The Birth of My Debut Novel
by Cindy Jones, the Texas-based author of My Jane Austen Summer
Being a debut author is like being a mother for the first time. Only a month into publication, the back of my car is loaded with books and promotional materials the way I once hauled diaper bags and strollers, and my jumbo book cover poster must be unpacked after each event in order to fit my human children in the car. I’ve yet to establish a schedule (and sleep through the night) but everything is new and exciting. I taught myself to Twitter and blog in order to introduce my new novel to readers and spent months prior to the launch perfecting details including website, Facebook fan page, and launch events.
My story about a young woman who wishes to live in a novel was conceived after a Jane Austen reading binge. When I arrived at the last page of the last book Jane Austen wrote before she died, (she only wrote six), I couldn’t move on. I knew there would never be another Jane Austen novel but I wanted to continue to live in her world where bookish women are heroines. I wanted to explore her work in greater depth while channeling the Jane Austen voice in my head. The book I wanted to read didn’t exist, so I wrote it myself! My Jane Austen Summer was born five years later, featuring all of the above plus a stand-alone story about a bookish woman with romance issues.
My path to publication took ten years and included raising four sons and parking one “starter novel” in a drawer. In the beginning, I wrote while they slept. Once they were in school, I invested more time and effort to make greater progress. Things I found to be really helpful: SMU’s continuing ed writing program, an Iowa-trained writing teacher who understood my work, my faithful writer’s group, The Writer’s League of Texas, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and generous published friends who share.
The birth of my debut novel has required adjustments in family life and writing schedule, but so far, no one has suggested we send Baby Book back to the hospital, and my published friends assure me a balance will develop between promoting the first book and writing the second. Good news: writing progress is faster the second time around, reminding me how my second son learnt to nap, feed himself, and reach developmental milestones from his car seat. Somehow it all comes together in the end.