Monday, March 17, 2014

Author Cathi Shaw tells us about the background of 'Five Corners: The Marked Ones'

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!

Five Corners: The Marked Ones
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."

Book buy links
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.

Twitter: @CathiShaw



$50 Amazon/BN gift card
Follow the tour for more chances to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I would want a amazon gift card!

  2. I'd prefer the Amazon card. Thank you for the giveaway and sharing your book!

    1. Thanks for entering and reading about Five Corners! Good luck in the giveaway! :)

  3. Excellent and informative post Cathi. Is this series classified YA or Teen? I'm curious because you presented the story idea to your daughter when she was eight. The premise does sound as if it could work for more than one demographic. Thanks for sharing.

    ilookfamous at yahoo dot com

    1. It's funny because I wrote the book as a YA/Teen novel and my first beta readers were in the 14-18 year range. Then my mum was reading my MS and my 9-year old niece was with her and wanted to read it. So they read the book together and my niece LOVED it! Since then I've had kids as young as 8 say they like the book and adults more than 70 years love it! So I guess it defines classification! One of the bookstores where I live put it in the SciFi/Fantasy section rather than the Teen section! :)

  4. I really enjoyed reading about all you went through to get this story published. I am glad you did, because it sounds awesome. I loved the excerpt.

    1. Thanks so much! Definitely the publishing process has been a real learning experience for me. But I love Ink Smith Publishing -they have been fantastic. I'm hoping to have Book 2 published by them as well (probably late 2014 or early 2015).

  5. Thanks so much for hosting me, Andrea! :)

  6. I enjoyed the excerpt, thank you.
    Amazon please.


  7. I'm so glad it worked out for you! (Amazon, please, by the way...)


    1. Thanks so much! I so appreciate the positive vibes! Good luck in the giveaway! :)

  8. Congrats on getting your book published, it looks like a good read!

  9. Nice excerpt

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    1. Thanks! Good luck for the draw! :)

  10. I like that you wrote every day for 30 days and had more than 50,000 words in just 2 weeks! Amazing! Congrats on the book!

    1. Thanks! I'm a super fast writer but, with over a decade of working with student writers, I have to say the important part isn't the number of words you get down on the page but that you actually sit down and write every day. It's getting into that practice that's so important. :)

  11. I love how you kept trying regardless of rejection or non response, and it took one to make it all happen. Inspiring story of dedication to something you really want.

    1. Rejection is probably the most difficult part of being a writing. Throughout the process you are going to get turned down for a variety of reasons. It's hard to keep asking and sending your "baby" out there when you know it might receive another rejection. But it's important to keep trying! :)