If you ask me, MAID OF SECRETS looks like a debut that will be 416 pages of pure awesome. I haven’t read the book yet, but it sounds incredibly good – I’m a sucker for historical fiction, add spies and murder to the mix and you have one excited reader. Today, I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for Jennifer McGowan’s debut, featuring a guest post by the author herself with a story on her journey to publication. Be sure to scroll through the end for the giveaway too, but first, here’s a little about the book.
Seventeen-year-old Meg Fellowes is a wry, resourceful thief forced to join an elite group of female spies in Queen Elizabeth’s Court. There she must solve a murder, save the Crown, and resist the one thing that will become her greatest freedom–and her deadliest peril.
For Meg and her fellow spies are not alone in their pursuit of the murderer who stalks Windsor Castle.
A young, mysterious Spanish courtier, Count Rafe de Martine, appears at every turn in the dark and scandal-filled corridors of the Queen’s summer palace. And though secrets and danger are Meg’s stock-in-trade, she’s never bargained on falling in love…
Thank you, Hafsah, for hosting me today as I talk about my journey to publication!
I would love to be able to smile brilliantly, beam into the glow of the computer screen, and share that I was an overnight sensation. That Maid of Secrets fell off my fingers like pixie dust, my first novel.
But, as it happens, that’s not my story. I didn’t do things the easy way. Even though I wrote my first “novel” at age twelve or something, a sci-fi romance with a hero who suspiciously combined the best features of Han Solo AND Indiana Jones, did I pursue a career as an English major? Keep writing? Sell my first book at age 17?
That would be no.
Instead, following the course of the Hero’s Journey, we instead have: One Writer’s Journey
ORDINARY WORLD: Our intrepid heroine, who has always had a flare for writing, graduates college. Faced with what to do after school, she turns down a scholarship to eventually become a professor. Instead. . .she takes a lucrative job as a sales person. I know. Too dumb to live.
THE CALL TO ADVENTURE: Having moved over to communications work and while climbing her way up the corporate ladder, our heroine one day sees a flyer for a local romance writers conference. She attends and joins a local chapter of Romance Writers of America. She starts writing, but isn’t super serious about it. Then – wonder of wonders! Her business success gives her the chance to take a year off from corporate life to write full time. Her dream at last is coming true!
THE REFUSAL OF THE CALL: She wastes this opportunity, and doesn’t sell a book. Eventually, she has to go back to corporate life. But, though she’s furious with herself for not working harder, she keeps writing.
MEETING THE MENTOR: She develops her relationships with other writers, one of them destined to become her most challenging critic and greatest inspiration. She also buys a million and one “how to write a book” books, and eventually trashes all but three of them.
TESTS/CHALLENGES & ALLIES/ENEMIES: She starts winning contests… and losing contests… and getting positive rejections along with the form rejections. She meets industry professionals. She meets more writers. Some of them are amazing and some are toxic, but all help her see a tiny bit further up the path.
APPROACH OF THE INMOST CAVE: After having entered a half-dozen times, our heroine wins one of the most prestigious contests for unpublished romance authors in the land, The Golden Heart! She has it made! She’s On her Way! But…
ORDEAL: But she doesn’t sell that book. Not even close. She is devastated, convinced she’ll never sell. That she’s just not good enough, that she’s destined to be stuck writing advertising copy for the rest of her life. Eventually, though… she starts writing again. She finishes another book. Then another. She talks things over with The Mentor, and decides to write a historical spy tale in a time period she’s always loved. Just for something different. He suggests she writes it for teens.
THE REWARD: Our heroine writes a book about a thief who’s forced to join an elite group of spies in Queen Elizabeth’s court. She knows it’s not a “hot” time period, but she still loves it. She refuses to over-polish it. Instead, she pitches it to agents—and to her utter shock… ten years after she first started writing… five agents offer representation on her work. She accepts representation. Then within the next few months… she sells the book. At Auction. To a major New York publisher.
THE ROAD BACK: Two years pass. Over many months, she edits the book and learns that the challenges of an author don’t end with the sale, they just get more interesting. Her editorial team undergoes dramatic change. Her publisher crosses swords with a major national retail bookseller. She writes her second book in the series, and a brand new book about something totally different. She gets a new editor who not only hangs the moon, he rearranges the stars to make everything brighter. She’s nervously hopeful. And mostly just nervous.
RESURRECTION: Our intrepid heroine’s book is slated for publication. She faces all of the questions every author does: Will anyone like her book? Will anyone buy it? Will she ever publish again? Will she finally reach her dream of becoming a full-time author, this time knowing what she needs to do to succeed?
RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR: The ending of this story is….to be determined! But if all goes well, we’ll be wrapping up this narrative over the next few months and years. And, like any great romance, we’re hoping for a Happily Ever After.
And that’s my story.
Want to learn more about the Maids of Honor?
Check out the official “story behind the story” of Maid of Secrets.
Want to find out which of the Queen’s spies is her perfect sister spy? Take this quiz on Jenn’s Facebook page.
Jennifer McGowan writes Young Adult romance full of swash and buckle. Her first novel, MAID OF SECRETS, debuts in Spring, 2013 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Age: Royal Secret
Came From: A small town in northern Ohio
Became a Maid of Honor: After bringing her tale of spygirls to the noble city, and winning the favor of the great house of Simon (& Schuster).
Special Skill: Matrix-like reflexes, superior strength, fabulous wit… okay, ah – we’ll get back to you on that.
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