Dad leaving…


This post is about the process of writing a book from the stage of manuscript to an actual publication date and all that happens along the way. Part 1.

I would like it a lot if you as the reader would get back to me with your ideas about a title for my new novel. After you read the post, please, please, comment with a title you think would be great for this new novel.

Last year February I spent some time in seclusion in a temporary assignment at a work site in the north of BC on the coast. My days were occupied with my paid job. The evenings and weekend were all my own. It rained steadily for the whole month I was there, except on 2 occasions: one Sunday morning, and the morning of the day I left town.

Not just a bit of rain, no, a solid sheet of rain came down and drained back into the Pacific Ocean through gutters and sewers, or just in rivulets across the paved roads, down the gently slopes of the town towards the rocky beaches. It was depressing and I can’t imagine living there and surviving in that type of winter.

In that month, stuck indoors with little social distractions, as I was a stranger in that town, I somehow existed completely within my own mind and found the inspiration to start a new book. This time I thought I might try my hand at a complete novel. My previously published book was a novel in short stories.

The book is now written. After having gone over it twice myself rewriting several pieces, editing along the way, and reorganizing the content so it makes more sense, I sent it off to the editing company for a first go-through.

Now the waiting begins for feedback and the inescapable re-writes. My contract with the company is for two edits including structural suggestions for improvements and copy editing.

In the meantime, much other work needs to be completed.

  • First securing a website with the title of the book for preparing the book launch and for a spot to direct interested buyers to. Here is the first problem: selecting a title. I need your help with suggestions for a title. My first choice Loosing Dad I made too quickly and I had the website secured without checking for spelling. I found out the spelling mistake afterwards: Loosing versus Losing. How dumb. Of course nowadays there are also many loose dads, but that is only part of my new novel and represents the focus I did not want to emphasize—that might perhaps become another novel. As you can imagine, was already taken. Back to the drawing board.
  •  Next: we need a description of the book for any publishing website, for my book’s website, and for the back of the book, if it will become a printed version.
  •  I self-published my debut novel in April 2012 as an E book, as I was not getting a foot in the door with the many publishers and (a few) agents I had approached. I have not yet completely given up on the traditional publishing world, hoping that their views are changing in this rapidly changing world of book publishing. I will have to write them again, so that means exploring on line which publishers accept queries (most don’t) and their requirements, and then mail off a number of letters and attachments as per their specifications. I need to develop a query summary that summarizes and appeals to the potential publisher and convinces that this novel will fit their stable and will do well, that I as an author will have staying power and my work can attract readers.
  •  The next step is still pretty obscure to me: using the social media to generate anticipation and to spread the word that this book is coming/has been published. Various websites tell me how to do it, assuming that I am on line 24-7, can and want to interact with other bloggers in the net, on Twitter, Facebook, Link-in and what have you, and have time to contact website book editors and reviewers.
  • Get people to review your book. I have started with trying to find people, but find it very time consuming and had little result so far. Goodreads author-members  have generated some reviews on my previous novel in exchange for a review on their book, and some friends posted a review–thanks for that! The Goodreads chat rooms have numerous young MFA students who offer reviews and interviews, but most seem only interested in fantasy or young adult romance novels. However, from the five book reviews I did for other authors, only two authors returned the favour. I have sent all CBC and Globe and Mail book editors and reviewers a request to review my previous book, without success, with only one email back rejecting my request: only requests from a traditional publishers and no E books.
  • I think book tours at brick and mortar bookstores are too much for me right now, as I work full time in a paid job. That strategy would only apply in the case of printed books anyway. Without having sold a substantial number of copies of my previous novel, traveling to various cities and bookstores is too costly an undertaking without a sponsor. The value of book tours on line also is questionable, as it seems popular within certain genres, such as the fantasy and romance novel, which certainly does not fit for my new novel. Possibly the Young Adult genre might fit, although I suspect that many readers would think that my novel has too much realistic and mature content to be suitable for 18 year-olds, depending on their parenting beliefs and world view–hence my request for your input.


So, to get to the point, my new novel is about 250 pages and is a story about what happens in the life of a seemingly average, middle class family with two working parents, Tom and Bernice Harrison,  and four kids from 10 to 17 year old: 2 girls, 2 boys. The two eldest children, Shayla (17) and Abby (13), were adopted seven years ago and are siblings to Daniel (11)  and Jonathan (9).

Over a time span of about a year, a family crisis develops when problems with Shayla escalate. Out of the blue, a biological half-sibling contacts Shayla on Facebook with the news that her biological father wants to see her and be part of Shayla’s life.

Shayla already has started to shoplift clothes to make her look pretty and boost her confidence. She is looking for an occasion to lose her virginity with a boy she recently met. She wants to meet her birth father, but Bernice does not want Shayla to get connected with him: he used to have a bad addiction problem, seven years ago, but does not want to tell Shayla about that.

Shayla is devastated. She has always been such a good girl, trying to please her adopted parents. She does not understand what is happening with her and becomes depressed and confused. Shayla starts cutting herself. Then her boyfriend dumps her after they had sex and things completely fall apart in her life when she gets arrested for shoplifting. She thinks that nobody can love her now.

On top of that, the parents’ marriage is breaking down. Bernice has discovered that Tom has an affair with his much younger co-worker, a secretary in her early twenties. What a mess! Shayla is now losing the only father she has ever known when her parents separate.

Without giving away the ending, this story ends well for Shayla and Bernice, the two main protagonists in this fast paced and dramatic story.

This novel I feel is suitable for young adults over 18, as well as for all parents, especially those with adopted children. Some scenes contain sex and seduction; teen angst and self-harming; marijuana use and drinking; and a dramatic car accident causing death is described.

Parts of this novel can be read on this blog  in the three posts that form one chapter  called CAUGHT.

Preliminary titles I have come up with:

1. Losing Dad – Finding Dad.

2. Unloved

3. Alone In The World

4. Without A Family

5. Who was My Mother? Who was my father?

I would be delighted if you leave me a comment with your opinion of:

A.      the best option for a title, or a whole new option, of course

B      whether you think this is suitable material for Young Adults (18 years and older)

Thanks so much for your input.


About BABYBOOMER johanna van zanten

My name is Johanna van Zanten. I am a baby boomer, interested in writing and connecting with other writers and readers to engage in discussions and information sharing, to share a point of view about current global issues, writing, and publishing, diversity, immigration, travel, music, life, specific baby boomer issues, and dating/relationship issues. I have written a novella, ON THIN ICE about baby-boomer Adrienne and will link this blog with the information website for this novella. Right now, I am trying out the blog.
This entry was posted in adolescents, Agents, Author circles, Canadian publishers, Children and child protection, Creative fiction, drug use., E Books, eBook, Parenting, Publishing, Writing life and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Not sure about anything to do with the Dads. From what you’ve said here, neither of them are particularly admirable so are they worthy of the title? How about something to do with the time period in which this all takes place? Something with “One Year” in the title?

    • hi Lynn,
      Thanks for your input. Yes, the dads are not central as players in the story, although they are essential in the daughter’s perception and his actions have tremendous impact on the daughetr and wife in this novel.That’s the sad and unfortunate reality in many women’s lives, that their men–husbands and fathers–have no clue or don’t care what consequences their conduct have in the lives of their loved ones. I will think about your suggestion

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