How I wrote my first novel.

storybookI still have the book of fairytales my parents bought me when I was a toddler. It is a well worn treasure. Reading or listening to stories has always had a special magic for me. I am fascinated with how authors tell their tales or how they describe what is happening. In first grade I won an essay contest. I decided I would write a novel when I grew up. All through school my favorite assignments were essay writing. In 7th grade I began writing a story that would someday become my first novel.

After college, for some reason, I stopped writing. In 2003 I had the bug to write again, or at least I thought I had it. I was so sure I was ready to write my novel, I bought a laptop at Best Buy. Months passed without a single sentence being composed. I had no clear concept of what I wanted to write about.

I had no clear concept of what I wanted to write about.”

While home from work one day in 2011, the story I had begun to write in 7th grade came back to my mind. Over the next months I would drive to work without the radio on to allow room for the sentences and entire conversations that were forming in my mind. Then I designated Friday’s for writing and the story began to fill a notebook. Every Thursday night before bed I would read what I had written the week before, to refresh my memory. The next morning I would start writing after everyone left for work or school.

Writing on Friday was priority above everything: no hiking or coffee with friends, less house cleaning, and order out pizza for dinner. By January 2012 I had a complete rough draft that totaled 85 pages in my notepad. I typed it into the computer and began filling the story in. It grew every time I wrote. By fall of 2014 I had written 60,000 words. The book was ready for beta readers and feedback.

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In December the editing began. I started re-writing the edits and researching publishing options. I eliminated almost 10,000 words. In January I signed a contract with Lulu Publishing.

June 3rd, 2015, my first novel was published. In July a bookclub in Scottsdale used my book for their summer group, the first book store to carry my book, ordered copies. I planned a book tour in Pennsylvania where the story takes place. The marketing for this book continued.

I learned many lessons one of which was I couldn’t write until the story was ready to be told. When I was ready, I scheduled time to write. I had always heard it said, “you are only a writer if you write every day”. I learned to ignore what people said I should be doing and did what worked for me. As a mom with a full time job, I only had 1 day a week to write.

“I learned to ignore what people said I should be doing and did what worked for me.”

If I got stuck I would read over what I wrote and see what came to me. Even if I only wrote one wonderful paragraph in a day I was happy. After 3 ½ years of 1 day a week of writing, The Common Hours was published.


Tina Stephens

Author of The Common Hours


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