Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pay it Forward: Author Interview with Shannon Morgan

Everyone has a different path to publication. This week, I'm featuring authors on the way: authors who have found their agents or their publishers and are in the homestretch towards reaching their dreams. Their stories are each different--but they are all inspiring. By showing you how THEY did it, I hope you remember that YOU can, too!

So, stick around all week to find out about lots of up-and-coming authors! Today, I'm featuring Shannon Morgan, author of BRIAR-BOUND, represented by Chris Richman of Upstart Crow, and blogger at Daily Pie.

Tell us about your book.
To find answers about his missing father, and armed with only an ancient book of tales and a cryptic note from his mentor, twelve-year-old Jack enters an enchanted forest he knows he can never leave again. In that wood lives ten-year-old Stump, whose elderly guardian hides a ring that holds clues to the girl's true parentage. To bargain for the ring, she lures into the forest a boy who resembles the old woman's long-lost son: Jack's five-year-old brother Peter. BRIAR-BOUND is a middle grade fantasy, represented by Chris Richman of Upstart Crow Literary and currently on submission to publishers.

Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication?
1987: My PSAT suggests I become an actuary. Here's what an actuary does. Riveting.

1988 - 2006: I get a degree in history, then work many, many different jobs, carefully avoiding the shiny but deadly lure of actuarial science. Exactly like Luke and the Dark Side. During this time, I begin writing... grant proposals and standardized assessments. (OK, so I totally dabbled in the Dark Side.)

2006: My favorite TV show ends in a crazy-good cliffhanger! Sudden urge to write fiction! After I write and receive feedback on several stories for an online community, a friend suggests I try NaNoWriMo. I participate in NaNo for the next three years.

2008: I decide to query agents with BRIAR-BOUND, my second NaNo novel, much revised and then titled JACK. I research agencies through Writer's Market and make a list of twenty prospective agents. I query my top 10 first. Get my first rejection in 10 minutes -- SUPERSTAR! Have several requests for partial or full manuscripts.

One of those fulls rests with Nadia Cornier at Firebrand Literary. She decides JACK isn't quite right for her (eek) but earns my eternal thanks by passing it along to Brand-Spanking-New (Not-Even-On-The-Website-Yet) Agent Chris Richman. By coincidence, I'm on vacation in Queens when Chris decides he wants to talk. (I maintain the coincidence. Chris is skeptical, possibly because I was vacationing in Queens. In December.) We meet, chat about books in general and mine in particular, and talk about our career goals. I leave calmly. Two blocks away, I show my husband Dave an envelope containing two signed contracts, and freak out.

2009: Enough partying already, it's time to revise! Chris leads me through three revisions, during which JACK becomes a much stronger project and gets a new title. In April, we go on submission. During that process, I get such consistent feedback from editors that I decide to revise again. This time, BRIAR-BOUND changes dramatically. At this stage, I create Stump, one of the three current main characters. Roughly 43.6% of this revision is new text.

2010: After three draft stages, Chris and I decide the project is ready for submission. Huzzah! Chris takes over and sends BRIAR-BOUND out. I open a YA novel I started writing in 2008 and try not to obsess.

Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
Never because of rejection or self-doubt. I did wonder early on if writing would become one of a string of hobbies in my wake. But it stuck. I feel like I've found the perfect outlet: years of being a fringe observer, gathering a wide range of skills, and exploring a lot of interests -- it's all paying off. Plus, I'm meeting a lot of great folks in all areas of the industry. Writing is so rewarding I can't imagine giving it up now. Besides, if I did, I'd have to become an actuary, and I'm already square enough. :)

Thank you, Shannon! You can find Shannon online at her blog daily pie or on Twitter @nomadshan

This week of interviews is being hosted by Elana Johnson, and several other bloggers are jumping on the bandwagon, including:
 Be sure to check them all out for inspiring, first-hand stories of authors on the verge of publication!
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