The Secret Path

I am delighted to (somewhat belatedly) report that the witty and fabulous Miss Gaie Sebold has a publishing contract with Solaris for Babylon Steel,  her original fantasy novel set in an inter-planar brothel.  The press release can be found here.

It’s taken me a while to write this post, because I wanted to write (with Miss Sebold’s permission) about how she did it. But it kept coming out with a hectoring tone, and the person who needs to be on the receiving end of the lecture is most definitely me. So instead, I’d like to tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Gaie who wanted to write books and have them published.  So she started writing. Her first book took her years, and it grew and it grew and it grew, so she asked her big sister to set her a deadline.

Big sister said, “How long do you think it will take to finish it?

“A year,” said Gaie.

“Then that’s your deadline.”

So Gaie finished her first book, and she sent it out into the Forest of Submissions, to find the path to Novel Publication Mountain,  for every story must make its own path through the forest.

As the book entered the forest, the Blizzard of Rejections struck.  Book One struggled in the storm, was driven back, and stumbled home. When it returned, Gaie thought about everything she had learned, and decided that Book One wasn’t strong enough to survive in the forest.

So, Gaie carried on writing. She wrote stories and poems and she kept studying to find ways to make them stronger. She joined a writers’ group who tested them further.

She sent her pieces out into the forest. Some of the stories and poems struggled in the Blizzard of Rejections and turned back. But more battled through, and collected awards and nominations and climbed the foothills to the shining heights of Paid Publication in Good Markets.

As Gaie kept writing, ideas collected around her. One day all of her ideas said, “We are a book, and you must write us.” So she wrote her second book. And then she rewrote the book. And then the book was critiqued, and then she rewrote it again and sent it out into the forest  to find a way up Publication Mountain.

Book Two was funny and sweet and charmed everyone it met. It struggled through the blizzard and found the Agent Path. It followed the path half-way up the mountain,  and found refuge at the John Jarrold agency. It set out again and again from the agency on many different paths, assailed by the blizzard, but it couldn’t find the right path to the summit. It is wandering still.

After her second book set out, Gaie wrote (and rewrote) her third and sent it on its way. Number Three was mysterious and tricky and intrigued fellow seekers of the path. It followed its sibling’s trail straight to the John Jarrold agency.  But then it too stumbled in the blizzard and meandered, lost in the many ways on Publication Mountain.

After Number Three had gone, Gaie wrote (and rewrote) her fourth book and sent it out. Number Four  also followed the trail to the agency.  It set forth boldy with sword drawn on the paths of Publication Mountain and it kicked arse. And after several adventures it found the right path through Publishing Contract to the top of the mountain. It sent back the secret path for two other siblings, as yet unwritten,  to follow it there.

Although every story must make its own path through the forest, there are signposts left by fellow travellers to help find the way.  I’ve listed a few here.

My favourite 3 books for buffing up writing skills:

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain.
Story by Robert McKee.
The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler.

For critiques of query letters visit the Query Shark.

For critiques of synopses have a look at Miss Snark’s now defunct crapometer.

For avoiding the scammers check  Preditors and Editors and  Writer Beware.

Good luck in the forest!


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