The Journey to a Second Published Book

I’ve got two published books under my belt now! Ice was released this past Friday on Amazon. It is the second part of the Clarity series, which chronicles Ren Grant’s journey from a lonely, hunted girl on Earth to a legend in a faraway galaxy. I’m incredibly proud of the series so far, both The Watch and Ice have come out exactly how I envisioned them.

I started Ice back in November 2013 as my NaNoWriMo project. The Watch was written, edited, and generally cleaned-up all in July 2013, but I held onto it for a while hoping to have it published by a publishing house. After numerous rejection letters, I settled on publishing it myself through Amazon KDP & CreateSpace.

Anyway, I finished the bare bones of Ice in Nov ’13. It had around thirty chapters, all in quite the rough state. I set about cleaning it up a bit as I prepared The Watch for its Jan ’14 release and found myself adding more to the story than I was editing. Ice swelled to forty chapters by March ’14 and introduced two new POV characters, Keeper Oliver Booth and Keeper Abel Llewin.

I started condensing some chapters together and cleaned it up, so that I was back under forty chapters. Yet, sometime during my subsequent round of editing, I decided that Ice would be barren without two more POV characters and no less than forty-five chapters. So Tove Duyenya and Keeper Sofia Kovács joined the party and Ice hovered around a healthy 600 pages.

In comparison, The Watch has twenty chapters and less than 300 pages.

Ice was a monster. From when I consider to be the “official” end-time of adding new material in early Oct ’14, I was editing. I will admit that span of time was particularly hard for me. I was overwhelmed by the scope of what I was attempting: how much I had to keep track of, the immensity of maintaining continuity, and making sure each POV character possessed a distinct voice. I originally set the publication date for Ice in Jan ’15 (for symmetry), then pushed it back to Feb ’15, before finally settling on March 27th, 2015. This is one of the great reliefs of publishing independently, and I treasure the freedom to finish when I’m finished.

In the end, I couldn’t be prouder of Ice. It is exactly what I wanted it to be. It’s been a long process, but in a lot of ways I feel more like an author with the publication of Ice than I did with The Watch. I guess it’s because I spent so much more time with Ice, or maybe because it it so much longer and meatier, or maybe because I finally understand why my favorite authors take years to publish the next book in a series. The Watch burst out of me, breathless and complete, already composed. Ice was gentler, more gradual, and in need of finer tuning to make it complete. I’ve experienced months upon months of anxiety, fretting, and frustration. I feel more like an author now than I did a year ago because I’ve known what it is to agonize over a story and whittle it down to perfection.

On a somewhat different note, I’d like to make The Watch ebook free now that Ice is out. From what I gather, the only way to accomplish this is to publish The Watch on a different platform for free and wait for Amazon to price-match. True?

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Self-Studying = Backtracking, Obsessive Planning, and Unparalleled Success

As some of you may know, aside from being a published author, I’ve undertaken a self-study program directed towards particle cosmology. My foundations in physics was nil when I started–I didn’t even take physics in high school–so it’s been challenging creating this foundation while still studying the higher-level subjects (qualitatively for the most part for now -_-), and I’ve had to do a lot of backtracking, returning of textbooks, and trial runs of online courses. It’s definitely been an exercise in patience.

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First Mantra

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This is not me. This is not mine. I am not this.

I found this gem of a mantra over at this beautiful site on Buddhist meditation. I’ve been inching my way along the Buddhist path, trying to find the best books and practice that will give me the most comprehensive instruction, so therefore my knowledge of it is kind of all over the place. I wish I had a better knowledge of daily practices, but it’s coming together slowly.

I found this mantra (This is not me. This is not mine. I am not this.) as a great help recently. I will admit to being somewhat surprised at how much it helped me.

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Emma by Jane Austen

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As a rule, I reread some of my favorite books this time of year. I never fail to include at least three Austen’s in this rereading, and this time around I started with Emma.

What is there to say about Emma that hasn’t been said hundreds of times over in hundreds of reviews? I don’t have any particularly unique insights into Emma that someone somewhere has undoubtedly laid claim to. I simply love this novel, and want to flail around about it for a bit.

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Finding The Path

I’ve been back and forth with Buddhism for a few years now. Not that I didn’t find it extremely appealing, but that I didn’t exactly know where to start. I have since read a few books on the subject (of which I found On The Path to Enlightment by Matthieu Ricard and Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hansen particularly informative) and can now say that I am committing myself entirely to the study of Buddhism as my religion. 

I haven’t “had a religion” for about a decade now, ever since I sat in religion class at a Catholic Church and thought how unrealistic it all seemed. I stumbled on Buddhism back when I was studying for AP Japanese and researching a bit into the Japanese lifestyle. It instantly struck me as the way to be the person I wanted to be. I do wish there was a Buddhist center near me where I can go and speak with other practitioners. I identify most with Mahayana Buddhism. 

