My Book's Journey

by Melissa Borg
October 6, 2020

The journey to publish A Single Girl's Guide to Wedding Survival was long and twisty.

In March 2011 my mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). She was told that she had 90 days to live. Thus began a crazy regiment to try to keep her alive and the degradation of myself and my family's ability to handle the grim situation.

At this point in my writing career, I had taken part in a two-year writing correspondent program. Man, that sounds so old-fashioned but true, so I knew I could write the basics. I had written and trashed a whole manuscript twice about a fantasy trilogy. The work was rocky and aggravating. With my mother's uncertain health, I needed to work on something uplifting and fun.

Out of my desperation to buoy up and distract my mind, Victoria and her stressful family and zany best friend were born. As my mother's health worsened with chemo treatment after chemo treatment not working as expected and my mother's survival rates dipping into the single digits, I wrote.

Laptop opening with a very colorful light shining of the screen and keyboard.
Just keep typing.

The darker it became for my mother, the more determined I was to finish and give her the gift of words and laughter. It took six and a half weeks to write over 80,000 words and the night before my birthday, my printer churned out all the pages.

The next morning to celebrate my birthday, I handed the stack of papers to my mother. The story was tentatively titled Mixed Signals. We talked for a bit, but she kicked me out so she can rest and sent me to go "enjoy" my day. She was a sweet liar. Sick and tube-tied to a walking pole, my mother read the whole thing and called that night to let me know how proud she was of me, how much she enjoyed the stories, and that Victoria and her best friend were hilarious. Best birthday present ever!

Task completed. Now, I allowed my focus to drift off writing as my mother fought back and overcame AML. Her trip was grueling, but she came back to life. With her health recovering, I figured the editing and prepping for publishing would be easy.

Horse laughing with a cloudy sky in the background.
That's right it will all be easy.

I sent the manuscript off to English teachers and the few writer friends I had at the time. They liked it, but everyone felt like the story was missing something and the title didn't fit. No worries, I renamed the manuscript Operation Wedding Date and found more classes.

And down the rabbit hole, I fell. I soaked up classes on how to craft better sentences, paragraphs, descriptions, and hallelujah story structure. The story structure class frustrated me and pushed me to pick the whole manuscript apart and create a more focused story trajectory.

Cue the next thirty-plus rounds of edits as I incorporated all the lovely, juicy bits of knowledge I gained in classes, books, and fellow writers' pointed feedback. Why yes, I am a recovering perfectionist. But in my defense, the tons of reviews weren't aiming for perfection but competency. Readers have expectations and this was the first time I've created a long-form story, so I wanted to do as good as I could craft at the moment.

Then I ran into title issues again, by including the words date and wedding in the name made the readers expect the book to be a romance. Haha, no.

A Single Girl's Guide Wedding Survival: A Novel seemed like it hit all the main points of the book and won't leave the reader disappointed when there wasn't a big love thread.

In the meantime, my mother recovered from AML, wrote and published her book The Mindset Cure: How I Beat My 90 Day Death Sentence. Oh, the ribbing I endured from my mother about how I was still plunking along and she healed, wrote the book, edited it, and pushed publish before me.

Then in spring 2018, AML returned for my mother. I was done playing. I hired a cover artist and found an editor. Yet I still had a few things I needed to do before I sent the book out to an editor, like move the whole book into another verb tense. I again had a ticking clock. I was racing cancer.

Image of three arrows one going right, straight, or left. Two shoes standing on the edge of the arrows.
All roads lead to publishing.

My editor gave me a tough choice to push through the edits when the story wasn't ready yet or do it well and go through one more internal rounds of updates before I ship the work off to an editor. This delay would shift my publish date back by months because I would have to find a new editor. Mine didn't have a free slot until April 2019.

The decision wrenched my heart because I knew what was on the line. If I waited and did it right, I could miss out on handing my mother a printed copy. If I rushed forward in an emotional fervor, I would get it to my mother but not have it be my best. I decided that my mother would want me to do the absolute best and take the time to do it right.

I finished tidying up the story before sending it off to the editor.

Cancer won. My mother passed in December 2018. She never got to hold the book in her hands. I regret she won't read the book in its final form, but I know she won't have had it any other way.


I finished up all the pieces I needed to complete prior to sending the manuscript to my editor and then sent it off early summer 2019. My poor editor then had a house flood and needed extra time to review so I received my notes back in September 2019. There were lots of little notes. The edits were much needed since I had made so many changes and cuts throughout the drafts. Thankfully, no big plot holes or story content missing. Yet I would need proof edits to polish before I hit publish.

Again my editor was booked up, so I found another one and sent it off. I breathed a sigh of relief only to realize I had no idea what I needed to do to actually publish the sucker.

cat with mouth open
More things
I didn't know,
I didn't know.

Cue the flurry of webinars, SOS messages to published friends, and reading of articles, posts, and books. From there, I wrote lists of tasks, set a publish date, crafted media graphics, and figured that I'll wing it from there. Anything I didn't all ready have, I'll make it happen on the fly.

With only a few more things to do before I hit publish, I better get back to ticking off things from my get-r-done list.


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