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There are as many paths to publication as there are published authors.
No, I take that back, there are way more paths than authors.
Most multi-published authors have travelled several paths each with its own twists, turns and bumps. And with the advent of easier and more viable self-publishing, those paths are becoming even more varied.
Here’s just a piece of my path.
First, I had an entirely different, unrelated career before I decided to write a novel. When I decided to go for it, I took a few courses, attended some conferences, and joined a critique group: two members of which are still valued critique partners nearly twelve years later.
My first manuscript wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t good enough, and I’m glad it wasn’t published. Now. At the time I was devastated—I had worked so hard on that book!—but I’m grateful that self-publishing wasn’t a viable option at the time, because I might have taken it, and I’m glad that I had the chance to improve my craft in relative privacy, instead of under the glare of readers and reviewers.
My second manuscript, I never completely revised (because of some changes at the publisher I was targeting), and decided to start something new. It was that third project—a humorous women’s fiction novel—that landed me my first agent. This was in February 2006, less than 3 years after I’d decided to take writing seriously.
YAY! I’d made it, right? Everyone says landing an agent is the hardest part.
But it didn’t work that way for me. Nope. While my first agent came very close to selling that book for me, she didn’t.
Fast forward nearly four years and several projects (lots of twists, false-starts and setbacks) I still had no publishing contract and a difficult decision to make: should I part ways with my agent? She was a great agent at a reputable agency, selling books for other authors… but not for me. Somehow the stars just weren’t lining up for us.
And then my path took a very unexpected turn. A freelance editor I knew had read the first 30 or so pages of a sexy urban fantasy I’d written, and she’d admired the writing—especially how I wrote action and did the world building. She had just been hired by a book packager to develop a series that would be high-action, fairy tale adaptations, with a choose-your-own adventure element, aimed at the younger teen market. This editor asked me if I wanted to be one of the writers considered to write the books.
I figured why not—at this point I’d tried everything from chick lit to erotica, why not try writing for kids!—and very quickly I wrote a chapter and outline for what became Cinderella: Ninja Warrior. At the end of the outline, I included possible titles for other books in the series, including Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer.
I sent it off (only about 25 pages in total) and forgot about it. What a long shot, right? About eight weeks later, I had an offer to write 2 books! But the catch was that both books had to be finished in about 4 ½ months!! Yikes!!!
I basically put my entire life on hold and did nothing but eat, sleep and write. I didn’t even open my mail or do any housework. I’m serious about this. For over six months.
The 4 ½ months turned into 6 because, even after meeting my tight deadlines, I had to do revisions and line edits and copy edits—all immediately with no breaks—because of the very tight publication schedule. I got the offer in October 2009 and the books were meant to release October 2010. That, in the traditional publishing world, is almost unheard of speed. Especially for 2 books at once!
But I did it. And it nearly killed me. But in the first week of May 2010, I got some news. The publisher had shut its doors. Bang. The books would not be coming out. They were already up for pre-order at all the major retailers, they were completely done, except for copy edits on Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer, and they would never come out.
I was so exhausted my first thought upon hearing this was, “Yay! I can take the afternoon off!” Then reality set in…
The good news is that the packager quickly sold the books to another publisher (Silver Dolphin Books) and they hit the shelves in April 2011, with new covers that I liked even better than the originals.
And so, that’s the story of how my sexy urban fantasy manuscript led to my writing for children. How’s that for a hairpin turn?
After that ordeal, I left my agent, wrote something new, found a new agent, and he found me a new publisher.
My most recent series is a YA post-apocalyptic thriller trilogy called The Dust Chronicles: Deviants, Compliance, Glory, (Skyscape, 2012, 2013, 2014)
The path to publication for that series was also anything but smooth… but that’s another whole story!
And shhh! I also self-publish erotica and steamy contemporary romance under the name Mara Leigh.
Publisher: Skyscape (Amazon Publishing)
Date Published: 2012
Genre: Dystopian thriller
Word Count: 80,000
In Glory’s world, different means deviant—and dead.
In a post-apocalyptic world where the earth is buried by asteroid dust that’s mutated the DNA of some humans, an orphaned sixteen-year-old, Glory, must hide and protect her younger brother.
If their Deviant abilities are discovered, they’ll be expunged—kicked out of the dome to be tortured and killed by the Shredders. Glory would give anything to get rid of her unique ability to kill with her emotions, especially when Cal, the boy she’s always liked, becomes a spy for the authorities. But when her brother is discovered, and she learns their father, who was expunged for killing their mother, is still alive, she must escape the domed city that’s been her entire world.
Outside in the ruins, they’re pursued by the authorities and by sadistic, scab-covered Shredders who are addicted to the lethal-to-humans dust now covering the planet. Glory’s quests to transport herself and her brother to safety make up the thrilling and fascinating first volume of The Dust Chronicles.
This excerpt is from Chapter 3 of Deviants the first book in my Dust Chronicles trilogy. It’s hard to show an excerpt or blurb from a later book in the series without spoilers. The only things you might want to know before reading this excerpt, are: Glory is an orphan, her father was executed for murdering her mother, and when she’s emotional, Glory can hurt someone by looking into his eyes.
“Glory,” a deep voice says—a voice I don’t recognize. “I’ve got a message for you.”
Turning, I see a boy who looks about my age, maybe older. He’s tall, even taller than Cal and much broader, more imposing.
I draw a sharp breath through my nose and wonder where and how he’s managed to get enough protein to build muscles like that. Muscles that alter the shape of his shoulders and the width of his chest into a form rarely seen in Haven.
He’s Management. Or a Comp. He must be—even though he’s not only too young, he’s not in uniform or a suit. His oversized coat, made of layers of heavy cloth, is belted loosely at his waist with a rope tied in what looks like a slipknot. Below the rope, the fabric flares out and brushes the tops of his boots.
It’s too late to run—he’s standing too close and knows my name.
“Who are you?” I ask, keeping my gaze from his eyes.
“You have a message?”
He taps my shoe with his heavy boot. “Look at me.”
He asked for it. I look up, and he’s so close the heat from his body penetrates my skin. His hair is thick and dark and long, and there’s stubble on his upper lip and jaw. He reminds me of a wolf or a bear or one of the other now-extinct creatures I’ve seen in books or stuffed at the museum.
My throat closes and I try to look away, but he takes my chin in his thick, strong fingers and forces me to look at him. “The message”—his voice is gruff—“is from your father.”
I break free to run but he grabs my arm.
My heart races, my eyes tingle and sting. If I dare look into his eyes, I might kill him.
I should kill him.
“Let me go.” I struggle against his grip, his hand a steel trap. “You’re lying. My father is dead.”
“No, Glory”—he meets my eyes—“he’s not.”
Maureen McGowan is the award-winning and Amazon Bestselling Author of two popular YA series including the dystopian thriller series: The Dust Chronicles. She writes exciting, fast-paced novels, enjoyed by teen and adult readers alike.
Maureen always loved writing fiction, but side-tracked by a persistent practical side, it took her a few years to channel her energy into novels. After leaving a career in finance and accounting, she hasn’t looked back.
Aside from her love of books, she’s passionate about films, fine handcrafted objects and shoes. She lives in Toronto, where she attends the film festival every year.
Her most recent titles include: Deviants (Skyscape, 2012), Compliance (Skyscape, 2013), and Glory (Skyscape, 2014)
Amazon Pages: www.amazon.com/author/maureenmcgowan
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