Beyond the First Draft: Rise Up, Sista

Hi Everyone,

No. I haven’t forgotten you. Lightning struck, and I’ve been tied up with the intricacies of working with a REAL publisher, TouchPoint Press, on my upcoming novel Rise Up, Sista. That’s right! After years of doubt, and soul searching, I finally landed a traditional publisher.

Not that figuring out River Ridge Press, Dominica hasn’t been gratifying. A Face in the River, River of Fire, Back to the River, and Nobody Owns the Rainbow might still be languishing on my desk if I hadn’t taken the plunge and created my own imprint. But promotion, which is such a huge part of self-publishing, is a slippery handle I never quite got a grip on. Imagine. I thought all I had to do was write the best possible book, get it printed, and then everyone would line up to buy it. WRONG. Book promotion is a game that must be studied seriously, and, at age 73, a bit too strenuous for me to play. 

My point is this: A real author doesn’t just write a first draft and then sit back and wait for fame and fortune. It takes a helluva lot of time, work, and faith to coax a manuscript from first draft to publication. The original idea for Rise Up, Sista came to me when Nelly Stharre, a reggae artist from Dominica, died in a mysterious housefire in 2015. But I knew the story of women in popular music was much bigger than Nelly, global in fact. So I created two very different female protagonists, a Jamaican reggae artist, Mercy Mae Williams, and a British rocker, Annabelle Sinclair who became lifelong friends due to their love of music and each other. I continued to work on the story of their fifty-year friendship … writing, rewriting, sending it out for rounds of editing, taking it to workshops, and proofreading until my eyes crossed.  

When it was time to pitch the book to agents and publishers, I got plenty of automated rejections. Some never even bothered to write back. Enter TouchPoint Press Next thing I knew I had a signed contract and was working with yet another editor. Right now we’re fishing for a dynamite cover and looking forward to a final Galley copy before it goes to print.

Was it all worth it? I’ll leave that up to you, the reader, to decide. All I know is that the story needed to be told, and I am proud to be the one who told it. So look out for Rise Up, Sista in 2021. Trust me, I’ll keep you posted.