Guest Post by Michelle Lowery Combs
The feeling a runner has the moment she crosses a finish line isn’t one I thought I’d ever know. I don’t run much—unless my mouth and amuck count, so the euphoria of having exerted myself to near death for the reward of simply finishing eluded me. Until, that is, I began to think of writing and finishing Solomon’s Bell, the second of my Genie Chronicles stories, in terms of a long-distance marathon.
There were days during the year and a half it took to write SB that I didn’t think I’d make the race, especially sandwiched between everything else I have going on in my life. I bought a house that requires all kinds of energy and attention, took on a new position at my day job, helped my sister and a friend open a restaurant, and then there were the real-life counterparts to all those Lawson Family kids in the books demanding permission slips and poster boards and orthodonture and prom dresses and senior portraits and dinner every night. EVERY. NIGHT.
But I plugged away. Pushing myself for just one more hill, just one more corner, just one more mile, hobbling like a nearly lame pack mule—heavily burdened with saddlebags of tap shoes, basketballs, and other foolishment—instead of gracefully striding like a gazelle on the Serengeti the way I dreamed of.
A book can seem like an insurmountable distance to cover this way. At times, I thought I wouldn’t make it to the finish line. Even when it was in sight after the manuscript had been revised and submitted and I waited for word about the first round of edits. I watched other author friends, pushing out quick strides, release their second and sometimes third novels as I jogged in place and caught my breath for almost another year. I began to think publication wouldn’t happen for me this time around. I thought about quitting.
Each time I was beset by doubt, I remembered the eager faces of my cheering readership, young people I’ve met at book festivals and Comic Cons since 2013 who’ve sought me out to tell me they read Heir to the Lamp and were excited to learn how Ginn’s story continues. I imagined these young readers, peppered with family members who’ve supported my every literary endeavor, packing the roadside leading to the finish line, and I ran on.
And then it was time for edits! And edits. And edits. And even though during these times it seemed the finish line still loomed far in the distance, I ran on—this time with a powerhouse of an editor in Sarena Ulibarri, matching me stride for stride, throwing virtual orange slices and water bottles my way, energizing me for the work ahead. I ran this stretch without the finish line being so much of the focus, concentrating instead on the running—the slap, slap, slapping of my feet, until I finally looked up again and it was closer than ever before.
This week I’ll cross the finish line holding a book I’ve exerted myself for in all the best ways, a book that taught me how to finish even though it was a lesson I thought I’d already learned, a book with a glorious cover I adore designed by Sarena and full of words she helped make better with every mile.
I hear it’s customary after having run a marathon to eat everything in sight before collapsing into a heavy slumber to rival Sleeping Beauty’s. Pass me some cake and scoot over, Aurora. Momma needs a nap!
Michelle Lowery Combs is an award-winning writer and blogger who studied business and English at Jacksonville State University. She lives in Alabama with her husband and their army of children. When not in the presence of throngs of toddlers, tweens, and teens, Michelle can be found among the rows of her family's farm, neglecting her roots and dreaming up the next bestseller. She is a member of the Alabama Writers' Conclave and the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).
World Weaver Press
Publishing fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction.