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  • Writer's pictureJayne Lisbeth

The Story behind Raising the Dead

As part of my Virtual Book Tour, which can be viewed (cut and paste) at: I was asked to write "The Story Behind the Book" as part of my virtual tour dates. I wanted to share "The Story Behind Raising the Dead" with my readers, along with advice on getting published for writers. I hope you enjoy the story behind my writing my second book! The questions I was tasked to answer were: 1) Where did you get your inspiration for writing your book; and 2)What was your publishing journey like? What advice can you offer to other writers?

A very dear friend of mine was my inspiration for writing Raising the Dead. She taught me to view the world through different lenses. She was my other mother. I can still hear her Virginia drawl in my ear, “Now, Dahlin…” as she taught me another way of examining the world about me, from Fostoria glass, to wicker repair to old boyfriends to life in general. 

 I had no idea how to pay tribute to this amazing woman in a book I hadn’t even begun writing. I had all of our correspondence, boxes of letters and postcards we wrote back and forth during the summers I spent in Oregon. This book was still a bunch of ideas floating around in my head waiting to be written.  Then I would hear my dear sweet friend’s southern Virginia drawl, “Now, darlin’ perhaps you should…”

Photo by Dr. Greg LeSar

Good fortune and insights hit us in unexpected ways. I went to a George Saunders book talk at the University of Tampa. George was on early touring for his latest book, Lincoln in the Bardo.

 As I sat there soaking up every word from George Saunders' lips, my ideas began taking shape. They sprang from his narrative.  I was so thrilled I gushed all over poor George Saunders as he signed my book and listened to my ideas. I could almost hear him saying, ‘yeah, yeah, lady, move along’. 

The idea of how to portray my dear friend came to me in a flash sparked by a cemetery. I used this mystery I created from my love of the spiritual, supernatural, faeries, and living in different simultaneous dimensions.  

As soon as I got home I started writing Raising the Dead ideas. I kept writing. The theme of mystery and the spiritual world continued to evolve.  

The spiritual side of life has always intrigued me from faeries to ghosts to the multi-layers of life and the past we might be closer to than we think. My great-grandfather might be looking over my shoulder. My gravestone rubbing hobby added to my theme, as well as my love of cemeteries.

It was so much fun for me to lay all my spiritual ideas out in a book of my own making, my words controlling the narrative, creating the characters and the mystery. Inserting a book within the book,  “A Story of A Friendship”  was risky. I didn’t know if that would work. But I think it did.

Every second of writing Raising the Dead was a challenge and a joy.. I loved my characters, those real and imagined. They repeatedly woke me up from my dreams in the middle of the night. They inspired me with new ideas, situations and scenes. They pushed me out of bed to write all I’d dreamt or all they’d said onto my yellow legal pads, which eventually ended up as Raising the Dead. Altogether, it took me about three years to write and edit Raising the Dead It was most definitely a labor of love which I am honored to share with my readers. 

The Road to Publishing

My Raising the Dead  manuscript was well reviewed by fellow writers and editors, and Tim and I. After my five first readers/editors gave me their comments and editing, Tim and I read my manuscript at least ten times. Every time we read more little dings popped up that needed changing or adding to. Finally I was done and the manuscript was in as good a shape as I could make it. I queried fifteen publishers with no response before I queried Austin Macauley, UK, my first publisher of my memoir,  Writing in Wet Cement. After reading my Raising the Dead manuscript they offered me a contract.  Much further editing continued as the UK and the US speak different languages, in subtle ways, which I had to correct.

It was a great feeling to sign that Certificate of Confirmation accepting all corrections/changes, my own and Austin Macauley’s. Raising the  Dead  was published August 23, 2023. 

Advice to new authors querying publishers/agents: 

The query letter is  probably the most important undertaking for any writer trying to be published. Go to query letter sites to see what worked for other published authors. Make your query letter something that snaps whoever that junior editor is who’s reading your query to think this book has got to be the most unique, exciting, and publishable book he/she has ever read.

You’ll query again and again until you get lucky.  When working to have Writing in Wet Cement published I queried 50 agents and publishers and was about to give up. It was that 51st query which gave me my publisher, Austin Macauley.

Of course, there's no shame in self-publishing as there once was. Amazon and other self publishing sites can help you to get your work in print. Explore all options feasible to you.

Investigate all options. Don’t give up. Envision yourself as a published author and work hard to make it happen.

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