Wednesday, September 11, 2013

ELSIE PARK: On Publication Challenges


Please welcome Elsie Park, newly published author, to the blog! Her debut novel, Shadows of Valor, was published by Jolly Fish Press earlier this week on September 7th! She's here to talk about publication challenges today.

Congratulations and welcome, Elsie! I'll let you take it from here. :)

Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog, Brenda! I’m glad to be here and happy to share whatever I’ve got to give *smiling*.

Is this a fab cover, or what?
The topic you asked me to write on, "Five challenges on the road to publication, and how I met them head on", is certainly a good one. When I read the topic, I thought, “Sheesh, I can only pick FIVE challenges on the road to publication? – LOL. Sometimes it seems like there are a gazillion. But, I managed to come up with five that are at the top of my personal list. For some they may seem miniscule, for others, daunting. Everyone picks and chooses their battles, and these were mine:

1) Taking that first step - Many people say, “Oh, I cold NEVER write a novel!” But I’m evidence that ANYONE can write a novel. As my father likes to remind me: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” The thought of a full length novel was daunting to me, so I started out with a few scattered scenes. I simply typed them out in no particular order, on a word document and entitled it something to the effect of “Story Idea.” I then pieced them together in a tentative plot. Then I put in a few more scenes here and there. Then I let my mother read it and give me feed back, resulting in her suggesting some more things she’d like to hear about in the story. So I added more scenes. Little by little, the story grew in pages and before I knew it, I had a full-length novel on my hands.

2) Finding the time to write and placing it on your list of priorities - Learning to utilize the time given to me between children, household, school, church, groceries, cleaning, you name it, was a big challenge (and still is). I had to balance my time between my little ones and my writing. This often led to staying up late to type, losing sleep and feeling very tired the next day. But I’d eventually catch up on my sleep and feel that the work I’d accomplished on my novel was worth the fatigue. I didn’t meet this challenge head on, though. Sometimes I actually dodged it, which is why it took me about 6 years to get my final draft done and published. I had set the manuscript aside for months at a time, because of newborns in the house, not having enough money in the budget to send my manuscript to any more publishers and agents, being so tired after a day of being a mother that I didn’t have the energy to stay up late or get up early and write. I’m happy to say that I manage my time a little better now.

3) Rewriting – Paying attention to good and correct grammar is essential in lessening the number of rewrites and for not getting burned out over the entire process. Every time people read the manuscript and have “plenty” to say about it results in yet another rewrite. The thought of doing so causes literal headaches, chocolate fetishes and difficulties in finding ways to get motivated again. The hardest thing for an author to hear is “constructive” (or “destructive”) criticism about their writing. Criticism ruffles a writer’s feathers like nothing else – LOL! BUT, in the end, we admit that many who gave their opinions presented good points, great ideas to think about and wonderful lessons in humility to learn. A smart writer will listen to the readers with an open mind and humble pen. I revised my manuscript probably 15+ times over the six years I worked on it. Each time I revised I wanted to cry that I had to spend days and days changing something I thought had been perfect, but in the end I realized that each version ended up better than the last thanks to all the blood, sweat and tears put into it.

4) Making a good first impression with a great query letter – A publisher or an agent usually doesn’t know you from Adam, so your first impression could very well be your last if it’s not done with professional precision. I think I spent just as much time on my query letters as on my manuscript. If a query looks bad, is sloppy, not typed, has bad spelling and grammar, is printed on hot pink paper and doesn’t follow the guidelines set by that particular agency, then it will get tossed more often than not. The publisher doesn’t have the time to give your unprofessional-looking query the time of day. Make yourself stand out with your good writing, good grammar, and obvious ability to follow directions is the way to get noticed.

5) Not getting discouraged – A key to meeting this challenge head on is drawing strength from yourself, your loved ones and your true friends who give you confidence and support. Also, going to writer’s conferences helps immensely as you meet with authors, both published and unpublished, who share the same goals and challenges and give each other strength and encouragement. Every speaker at a conference is there to help advance your work, and you leave feeling buoyed up and ready to try again. Believing in yourself is key. Believing that you’ve written something that needs to be shared and that people would love to read is essential to getting over discouragement.

I hope these things were helpful and encouraging to readers.

Thanks so much for having me here on your blog, Brenda!
Anytime, Elsie! I wish you all the best with your debut!

A little background info...
SHADOWS OF VALOR overview: Taking place in 1300 A.D. England, The Shadow (aka Sir Calan), a knight-spy working under the direction of King Edward I, hunts down and arrests smugglers who defy the law and evade paying their taxes. The Shadow’s duty is fueled by vengeance from a childhood experience against smugglers. Dealing with society at its worst, The Shadow becomes cynical and struggles to reign in his desire to execute lethal justice before turning the perpetrators over to local authorities. He feels his soul turning black with hate in his continual fight against evil. A childhood acquaintance, Lady Elsbeth, enters his life years later, bringing light to his soul once again, but she has a story of her own, accompanied by physical and emotional scars. Calan feel he needs Elsbeth in his life, but in an effort to keep his identity and duty secret, he must deceive her. This creates distrust and uncertainty between them, as she accepts another man as her suitor. But Calan must ask the question: What’s worth fighting for more? His long-standing desire to avenge a childhood friend or the woman who may be his salvation? What entails is a glorious tale full of deceit, greed, inner struggles, betrayal, and most of all—love.

About Elsie:

Growing up in a small mountain town outside of Yosemite National Park, California, U.S.A., Elsie enjoyed playing soccer, playing piano, reading, writing, art and spending time with family and friends. Years ago she spent 18 months in Italy teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Seeing the castles and old Roman cities only added to her fascination for ancient and medieval culture. In college she studied zoology, botany and criminal justice. She’s worked as a wildland firefighter, security guard and a police officer, but she is currently a stay-at-home mom, spending time with her children and husband. She loves thinking up new ideas for interesting stories and musical compositions to go with them.

Want more information? Want to by Elsie's book? Look here:

Twitter: @elsiepark1


  1. Thank you, thank you, for having me on your WONDERFUL blog, sweet Brenda! I appreciate it SO MUCH!


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