Thursday, January 12, 2012

Guest of the Day: Author Kelly Hitchcock!

I'm happy to welcome my fellow author Kelly Hitchcock to my blog today! She has written a special guest post about the long, adventurous and sometimes painful process of writing and publishing a book. It's a pleasure to have you here, Kelly!

Kelly I. Hitchcock is an up-and-coming writer in the Austin, Texas area. She is author of various poems about the randomness of life, several short stories, random creative nonfiction works, and the coming-of-age novel The Redheaded Stepchild. It is available as an e-book or paperback on Amazon. You'll find Kelly's awesome website here!



I loved everything about my first novel, The Redheaded Stepchild. I loved the title. I loved the characters. I loved writing it. I loved how authentic it felt in my head as I was writing it. Then one day I finished it, and the dreadful Now what? question popped into my head. I knew the book was great, and would be the greatest thing unleashed on a reading public. I was married to the book.
I started in the As of the Writer’s Market, and before I knew it, I had been turned down by everyone all the way to the Hs. I didn’t write anything else, because in my heart I just knew I could never again write something so evocative and genuine again in my life.

I put in a drawer and said that I would try to get it published again one day when I was ready. I was somehow shocked that sitting in a drawer, I didn’t have offers for publication flying into the mailbox. I endured kicks in the ass from countless friends who threatened to disown me if I didn’t keep trying and write something new.

So I did. I forced myself to write more stuff, still convinced that no matter what I wrote, it would never be as good as The Redheaded Stepchild. But then, when I pulled the manuscript out of the drawer, I realized it was not the greatest thing to be unleashed on a reading public, after all. It wasn’t even close to being my best work. As I re-read it with a changed set of eyes and a large dose of dramatic distance, I realized that the main character I was so in love with was actually kind of a pathetic, sniveling bitch. The book I was married to was really kind of… disappointing.

I looked at the calendar and realized that seven years had gone by since I had written the first chapter of The Redheaded Stepchild, and I was still waiting for a windfall to come my way for something that, I now realized, was nowhere near as publication-ready as I’d thought. Why was I still waiting when I had this great new novel idea with a lot of promise bouncing around inside my head? Why didn’t I just strike out on my own?

So I did. I took a ruthless red pen to the imperfect manuscript. I cut, I changed names, I expanded scenes, and I finally got it to a point where I truly felt it was good. Not the best thing I’d ever write in my life, but good. The lesson here? You should never be married to one manuscript. The Redheaded Stepchild was my first novel, and it’s a good one, but it won’t be my last.

The Redheaded Stepchild: Cady O’Donnell is The Redheaded Stepchild, the heroine without any grandiose heroic actions. In this disjointed collection of short stories, we follow Cady as she tries on every hat in the this-is-your-life store to see what fits and works best in the adventures she shares with her special head of hair. Each chapter acts a screaming independent connection between the most formative years of her life, as she meets, lives with, and loses one of the most influential people in her lifetime. Set in a rural community in Minnesota, The Redheaded Stepchild is an archetype of life in small-town America and a testament that the broken family is the new whole family, just as Cady O’Donnell shows how the unwanted stepchild can be an everyday hero.