L. J. McDonald
I first started writing in 1986, when my grade ten English teacher read some of my poetry and said that I had talent. I was so floored at the concept that I started writing short stories. My parents weren't quite so thrilled that I was doing something that took my away from my schoolwork, so I arranged to write a novel for two school credits, thereby turning writing into homework. Those two credits resulted in the creation of the novel Cure for the Phoenix, which I haven't read in over twenty years and which will likely not see the light of day. Even now I remember it as being quite clichéd, though my husband likes it.
I did make some attempts to get published over the years, and almost made it at one point, but other things were on my mind. To me, not submitting was easier than dealing with rejection slips, so I stopped trying. I did still keep on writing though. It's true that for writers, it's a compulsion. I just never considered the idea that anyone other than my husband would want to read any of it.
That changed when I picked up a book titled Moongazer by Marianne Mancusi. It had an ad in it for the Shomi Romantic Fantasy Novel Writing Contest, where the winner would get a guaranteed publishing contract in Canada and the United States. I mentioned it to my husband and he nagged me until I entered the first three chapters of The Battle Sylph in March of 2008. Sometime after that, I was wandering the Shomi site and found a link to a page detailing what features the judges were looking for. Other than my book being fantasy, I hadn't done a single thing on the list and figured I must have lost. My husband said, okay, wait for them to confirm that, then ship it out to the next company. You're not hiding for the next twenty years this time.
So, time passed, and the contest closed. The day after the winner was chosen, I was emailed by someone at Shomi who did confirm that, yes, I'd lost the contest, but the head Editor liked my three chapters so much he wanted to see the rest of the book. So I had a minor heart attack and sent it in. I then heard nothing until November 2008, when I was contacted by Chris Keeslar, Senior Editor for Dorchester Publishing, asking if the book was still available. I said yes, as were the four sequels. A week later, he bought the first three books in the series and I had another near heart attack. I also decided I needed an agent.
It's a lot easier to find an agent when you submit emails with subject lines that read "I have a guaranteed publishing contract for three novels - need an agent". Within a month, I'd signed with Michelle Grajkowski with the Three Seas Literary Agency, and the rest, hopefully, will be happy history for everyone.
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