Delivery ~ Carry Me Home

 

There’s IMG_4073much I can say about the book publishing process, which added grey hairs to my head and wrinkles around my weary eyes.

But I forgot most of it the day I ripped open this package to reveal the first ever print copy of Carry Me Home.

Fast-tracked via Amazon, it arrived one sunny November morning, like any other delivery which barrels into the driveway on the back of some regular looking truck.

Only, this truck had been listened for all morning.

 

I’d pottered around the front garden, half interested in the new summer roses, but really, head tilted to every noise and rumble from the other side of the hedge.

The cardboard packaging fell apart easy enough under the pull of my knife, and there it was. Velvety cover, cream pages, everything I’d imagined for years. Beside the lemon bowl on my kitchen bench.

In. My. House.

A proof copy for me to examine from every angle, before I pressed the publish for all the world to read button.

But first, I had to hold it. And smell it. And rub the soft cover against my cheek. And when my breathing allowed… hold the book at arm’s length to make sure it was real. And squeal a little.

Giddy, giddy gooseflesh, all my prayers had been answered…and my book had come home.

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editing, proofreading, and formatting

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In August, Carry Me Home received it’s final, full, deep editing.

This came after three weeks with the wonderful Margie Lawson from Denver, and her dear husband, Tom, who visited with us to run two Deep Editing Immersions and attend the RWAust conference in Melbourne.

Armed with the trusty Margie Lawson highlighting arsenal, I took my manuscript apart, page by page.

 

Each scene, each sentence, each word went through the refining fire of ruthless editing. A process which took close to a month to complete.

When I was done, I didn’t want to see a fluro marker or the story again. (Yes, this happens. It’s an author thing. We do recover but there are times we never want to look at the multi-highlighted pages EVER AGAIN.)

Thankfully, the fabulous Rel Mollet was on on hand to proofread one last time before Carry Me Home went off to the experts in Bangkok for print version and digital formatting.

 

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The editing process…delete, swap, add.

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One week into the final editing and the sticky notes were stacking up!

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Two weeks into editing… and I was running out of sticky notes.

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Week three… and that could possibly be blood on the title page.

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Done! Highlighted, annotated… now to apply to the version on my laptop!

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Printed… ready for Rel Mollet to proofread once last time.

Local History Checks ~ Carry Me Home

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Details mean everything to the historical author.

It’s the life threads of another time which draw us and that’s what we want to share with our readers.

So it’s paramount this deliciousness is woven alongside the imagined in a way which keeps the reader believing.

Much of my historical inspiration has come from journals, old letters, newspaper archives, cookbooks, and historical records of island life in it’s infancy.

I thought I had the details sorted when I finished writing Carry Me Home. But I knew I couldn’t trust my information gathering alone.

So I reached out to the good people at the Phillip Island Historical Society. Two of their members agreed to read my manuscript for historical and local accuracy.

This was the first time I’d seen my story on paper. It had survived many rounds with critique partners and editors, but now it headed off, printed and all cosy in polka dot boxes, for those who cherished island history more than I ever could ~ the descendants of Phillip Island’s pioneers and early settlers.

I thoroughly enjoyed receiving their feedback. Who knew the marram grass I thought belonged on the island in 1874, had not been planted until 1910? I learned the better option was spinifex, and so I went with that. Cool word. Spinifex.

On all local matters, I deferred to the experts. Where there was a general issue with historical accuracy, I returned to my desk to research further.

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While the use of mum might sound too modern for the 1870s, I found it commonly used as early as 1835, and the word pester appears in literature dating back to 1588. And did you know the phrase, if the shoe fits, wear it… dates back to 1705, and the very modern sounding, I guess, was used by Shakespeare and Charels Dickens?

Double checking to keep a word or phrase, or delete it, brings some satisfaction. I know I’ll never get it all right, but I won’t leave any questions marks unanswered, either. It must be in the nature of a history nerd. I need to know for myself if my word choices fit the time. Anachronisms bother me as a reader, so the writer in me works extra hard to make sure there are none to trouble my audience.

I’m so grateful I had the assistance of the Historical Society members on this manuscript. Their fresh eyes picked up typos and simple errors, too.

And when I collected my polka dot boxes, minus the chocolate reward I’d stuffed in there, I was ready for another round of edits and revisions. This time, armed with something solid. This was not just a love story, anymore. The historical scaffolding on which it draped had been checked by those who knew best. And I reclaimed my absolute favourite combination, the wonderful weight of history and romance… and took it home where I could polish it some more.

“We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiralling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies.” Shirley Abbot

 

Carry Me Home Cover Design

In May, cover photography for Carry Me Home was handed over to the fabulous Kelli Standish of Pulse Point Design. Armed with the book blurb, Kelli began the long process of finding just the right look for our heroine, Finella Mayfield. Many revisions later we decided to look to photoshop to tweak the final outcome.

