Writing My Book: Your Wildest Dreams

Your Wildest Dreams: A Parkinson's Love Story by Michelle Terrill Heath

I write by hand on lined notepads and I happen to be left handed which I always considered to be a good omen.

It wasn’t hard to write Your Wildest Dreams: A Parkinson’s Love Story, but it took a really long time and that could feel hard.

Initially, I flirted with the idea of writing this book by sharing essays I wrote with various writing groups. Some of those pieces became chapters. I’d heard authors say that writing a book is like raising a child or living in a marriage partnership. I would agree that the commitment is similar and the seemingly never ending time it takes, but I wouldn’t compare beyond that because writing my book wasn’t interactive or cooperative except with myself. My writing was a solitary endeavor.

My book began to become a reality when I discovered I liked waking up in the wee early hours of the dark morning, making myself a cup of tea and writing for a couple hours before dawn. This ritual became joy for me and a couple of hours of writing every day ends up producing a lot of pages.

I write by hand on lined notepads and I happen to be left handed which I always considered to be a good omen.

Each week, I’d type my written pages into  my computer and print them out. I’m not fast on the keyboard so do a first edit as I’d type. At some point I’d read those pages to my writing group again and then real editing and response to their comments would happen. I’d then go home and spend some of my early mornings reworking chapters. In the early years- and yes, it took me years- I never paid attention to length or word count. I just wrote, edited, and made the chapters better after critique from the people I trusted.

One day I decided to take a writers workshop from the well known publishers, Hay House. It was an online course with live access to small breakout sessions. I loved learning how to write a book proposal and being guided about each component. I learned much about how to proceed with my own book project and I wrote a proposal and entered it in the contest Hay House was sponsoring.

Next, I printed all the chapters I’d written so far and sat on the floor of my writing room and organized them into a semblance of a manuscript. I am a tactile person and it was the only way I could imagine making order out of so many pages. I could also see where there were sections missing that still needed to be written and I began to formulate the idea of weaving chapters in time instead of a chronological story. At the time, my book was called, A Way Through.

Six or seven months went by and I received an email from Hay House telling me I’d won second runner up in their contest. My prize was money for a self publishing package with Hay House’s self publishing associate, Balboa Press. I accepted the prize, was told it never expired and continued working on my book.

After it grew into a manuscript, I asked ten people to read it and give me feedback. Seven of them did and three of them had never met me. This was enormously helpful and I tightened up my manuscript, which at the time was over 150,000 words.

I decided to try to get a literary agent to represent me. I contacted and paid for a professional at KN Literary to find me twenty agents to query. I did that, and although no one chose to represent me,  did receive some helpful and positive personal feedback that was encouraging.

After being rejected by the agents, I decided to use my prize money and self publish. I experienced the wonderful autonomy and control a self publishing author has in her project. I chose the size the book would be, the cover art, the font both on the cover and inside, and I provided the testimonials. The editing process was intense. My book needed to shrink from 150,000 words to 70,000-80,000.

I again contacted KN Literary and used their match making process that pairs an author with an editor. My match and I turned out to be a great team as she guided me to cutting my story to the right size.
As I said before, I am a tactile person and I paid to have my entire manuscript printed about twelve times. When I was able to hold it and do the cuts physically with my own pen in hand, I actually began to enjoy the process.
There were photos for my book and as a self published author, it was up to me to place the photos as I wanted them to be. There was a lot of signing off on aspects of these publishing choices until one day it was all done.

 Balboa Press sold me a publicity package and it took me six months to pay that off, so my publishing date got pushed forward until now and that was okay with me. Fortunately, I was able to receive copies of my book ahead of the launch date in both the hardback and paperback versions.

When they arrived in the mail, I was speechless as I held them in my hands. Sure, I felt proud- but mostly I felt humbled.

Our story was now in a form that could actually have an effect on others. I understood that my book is now truly out of my hands and into this world. I felt the incredible beauty of being connected to our world through my book.

To purchase, click the links below, visit my website homepage OR simply go to the Amazon or Balboa press website and look up my name, Michelle Terrill Heath.

Order Your Wildest Dreams today!

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