Congratulations to Book Country member Marshall Ryan Maresca! His debut fantasy novel THE THORN OF DENTONHILL is now on sale! Marshall originally workshopped THE THORN OF DENTONHILL on Book Country which was then picked up by DAW Books. Last week, we asked you to describe your own fantasy world in one sentence for a chance to win one advance copy of THE THORN OF DENTONHILL. Here are a couple of the amazing submissions we received:
Drugara, a vibrant realm lush with rich plant life and towering black trees, threatened by a spreading taint that warps the land into a dark, twisted world of despair and shadow. – Amber Wolfe
The nine Great Nations, while they were all different in customs and political agenda, had one law in common–from Azaria in the north all the way down to Bore they had banned all magic and tech, after Kronus the Conqueror had created the tracers and spent centuries hunting down and destroying every trace of power in the land. – SMRoffey
We are so happy for Marshall! Read what Marshall says about his path to publication below.
Today, THE THORN OF DENTONHILL goes on sale. This is an incredible moment for me, the culmination of several years worth of work. It was nearly eight years ago when I first jotted down a handful of sentence fragments that would very roughly outline the bare plot of THORN.
Of course, that wasn’t even the first step on my path to publication. It has been a long road from being “that guy” who talks about writing a book to actually writing one, and then actually writing a good one.
The first real turning point was attending a writers’ workshop. I had submitted the first chapter of a work-in-progress that had been “in progress” in one form or another for a long time, and despite my own beliefs to the contrary, wasn’t going anywhere.
In fact, I thought I was going into that workshop with gold. Sure, I’d get some notes, but just the final touches sort of notes, because my first chapter was fantastic, right?
It was not, and they tore it to tiny pieces.
Which was exactly what I needed, even if I didn’t know it at the time.
Having realized how fundamentally flawed that chapter was, I threw it away and started that novel from scratch, totally reworking it and staying on it until it was done.
I had finished a novel.
Taking that to critique groups and attempting to query it, though, showed me that it still had a long way to go. Perhaps too far. The deep, structural flaws in that novel would mean it would have to be rebuilt from the foundation in order to work. I wasn’t sure if it was worth it.
Especially since I had that handful of sentence fragments that roughly outlined THORN.
So I trunked that manuscript and got to work on THORN, whipping a rough draft into shape, workshopping it, and editing it into something I felt was pretty solid.
Now all that was left was querying to agents.
My queries got some positive reactions, but it wasn’t fully hitting, until I got an email from one agent:
I loved this book, I read it all in one day BUT it’s too short for me to sell. Get it to 90-100K and send it back to me.
This was a revelation: THORN was around 70K, and I had gotten the impression (from bad sources) that it was long enough to sell as a novel. Now knowing that was wrong, I wondered if I had gotten passed on by several agents automatically just on the length of the manuscript alone. How fortunate that one agent looked past that and read it all, regardless.
I got to work on expanding THORN without just padding it. While this seemed like a completely daunting task, I found plenty of untapped story and character points to delve into. After several more months of hard work, I had transformed it into a strong work that was now the right length to be sold.
You better believe I gave that agent first crack at it, and he’s the one who now represents me.
Of course, that hardly meant my work was done. I kept working on new manuscripts while he shopped THORN, including the one that would become A MURDER OF MAGES.
Because shopping manuscripts is about waiting, you might as well be productive during that time. And it paid off, since we sold both THORN and MURDER at the same time.
As great as that was, I can say the final steps of waiting were the hair-pulling worst. I knew that THORN was at DAW, that it was actively being read, and I was on the proverbial pins and needles waiting for news. And when the news came it was: they want to see one of the other manuscripts. That’s… good, right? I mean, they wouldn’t want to see another unless they liked the first, right? But that meant even more waiting to get an official word.
Then on a Wednesday evening, I’m driving home from an event when my wife notices I received a text.
“It’s from your agent. He wants to know if you can talk tonight.”
“Yes,” I said. “Yes, yes, yes. Tell him to call me in ten minutes.”
She sent the return message while I raced home, waiting for the call that was going to change everything.
“Did you sell a book?” my wife asked when I got off the phone.
“No,” I said. “I sold two.”
Now that first one, THE THORN OF DENTONHILL, goes on sale. Seeing that final result, every step on the journey was worth it.
About Marshall Ryan Maresca
Connect with Marshall on Book Country and follow him on Twitter @MarshallMaresca. Visit him on the web at blog.mrmaresca.com. Marshall is represented by Mike Kabongo of the OnyxHawke Agency. THE THORN OF DENTONHILL is on sale now. A MURDER OF MAGES will be out in 2015.