• Stephanie Hammond

Writing update ...

In 2005 I hid myself away in a small town in Massachusetts in the depth of winter to see if I really enjoyed this writing that I’d been longing to do all my life. In five weeks I’d written the draft of my first novel, Last Days in Atlantis. Over the next five years I edited it, polished it, had several Beta readers give me comments, paid three professional editors to give me advice and finally published it. The photo is of a pendant that means a lot to the main character.

Nearly seven years later, after several attempts at a sequel, I came to the realisation that my novel wasn’t crafted properly for its sequel to dovetail nicely. So I’m rewriting this first novel.

Also over the last several years, I’ve learned more about the craft of writing. I’ve discovered some amazing teachers, on-line and in person, and I’ve read books on the craft. Jennifer Blanchard, Joanna Penn, Chandler Bolt, Jeff Goins are just a few of these on-line teachers and mentors. Their books and videos and blog posts have spring boarded me into a better understanding of what makes a good story. Books by Larry Brooks have been equally illuminating.

As a result of all this reading and learning, I’ve found I’m loving my writing even more. This current task of rewriting my novel is a joy, not a chore. And I’m up to my first 50 page edit.

I’m excited as I’m getting to see my protagonist Mari struggle her way through the loving demands of her people while she has an inner longer to be doing and being something else. I have lots of conversations with her, getting to know her inner self and her motivations and her strengths and weaknesses.

The leader of her tribe, Serena, is an enigma to me, and I’ve interviewed her to get to the crux of her own story and what motivates her to keep leading her people even though she is now of a great age.

Mari’s mother seems hell bent on treating her as a child, which at 15 she is I suppose. And why she has such a resistance to telling Mari who her father is is a mystery that I’m hell bent on discovering.

Yes, I’m enjoying this stage of my writing. I’ve outlined the sequel and know I’ll have to face the question - do I make this rewrite just one epic story, or do I make it the first part of two, or even three books on the same characters?

Over the last few years as I struggled to write a sequel to a story that was not quite set up for the sequel, I’ve started another Last Days book. This one set in Ancient Egypt. I really love this story and the main character Meresankh, or Mere as she’s known by her friends. I’ve put that story on hold as I tidy up Mari’s tale. But she’s waiting patiently for the unfolding of her life.

I’m really excited too that the second book about how Beatrice, the Little Angel with One Large Wing, learns about Joy will be illustrated this year by Bella. Bella is our granddaughter and she illustrated the first story (about learning compassion) when she was 10. Now she’s in her last year at High School and is committed to illustration and design as a future path. I loved her first illustrations and can’t wait to see what she does with this Beatrice story now she has matured as a young woman and in her illustrations. The books aren’t available as e-books yet, but that’s a project for the near future as well.

And the last 31 days of My 500 Words challenge have given me some ideas of what to put in my slowly been emerging frame for a memoir.

So that’s the next few years roughly mapped out. Would you like to be kept up to date with what’s happening in my writing world from time to time? There’s a “Join our mailing list” box at the bottom of each page on my website. Please add your name, and I promise you won’t get too many emails flooding your inbox. I’m excited about my writing and excited at the prospect of sharing it with you directly.

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