How she did it. Kath McGurl’s 11 year Route to Publishing a Novel
The guest post this week comes from Kath McGurl and I am very glad to welcome her. I know Kath through her popular blog where she offers advice and information to short story writers hoping to break into the woman’s magazine market. Her support for potential rivals is a testament to the generosity of the writing community, although her own focus has now shifted from short fiction to novels. This is the story of how she secured a two book publishing deal. The first book, The Emerald Comb, was published last week.
I was always going to be a writer. One day. One day, in the vague and shimmering future, I would have the time to sit at a desk day after day and just write. I didn’t know when that day would arrive but I lived in quiet confidence that it would, and that I would recognise it when I reached it.
The day arrived in the summer of 2003. My children were 8 and 5. I had a full time job and loads of demands on my time. Suddenly I came to the bitter realisation that no one would pay me for a year off work to write a book. If I wanted to do it, I would have to carve out time from my daily routines. Around the same period, an idea for a novel dropped into my head one day as I was doing the dishes. I felt compelled to go to the computer, create a new folder called ‘Writing’, open a Word document and start typing. I also began a Writers’ Bureau course, wrote a few short stories, and discovered the joys of online writers’ communities and blogs.
I have never looked back. The children have gone hungry, my husband has spent many evenings sitting sad and lonely watching TV on his own, the housework has been left undone and the garden is a jungle. I could even admit that at times the day job has suffered, but I won’t, in case the boss ever reads this. But since then I’ve written and sold dozens of short stories, three novels and two ‘how to write’ books. That’s as well as all the unsold and incomplete projects – that first novel didn’t get beyond chapter three!
Writing has become a way of life – I am a writer, it’s what I do (though I still have the day job as well). For the first few years I didn’t talk about it much, outside of my immediate family. It wasn’t until I had a track record of selling short stories to women’s magazines that I realised it was something I should be proud of.
I self-published three books, but still wanted that validation which comes from having a publisher say ‘Yes!’ to one of my books. That moment eventually came, and Carina UK offered me a two book deal, almost exactly eleven years after I first created that Writing folder on my computer. And yes, it was a wonderful moment!
If I had known it would take me eleven years to get a book deal, would I ever have embarked on this writing journey? Well, yes. Of course I would. Because I was always going to be a writer, one day.
One afternoon, Katie visits Kingsley House, the family home of her ancestors, the St Clairs. She falls in love the minute she sees it. It may be old and in desperate need of modernisation, but it is her link to the past and, having researched her family tree extensively, she feels a sense of belonging to the crumbling old estate.
When it suddenly comes up for sale, she cannot resist persuading her family to sell up and buy it, never telling them the truth of their connection with it. But soon the past collides with the present, as the house begins to reveal the secrets it has hidden for generations. Does Katie really want to discover what she has come from?
A bit more about Kath
She lives near the sea in Bournemouth, with her husband, sons and cats. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present., and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.When not writing or working at her full-time job in IT, she likes to go out running or sea-swimming, both of which she does rather slowly. She is definitely quicker at writing.