Please welcome Gwendolyn N. Nix to The Qwillery. The Falling Dawn was published on May 11, 2018 by Crossroads Press.
The Hero's Journey and Me
Gwendolyn N. Nix
Call to Adventure
Inspiration, that cruel yet wonderful mistress, swooped down on me one fateful evening outside of Makoshika State Park in Glendive, Montana. I'll paint the scene: imagine the pillars and scoops of the badlands, the bones of ancient dinosaurs peeking out of the bedrock, the classic family vacation full of kooky grandparents and backseat sibling squabbles.
Dusk descended, and a prairie thunderstorm raced across the plains to surround our car. The wind howled and the blinding yellow lighting lit the clouds, making the raindrops coating my window glow. I put my hand on the glass, counting the seconds between flashes and thunder rumbles, fascinated in how the lighting looked like falling angels. The story swirled around me, exploding in my brain with that jittery world-encompassing rush of inspiration.
Writers, readers. You know what I'm talking about. The rush. It's unstoppable. It's addicting. And now, at a tender age, I was slave to it.
Refusal of the Call
But how? How to write what I saw in my mind? How to translate that feeling onto the page? English? Pah! No words could embody the feeling of what my story meant. The translation between the seemingly supernatural inspiration and the tools of reality were basic at best. How many times did I nearly give up trying to describe the way the flame of a candle flickered to impart the symbolic gesture of the human soul?
Soon enough, I stashed away my pens and papers, took to driving sports cars at 1am with my friends and spent my weekends out on the town. A bookworm, yes always, but a writer? Meh. Not me.
And yet, I managed to handwrite over 150,000 words for Book One. No one had read a single word of it.
Meeting the Mentor
I was an expert liar at this point about my writing path. I headed off to college with lofty authorly goals in mind and landed headfirst into the creative writing department. I needed help with my craft. The tools in my writer's belt were clumsy Clovis points of too-long sentences instead of honed spears of those who'd been published. Yet, I soon learned the error in my ways: genre fiction wasn't 'in.'
You can't learn from fantasy! I heard. What truths can science fiction impart? You want to add sirens and magic-empowered megladons to your tales?Forget about it! And the untitled novel full of celestial warriors, ocean magic, and underworld gods became a thing of shame, an unworthy concept, an indulgence instead of a vessel to practice my art.
And yet, my heart would not be broken. Finding a mentor wasn't finding my Obi-Wan to teach me my path. My mentorship consisted of discovering what I didn't want to be and having the strength to pursue what I did want to become.
Now transcribed onto a computer, Book 2 had over 75,000 words. Somehow, I'd crossed the path of I think into I know. I knew I wanted to be a writer. A fantasy science-fiction writer.
Tests, Allies, Enemies and the Approach
Lo, I saw before me a dream pasted from pages and printed with words. I saw through the clouds to the high mountain of published success, yet the road to its peak was blocked with query letters, submission guidelines, industry trends, and wizards called agents who held the keys to the gates. I met seers with their eyes on the past and future. They advised me to revise, strengthen my story arc, cut 10% of my words, and ensure that everything served this sacred concept: plot.
I revised. I revised. I revised. I was rejected again and again. I realized I was a lowly blacksmith, the iron of my stories rough and dull. I became the apprentice of blogs, writing panels, and freelance editors. I got Twitter. I revised. I was rejected. I claimed to have trunked this novel, but that was all deceit. I had a dream, yet the mountain looked further away than it ever had before.
Book One has been cut to 125,000 words.
I came to work for a publishing company and after a time, under certain circumstances on both our parts, they offered to publish my works. I was ecstatic. Happy dances abounded. Things began to develop: artwork, editing, scheduling, but after a number of months the ship began to sink. The ordeal of publishing my novel was out of my hands and dependent on things out of my control. Soon enough, when the mountain looked like it was within my grasp, an avalanche swept me back down to the foothills, and I put my head in my hands and wondered When do all the signs point towards giving up? Here, at the lowest point of my Hero's Journey, I believed all was lost. What was my greatest fear? Failure. That I wasn't good enough.
Resurrection and Transformation
Maybe I wasn't good enough, but my novel had a title now, The Falling Dawn, and I'd had a sweet taste of what it would be like to hold a physical copy in my hands. I had the tools, the skills, and the knowledge to understand what would make my novel sell, what the trends looked like, what the arcs of my tale were. My reward through it all was the realization that I was master of my destiny. I rode the steed of ambition and perseverance and contacted those who might be interested in the story I had to tell. I put myself out there. I managed to speak with my current publisher, who was more than happy to take my book into their repertoire. I managed to reclaim what I had lost: the chance to publish my novel.
Back to the Beginning
Now, with my novel in my hands (and hopefully yours) I'm back to the beginning where I started, with a blank page and that sudden rush filling me again. It's time to write. It's time to craft a spell: one composed out of alliteration, plot twists, and the human condition. It's time to write my next book.
The Falling Dawn
Celestial Scripts 1
Crossroad Press, May 11, 2018
eBook and Trade Paperback
Emerging from the dregs of society to become a celestial warrior, Eos soon becomes immersed in a world of ancient texts and falling angels, tasked to find the sacred Book of Raziel and stop a war in heaven. The secrets of the Book will lead Eos down a path of betrayal, pitting her against those she loves. All the while she must cling to her own crumbling sanity as her psyche is split by the emergence of another entity, heralded by the onset of Eos’ new powers. Soon, Eos finds herself in the clutches of the Master of the Oceans, where she must convince him to give her the sacred book. His price? Her soul.
Gwendolyn Nix has tagged sharks in Belize, studied evolution in green algae, and researched neural proteins. She is the author of The Falling Dawn: Celestial Scripts Book One soon to be released from Crossroad Press. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthology Sisterhood of the Blade, and she has earned Semi-Finalist and Honorable Mentions in the Writers of the Future contest. Previously an editor for Ragnarok Publications, she is currently a senior editor for Outland Entertainment. An avid adventurer and saxophonist, she lives in Missoula, MT. Visit her website at www.gwendolynnix.com.