An adventure in accidental publishing

For those of you who know me, I tend to overthink things. (For those of you who don’t know me- trust me on this, I overthink things.)

The only reason “A Year Among Stars” saw the light of day was because it had been several years since I’d challenged myself to write a story in journal format, posting daily over the course of a year.  The first three were all set in the world of Shadowrun and would be classified as fan fiction.

It started in March 1999, with “A Year in Seattle” followed by  “A(another) Year in Seattle” in June of 2000. In 2010  I decided it was past time for another story about motorcycle medic, Jess Miller – and “Yet A(another) Year in Seattle” was born.

I learned a lot writing these stories and at the end of 2019, I found myself thinking, it was time to do it again. However, I wanted to write something I could publish in other formats than just a webpage and a PDF. I’d edited the stories but I wanted something that would be completely mine– something I would have full rights to and maybe, someday, publish.

Being me, I thought about it and started overthinking it. I started trying to plot things out based on a character from a short story I’d written for an anthology and I lost track of time. New Year’s Day, at about 02:00 I realized– it’s 2020.

I also realized that if I was going to write this story – I needed to start it now.  So instead of naming ships in the fleet and building each character before beginning – I started on the fly. I read books like “Science for Science fiction writers” and tried to work up not only the technology but the science behind it.

Instead of tweaking the ships and their names I looked up Norse Mythology and hit the ground running.  I built the world as I went, as my character discovered it and filtered everything through her eyes.

On December 31st, 2020 I posted the last entry in the story.  Rather than make people sift through 366 blog entries here– I set up a mildly edited PDF of the story and made it available.

It had started out as a project/challenge and quickly became a coping mechanism for the pandemic and the world in general. After some mild editing, I started working on other projects and set “A Year Among the Stars” to the side.

And that is where the real adventure began. I learned about editing, formatting, reformatting, why you want to look at a printed copy of your work, and trusting others to edit your work.

Each time I figured, “well, the hard part is over,” I found out I was wrong. Writing is the hardest part– until you edit, then editing is the hardest part– until you have to worry about the formatting. You get the idea.

I had three printed proof copies of the story that I shared with my partners at Etched in Darkness, my trusted spousal unit, and my friend and fellow author K. McCoy.

Combining their recommendations, those of Grammarly and AutoCrit, I worked on language, flow, and usage. I learned my most common mistakes and went about correcting them. And to all my friends in “Mountain Scribes,” one of those searches was for double spacing after a period.

I had just finished the last set of edits and I wanted to see how it looked in published form – I’d promised myself I’d only edit until midnight and then finish in the morning, but I was so close. I finished around 00:30 and uploaded the revised draft. When I went to save – I hit publish by mistake.

There were still things I wanted to add, but I know me– If I hadn’t hit publish because I was tired– I never would have actually published in book format.

It’s funny how much more real the story feels, having turned 298 KB into a 350 page book, but it does feel real now.

Are there other things I should have done? Yes. Am I going to do them?  Of course. But I have learned so much– including the fact that I probably shouldn’t edit tired– then again, the book would still be in edit limbo if I hadn’t.

A Year Among the Stars is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format

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