A Debut Novel at My Age?

Becoming a Writer

In the year 2000, the world moved into a new millennium, and I changed careers. Recovering from an aggressive fight with cancer, I moved from being a practicing RN, to writing for publication.

After a few successful devotional messages, I started out on two books. The first turned out to be a way of bringing to mind all the experiences of a dreadful year of treatment, and ultimately formed the basis for Strength Renewed, Meditations For Your Journey Through Breast Cancer, traditionally published by Revell and still selling.

My second was my first attempt at a debut novel. I followed all the rules for writing a good book (more on that in later posts) and produced a weak story. Because I spent weeks developing my characters, most of them were great. All except my protagonist, a.k.a. my main character! She was spineless, and had no life ambition.

Seat of the Pants Writing

I believed myself to be a Pantser – that is a Seat-of-the-Pants writer. This person sits down with a minimal idea and a handful of characters, and lets them run with the story. Mine ran alright—into a corner. Good characters (mainly) but with no real plan.

In the years to follow, they grew in my mind and became part of my family. I had photos of them scavenged from the Web, I knew their likes and dislikes, I even did a motivational gift test for them all! They grew better and better, yet somehow never aged! (I would love to know their secret!) Yet my heroine remained ineffective.

In the meantime, I developed as an author, turning out many meditations for both online and print publications, got printed in many anthologies, and published a number of books of various lengths. They were all in the same genre: Inspirational or devotional. See my author page for more information.

Debut Novelists?

Most Novembers, I took the month off and joined the crazy NaNoWriMo multitude and wrote a full novel during the 30 days. All of these were written totally by the seat of my pants, and many of them used at least one of my characters. The plots for some turned out fairly well. Others were awful. But I had fun—and I had no intention of publishing them. None of them would be my debut novel.

Why not? you may ask. Initially it was the weakness of my plots, but as I developed as a writer, I also became aware of my fast developing age. After all, you hear of debut novelists in their 30’s and 40’s—even older or younger. But in their seventies?

Then recently I learned of not one but two authors who were just that. Debut novelists in their seventies (Harriet Doer and Barbara Graham).

Finally, a Debut Novel is Born

Urged on by two good friends, I came to the conclusion that if I didn’t write that novel now, I never would. I was running out of time. And so, in November 2020, with the COVID pandemic raging around the world, I settled down to write my novel-in-a-month. Same characters, same method, and hoping for a different outcome.

I’m sure you’ve heard the words of Albert Einstein:

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Albert Einstein Share on X

Change of Direction

Well, about half way through the month, my protagonist finally got sick of my pointless writing and developed a backbone. She took over the story and behaved in an unexpected way, throwing me into confusion.

She flew through the rest of the book, hurling surprise after surprise at me, and by the end of November I had a book that ended with a flourish, after a wobbly start. I spent the next few months allowing her to show me what I needed to do with the beginning half, and my debut novel, Retuning to Amanda, was born.

I will be producing weekly blog posts telling you more, and leading up to the grand launch on or before 22nd September. Please add a comment telling me any point in the above that interests you or that you can identify with. And come back next week when I will be discussing Write What I Know? and how that affected Amanda, also known as Mandy.

I hope you like the sound of this. Let me know.

The e-book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon at a discount price of only $0,99 but it will go up several times before launch day and then reach full price on launch day. So keep your eyes peeled!

10 comments on “A Debut Novel at My Age?

  1. Now that’s perseverance, Shirley, and I’m glad your story finally came together. Can’t wait to read Mandy’s story.

  2. Hi Shirl. Congratulations on your debut novel, I’ve been waiting a long time for it.
    So glad Mandy came to your rescue.

  3. This is definitely on my to-read list. I can’t wait to read more about it in your weekly blog posts.

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