The photo shoot wasn’t going as perfectly as I had hoped. Due to a scheduling conflict, I was setting up my props during the brightest point of the day instead of the golden hour. The ground was soggy from yesterday’s rain and soaking through my picnic blanket. I was hot and flustered after running in and out of the house so many times. I had something else I had to do once I was finished and the delay was making me anxious.
I had reached the “let’s get this over with” stage.
But something happened as I started setting up my props. Being outside and feeling the sun has always ministered to me. It grounds me and makes me feel more peaceful. I felt myself slowing down, looking around at my surroundings and as I did, something shifted inside me.
I was aware of the smooth gloss of the book cover in my hands, the decadent colors of the macarons, the delicate translucence of my tea cup. The wind ruffled the daffodils I tucked into a vase and ruffled my hair, reminding me to play. To laugh.
I looked at the stack of paperback copies of A Royal Masquerade and something odd happened.
I felt happy as I looked at them.
That’s odd? you ask. Why should that be an odd sensation? This is your book you’re talking about!
Let me explain.
A Royal Masquerade was plagued with problems from the beginning. It was originally conceived as a short story and then blossomed into a novella that was 10,000 words longer than The Reluctant Godfather. It was written and edited while I was struggling with a lot of physical pain, not to mention a crippling attack of writer’s stage fright. Confusion reigned during the beta reading stage. My vision for this book wasn’t as clear to my early readers as I had hoped it would be. I began to doubt the story and my vision. Formatting and cover design turned into a nightmare of technical snarls and hiccups. I had so many problems with Amazon printing my book incorrectly I grew disgusted and nearly decided not to have a paperback edition at all.
“Stressed” might be putting it mildly.
As I squinted through camera and fretted about lighting and damp pants, I realized I was doing the same thing I had been doing off-and-on for several months. I was over-obsessing about details that, ultimately, didn’t really matter. And, in the process, I was losing track of the most significant aspect. I was photographing a paperback edition of my second book! I published! I persevered through all of the problems! A Royal Masquerade has run its course and can now rest in the pasture. And I can rest too.
Sitting there, peering through the camera lens, I suddenly realized something. I had gotten my joy back.
I had been looking at my writing experience through the wrong lens – the settings on my internal camera had been all wrong as I focused on the bumps instead of the road itself.
A Royal Masquerade didn’t just teach me things about writing, but it helped me take a vital step forward in learning the life lesson of training myself not to get stressed about things that don’t matter. After a series of annoying episodes, there was one incident where I very nearly blew my top – but then I found myself doing something I had really struggled to do before.
I let it go.
I pushed aside the emotional response, I dumped all the frustration and I focused on how to turn a defect into an asset.
This was a massive epiphany for me – for I have the dreadful habit of taking on unnecessary burdens, of wasting emotions and energy and mental space by overreacting negatively to life’s hiccups. But this difficult publishing process forced me to exercise the Stop-Over-Reacting Muscle and the Let-It-Go Mindset . . . and the exercise paid off. Those difficulties were actually a positive thing when viewed the right way.
A Royal Masquerade taught me several things as a writer, but also as a person. It was an instrument during a time where I was finally learning to let things go more quickly – and I did.
I was perhaps even more excited about that than in publishing my novella! In the long run, A Royal Masquerade will fade to nothing, but our spirits are eternal. It was far more valuable to me to learn this particular lesson than to have smooth sailing through the publication process.
I admire my paperback copies of A Royal Masquerade. I am truly excited about this novel, and finally, I am proud of it.
The Reluctant Godfather will always be my first baby and hold a special place in my heart. It has reached many milestones that The Royal Masquerade hasn’t yet reached. For instance, being chosen for the book of the month for a book club or being placed into my library’s local author room.
A Royal Masquerade might reach those milestones too, in time, but it will never be for the first time ever again. Firsts can only happen once, and those delights belongs solely to The Reluctant Godfather.
Nevertheless, A Royal Masquerade holds a powerful place in my heart in many ways.
EIGHT REASONS WHY I AM SLIGHTLY MORE PROUD OF A ROYAL MASQUERADE THAN THE RELUCTANT GODFATHER.
I repeated the process. After publishing for the first time, I wrote another story, edited it, and published. I’m not a flash in the pan author! I wrote, edited, published and then repeated the process. Publishing wasn’t a one-time-event that I did for fun. This was life-long commitment, a series of building blocks that I approach daily with dedication and growing skill as I learn how to become a baker of books.
I broke through writers block and kept plugging away despite not being inspired. ( I could still use a little inspiration, if anyone has any to spare. *wink*)
I gained experience in self-editing between The Reluctant Godfather and A Royal Masquerade. When I got The Reluctant Godfather back from my editor, it took me several months to edit it. When I got A Royal Masquerade back, there were fewer edits and I was able to resolve everything within a few weeks, even though it was longer and more complicated. Another words, I produced a cleaner product for my editor to polish and had self-edited more carefully before submitting it to her.
I had to be a lot more creative with this book then I did with The Reluctant Godfather. The story beats in The Goose Girl are not as frequent or as clear as they are in Cinderella. It is quite a confusing tale and a lot more reason and sense had to be injected to it. Because there are not as many specific plot points, I had to come up with a lot more story and plot out of my own head. Plotting is the bane of my writing existence – and yet, I did it! I plotted the book!
The world of Ambia and the rules of magic were slightly expanded, setting the ground work for even more expansion later on in the series.
I really believe that my writing improved between The Reluctant Godfather and A Royal Masquerade I was pleased with The Reluctant Godfather, but when I look at the next book, I can see how my writing has become stronger.
I had a unusual vision for the book and I stuck with it. Inspired by screwball comedies of the 1930s and 40s (my favorite!) and theater (another favorite), I decided to approach the plotting with a unique twist by flipping the plot and subplot to create a madcap and intimate focus with the larger plot unfolding in the background. Well . . . it makes more sense if you just pop over here and have a decko at my Author’s Note.
I got to dive deeper into my characters and set several arcs into motion – and I think they’re off to a good start. *grins*
Are there still some elements about A Royal Masquerade I would like to improve? Yes. I don’t think any author would ever turn down the chance to poke their story a little further into submission.
Are there still some things that I would like tweaked about the design? Yes.
Am I a tad annoyed that my picture-taking and Instagram skills stink? Oh yes!
But you know what? It’s okay! It doesn’t have to be perfect. Sitting out there in the sun, looking down at my book, I felt at peace with A Royal Masquerade and content with the work I had put into it.
It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be good.
And I know it’s good. I don’t say that to boast! – but with the clarity of a ever-growing craftsman who has learned to differentiate poor and good product after years of practice. Not to mention seventeen years of ruthlessly self-critiquing my work. I feel that A Royal Masquerade is a good story, and perhaps a better one than The Reluctant Godfather. I am satisfied. This story makes me laugh, these characters warm my heart, and this story holds me to the very last page. A Royal Masquerade was an adventure, and I’m grateful for all the joys it has brought me.