The publication of Dead Letter Day has brought me into contact with a number of other first time authors and it has been both exciting and educational to share my journey with them. There are a few who have been very supportive and who I now regard as friends. They are all incredibly talented writers and it is great to see them enjoying the success they deserve.
Over the next few weeks I plan to introduce you to a few of them. Today I start with Megan Denby, who has kindly agreed to write a guest blog.
Megan Denby is an award-winning novelist who grew up on a farm amongst a family of six. Once she discovered the world of books, she was lost, often reading to the wee hours of the morning. Megan has been writing for over thirty years. Her debut novel, “A Thistle in the Mist” was described by one agent as having a “hypnotic, fairy-tale-like quality” and was inspired by the turbulent life of her feisty, Scottish great-grandmother. A Canadian girl, Megan is an avid dragon boater and draws inspiration from the tranquility of her secluded cottage in Northern Ontario. She lives in the enchanting, lakeside community of Port Perry with her wife and passel of children and is working on the disturbing sequel, “Lost to the Mist”.
Over to you, Megan.
‘A Writer in the Mist’
Some of my earliest memories were of Great-Grandma Ross caring for me while Mom worked. Her lilting Scottish burr, full-bodied laugh and warm hugs helped shape my young mind. After she passed away, her voice lived on, captured forever on a treasured cassette tape. She was my inspiration.
I was exposed to the world of books early. Dad read Ernest Thompson Seton to my sisters and brother and I and as we sat in our darkened living room, nestled within the comforting shadows, I stepped into the lives of the animals Ernest wrote about. With Mom captivated by thrillers and gory mysteries and my big sister living on a steady diet of Harlequins, I couldn’t help but fall in love with books of all genres.
Born third, behind my two older sisters who were tall, slim, dark and just plain cool, I yearned to be like them. Alas, I was short, stocky, blond and just plain dorky. And so, I created a dream world, conjuring lovely scenarios in my head where I became less of a dork and more like one of my favourite characters, Nancy Drew. I hung out with my little brother, played pond hockey, explored the tangle of dirt roads on our bikes and sprawled on the porch swing with my nose buried in a book.
Time passed and it occurred to me that perhaps I was different. Did everyone have endless thoughts careening inside of their heads? Did everyone stay awake far into the night wrestling with ideas that marched back and forth, taunting with reckless abandon? Observant to the point of obsession, I often felt as though I was on the outside looking in.
It was a relief when these feelings finally found their way from my head to paper in the form of short stories I wrote for school. I excelled in English and had one of my stories published in the yearbook. Another was submitted by a high school teacher to a contest where it won an award. A seed of desire had been planted. I wanted to be a writer – a real writer.
But instead, I married straight out of high school and immediately set about creating my family. Writing faded away and Life took the reins. My granddad knew of my secret passion to be a writer and often nudged me in that direction. I remember the day he handed me a slip of paper; an entry form for a writing contest. With three small children, my mind had strayed far from writing and so I stored that scrap of paper away in a drawer. Years later, after Grandad was gone, I found that yellowed form. I sat down before my computer, wrote about my much loved granddad, entered it in an online contest and was awarded runner up.
With that small recognition, the writer inside of me blossomed.
I enrolled in a creative writing class, started my Scottish novel, wove bits and pieces of Grandma Ross’s life into the fabric of my story and slowly created a tale, drawing on thirty-five years of keen observation and endless ideas.
Then the bottom fell out of my world. My marriage ended. With four sons and no clear idea of who I was anymore, I shelved my writing and set out to rebuild my life. Six years later, with my feet back on the ground, I unearthed my hard copy of ‘A Thistle in the Mist’. All edits had been lost when my computer had crashed and now I stared at the reams of paper that lay before me, a feeling of excitement growing within.
Life was different now. My head and heart had found their way home. The random thoughts inside had banded together to form a myriad of stories and now I had someone by my side who championed my cause.
So, I sat down and restored my tale, entered it back into my computer and edited like a madwoman. Next, I began the process of contacting agents. I gave myself a deadline of six months and after some encouraging feedback but no real bites, I opted to self-publish.
When I hit the publish button on Amazon Kindle this past January, I had no idea what I was getting into. Self-promotion was a foreign concept to me and one I warily embraced. I learned the ins and outs of social media and was fortunate to stumble upon some like-minded writers – writers who were familiar with obsessing and of being too observant and of losing oneself in the process of storytelling, and writers who quickly became my outside support system – selfless people who didn’t mind passing on advice, doling out encouragement and generally being the kind of writer I wanted to be.
After the first month, ‘A Thistle in the Mist’ was downloaded almost 3000 times. At the end of March I received my first paycheck – a paycheck for writing! My sales climbed every day and I decided to move on to the next step and format a paperback edition. Again, my obsessive nature ruled my decisions and days turned into weeks. But finally I held the proof of ‘A Thistle in the Mist’ in my hands.
After four months of self-promoting, networking and writing, my little Scottish thriller had found its way across oceans and was being read worldwide. My readers were responding with lovely reviews, heartfelt messages and general words of encouragement.
I held my book in my hands. The cover felt smooth, the artwork looked beautiful and the pages smelled like Heaven.
I was an author. Through the mist, my dream had found me at last.
For more information on Megan Denby, please see the following links.
Amazon http://www.amazon.com/A-Thistle-Mist-ebook/dp/B00B2XML88 (For USA)