Bob Morris Shares his Path to Publication Story

Let’s give Bob Morris a warm welcome to the blog! He’s a fellow Clean Reads author, and has generously agreed to share his Path to Publication story. Without further ado, here’s Bob…

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I’ve been writing for small-town newspapers for nearly 24 years, but always had a creative side in me. I guess I didn’t realize it until later in life, though. I had done other creative writing projects but thought of them as hobbies more than anything. After I self-published a non-fiction book about my days of newspaper writing in Raton, N.M., a thought crossed my mind about trying my hand at fiction writing.

Then I watched a TV show called Young Justice and loved its premise, how the characters were developed and how the storyline overall progressed. I read up more about one of the creators, Greg Weisman, and studied how he developed his characters. I had ideas bouncing around in my head about doing my own superhero team-up, but in book form. I jotted down notes but nothing ever came of it. Soon after, though, I lost my job in Raton and my enthusiasm for promoting my non-fiction book – I did find another job soon enough but the idea of fiction writing fell by the wayside.

Then I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and loved it. I read the other books in the series and that’s when I revisited my superhero tale, putting it in a futuristic, dystopian environment and focusing it toward a young adult market. However, things weren’t working out with the new job as I had hoped, so I first focused on finding a new job.

I found that job in Kingman, Kan., in the summer of 2014. After a few months, once I had settled in, I wrote a rough draft of my tale early in 2015 and sent it to a friend of mine for feedback. From there, I read up on the world of publishing, researched agents, joined the Kansas Writers Association, got feedback from other people, advice and tips about fiction writing – all the while, I was rewriting drafts, going through six until I got the book where I wanted it to be. Took me the whole year to get it to the point that I could send it out.

I started sending out queries to agents early in 2016. I sent about 25 inquiries, rewrote my query letter along the way, trying to find the right pitch. Those who did respond to queries said they weren’t interested. I weathered the storm, knowing that rejection comes with the territory. Then I learned about the Twitter pitch party, Pit2Pub, and though that might be worth trying. I even got to practice pitches with the folks with the Kansas Writers Association – of course, these were spoken pitches, rather than written. But it helped me understand how to tweak a pitch, keep it brief and get people wanting to know more.

So I put out several pitches on Pit2Pub in June of 2016 and had five publishers who indicated interest. I sent manuscripts to four of them. After two rejections, that’s when I heard back from Clean Reads on Sept. 20, 2016 – Stephanie Taylor liked my manuscript and offered me a contract.

And so, the publication of Six Pack: Emergence, became reality. It’s the first in a planned trilogy, though I have a spinoff book in mind, too.

It’s been quite a journey – again, I’ve been writing for many years, but when I got into the newspaper world, the thought of publishing a book never crossed my mind, and certainly not in  fiction. It took me a while to embrace my inner geek and my creative self, put it to use in something that wasn’t strictly a hobby and see where it all took me.

The book is dedicated to Kurt Campbell, the former president of the Kansas Writers Association, who took a lot of interest in my book and was so helpful in giving me advice and feedback. Sadly, he passed away Sept. 30, 2016, just a couple days after I had signed my contract with Clean Reads. I never did get a chance to tell him the good news and I wish he was here today. The book is dedicated to him. I’m getting a little emotional just writing this now.

The biggest piece of advice I’d give to anybody is to not give up on your writing. The process to getting published takes time. You will be told by somebody “this doesn’t work for me.” You will have somebody point out an issue with your writing. And you will have to deal with rejection – never take it personally, because agents and publishers have so many aspiring writers to consider and can only take so many clients. With persistence, you’ll find the right path to take your creation and get it out to the world.

B.W. Morris

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Back cover: Just weeks before Tyler Ward is to graduate from secondary school, he learns the truth about Novusordo and how a drink controls the population. After sharing this information with his five friends, they visit a professor’s house, take another drink and gain strange powers. It leads to them learning more about how the government controls people and the discovery of a movement against the government. Calling themselves the Six Pack, Tyler and his friends must learn how their powers can change society. But they first must learn to trust this movement… and even each other.

