Internationally recognized outdoorsman and business leader Jace McKibbon is not used to feeling helpless, until he sets foot in America’s favorite amusement park, Neverland. When his grieving daughter forms a connection with the young woman playing Cinderella, Jace gratefully places himself in the beautiful princess’s hands. Carolina is in her element helping the little family negotiate the park, and Jace’s sparking blue eyes and rugged good looks don’t hurt. But as much as Carolina loves playing Cinderella at Neverland, she longs for more challenging work in God’s world. Can Jace help Carolina find a fairytale ending?
INTERVIEW with author ANNA GRACE
Where did the idea for this book come from?
I was struck with the image of a little girl desperate to connect with someone who could understand her suffering. The characters of Jace and Carolina filled in later, but the initial scene of Ruthie rushing up to a woman playing Cinderella at an amusement park was the spark for the story.
How long did it take you to write this book?
I wrote the first draft in about six months, then I set it aside for over a year. I tried to focus on other projects, but this book just kept calling to me. Finally I decided I would finish it with the intention of creating a fun book for my teenage daughter and her friends to enjoy. The final edits only took three months. I’m a teacher, so I was home for the summer and would get up before my family everyday and chip away at it.
Tell us about your revisions…
Honestly the revisions were really fun. I felt like I was trying to figure out how the characters wanted the story to be told.
When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
I read through the book carefully and came up with a list of problems, everything from character inconsistencies to words I overused. Then I just forced myself to go down the list and correct all the problems. I gave the manuscript to my mom to read, and once I had her seal of approval I started looking for publishers.
What happened along the way in your submission process?
This is my first published novel. I’ve been facing rejection for years and was hesitant to put this book out there. But I really love this novel and felt like it would appeal to readers. I researched a number of small publishers and thought Clean Reads might be a good fit.
When and how did you get the offer on your book?
It was about 9:30 on a Friday evening. My husband and I had just gotten home after going to a play at the high school where we both teach. I don’t know why but I decided to check the email on my phone. When I saw I had a response from Clean Reads, I assumed it would be a rejection. I almost didn’t open the email, but took a deep breath and told myself to deal with it. And there was a brief note from the editor saying she loved my book and had attached a contract! I was dancing around the kitchen, laughing and yelling. Then I called my mom, and continued with the laughing and yelling.
Tell us about the editorial process…
The Clean Reads editors had some great ideas about how to word things more clearly, and helped sharpen the focus of the book. The biggest wrench in the system came when I found out that Disney would not allow me to use their name in the book. I freaked out for a good twenty-four hours when I got the official-looking letter with mouse ears stating that I would not be allowed to use Disneyland as a setting. I brainstormed with my family, and finally came up with Neverland as a setting. That was actually freeing, because I didn’t need to worry about getting all the Disneyland details right.
Did you get to participate in the cover process? If yes, how?
The cover process was one of my favorite parts. The designer, Cora Bignardi, sent a beautiful cover, but it didn’t fit with the characters. I went to the designer’s pinterest page and looked at all of her covers, then let her know what type of image I thought would work. Stephanie Taylor (owner and Chief editor of Clean Reads) weighed in on the process. Cora ultimately came up with this gorgeous cover. I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out.
How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand or on screen (e-book)?
Just nine short months! It’s hard to believe I went from someone struggling to get published to a working author in less than a year.
What marketing are you doing for this book?
There’s so much to do! I thought it would be difficult, but I love these characters and am excited to share them with others.
I’m focused on asking friends and family members to read and review the book on Amazon. A funny detour on that road has been my high school students. In a sincere effort to be helpful they keep going on to Amazon and saying His Cinderella Sweetheart is the best thing since the Sumerians invented writing, way better than Shakespeare, the best romance novel ever written. I have to ask them, gently, to take their lavish praise down. I like my book, but there have been better things written in the last 5000 years.
I’m also reaching out to bloggers and asking them to read and review my book (Thank you!)
And finally, I am in the process of making an audio book. Years ago I was an actress, and have always loved reading out loud.
Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?
This book really wanted to be written. From the inspiration to the final product, I’ve always felt like I was just helping this story get told. I loved the process and am excited to share it with others.
Where can you be found online?
Facebook: Anna Grace Author
Where can your books be purchased?
Amazon : https://www.amazon.com/His-Cinderella-Sweetheart-Contemporary-Romance-ebook/dp/B07KG8Z66N/
Clean Reads: http://cleanreads.com/catalog/adult/his-cinderella-sweetheart-a-contemporary-romance
Anna Grace lives on a small farm outside of Eugene, Oregon. She spends her time writing, rock climbing, keeping up with her family, attempting to keep up with the garden, and wrangling goats. She writes about honest fashion for active women at MudandGraceStyle.com.
I recently read a new writer asking, “How do you get started writing your book?” Many answers were of the “just start” to “write every day” variety. But I don’t think those answers went deep enough. Or maybe far enough back.
The writer knew the theme of what she wanted to write, but seemingly not much more. Here’s what I think is important:
LEARN THE BASICS OF THE CRAFT
Plot, characterization, dialogue, scenes, setting, narration, pacing, transitions, action, backstory, flashbacks, theme, main character’s goal(s), secondary characters, conflict, tension, cliffhanger chapter endings, varied sentence structure, etc. Do you understand these concepts/ideas at some level? Do you know that stories have a beginning, middle, and end? Do you know what a story arc is? Do you know the audience and genre where your book idea would fit? Do you know the average word count for those types of books?
Most of us don’t know these things naturally, although some of it is absorbed by enthusiastic reading. But there are lots of resources out there to learn the basic craft of writing: books, articles, blog posts, online classes, face-to-face classes, conferences, workshops, and writing groups.
I think the best of these include writing exercises. It may not feel like making progress writing your book, but practicing writing a conversation, an event, a scene, a beginning, etc. can teach so much. And if you have an instructor or mentor who tells you what you (and others) are doing right and wrong, even better.
“You write a book by deciding first what you’re going to write and how you’re going to write it.” – Jeff Goins
Here are what I think are important steps to planning (not in any particular order as it can change for each book project):
Some people outline at this stage. I am not an outliner. You can see my process here. And here’s a good article on outlining: “7 Steps to Creating a Flexible Outline for Any Story” by K.M. Weiland
Pick a circumstance that your character is involved in—often the moment where everything changes—and start writing. Will this be the first chapter of your story? Possibly, possibly not. But it is a way to get your first draft going. When you’re ready to start your story, read this blog post that has lots of resources. And check out “Novel writing basics: 10 steps to an unputdownable book.”
Some do so by setting goals. Will you write five days a week? On the weekends? Will you have word count or page count goals? Or perhaps you’ll have a time related goal—e.g. I’ll write for an hour a day. There’s no right or wrong answer, but scheduling a time and place you’ll write is important.
Don’t worry about the progress someone else is making, just keeping moving forward. Write, write, write, and write until you reach the end.
Then celebrate your accomplishment!
For more advice on my site for new writers, go here.
SM Ford writes inspirational fiction for adults, although teens may find the stories of interest, too. She also loves assisting other writers on their journeys.