1997 attended my first UW Madison Writer’s Institute. Featured author was Robert Moss who talked about conscious dreaming as a way to explore the writing life.
1999 joined a critique group led by Dr. Laurel Yourke. Her approach was to discuss a specific writing craft technique then assign up to two pages to demonstrate the technique. Met twice a month. I wanted to write science fiction because my favorite author was Ray Bradbury. I had no talent for science fiction. Next I decided to write historical fiction and researched Benjamin Franklin. It was the right genre for me, wrong topic.
My son Tim brought me newspapers from Ireland, read a story of children injured in the Peace Zone in Belfast in 1998, the same year the Peace Accords passed by referendum in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Two characters popped into my mind, Ian Murphy and Timolty Doyle. I still have one of the first assignments with these characters from November 2000.
Continued to take critique classes for several years and all of my assignments revolved around the Troubles in Ireland. By 2003 Dr. Yourke suggested I had enough material to consider writing a novel and challenged me to begin. Her challenge was what got me going.
I continued to attend the Writer’s Institute every year; but life intervened and I put my draft on the shelf until 2007 when I decided writing was going to be a life goal. My idea was to complete my day job career and envisioned a “retirement” of writing.
In 2008 I took the most in depth and intense course offered by UW Madison for aspiring writers, Writer’s by the Lake, a 5 day course devoted exclusively to novel writing.
In December 2009 I was unexpectedly laid off from my management job with Care Wisconsin. I saw this event as the universe knocking me up side the head with the message: it’s time to write.
In 2010 I attended the Weekend with Your Novel course and planned to spend a year getting my novel into shape and starting a freelance career.
Experimented with getting an agent at Writer Institute meetings in 2010 an 2011 but failed to attract an agent. Based on an article in The Writer Magazine, I decided to pitch my novel directly to small and micro publishers. I gave myself a one year deadline, to have a book deal by March 2011.
In February 2011, a micro publisher based in California offered me a contract to publish MURPHY’S TROUBLES. I met my deadline (barely).
That relationship didn’t work out and in February 2013 I terminated the contract. I talked with my writer friends and decided to independently publish my book. I used my groups on LinkedIn to ask other writers for their experience with legitimate independent publishers. Their response overwhelmingly was that Amazon’s Create Space was the most transparent, easiest to use and credible.
Friends offered to help me publish independently. Jeff Gauger, Owner-Manager of Beans and Cream offered to design a book cover. Marshall Cook, retired UW Madison Journalism professor offered to edit my manuscript. With their support I kept going.
I had a mixed, mostly negative, experience with beta readers and asked my friend, Marshall Cook to content edit my manuscript. Marshall is a former Journalism Professor, Director of the Writer’s Institute and most important a cherished friend. He recommended I needed two more chapters to make my novel more cohesive. I spent weeks writing those chapters and having him continue to make suggestions until they were polished.
During this time Jeff developed an incredible book cover. I sent the cover out to more than 30 friends to review and they were overwhelmed. By the end of May that part of the book production job was done.
At an event at A Room of One’s Own I met three authors who independently published their work, they gave tips, and were very honest about their experience. They also provided encouragement. One of the authors that made a presentation, Christine Keleny, is also a publisher and certified editor. I hired Christine to both copyedit and proof read my manuscript. Christine worked very fast and within two weeks I had detailed line editing and proofreading. [Actually, it was just editing]
Finally, I purchased my own ISBN and barcode for the book. I could have gotten an ISBN from Create Space free, but I wouldn’t own it or have a copyright. By purchasing my own ISBN the book is copyrighted and the ISBN is uniquely mine.
This final part of the journey has been a very intense nine months.
I have two events in December:
Dec. 14 at Beans n Cream 10:00 am to noon – book signing
(Dec. 16 at Sun Prairie Library 6:30 pm – book reading and signing
Books available for sale at all events, Beans n Cream, and at: www.amazon.com/Murphy’s-Troubles-Rex-Owens
I’m an active volunteer in our community. I’m on the Board of Directors of the Sun Prairie Civic Theatre and serve as the Vice-President. I’m a member the Friends of the Sun Prairie Library Board of Directors and serve as the Publicity Chair.