Once upon a time, there was a girl . . . oh, wait, that's the start of a fairy tale. :o)
But really, there was once a girl. She lived not too far from me. Her backyard faced the end of my street, and we were witness to the most amazing thing with this girl. She loved to swing. Not like your typical kid who loves to swing. This girl obsessively swung. It could be blisteringly hot, and she'd be swinging. It could be below zero and a blizzard and she'd be swinging. We'd all come home and report on whether or not she had been on her swing as we passed. Now, I didn't know this girl, or her family at that time, so keep that in mind.
I kept thinking there was a story in this girl's swinging. And then my daughter, who was about 15 or 16 at that time, said, "I want to write a story about the girl who always swings." I said, "Me, too." So we decided to collaborate. (This daughter also happens to be the cover model for HOAC.) We talked about it, and I mentioned that the first thing we needed to decide was why. Why was she always swinging? Was it an escape from something?
I wrote the first chapter and handed it over to my daughter to write the next. After a few days, she told me to write the next chapter as well, so I did. This pattern repeated until I'd written probably 5 or 6 chapters and my daughter finally said, "Mom, I'm not ever going to write this. You just do it." (Note: She is completely capable of writing a good story. What she is incapable of is the ability to sit still long enough to write even a single chapter.)
It didn't actually take me that long to write the whole thing because both of my daughters were reading the chapters daily and begging me for more. Plus, at that time I didn't have anything published, so I wasn't spending any time marketing or networking like I had to after I was published. Once completed, I began writing Geek Girl (read the story of how that came to be here).
It wasn't until I had both stories completed that I first began playing with the idea of publication. Since I was a girl I wanted to be an author, but it seemed an impossible dream, probably because I wanted it so much. But again, my girls encouraged me, so I decided to give it a shot. I tried sending HOAC out to some agents, but received nothing in positive reply. Then I decided GG would be easier to market, so tried that one. Again, nothing. After I discovered self-publication (see my GG story) I decided to go the same route with HOAC.
However, when I sent it to my critique partners, they kindly informed me it need an overhaul - a major overhaul. So I basically rewrote the whole thing and it became the book is is today. Around the time I published HOAC I decided to try for publication with a publishing house once again with GG. I knew next to nothing about marketing, and so my sales were dismal at best.
Ironically, I signed GG with Cedar Fort on March 1, 2011 and took it off sale. That month I had an explosion in sales of HOAC - a serious explosion. I sold around 7500 copies that month. What? To this day, I have no idea why that was such a good month, but had that happened a month earlier, I probably never would have signed with them. But I believe all things happen for a reason, so I could hardly regret the decision. (And honestly, I like working with Cedar Fort, who offered to publish both HOAC and Immortal Mine [that one sight unseen] but I kindly turned them down since they are selling well. Cedar Fort is going to be publishing my Rapunzel story in Feb of 2013.)
In the time between first (self)publication of GG and a few months after I published HOAC I learned quite a bit about publishing and marketing. And I learn more all the time. I have the best of both worlds now, the freedom of self-publication for some of my books as well as the benefits of traditional publication for others. So, I'm extremely grateful to the Girl on a Swing (the original title of my book, by the way) for sparking the imagination of both myself and my daughter, who forced me to get my butt in gear and do the thing I'd always dreamed of . . . write!
(Note: After I'd written HOAC I discovered who the girl was, and got to know her family, and I can tell you she is nothing like Kate, and her family is nothing like Kate's family. They are very loving, kind people. Her dad told me that his daughter uses the swing as her thinking place, much like Eeyore has a thinking place.)