The Path to Publication
Each writer takes a different route. This was Shannon’s.
1974—Was born. Had books read to her.
1983—Read books to self. As required by the legendary Marjorie Spackman (4th grade teacher) started writing poems and stories in class.
1984—Was hooked on writing. Began to write books on the side with friends, mostly fantasy and Nancy Drew rip-offs. Read more fantasies and Nancy Drew.
1986—Read books. Served on junior high literary magazine. In interview as finalist for Bryant Intermediate School’s 7th-Grader-of-the-Month, cited the novel-in-progress as greatest accomplishment. Won the title over the perfect ballerina and straight-“A” piano player. (Ha-ha.) Mom said, "You’d better finish that book now."
1988-1992—Still didn’t finish book. On reading drafts, decided needed more practice. Wrote (bad) poetry and (fairly bad) stories in high school. Took creative writing classes. Served on high school literary magazine. Read books.
1992-1997—Continued to write in secret. Pursued acting and English degree at University of Utah. Took more creative writing classes. Wrote (bad) poetry and (getting better) stories. Served on college literary magazine. Traveled. Read books. Formed workshop group with friends.
1997—Saw cheap middle reader book and said, “Anyone can write these,” and answered, “Oh, yeah? Then prove it.” Wrote a 30,000 word middle reader book in one month. Read book over and decided that doing it well was harder than it looks. Read more books.
1997—Applied for Master’s programs (with fingers crossed) in Creative Writing Fiction. Stopped writing (bad) poetry. Read lots of books.
1998—Forced to announce embarrassing desires to be a writer when accepted to an MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) program at the University of Montana. Still read books.
1998-2000—Read books. Wrote lots of (nearly decent but unpublishable) stories. Read lots of (both really bad and really good) stories. Served on graduate school literary magazine.
1999—Got idea for the goose girl. Wrote first 75 pages. Threw it all away.
2000—Writing 5 pages (1500 words) a day, finished first draft of the goose girl. Revised 3 times. Subscribed to Locus Magazine (the business journal for Science Fiction and Fantasy) and read each issue cover to cover.
2001—Revised the goose girl a dozen or so more times. Cut 200+ pages in all. Exhaustively researched the publishing industry. Queried innumerable agents. Folder of rejection letters growing fatter. Got very discouraged. Read some books. Still reading Locus. Somehow got an agent to actually read first 5 chapters. She asked to read the rest. She agreed to take it on. Declared from rooftop that agent was an angel on earth. Agent began sending manuscript to editors. 5 rejections.
2002—Got laid off from real job. Wrote first draft of 2nd book, enna burning. More ambiguous rejections from editors. Then agent called with news—Bloomsbury made offer to buy the goose girl. Gratefully praised Bloomsbury and editor Victoria Arms from rooftop, an activity that has not ceased to this moment. Continued to rewrite enna burning. Generated idea for 3rd book. Read more books.
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