The countdown to the release of Dream On has begun. I can’t promise a release date yet, but I HOPE to have it out before the end of the month. Certainly by December 1st at the latest.
And some days it don’t come easy | And some days it don’t come hard
And some days it don’t come at all | And these are the days that never end…
Essentially, the book is finished. The last couple of times that I’ve completed a final draft, it has been very much that – a draft – and has still needed a lot of work. The original draft of Dare to Dream was quite different from the book that it became, due to a combination of my own realisation of its shortcomings and feedback from other people about what needed to change. The final draft of Against the Clock was so weak that after I reviewed it, I decided that it needed such a large overhaul that it was going to essentially be a complete re-write, not just a tidy-up of a few storylines as Dare to Dream was. So that has been shelved for the moment, although it is still mulling itself over in my head.
Having other people read your work is one of the most terrifying – and rewarding – parts of being a writer. It’s baring your soul to the world, and it’s actually really hard to do (although it does get easier). One of my greatest critics is my mum, who like myself, is an avid reader. Unlike myself, she has next to no interest in horses, and her knowledge is restricted to what she has gleaned from me over the years, and has learned from reading my books. She’s a great person to read my first drafts because a) she’s brutally honest (this is something every writer needs!) and b) she is not generally a reader of YA or pony fiction, so she gets bored quickly if there is too much “pony” in the story. As fun as it is to write competition round after competition round, it becomes tedious to read (something I learned when reading my first draft of Dare to Dream!). So when I handed Dream On over to her to read, I was intrigued to see what she would make of it.
I needn’t have worried… she loved it. My main concern with this book was the ending, because it took me a while to work out how to balance the final scenes. Part of my process is to write the “big” scenes first – the big turning points, the big emotional moments, the beginning and the ending – and then to write the rest of the book around those pivotal moments. I was concerned that, in tying up all the storylines, I had too many “big” moments at the end of the book. I worked hard on that before I handed the draft over, and it has paid off. All of the scenes are still in the story, although one got moved up several chapters. The problem was that they are all quite heavily emotional, and going straight from one to the next was a bit of a feelings overload! You can’t go from one moment of emotional turmoil straight into another – it’s exhausting, and moments that should be powerful pay-offs end up reading as overly dramatic or cheesy. For every high, there should be a corresponding low, or at least enough time for the reader to bring their emotions back to base level for a few beats, before launching them sky high again. With all that in mind, I was looking forward to seeing what my mum made of the ending of the book – fortunately, she loved it. In fact, here’s a direct quote from her email she sent me directly she finished:
Great ending, and quite unexpected. Dad saw me put the book down and said “How was it?”, and I couldn’t answer over the lump in my throat, just sat there mopping my eyes – just writing this is making me well up again! So well done, another great book and I’m sure it will go down a treat.
Yeah, it’ll make you cry again. It made me cry when I wrote it, and that’s something that never happened in Dare to Dream, so brace yourselves.
As long as the planets are turning | As long as the stars are burning
As long as your dreams are coming true
Like the first, Dream On also has an epilogue at the end. A book with an epilogue should be complete without it, and the epilogue is just there to give a little bit more polish to the conclusion of the story. Dare to Dream didn’t need its epilogue – it was just a way of saying “this is what happened later.” And the epilogue of Dream On is the same way. The story is complete before it, but the epilogue just adds a little bit more to it. Good epilogues are hard to write. Sometimes they feel superfluous – I felt that way about the one at the end of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, although I did love that final line. The epilogue at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows actually bothered me so much that I have torn it out of my copy of the book!
I actually wrote the Dream On epilogue before I even published Dare to Dream, and I always knew that this was how the story would end. It was, in some ways, what pushed me on to write the sequel. I cried when I wrote it, and as is evident from the above comment from my mum, she cried when she read it too. She also had this to say about it:
I think the book was pretty complete without the Epilogue, and a great read, but the Epilogue just made it that much more satisfying at the end.
So that’s good. That’s exactly what I was striving for, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling of satisfaction it gives one to receive a comment like that. It’s a big tick in the Achieved box. My friend Heather has also read the final draft, and she loved the ending as well. So that’s two ticks, actually….
Now I’m just waiting on the cover photo, which I have commissioned from Kelly Wilson (she also did my other cover photos, and the back cover design for Dare to Dream – I designed the front cover with the fonts etc) so she’s just waiting for the right day to get the shots taken that she needs. I also have to go through the final draft myself and make sure it’s exactly as I want it, tidy up the handful of typos that Mum and Heather found, wait for my Dad and another friend to finish reading it and give me their feedback, and then it will be good to go!
Like I said…it’s about a week or two away. I can’t wait to see what everyone else thinks – I hope you all love it too.