 

Buy the book:

Six Pack Emergence is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other online retailers.

 

Author Bio:

Bio: B.W. Morris, a longtime writer for small-town newspapers, is a comic book geek who put his overactive imagination to work through novel writing. Born in Texas but grew up in Colorado, Morris has also lived in New Mexico and Oklahoma and currently resides in Kingman, Kan. He is a member of the Kansas Writers Association.
Connect with Bob:

 

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Emily Steward’s Path to Publication

Today’s Path to Publication is by Emily Steward. Without further ado, here’s Emily…

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Even before I knew what a writer was, I loved to tell stories. One of my first memories is telling bedtime stories to my mom and brother. After they fell asleep, I would continue to tell the story for a long time afterward. I even used to tell stories to God because I figured he got tired of just hearing everyone’s problems all day.

In kindergarten, I discovered the people who create stories are called writers. I decided then and there, that one day I would become a writer. My teacher was extremely encouraging and I attribute a lot of my early writing passion to her.

Over the years, my dream went by the wayside, but it was always in the back of my mind. After taking a few writing classes from a local college, I got the confidence I needed to feel like I had at least some talent.

I kept waiting for the perfect idea, or for inspiration to strike, but it never did. Finally, I’d had enough waiting and decided it was time. I started writing with nothing in mind except I wanted something magical to happen to this young boy named Bobby Brown. Well I managed to write nearly a third of my novel before I decided it might need some sort of loose outline. It took me several years and a lot of revisions including changing Bobby Brown to a girl named Penelope Gilbert (RIP poor Bobby) and switching my audience from young adult to middle grade.

When I was ready to start submitting my manuscript to agents, I drove down to the local office supply store and bought a bunch of manila envelopes, paperclips, and stamps. Then I went to the library and printed off several copies of my first chapter. I soon realized the majority of agents now prefer digital submissions. Oops! I think I sent one whole submission through the mail before I dropped that and started sending emails. At least I’m well stocked with manila envelopes and paper clips in case I have a postal emergency one day.

After a few weeks of sending queries, I received my first rejection. I was elated. It made me feel like an official writer! When I received my second and third rejections, it wasn’t quite as thrilling. But I knew this was all part of the process, so I pressed on. My inbox was soon full of lovely, (only slightly) soul crushing rejections.

I got a glimmer of hope when an agent requested my full manuscript. I continued to refine my book through critique groups and submit more queries while I waited for the agent with my full to get back to me. It took over a year before I heard back from the agent. No feedback, no comments, just a simple, “This isn’t right for me.” After that, I started delving into a new project, thinking my novel might just not be publishable.

That’s when I got some interest from a publisher during a contest. Well I’d been looking for an agent, but since I hadn’t gotten any takers, I thought I’d go for it. Plus, I loved the company and their cover art. We had a really good Skype chat, but they decided to put their middle grade lineup on hold. They were still interested enough to ask if they could contact me once they started putting out middle grade books again. That was tough to get my hopes up, but it was nice to know they still wanted it. Just not now.

After that, I finally got the email I’d been waiting for. An agent read my book in just a few shorts days. She loved it, and wanted to set up a time to talk! We scheduled the call and I read a bunch of articles on what to do when receiving “The Call” which is usually a call to see if you are a good fit before they offer representation. I tried not to get my hopes up, but all signs pointed to her becoming my agent. The day of the call, I got up really early because I knew her time zone was ahead of mine. I kept my phone at full volume while the morning turned to afternoon, and afternoon to evening. I was on edge all day, but the call never came.

That was really disappointing to say the least. I may or may not have wallowed a bit with a carton of ice cream and lots of chocolate.

