In the third book of my Maagy Series, Enchantment, the main character Princess Maagy must complete her Faith Quest as the final and ultimate challenge to prove her worthiness for knighthood. Only then may she claim her arcane or secret name; a name known only to her, other Knights, and members of Society of Brotherhood that is personal and unique and represents what she has accomplished.
A solitary journey of one’s own choosing, Faith Quest is meant to challenge every ounce of physical strength and every fiber of mental fortitude of the young Academy cadet to prove definitively whether she “has the right stuff” to be dubbed a Knight of the Commonwealth of Realms. Maagy’s exploration is the most difficult thing she has ever had to face in her less-than seventeen years. She may carry only what will fit into the rucksack on her back. She may accept no help for any person and must live off the land for one month. If she survives, she must then write a dissertation chronicling her experiences, and moreover, what they have taught her.
My Faith Quest has been a figurative one as well as a literal – or shall I say – “literary” one. Writing the books has not been the test. The story has come to me easily and freely. It has awakened me in the middle of the night. The characters have whispered to me in the shower, in concerts, on airplanes, while driving in the car. It has greeted me first thing in the morning with the cheery phrase, “Happy Birthday, Maagy!” Living in Maagy’s world with her friends and enemies has been the fun part of this adventure I’ve been on since 2004. Yes, even the bad guys are so delicious!
My mission has been threefold: First, making the decision to publish the first book; second, deciding whether to submit to conventional publishing companies or self-publish; and third, actually navigating the process of getting the books into the world, i. e., marketing.
This journey has not been for the faint of heart.
When the story of Princess Melania Abigail Alice Grace first churned in my head, it was to be a one-and-done, fifty-minute children’s play. However, the Universe in Her infinite wisdom had something else in mind. At one hundred fifty pages, I realized it was not short, it was not a play, and it was not for children only. And so, my Faith Quest began. Skip ahead to around 2011 when a few words of wisdom from an unlikely source set my expedition on a completely new path. Suddenly there were three books taking Maagy’s story beyond her sixteenth birthday. Then Warrior Book 4 made itself known. So far this, Faith Quest has been a piece of cake!
The second leg of my escapade was a fairly easy one, as well. After investigating the shark-infested waters of literary agents and conventional publishing, I decided to self-publish. The overriding reason for my choice was that I wanted control over the material. I wanted to own my product. From an artist’s standpoint, I didn’t want my voice changed or the length cut for purely commercial reasons. I didn’t want to leverage away my art. In addition, my profit margin is higher with a self-published product. However, it all comes at considerable up-front cost. This is certainly a factor to take into consideration when deciding which path to take.
Then the “fun” began. Just as Maagy faced harder and harder obstacles in her way up the mountain, so did I face more difficult aspects of actually getting a book in print and available to the public. The process of having readers assess for content, story ebbs and flows, character development, grammar, typos, etc., etc., etc. is an arduous uphill struggle. Constant reading and editing for clarity and maximum excitement, intrigue, and enjoyment is no easy task. Coordinating with my illustrator to get just the right look for the cover and interior pictures was yet another huge boulder to circumvent on my way to the top. But finally, I hit send and off went my baby. It was like sending my first child off to college. If he/she hasn’t learned how to adult by now… too bad… too late… can’t start over!
Surely, everyone in his/her right mind will be clamoring to get copies and devour them leaving those now-loyal fans hungry for more! This is a Best Seller series! It’s the next HP! I’m the next JK! And then I woke up…
Suddenly, I learned the meaning of a real test of faith. In the midst of beginning my first marketing campaign for Just Maagy Book 1, my mother died. For me, this was my tumble into the abyss with no idea if I could claw my way out. Settling her estate, rehabbing her home and selling it – literally and figuratively putting her house in order – completely stalled any attempt at marketing. Again, the Universe spoke and my own house went to hell in a hand basket when a burst water pipe caused my entire kitchen and laundry room to go away for two months. A roof leak meant completely gutting a bedroom and refurbishing it, as well as a new roof. And through all this, I continued to write. In my not-so-infinite wisdom, I published Krispen Book 2. Poor baby, it fell unceremoniously through the cracks with little or no notice. Over the next two years, while both daughters got married and home restorations continued, I published Enchantment Book 3 and Warrior Book 4. I have continued to write Wizard Queen Book 5, Legacy Book 6, and have finally found the end to Maagy’s saga in Last Heir Book 7.
I have just now started to actually market the series in earnest, but I’m way behind the eight ball on this one. I find this mountain the highest to climb with the coldest, foggiest atmosphere, and the slipperiest, most moss-cover rocks to navigate. I’m tired. I’m lost half the time. I’m afraid that I won’t find my way back down to safety, and if I do, my efforts won’t be enough to achieve my knighthood. I’m a senior citizen – though I hate to admit it – out there amongst the world of Instagram, algorithms, and FaceTime Lives trying desperately to draw real attention to my heart and soul, my fourth child, my Young Adult Fiction/Fantasy series about the coming of age of a young woman; the metaphoric journey of all women from puberty to adulthood regardless of century, decade, country of origin, or religion.
That’s it. That’s all there is. I’ve completed my Faith Quest. Now on to write and present my dissertation. It’s the most harrowing, exciting, infuriating, exhilarating thing I’ve ever done besides mothering my children. It has been a journey of ah-ha moments; of tears of frustration; moments of giving up and giving in; throwing in the towel; then picking it up, wiping away the tears, and getting on with it. I think I’ve earned my arcane name… but I can’t tell you what it is…