The last time I blogged I mentioned a “top secret writing project that I’d been working on.” I’m back this week to tell you about that now-not-so-secret project.
Are you familiar with the term “epistolary”?
I wasn’t, until I attended a writer’s conference and heard Daisy Hutton, Fiction Publisher at Thomas Nelson, use the term. It sounded so intelligent and literary and biblical that I’ve since added it to my vocabulary.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, epistolary means, “written in the form of a series of letters.” What’s more, “Epistolary was formed from the noun epistle, which refers to a composition written in the form of a letter to a particular person or group. In its original sense, epistle refers to one of the 21 letters found in the New Testament.”
One of the first epistolary fiction novels I can remember reading was Daddy Long Legs. Anyone else remember that one?
More recently, I read The Josephine Bonaparte Collection, a series of exquisite historical novels. I’d call these books “epistolary plus” since they’re not written strictly through letters. In this case, the author details Josephine’s life through diary entries.
I blazed through the print edition of the outstanding The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, but I’ve heard it’s fantastic as an audio book. All those delicious British accents!
I read Dear Mr. Knightley, Christian fiction author Catherine Reay’s Carol Award winning debut novel.
I thoroughly enjoy the occasional novel written in this format. Such a refreshing change of pace!
When I was brainstorming my Bradford Sisters Romance series, I was inspired to kick the series off with an “epistolary plus” prequel novella. I was excited to tell Garner Bradford’s story and I was excited to tell it through journal entries, letters, and phone conversations. However, after my deadlines were set for the three full length novels in the series, I doubted whether I’d have time to write the novella.
I’m a slow writer at the best of times and a mother of three. I have the business aspects of writing to deal with, a house to clean, grocery shopping to do, laundry to wrestle, and dinners to cook. Also, I take a month-long break from writing every summer to recharge and enjoy traveling with my family. I didn’t want to give that up.
Then last July, a pocket of time opened. Two weeks. I had two weeks before I needed to get started on the rewrites of True to You.
I decided to use those two weeks to begin my epistolary novella. When those two weeks were up, I set the novella aside, unsure whether I’d have a chance to pick it back up again.
Over Thanksgiving break, I read through the portion of the novella I’d written and decided that . . . yes. I was invested enough in the novella to try my best to complete it. I set it aside again. Then I took it back out on December 26th, during Christmas vacation. I titled it Then Came You and finished writing the remainder of the story during the last part of December and the first part of January.
We can do what we make time to do, ladies. Amen?!
Since Then Came You wasn’t contacted by Bethany House, I knew that if the novella was going to be published then I was going to have to publish it myself. Yikes.
My former editor at Bethany House, Charlene Patterson, now works freelance. I hired her to read the manuscript and give me revision suggestions. Here’s a screen shot excerpt of my email to her…
Here’s a screen shot excerpt of her email back to me…
After that, “Operation Publish a Novella” was a go. I had a lot to learn about indie-publishing a piece of fiction electronically and in print, then making it available at multiple online retailers. It was daunting at times. Frustrating at others.
However, it was also exciting and empowering to see something I’d written through to publication. I loved collaborating with Charlene and with Jenny Zemanek of Seedlings Design Studio, the Cover Designer I hired. All in all, I’m very glad I did it.
Then Came You released this past Tuesday! It’s FREE for e-download and $5.99 in print. For links to the online bookstores that carry Then Came You click here or click the cover above.
Which epistolary novels or novellas have you read and enjoyed?
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