Another opportunity came up to do a Twitter contest called Pit2Pub. I didn’t know if I was ready to go through it all again, but friend convinced me that I had nothing to lose. A publisher called Clean Reads asked for my work. I sent it in and a short time later had a response sitting in my inbox. I had to read and reread the simple message for what they were saying to actually sink in. “I think your book would be a great addition to Clean Reads. I’ve attached a contract below, email me if you have any questions.” I couldn’t’ believe it. Just like that? After all this time, just like that? Seemed too good to be true.

I researched the publishing company like crazy. When I felt comfortable, I took the plunge and signed. Now everything’s been a whirlwind. My husband Chad got to do the artwork, which may not have happened with another company, and I love the idea of being a part of a publishing house that puts out quality material without compromising their values.

My path to publication didn’t go exactly as I envisioned, but what in life does? There were a lot of ups and downs, and things in the publishing world move so incredibly slow. However, God had a plan all along. I just needed to be patient, and persistent. I love so many things about the company I signed with, and I think there are great things to come. Now I can finally say that I’m a published author! How great is that?

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pen-coverWhen 13 year-old Penelope Gilbert accidentally transforms into a stapler during math class, she’s sure she’s going crazy. But she’s not imagining the men in black suits now patrolling the halls at school, nor is she imagining the new substitute teacher who orders the class to take a special new test. A test that requires blood. Hunted for her powers, and torn from the life she knows, Penny is swept up into a world in the clouds where magic meets machine and pirates rule the sky.

Author Bio: Emily Steward spent the better part of her childhood dressed as a ninja and trying to convince others to call her ‘Ace.’ When she wasn’t saving the world from evil samurai, she could usually be found in the branches of a tree reading a good book. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three daughters, and dog Bentley. Though she seldom dresses as a ninja now, her adventurous spirit remains as does her love of tree climbing and reading good books.

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Penelope-Gilbert-Children-Azure-Steward-ebook/dp/B01LTGUPC6

Barnes & Nobel: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/penelope-gilbert-and-the-children-of-azure-emily-a-steward/1124585350

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/penelope-gilbert-and-the-children-of-azure

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/664338

 

Social Media Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Emily_Steward14

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emsteward14/

Website/Blog: https://estewardblog.wordpress.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/emilyasteward

 

Debra Daugherty’s Path to Publication Story

Today Debra Daugherty is sharing her Path to Publication story! Without further ado, here’s Debra…

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If I had to pinpoint an age when my writing career began, I’d have to say at age ten. That’s when my stories and poems were first published in my school newspaper. Seeing my name in print made me want to become a writer. Over the years I continued to write children stories, mostly to entertain my nieces and nephews.

In April, 2012, I traveled to England with a tour group. We stopped at Grassmere for lunch before visiting Dove Cottage, the home of the poet William Wordsworth. While sipping tea with two of the ladies from my group, Ilana and Sara, I learned they were writers. I told them I dabbled in writing, and they encouraged me to join SCBWI and submit my stories.

I joined the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators in May, attended my first writer’s conference in June, and by the following year, December, 2013, my first picture book, CALAMITY CAT, was published as an e-book by MeeGenius. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt took over the company in August, 2015 and my PB is now under contract with them. Hopefully, it will be added to their Curious World website in 2017.) I also had two short stories published in Guardian Angel Kid’s e-zine. I know this sounds like a success story, but I have a file drawer filled with rejections to prove how hard I worked.

At the conference in June, 2012, I connected with writers in my area and joined their writers group. We meet once monthly and critique each other’s work. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help and support.

Online writing courses followed, as well as two more conferences. And I never stopped submitting my work. (I average three rejections a month, but rejections are good. I learn from them, and they show I am trying.)

I love pitching stories on twitter, and the February 3rd #Pit2Pub led to Clean Reads publisher, Stephanie Taylor, offering me a contract for THE DRAGON’S RING.

