Hannibal author publishes first book after years of hard work

A Hannibal author's dream of publishing her first book has come to reality, eight years after she first set her manuscript down on the shelf.

She remembered saying “no to your no,” when the first version of “The Un-Life of William Moore” wasn't selected for publication on Kindle Scout in early 2018.

The Hannibal Writers Guild formed in January when Dana Lockhart began her quest to publish the book. She made several contacts with help from Hannibal Writers Guild President and St. Louis Writers Guild member Ryan P. Freeman — pitching her book to five agents during the Gateway to Publishing Convention in St. Louis. She gleaned lots of information about writing, publishing and networking in the literature industry. One agent expressed interest in the book, but the changes she requested gave Lockhart pause.

“I had one who was kind of biting,” she said. “She wanted me to fix a few things and send it back to her, but at that point, I wasn't ready to make those changes to my book, because I felt like it would change the book to much.”

Lockhart debated what she was going to do next. She pondered pitching it to another agent, but Freeman urged her to “self publish it. Just do it.” She followed that advice with verve, “completely revamping” her novel, adding about 10,000 words through new and expanded scenes and sharing more details like the villain's motivation. Freeman assisted Lockhart through edits and critiques. She remembered how tedious it was to format the text, margins and other dimensions to make the book how she wanted.

“Formatting the book is extremely frustrating, which was weird for me, because I love making [Microsoft] Word do what I want it to do,” she said. “But when it came to formatting, it just did not want to go, and it was so frustrating. I eventually did it all by myself, and it looks great.”

Lockhart's yearslong dream came to reality. She will join 2019 Gateway Con from June 14-16 for her first book signing. She commended cover artist Zakaria Nada for capturing the essence of her book with the cover art along with a matching bookmark.

From the start, Lockhart wanted to create a tale that diverged from books like the “Twilight” series — she said those works “were romanticizing monsters too much, which is not what they’re about.” For “The Un-Life of William Moore,” Lockhart said she worked hard to humanize the vampire character, while hearkening back to elements of classic vampire literature. She said her novel evoked a similar theme as “Frankenstein” in that respect.

And the book reflects themes that Lockhart felt a strong connection to like stereotyping, friendships, fake friends and “what it means to be a monster.”

As she held one of three proofs of “The Un-Life of William Moore,” Lockhart reflected on actively making new contacts and networking — becoming more extroverted and seeking more personal adventures like the 2018 trip to Gateway Con with Freeman. After the final edit was completed a few months ago all the dedication, changes and formatting came together as Lockhart hoped they would.

“Once I got it, I just couldn't stop holding it — 'I made this, I have to keep holding this, I did this,'” she said. “It's exactly the child I wanted to make.”

“The Un-Life of William Moore” is available for online preorder on Amazon and Smashwords, and will be available as an e-book. Lockhart plans to donate a copy to the Hannibal Free Public Library and look into selling to books at locations like Java Jive and Quincy Books. She is also preparing for a book signing at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Quincy Library, capping off the recent trips she has been taking to spread the word about her book and meet new people.

“I want to make experiences,” she said.

For more information, visit Lockhart's website at danalockhart.com.

trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com