed of writing.

I put together a timeline and it was really long. All that waiting and practicing and such. So, I’ve cut it down to just the BIG decisions and moments that propelled me forward. Any time not mentioned was spent reading blogs on how to be a better writer and participating in blogfests. 🙂

I started working on a story about Elyzbeth Bynts. She was young, just heading off to University and nervous about leaving her family behind. Her mother worried that Elyzbeth would get caught “drinking” the sunsrise and then what would happen?

Well, nothing because I couldn’t figure out the main plot and I stalled with 40K of stuff.

October 2008
I decided my idea wasn’t the problem. Elyzbeth was. So, I killed her family, made her 10 years older with a complete educational background and career, and changed her name to Talia Shannon. On the last day of the month I learned about Nanowrimo and signed up.

November 2008
I knocked out 60K of Talia’s story and finally reached THE END of the story. My first complete novel was a stark and passive telling of what was in my head, but the bones were on the page. All I needed to do was flesh it out.

November 2009
Cranked out another 50K of backstory on the Dragumon as way to get to know them better.

December 2009
I started my writing blog with the hope of finding friends as crazy as me and learn how to become a better writer. It took a year for me to realize I couldn’t become a published author on my own.

Summer 2010
I believe this is the time that I entered a contest at Karen Gowen’s blog. It was one of those deals where you submitted your first three chapters and the acquisitions editor from WiDo Publishing would critique it for you.

October 2010
I got my feedback from WiDo. It floored me. Even though I didn’t win the contest, Allie liked my story in spite of …(she had a long list of things). Between her comments and one of my rejection letters, I had an idea of what I needed to do to get my story into better shape.

November 2010
Cranked out 50K of what happens after The Magic Wakes ends. Some of it will be used in a sequel-The Search for Knowledge, but most will be thrown away.

October 2011
Attended the Muse Online Writer’s Conference and pitched my book to an agent and three smaller publishers. This was nerve wracking but a wonderful experience. I finally got to talk to a professional about my idea. All three publishers requested fulls. One made an offer and the other two turned it down. I decided not to go with the one publisher even though I really liked them. It was one of those “cold feet” moments.

December 2011
Decided to query two small publishers. WiDo and the other one that made an offer the year before.

Jan-April 2012
I found a new home helping with a critique blog called Unicorn Bell. I made it past the first round of ABNA and received an offer from WiDo but had to wait until I was cut from ABNA. I was cut in March and learned the other publisher also wanted to work with me. In April I chose WiDo and signed a contract.

May-Sept 2012
Worked with my editor to polish my story. It was a great experience but waiting was even harder than before!

November 2012
Saw my cover and cried with relief because it was so beautiful! Started planning my blog tour and moved two states away from my home of 6 years.

And now, February 2013, my book is out there! People are reading it on their kindles. Others have ordered the print copies and are waiting for the 19th to get here so they can be mailed to them. Sometimes I don’t think it’s real. And then someone will say, “I just bought your book” or I just finished your book” and I do the happy dance.

I’m in the nice review stage because it’s friends and family posting them, but I know those 1 and 2 stars are coming. I wouldn’t be a real author if I didn’t get any. At least that’s what I’m telling myself in order to prepare.

I know this is already a bit long, but I wanted to share with you the first two paragraphs of my novel. The first selection is from 2009 and the second selection is what was actually published. You can see how my writing got stronger. In fact, you can’t even tell it’s the same story!
I slowly opened my eyes, they felt so heavy and dry. After a few blinks I could make out a dim sickly yellow light flickering somewhere above me. It looked like I was standing in a tunnel, or maybe a hallway. I reached out and felt the cold, damp wall beside me. It was rough stone and it curved upward into shadows above me. I could feel the coolness of the room seeping into me, and I shivered as I took a step forward and noticed that I was also standing in about six inches of water. Why didn’t I notice that first thing? I felt as if my body was slowly coming online one piece at a time.
My heart was pounding in my ears as I looked around. Where was I?  More importantly, how do I get out? A familiar panic started to build. I tried to clear my mind and think. As I stood in the hall, taking deep breaths to calm myself, I began to hear splashing coming from farther down the tunnel. I quickly pressed myself into the wall, trying to sink farther into the shadows.
A third vehicle carrying Space Exploration Foundation equipment had been attacked. The sleek bullet-shaped tram lay crumpled beside its track across half a mile of protected lands like an accordion. Its silver exterior was marred by scorches and by the thick orange foam used to put out the flames.
The last car in line had been ripped open, its contents carried away while those guarding it had been left in a bloody heap in the corner. The terrorists had left forty people dead and had stolen military grade communications technology.
“There’s another reason to stop traveling for the SEF.” Talia rubbed the stone necklace resting at her throat.
The two things that I’ve learned with all certainty through this journey is this:
Always follow your heart.
It’s worth all the hard work and waiting. So don’t quit!

Author photoAbout the Author:
Charity Bradford has been a voracious reader ever since her 5th grade teacher introduced her to the world of books with Where the Red Fern Grows and Summer of the Monkeys. She’s the mother of four kids that keep her on her toes, constantly reminding her that imagination still makes the world go round. She lives in Arkansas with her hubby and children, and firmly believes that a smile can solve most problems. The Magic Wakes is her first novel.

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