The seed for Badgerblood was planted around mid-2014 and was first known as the Kor Story. As the years rolled on, the story developed further, and with my husband’s encouragement we started entertaining the idea of self-publishing. Steven’s brother is also an author, and Jon’s wife is an artist, so between the four of us we had a little support group. Just a shoutout to Jon and Kim—if you like epic fantasy, check out Jon Monson’s Rise of the Forgotten Sun of The Sun and the Raven series on Amazon.
Back to Badgerblood. Some of the general ideas of the story have remained the same from the beginning—a young man protagonist, an evil king, a mysterious pendant, a pet badger.
Originally, however, Kor’s pendant was a metal piece, not bone. From there it evolved into wood and eventually, I settled on the carved bone pendant we know it to be. You can read Steven’s article about the “Evolution of the Badgerblood Pendant” on our blog.
In addition, the story started out pretty void of magic. I remember thinking I didn’t want much magic in the book, though I can’t remember my reasoning. Maybe it was because magic can get complicated. Readers want to know how it works, what it does, where it came from, etc. Thankfully, my attitude changed and now magic is interwoven throughout the plot, and the story is far more interesting than it started out being.
Many of my ideas for the first book developed as I wrote. Sometimes the plot felt like a growing tree, sprouting branches where I didn’t expect them. I enjoyed the creative freedom that gave me. However, this approach required a LOT of rewriting and some serious time spent later in hashing out important details, motivations, and fixing plot holes. I did have an outline to help me figure out who some of my characters were, but the story and characters developed much further as I wrote. And I did develop a general idea about the overarching plot for the series as things progressed.
For the second book, however, I’m taking more of a traditional planning route, and am currently working on writing out some of the plot. By so doing, I expect it won’t take as long as the first did to be released. (Yay!)
Steven was a great help in generating ideas. Sometimes, when I got stuck on a plot point, I’d run my ideas past him. He would help me work out the kinks by asking questions and making suggestions of his own. It should be noted that, for me, this was not an easy thing. I had to learn how to accept critique, an important skill to learn when trying to improve in anything creative. But Steven was patient with me and some of the best ideas in the book stemmed from his suggestions.
Another helpful method was writing difficult plot points down on paper and using bullets to brainstorm ideas for each. And then just starting to write the story helped, too.
I was lucky enough to have a few friends agree to beta read. Steven alpha read first, reviewing the manuscript and pointing out issues as well as things he liked. This helped me understand what points needed fixing and what I was doing well.
My beta readers came next. I had a few read the first round and some read for the second.
During the first round, they caught grammatical errors, plot holes, plot inconsistencies, incorrect word usage, and perhaps most important of all, weak character development and point of view. In my first drafts, I jumped around to different character’s points of view without waiting for a chapter break. It was jarring to read and poorly done. Also, in the beginning, Allinor had little direction or purpose in the story. Thankfully, heavy critique helped me resolve these issues and after making corrections, the second round of beta reading went smoother and faster.
The process was an interesting challenge for me because I had to “interpret” what the betas were actually saying when giving critique. They pointed out trouble spots, but then I had to figure out how to fix them. Sometimes the solution was not always the obvious one. Sometimes my betas had the answer. Sometimes I had to pray and think hard and figure it out with Steven’s help. And sometimes, the answer was already woven into the story. So…that was pretty cool.
Here’s a shoutout to all my beta friends who stuck with me and saw the potential for the story before it was fully developed. Thank you!
When I was close to finishing the beta reading revisions, we began searching for an editor on Reedsy. We queried several to check their prices and eventually decided on Melissa Frain. If you need an editor, consider her. Melissa’s experience, professionalism, and kindness helped get my manuscript to a place where I could feel confident about publishing it.
The first round of editing was a copy edit. Melissa checked for improper word usage, sentence flow, grammatical errors, etc. She even flagged confusing imagery, including one where a sweaty Merrick appeared to be preparing to confront the king in nothing but his underwear…Oops. Don’t worry, we fixed that. 😉
After she finished and sent the manuscript back to me, I rewrote, made corrections, and returned it to Melissa again for a final round of proofreading.
During the in-between stages, waiting for Melissa to finish, I experimented with recording short sections of the book. This was practice for a potential future audiobook. You can listen to a snippet on my blog here: Audio Sample from Badgerblood: Awakening.
I also dallied a little in music composition. You can listen to a short, unfinished, disco-sounding piece on my blog here: Russian Castle Music: A Little Side Project.
I continued making corrections to the manuscript throughout the publishing process. We ordered a proof before the book was officially published and read through it together to catch and make last minute corrections. After that, we ordered one more proof and I read through it one more time.
Prior to the book launch, we held a giveaway to garner interest and increase our mail list. Some of the prizes included a signed and stamped paperback of Badgerblood: Awakening, a signed, limited edition bookmark found here (only 500 have been made), a pendant, and a poster, also found here.
Finally, we formatted the manuscript for paperback and Ebook, complete with a cover designed by Steven, and published it on April 23, 2021. You can view or purchase it on Amazon.
Want to Self-Publish?
If you’re looking to self-publish a book of your own but need more guidance about how to do it, comment below and we’ll consider writing a more detailed blog post on our process.
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