If you're looking for a fun, summer read, look no farther! THE PAPER ROSE CLUB is available on Amazon Kindle for FREE today and tomorrow. Get your copy HERE.What most people don't know is that this novel was first released in segments to a select test group--a daunting concept on a few levels. First of all, Mom (my co-author) and I were trepidatious about opening ourselves up to criticism while we were writing. It's hard enough to weather criticism after a work is complete. We weren't sure how we were going to feel about having other people inside of our heads while we were creating. The results were surprising--believe it or not, having feedback during the writing process was extremely helpful and not stifling at all. It made us rise up in our attempt to stay a step ahead of the reader. People would say, "I sure hope you're not planning on having this or happen because that's too predictable." On a few occasions, we actually adjusted our plot so as not to be boring or predictable.
Another worry we had was: Would we be able to write fast enough so as to release a segment each week? Each segment was approximately 8-12 pages in length. We'd originally planned on staying at least 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule so that we wouldn't be down to the wire, but life got in the way and we encountered a few hindrances that knocked us back a few notches: sickness, a move across country, kids ... (you get the idea). Anyway, we ended up doing just what we wanted to avoid--burning the midnight oil to meet the Thursday morning deadline. There were a few scary days where I would wake up in the wee hours on Wednesday morning and write until way past midnight--until the letters on the screen began to blur.
The one challenge to writing weekly segments or episodes was how to keep our readers engaged so that they would keep reading each week. Also, with a week in between each reading, people would sometimes have to look back at the previous segment for a refresher.
When we got ready to put the novel together, we had a series of segments rather than chapters. I was worried that the body of work might not flow and figured we would have plenty of re-writing to do. Once we put the segments together, I was happily surprised. We did little to almost no re-writing. It flowed as if we'd planned it that way from the very get-go.
One funny story: My husband and I flew to Texas to visit some dear friends. I finished up a segment on the plane, sitting in the center seat, wedged between two large men--one of them downing alcoholic beverages as fast as he could purchase them. Shortly after we arrived at our friend's home, I posted the segment for the week and breathed a sigh of relief. Another week went by. I got so caught up in visiting friends that I didn't complete the next segment. I was up talking to my friend Yensy late on a Wednesday evening. Yensy was in the reader test group, and we started talking about the novel. She told me that she couldn't wait until the following day to read the next segment. I got this crazy look in my eyes and said, "Well, this next one might be a day or so late." Her comment was, "What? I can't wait that long. I need to know what's going to happen next!" I told her that the only way I could finish the segment was if I stayed up the rest of the night. She laughed and said, "Okay, go ahead." I gave her a nervous laugh, and no, I didn't stay up and finish the segment. Yensy let me off the hook, just that once.
When Mom and I first started planning THE PAPER ROSE CLUB, we started with the idea of creating our ideal town, Honeycomb, Alabama. We wanted to write about a place where people shared their joys and heartaches. Most of the action takes place in a bakery on the town square. In many ways, Honeycomb reminds me of the town where I grew up. I guess I always carry bits of my upbringing with me, no matter where I live. It comes out effortlessly in my writing because it's such a part of me.
We created a newspaper to go along with the novel. After all, what southern town doesn't have a newspaper? It's called The Busy Bee Reporter. We had a lot of fun with that paper! Here's a sampling of one edition:
Here's a description of THE PAPER ROSE CLUB: