Before I had anything published, I went to a writing workshop and the presenter said, "Today, I picked up my author copies of my new book. I'll never get used to the amazement I feel at seeing the actual book--no matter how many I've published."
Even though the official release of my book isn't until September (What--an hour from now), I assumed my publisher would have my books stocked in their warehouse, ready for shipping.
Sure enough, the books were ready. So I jumped in the van and rushed over. On the drive, I told my son that I started writing this book just over one year ago--on July 17th, 2006. Now, a year later, it's gone from conception to delivery. The books will ship to stores next Tuesday (courtesy of the holiday weekend). So over the weekend, I'll be nurturing my author copies as a newborn fresh from the hospital.
No, I won't be reading it, though I'll definately be looking through it. When my first book was published, I read it. But it was torture. It's tough to read something YOU wrote, but you can't make a single change.
So the next two books, I opted to listen to the audio version. The storyteller, David Walker, is very gifted and I appreciate the energy and emotion he put into my characters. In volume two, he even sang the Hebrew song.
But this new book, Land of Inheritance, is the final volume in the Out of Jerusalem series. So I might just read it. There are parts in it that are very near to my heart. Remember Romancing the Stone? When the movie first opens, the female writer is just finishing a novel, and she's sobbing over the final words. My sister asked me once if that was how it was for me. Sometimes.
Sometimes I can think about a certain scene, or character, and feel the strength of emotion. But it's not because of the writing. It's because as a writer the characters become real--almost as real as your family and friends around you. And the characters in my book are based on historical figures--so that becomes even more poignant. I don't know the words they spoke, or their physical descriptions, but I believe their emotions transcend the space of time . . . even 2,600 years of time.
Below I have a brief rundown of the most powerful scenes in my books. I won't put in page numbers, but if you've read them, I hope you remember them. They are scenes that will stay with me for the rest of my life:
1. Volume One: Of Goodly Parents
a. Nephi and Isaabel are betrothed to each other. Nephi is in love with her, but when he finds out that Laman is very interested in Isaabel, Nephi doesn't request her hand in marriage. He tells his father, Lehi, that he will leave the decision up to the Lord.
b. Nephi had broken his bow and his father, Lehi, loses his faith in the Lord. Nephi makes a new bow from wood and he goes to his father--giving him the respect he deserves--and asks where he should go hunt. This gives Lehi the chance to repent and turn to the Lord in supplication.
2. Volume Two: A Light in the Wilderness
a. Ishmael's death. When Ishmael dies, not only does his family grieve, but they must bury him in a land far from their Jerusalem home. This goes against their tradition. Knowing they'll have to leave Ishmael's burial place forever, his wife and children are heartbroken.
b. The absolute depression that encompasses Lehi and Sariah when their sons, Laman and Lemuel, abandon their tribe.
c. The arrival at the land of Bountiful. Photos from satellites show the stark contrast between the Arabian desert and the Dhofar region. It's likely that most of the family thought Bountiful was the promised land.
3. Volume Three: Towards the Promised Land
a. Laman's attempt to remain in Bountiful, letting his family go on without him.
b. The arrival at the promised land. After a horrendous nine months on the ocean, two or three years in Bountiful, eight years in a hostile desert . . . what could it have been like?
4. Volume Four: Land of Inheritance
a. The death of Lehi. He knew he was dying and was able to give blessings to all of his children and grandchildren. What a gift.
b. Sariah had to make a decision between her sons. Which one should she follow? And how can a mother leave some of her children and grandchildren behind? Best friends are separated, cousins, sisters, brothers.
c. The betrayal of Raamah. His wife, Elisheba, must decide who to follow--the Lord? Her husband?
I'm grateful that I could develop this incredible journey into a fictional format. My publisher gave me that opportunity. Who would have thought that someone might be interested in what I have to say, what I think, what I may interpret? The journey has been a great one, and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.
As I'm writing my next novel, based on Abinadi, I'm really enjoying creating his character and those around him. Too bad he'll have to die a horrible death. But no matter what, I hope that in a small way the spirits of the prophets in the Book of Mormon will continue to live on in each of us as we study their lives.