This story actually came to me when I was running one day, about eight years ago. I had a sudden image of three strong girls, sisters of some kind. In my vision, they were very different but also equally strong role models, each beautiful in their own right. I was tired of reading about male protagonists, especially in fantasy novels (this was before we had Katniss Everdeen, Clary Fray and Beatrice Prior).
I worked out the plotline for the story while I finished my run and then took my daughter, who was about 8-years old at the time, for a walk and ran my idea by her. She’s always been an avid reader and she liked the idea.
But then the story just rested. I didn’t sit down and write it for another four or five years. Sure I thought about the story, played around with it in my mind but nothing was put on paper. At one point I wrote the first chapter and drafted an outline but I just didn’t have the discipline to sit down and write the whole manuscript.
Then in November of 2012, my good friend and fellow writer, Rochelle Dionne, challenged me to sign up for NaNoWriMo (the National Novel in Month contest). She’d done this the previous year but I was so busy with work, I didn’t get more than two days in and I’d quit. But in 2012 I was determined to finish my novel.
So I sat down and wrote every day for 30 days. And the story just poured out. I couldn’t stop! In fact, I had more than 50,000 words in just 2 weeks. And I kept going. By the end of November I had a readable manuscript.
Now remember readable doesn’t mean publishable. I knew this but I was so proud of my little story I wanted to share it. So that’s precisely what I did. I send it around to about 12 readers in my target audience age range. I also sent specific questions for them to consider and then I waited for their feedback.
I was so nervous. I mean beyond what publishers or agents would think of my work, the people who really mattered were my readers. What if they hated it? Then I might as well give up the story.
I didn’t have to wait long. The first response from a reader was with in 24 hours. She devoured the book and loved it! And the rest of the readers were equally as enthusiastic. They did have some suggestions for improving the book, many of which were incorporating in my editing phase, but the bottom line was that they loved the book and wanted more. I was thrilled.
When I finally had a polished draft of the book finished, I sent it off to agents. I eventually queried 57 agents in total. I received either an outright rejection or no response from all of them (except one, who followed up about my book in November of the same year when it was already with my publisher getting ready to be printed!).
I’ll admit I was pretty deflated by all that rejection. But I still had people in my target audience reading the book. I had the first male reader have a go at the manuscript and he loved it, too! I was determined to get it published because the kids reading my book really liked it.
So I decided to forget about literary agents and try my hand at approaching publishers themselves. To my utter shock, the first publishing house I contacted requested my manuscript! They ultimately decided it wasn’t for them, but Ink Smith Publishing was the second publisher I contacted and they picked up the book right away and I’m so glad they did. I couldn’t ask for a more enthusiastic, supportive publisher!
By Cathi Shaw
Growing up in a sleepy village untouched by distant wars and political conflicts, it was easy for Thia, Mina and Kiara to forget such horrors existed in the Five Corners. That is until the dead child is found; a child that bears the same strange birthmark that all three sisters possess. A Mark their mother had always told them was unique to the girls.
Kiara’s suspicions grow as their Inn is soon overrun with outsiders from all walks of life. Strangers, soldiers and Elders who all seem to know more about what is happening than the girls do.
After Mina barely survives an attack in the forest, the sisters are faced with a shattering secret their mother has kept from them for years. As danger closes in around them, the sisters are forced from their home and must put their trust in the hands of strangers. With more questions than answers, Kiara finds herself separated from everyone she loves and reliant on an Outlander who has spent too much time in army. She doesn’t trust Caedmon but she needs him if she has any hope of being reunited with her sisters and learning what the Mark might mean.
Read an excerpt:
"It's not a dream this time, Thia."
"I know," she admitted in a whisper. "But how is this happening?"
Teague shook his head at her, his hair falling forward over his forehead. "I know you're shocked. I was, too, when I first saw you. Then I realized that what we thought were only dreams, were just forays into a different reality." Excitement lit up his features. "A reality that, at times, feels more real than this one, don't you agree?"
Thia opened her mouth to deny what he was saying, even as a dozen memories burst to life in her head.
For the first time Thia noticed he was taller than in her dreams. Not as tall as her sisters but certainly taller than she.
He looked down at her, his eyes unreadable in the fading afternoon light.
And yet the essence of him was so familiar. Before she could stop herself Thia instinctively reached out to touch his forearm, wanted to feel the warm muscles above his gloves, to reassure herself that he was real.
Teague jerked away before she could reach him and Thia felt an inexplicable sense of hurt flood through her.
"I'm real, Thia," he whispered aloud, his breath stirring the hair on her forehead. "But you can't touch me. I can't explain right now but please don't try."
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Ink Smith
Cathi Shaw lives in Summerland, BC with her husband and three children. She is often found wandering around her home, muttering in a seemingly incoherent manner, particularly when her characters have embarked on new adventure. In addition to writing fiction, she teaches rhetoric and professional writing in the Department of Communications at Okanagan College and is the co-author of the textbook Writing Today.
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