The "If You Only Knew" Reading Journey
Joining the ranks of serialized authors, what to expect, and how to participate
After reading A Letter to Mom Part 4, a reader/friend posted to the If You Only Knew Facebook page yesterday, “Dang! Why did I think all would be revealed in 4 letters? Good suspense building here . . .”
I replied, “LOL! It’s a long journey till all will be revealed! I hope you hang in there!”
It took me over 50 years for my family’s secrets to be exposed, the truth to come out, and for me to find healing and forgiveness. Fortunately, you don’t have to read about all 50 of those years—just the critical plot points!
So, that’s my message to all of you. I hope you hang in there!
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I made the decision to publish If You Only Knew: A Memoir of Family Secrets and Their Undoing as a serialized book because, quite frankly, it seemed to be the only way for me to push myself to get it out. I started writing this story in 2012 during my MFA at the Solstice MFA in Creative Writing Program and here it is twelve years later. In that time, I’ve revised it several times, re-written parts of it, added chapters to it, removed chapters from it, but never finished it. Publishing it in a serialized newsletter form forces me to type “The End” and get it in front of readers.
Is It Done?
How much of it is written, you might be asking? Is it done and you’re just baiting us? NO!
My best estimate is that it’s at about 70% written. I expect it to run for twenty-three chapters and about 60,000 words, which falls within the average memoir length category (typically around 65,000 words). I have about 45,000 words written in some form.
I’ll do final revisions on each chapter that’s already written the week before I schedule it to go out. And in my spare time (LOL!), I’ll work on filling in the blanks. I’m already feeling the push to get going on the missing chapters because it’s not like they’re all at the end. I’ve yet to write Chapter 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, and then three chapters at the end, 21, 22, and 23. I’ve got some work to do!
Although it’s my goal to have them all in polished form before I hit the Publish button, I imagine the new chapters will probably need a little more work before they go into the print and eBook versions. In some ways, that makes you my beta readers. I hope you don’t mind. Please feel free to let me know if your confused about something, would like more information about something else, or are bored by any parts of it. Oh, and also, if there are parts you love or that move or inspire you in some way!
About Serialized Books
Did you know that serialized books were quite common before the 20th century?
Not only Charles Dickens, but thousands of other well-known books were first published in serialized form. Here, thanks to
are a few examples:
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1856)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (1870)
The War of the Worlds by HG Wells (1897)
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (1905)
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1910)
Ulysses by James Joyce (1918)
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (1929)
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (1939)
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1965)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (1971)
Tom Wolfe: The Bonfire of the Vanities (1984), published in Rolling Stone
I’m supporting the effort to bring them back in the 21st century! And you don’t have to anxiously await for a ship to arrive from overseas, for the magazines to be unloaded, and then for them to be transported by horse and wagon to your little village somewhere in the frontier. All you have to do is watch your email!
My Publication Plan
So, here’s what to expect. Every Sunday between January 14, 2024 and July 14, 2024, I plan to release a chapter.
My fantasy is that you’ll be waiting with baited breath to read the next installment. However, for those of you who’d rather wait and read a chunk at one time, or you fall behind for some inexplicable reason (I can’t imagine how!), I’ll be updating this guide, i.e., Table of Contents, as I release each chapter, so you can always catch up here.
And remember that, in addition to supporting my writing journey, paid subscribers will receive a free eBook or autographed print book (if paying monthly, after you’ve paid for a full year) once publication is complete.
A Book Discussion Group?
If You Only Knew is structured in three parts. I’m considering holding a free online group to discuss the book at the conclusion of each part. That would mean we’d meet sometime in late March, late May, and late July. These would probably be evening gatherings for 60-90 minutes and include a short reading by me of a favorite section and a discussion. Is this something you’d be interested in?
Let me know if you have any questions and please spread the word to others you think might enjoy reading.
Thank you for hanging in there with me!