My biggest trial at the moment is implementing the Dharma into my lifestyle. I’ll be documenting my path here, probably on a weekly basis, and hope my experiences will connect me with other practitioners or individuals considering Buddhism.

Practicing Buddhists out there, what books do you recommend on extending studies into a more advanced level? 

2014 Reading Project: Talking about Mansfield Park

I feel like banging my fist against the table and screaming because this book was JUST SO GOOD. I mean, really. This was such SUCH a good read. I can’t stand it.

Jane Austen has been my literary hero for so long. Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma, Sense & Sensibility, Northanger Abbey… all some of my favorite books. Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion particularly. Somehow, Mansfield Park never found its way into my hands. I am really regretting not having read this sooner. It is true brilliance. Perfection.

The characters were so well crafted, interesting, and, most importantly, believable. Nothing about the characters’ actions or the plot ever seemed out of place. It was natural, flowing, hypnotizing. Fanny Price was weak, and timid, and sometimes frustrating, but that frustrating was satisfying because it fit exactly with her personality without going too far as to make her actions seem forced to service the plot. Edmund was great. He was gallant and charming and exactly what he was supposed to be as the main male character, but he also had his flaws, and that made him beyond lovely. He was entranced by Mary Crawford’s beauty and amiableness in such a natural way. I loved how he could be in love with her, but oppose the play, then change his mind, then admit to her faults, but still want to marry her. It was a great example of a working relationship. Faults are there and are accepted or ignored, but they’re still there and acknowledged. Edmund wasn’t written to be stupid and blind and a victim. Miss Crawford didn’t use Edmund because he knew her faults and wanted her anyway.

I really enjoyed Henry Crawford’s character. When he was pursuing Fanny, I so wanted him to truly change and marry her. I thought his cheerfulness and lighthearted ways would be good for Fanny. But, his elopement with Maria Rushworth made such sense I felt almost silly for wanting Henry/Fanny.

Mansfield Park was so delightfully witty, engaging, and romantic in all the right ways. I was so happy that Edmund didn’t find his love for Fanny until after she was separated from him and got a chance to develop her own opinions. In the beginning of the novel, Fanny was almost the exact same person Edmund was. Once she stood her ground and insisted on not marrying Henry Crawford even when Edmund wanted her to, she came into herself. She found her difference from Edmund and because of that he was able to love her.

Mansfield Park is definitely, definitely my favorite read this year. Now to try A Princess of Mars.

 


 

Anna Herlihy is the author of The Watch (Clarity: Book One). Ice (Clarity: Book Two), is currently in progress, as is the first book of Clarity’s spin-off series and biweekly short stories.

Visit Anna Herlihy’s website for the latest updates on Clarity & other writings, or follow her on twitter @annaherlihy.  

Purpose

This morning, I gave myself a little test. When I woke up, I thought about the day ahead of me. I wanted to get a long run done (12.5 miles), I wanted to do some laundry, I wanted to finish mapping out Clarity Book Three and possibly start writing the first chapter, I wanted to spend a few hours promoting The Watch. I ran through everything I wanted to do, and I was completely relaxed. Excited for the day, content and happy in what my day was going to be like.

Yesterday, I had also performed this little test. It ended with me getting out of bed frowning and thinking to myself ‘Ugh, let’s just get this over with.’

I hate it when I say that to myself. I hate when I’m anxious to speed up a day to ‘get it over with’ and move on to a day where I can devote all of my time to writing and studying. I’m wasting a full day of my life unhappy; hours spent unproductive both in writing and keeping up with my iTunes U courses.

I consider this the greatest disservice anyone can do to themselves, waking up and thinking ‘let’s get this day over with.’ This is your life, you don’t have the room or the time to get anything over with. You shouldn’t have to suffer through mundanity when what you truly what out of your life is reserved for those two precious days a week you get off work.

I do this morning test a few times a week. I use it to gauge my happiness. Sometimes, when I do this test and face a busy day without much time for writing & studying, I’m still content with the day because I know there to be a two hour window that I can have to my true pursuits. Most days, though, I don’t feel truly productive unless I have a solid 8 hours to devote to Clarity.

Not only does this let me test out what in my life makes me happy (and therefore what I need to fix), but it has also revealed the complete conviction of how I want my life to be. I think the only true way to determine whether you are on the right path in life is to question how often you say to yourself ‘let’s get this over with.’

This test has given me clarity. I know that I have to deal with a lot more ‘let’s get it over with’ days before I can be a full-time writer and go back to school. But, so long as I know what it feels like to look forward to a day of true purpose and happiness in what I’m doing, I’ll make it.

The important thing is to not get caught up in the ‘get it over with’ days out of habit and fear of making a change. I guess that will be an even bigger test I’ll put myself to in the  coming months.