A Story Nearly 40 Years in the Making….
“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.” – Sue Monk Kidd
It’s afternoon here in Lithia, Florida, on Saturday, March 11, 2023. I’m a bit tired, though; I spent much of yesterday afternoon and last night making some necessary revisions to a story that I self-published a few years ago via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing division. It was my first time using the new Kindle Create app, and although it is easy to upload a manuscript from, say, Microsoft Word to the app, adding some features – in my case, it was the Epigraph – can be difficult.
It took me a while to fix that issue, which is why it wasn’t until just before midnight that I was satisfied with the second revised version of Reunion: A Story, a work of fiction that began as a modest exercise (“Write either a flashback sequence or a dream sequence!” was the prompt) in my college creative writing class in 1987 but grew over time into what might be described as a long short story or a modest novella.
“The real art of writing is, of course, in rewriting.” ― A.D. Aliwat, In Limbo
Thankfully, all of the changes I made were either cosmetic – such as ditching the Kindle edition’s cover illustration and replacing it with a more abstract one – or had something to do with the legal requirements of the publishing business, such as adding the copyright notice and a disclaimer stating that Reunion is a work of fiction, even though one of its settings – the key one, at that – is my old high school in South Florida.
You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do!
Since I had to temporarily unpublish Reunion while I added the “legal stuff” to protect my rights as a writer, I took this opportunity to go over the text of Reunion and fix some mistakes that I’ve found in my infrequent read-throughs of the story. There weren’t too many typos or strange, hard-to-read turns of phrase, but there were some. I knew that they were there, but I was reluctant to grapple with Kindle Create, which can sometimes be more of a hindrance than a help.
“A mentor is not someone who walks ahead of us and tells us how they did it.
A mentor is someone who walks alongside us to guide us on what we can do.” ― Simon Sinek
As a matter of fact, if a sharp-eyed reader – who also happens to be my former journalism professor at Miami-Dade Community College – South Campus (now known as Miami-Dade College – Kendall Campus) – had not reached out to me recently to wish me a happy birthday via this blog’s Contact functionality, I would not have seen an urgent need for the revisions.
The Problem with Knowledge Gaps
I have been writing since I was a kid, but there are some gaps in my knowledge about the craft. One of the biggest gaps is the “legal side” of the publishing business, which is why I didn’t bother to add the copyright or the disclaimer (The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.). Once my mentor explained why I needed to add that, I immediately went to Amazon, downloaded the Kindle Create app, and…well, here we are.
My journalism prof also suggested a few edits related to one specific location vis a vis the character’s perception of his surroundings, especially since it involves the geography and architecture of New York City. It is a small, trivial detail, but I must admit it was an important one, especially for readers who are familiar with Manhattan and its environment.
Look! It’s New and Improved!
Once I took care of the edits – which thankfully were not numerous and relatively easy to deal with – and was happy with my copy, I then allowed Kindle Create to add chapter headings, a table of contents, and changed the “theme” (or “style”) to give Reunion a more pleasing aesthetic. The typeface I chose is called “Bookerly,” and I think it looks great.
I also added an epigraph – supposedly the easiest of the revisions to make, but it was the source of most of the delays in getting Reunion to go “live” – plus what Kindle Create calls “Back Matter,” including an author bio (I just used the one from my Amazon Authors’ page, just tweaked it a bit for the book), a photo (it’s from 2017, though!), and a short review from the book’s product page.
I worked on fixing Reunion from just after 1 PM to around 11:45 PM. I took breaks, of course; I wasn’t reinventing the wheel; I was just doing what I considered to be “housekeeping” tasks to improve a decent story that I am deeply attached to. It didn’t involve any radical changes to the story – the characters and situations were not messed with, and fans of “happily-ever-after” endings will be disappointed that I did not mess with the story’s denouement.
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” ― Philip Pullman
Anyway, Reunion: A Story is now live on Amazon Kindle as an e-book. It’s also available for on-demand printing in a second, revised version that will, hopefully, be the definitive edition. (It’s going to be about a week until Amazon unpublishes the older Kindle edition from the site, and it will also take around the same amount of time for the e-retailer to update the cover art on the paperback edition. Per Kindle Create, the paperback edition will use the same source file as the e-book, so the two should have the same content.
You can order Reunion: A Story here!
2 thoughts on “On Writing & Storytelling: The Second Revised Edition of ‘Reunion’ is Live!”
Just bought it.
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