Writing Relic My First Novel

The post that follows in part of a blog hop with several other authors of lesfic. Read here, all about how I came to write my first novel and then follow the link below for another great post by the lovely and amazing author, Robyn Nyx.

On Discovering Lesfic

I discovered lesbian fiction the way so many of us did, via fan fiction. Through fan fiction, I found the stories of Kim Baldwin; stories mostly based on romance but often with an air of suspense or with dramatic tones. When Kim published Hunter’s Pursuit, it was the first lesbian paperback I ever bought. That you could buy such works in actual book form was startling. I had no knowledge back then of lesbian presses and of the shining stars out there writing women loving women fiction. It was a real wakeup call.

I’d like to say I went on to discover many of my favorite lesfic mystery authors after I discovered there was more out there than fan fiction. I’d like to say that, but I can’t. I was still married to a man back then, and I never intended to come out of the closet and live my truth. I didn’t go looking for any more books.

On discovering more lesfic mysteries…sort of…

Mystery Novelist Ellen HartLater, divorced and living on half of my former household income, I stopped buying any sort of books and started visiting the library a lot. That’s when I discovered Ellen Hart’s, Jane Lawless series. A few of her books caught my eye, not because I’d ever heard of her, but because of the purple triangles on the spines. What a revelation they were to me! I grabbed them up, took them home and devoured them in two days. Then, I got online and ordered all of the rest to be delivered to my local library that were published at the time. Some were available and came in right away. Others, because the library system only had a copy or two, I had to wait for.

My wait was agonizing. I sped to the library and checked out each book as soon as I was notified it was in. When I’d run through all of those, I resigned myself to waiting a year for the next one, much as I was doing with mainstream authors like Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich. Now, the internet was going through quite the growth spurt then, but the world of ‘published’ lesbian fiction, by and for lesbians, not pulps meant for men, wasn’t noticeable out there …not yet.

Fast forward to 2013. By then, I’d found more lesfic in bookstores and I’d bought things online from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I even had an LGBT book review blog. People mailed me their books and begged for reviews. eBooks were still the hot new thing. Many LGBT authors weren’t doing them.

My son graduated from high school that year. My wife and I moved, late in the year, to the tiny village she grew up in. The nearest public library? Nearly a half hour away, in the county seat of a rural, ultra-conservative county. Their collection was small. It took weeks to get things there through interlibrary loan. I had to continue relying on online retailers for my paperback books. And eBooks? They were really just becoming a thing in lesfic. I dropped the blog and moved on.

A writing seed is planted

The Lost Women of Lost Lake by Ellen HartIn the spring of 2014, I finally laid my hands on the latest couple of books in Hart’s Jane Lawless series, Rest for the Wicked and Taken by the Wind. I read them with relish then fell into a funk. Hart and the other lesfic authors I was growing to love couldn’t produce mysteries fast enough for me, even the indies who put out more than a book a year in eBook form. Women loving women romance novels came out in droves, and I read some of them, but most didn’t appeal to me. I wanted mystery, suspense and adventure mixed in with my ladies who loved ladies.

I stared at the cover of the Hart book, The Lost Women of Lost Lake, one of the few that I own outright in trade paperback, for a good long while. Honestly? I thought to myself, I’ve read hundreds of mysteries like this. I could write this stuff and write it with lesbian characters. Could became should, and I started writing.

Relic: The Morelville Mysteries - Book 1Relic, the first book in what would become The Morelville Mysteries series, had a rocky start. My first draft was awful. In it, Sheriff Mel worked alone, with only her family for company, outside of work. She was a lesbian, sure, but she had no love interest, no female foil; unlike the various women who moved in and out of the life of Jane Lawless.

Dana was born in my second draft. Twining two stories, two cases together, and having the two women bouncing off of each other as they pursued leads and got in each other’s way, made the story better.

 

Publishing Relic

I self-published Relic in November of 2014. A trusted friend, a college composition professor by trade, pointed out some major formatting issues and a small plot inconsistency but the story was largely unedited. I had few expectations for it.

I sold four copies of the book, overnight, that first night. It became a number one best seller within 48 hours of going live. I was in shock.

It wasn’t all a rosy picture. Readers began pointing out errors and I corrected every one that got a mention except for changing it from first person to third person, as a few readers mentioned. I eventually did a light edit of the story, on my own, as I learned about such things and then had it formatted for print.Admittedly, it’s never been looked at by a true professional editor. I know it still needs edited for passive voice and misplaced punctuation, but I’ve never had the heart to go back to it and redo it. It was my baby, my firstborn, imperfections and all.

Over time, I’ve developed a team of beta readers and proofreaders. I’ve gotten better at formatting, editing and story structure. Still, I think back to where it all began, and I have to smile. Without Relic, we wouldn’t have Mel and Dana and their crazy, loving, supportive, (did I say crazy?) extended families and all the spin-off stories that story and the series of books that followed has spawned. I banged my head into the desk a few (many) times after that lousy first draft, but I’d do it all again.

Meet Robyn Nyx:

Discover how Robyn Nyx found the love of her life through writing her first novel, Never Enough at robynnyx.com

Robyn Nyx lives in England but enjoys traveling all over the world in search of inspiration. She loves to create complex characters to weave into stories that remind us of the darker side of human nature in the hope that we might cultivate the light.

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