From the day I signed my contract, February 23rd, to the present, it’s been a whirlwind of a ride. Edits, line edits, proofs and Galleys passed quickly. The cover art by Amanda L. Matthews, AM Design Studio, turned out amazing. I couldn’t be happier or more pleased with my experience with Clean Reads and with my publisher and her wonderful staff.

My highs and lows are many. I wrote THE DRAGON’S RING years ago and didn’t save it on my word processor. I remember the tears when I realized all my work was lost. Starting over from scratch, I rewrote my story from memory, remembering to save it this time. I sent it out a couple of times, then tucked it away in a drawer. (It had a different title then, THE PRINCESS, THE UNICORN AND THE GOLDEN RING.)

After attending the SCBWI conference in 2012, I dug out this fairy tale, and took another look. My princess sat at the castle and waited for her knight to accomplish his mission. Too outdated. I revised the entire manuscript and turned the princess into a heroine, rescuing her knight each time he encountered trouble. Ilana, with whom I’ve kept in touch, generously offered to read and edit it, and her edits showed me what I needed to do to polish the story.

I submitted my story to a few agents/publishers, but kept busy with other work, too. Two publishers actually favored it during the #Pit2Pub, (Pitch to Publication), last February, but it was Stephanie Taylor from Clean Reads who saw my vision and gave me a chance. That’s a major high.

Now for the lows. Since January 6th of this year I’ve had medical problems and was seeing several doctors. February 3rd I had a sonogram scheduled; but it was cancelled, so I spent the day pitching my stories on twitter. (Everything happens for a reason. If I had gone for the sonogram, I might never have joined in the #Pit2Pub twitter party, and might still be searching for a publisher for THE DRAGON’S RING.)

I had the sonogram a week later, and then a biopsy. March 4th I learned I had endometrial cancer, Stage 1, and would have to have a total hysterectomy and removal of some lymph nodes.

My surgery was performed March 14th. All the time leading up to the surgery, I continued writing and working on my book. I sent the pre-edits in before my biopsy, and my line edits were returned before my surgery. After the surgery I had more editing to do, and was thankful for something to keep my mind occupied while I recuperated at home.

Time for some highs. My cancer doctor believes the cancer was removed, and he decided I didn’t need radiation or chemo. I must have check-ups every three months, but the prognosis is good. This means I can continue writing, and hopefully, publishing many more books.

My path to publication has taken many years, almost all of my lifetime, and I’ve overcome many hurdles and obstacles to be where I am today. One must love writing to keep at this craft, as it can be a desolate path at times, but when something wonderful happens, such as seeing your book in print, or in my case for sale online, the hard work, sleepless nights, revisions and editing seem worth it.

 

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Sir James Trueblood is determined to capture a unicorn so he can marry Princess Isadora. The knight begins his quest, not realizing the Princess is following him in disguise. On his journey Sir James encounters a witch and a dragon. With the dragon’s ring his mission is a success, but then he learns the unicorn will die if not set free. Now he has a dilemma; marry the Princess or free the unicorn.

 

 

Buy Links:

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01J73OAUG#nav-subnav

Kobo https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-dragon-s-ring

Smashwords  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/654404

 

Book trailer link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ODAHd23OzQ

 

Author Bio:  Debra Daugherty is from Central Illinois and is a member of SCBWI, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She enjoys living in the country with her two dogs, a Chihuahua named CeCe, and a rescued American Stratford Terrier named Honey. Besides writing children stories, Debra loves to spend time with her family, travel, and browse through antique shops. Publishing credits include CALAMITY CAT, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and THE DRAGON’S RING, Astraea Press/Clean Reads. She’s also had two short stories published in Guardian Angel Kids’e-zine.

 

Connect with Debra: 

Email: ddaugherty329@gmail.com

Twitter – @dmddeb

Website: http://ddaugherty329.wixsite.com/authordebradaugherty

www.writing-for-children.webnode.com

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/DebraDaughertyauthor

Goodreads Author Page: www.goodreads.com/author/show/7579797.Debra_Daugherty

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ddaugherty329