You won’t see it until next year, but the photography for book 2, Carry Me Away, is so beautiful we wanted to keep Sophie’s face for that heroine, and so began the search for Finella.

Those who know Sophie, will immediately pick what you see in the Carry Me Home front cover is my Honey-Girl from the neck down. The back cover image is of Sophie in full.

We tucked hair up, let hair down, faced dear Finella forward, away from the camera, played with fonts, and even erased toes which needed to disappear from view.. and the final thrilling cover appeared.

Around this time, some of the nicest people I know were asked to read Carry Me Home for endorsement. Siri Mitchell, Sarah Sundin and Joanne Bischof blessed me beyond imagination with their reader delight. And so we added some of Sarah’s words on the front cover.

But there was SO much work required between the covers, and I’ll be back on Monday with more of how Carry Me Home came together.

Have a great weekend, dear friends…  happy reading,

Dotti

 

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Cary Me Home ~ Full Wrap Cover (For Print Copies)

 

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The evolution of a cover ~ side by side.

Carry Me Home On Location Cover Photo Shoot

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My Honey-Girl ~ cover model for Carry Me Home

With April weather most suitable for a photo shoot, our little crew of four headed out to make the cover magic happen. And Phillip Island responded with fabulous weather and sublime skies.

Sophie, my daughter, Rel Mollet, world’s best VA, and me, the author… did what we were told.

The real boss this day, was Jason Lau (Jason Lau Photography) who threw himself into the task of capturing all three heroines on location, on the very island where their fictional lives took shape.

Only this time, it was real and I was looking at my girl in historical costume, ankle deep in the shallows with the sun just starting to drop behind her.

And now, in her purple skirt … she was Finella Mayfield.

Much of the photography for later covers was taken on the beautiful property of Glen Isla House and its heritage listed gardens ~ the inspiration for books 2 and 3. (more about that later)

But it was on the beach where I’d built sandcastles with my babies… that the cover for Carry Me Home came to life.

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Yes, there was a wig in that bucket. No… we didn’t end up using it.

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Photography for author website banner ~ Ventnor Beach, Phillip Island

 

 

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Wardrobe adjustment, Glen Isla House, Phillip Island

 

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Honey-Girl… we put her on a chair to capture the autumnal grape vine in the background.

 

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Shoe-holder, hand-holder…. Rel Mollet has done it ALL~ Love you Rel.

 

Sadly, the thrill of our on location photo shoot diminished when we discovered later that day, that while Sophie traipsed around the island in beautiful costumery, The Costume Factory from where we’d hired all her outfits, had fallen at the hands of arsonists. Completely burned to the ground in a senseless attack. A heartbreaking end to a day which otherwise had captured more than I expected. All that was left of the extensive collection in Flemington, was what was out on hire that weekend. Including the costumes we’d carried over the island all day.

 

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Carry Me Home, Book 1 ~ The Blue Wren Shallows

 

 

 

Why Phillip Island?

Many hIMG_3807ave asked how Carry Me Home came to be written. And why I set this love story on Phillip Island.

The better question would be… How could I not?

Phillip Island has been our family holiday destination for more than 40 years. Many of my childhood memories are of summers on the island and as soon as my own babies were able to sit up, they dipped straight into the Ventnor rock pools.

This majestic volcanic outcrop, surrounded by picture perfect coastline, has charmed many over the centuries. Some years ago, a newspaper tribute captured some of the stories of the early island settlers. It included old photographs which only hinted at how life might have looked for those who chose to make Phillip Island their new home.

I already had the love. And so began the wonder.

I wondered what it would have been like to live on this remote island in its first decade of white settlement. How would people have arrived (without the bridge which now connects it to the mainland at San Remo)? What difficulties would they have faced in creating a new life? What comforts would they have enjoyed… or longed for?

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I  wondered… who would choose to come here?

And so I created one character, Shadrach Jones, who chose for himself. And then I added Finella Mayfield, for whom the choice had already been made by her father. I threw these two already troubled souls into each other’s midst, and watched how the wild weather, isolated location, and general mischief of life overturned their plans and dreams.

And when I was done, I discovered it was not enough to stop with Shad and Finella. So much more of the island’s delicous history beckoned.

So I find myself gladly marooned there, still … working on the next two books in the Blue Wren Shallows series.

I am a happy castaway. Not just on this island, but trapped in a time I can only dream into existence.

That’s where you’ll find me. Sifting through the remnants of lives once lived. Taking inspiration from those who pioneered a hard yet satisfying life, and fleshing out those who my imagination suggests might have walked among them.

Dotti