Donna St. Cyr: 2k9 Debut Novelist

Introduced first in 2007, authors debuting children’s books have formed a cooperative effort to market their novels. Last year, I featured many of the stories of how the 2k8 Novels Were Revised. This is part of the ongoing stories from the Class of 2k9 authors and how they went about revising their novels.

From Creative Writing Class to Publication

Guest Post by
Donna St. Cyr

The Secrets of the Cheese Syndicate

Inspiration. I began writing this story as an assignment for my writing class. My children had given me the idea by their daily antics (that’s how many of my stories are born). The final assignment for this class was to submit something that was around ten chapters in length. The instructor loved what I sent and encouraged me to finish and pursue publication with it.


Outline provides initial vision. Before I started the actual writing, I brainstormed how I might want the story to look, creating a pathfinder to give me some plot possibilities. It’s an action/adventure fantasy, so it really is a pretty plot-driven story. After I sketched the story out, I began writing. It didn’t take long for me to pitch the original outline and begin writing from the hip, so to speak. I was glad, however, that I’d started with the outline because it gave me a vision for the story, even though that vision changed as I wrote.

One and a half-years to a full draft.
I have a nasty habit of revising as I go, so every time I wrote a chapter or two, I’d edit it right away. After that, I’d send it out to my critique group. These actions took care of many of my line edits and helped me with plot inconsistencies and pointing out spots where my narrative was too much “tell” and not enough “show”. To write the entire manuscript and revise it through my critique group took about a year to a year and a half.

Six months revising. When I felt like I’d finished the story, I sent it back through my critique group, looking specifically for “big picture” items. Some of the things we concentrated on during the second round of edits included character action and language that was consistent through the story, consistency through the plotline, holes in the story that needed to be filled in, places where the action sagged, and depth of characters. This took another six months or so and I felt pretty good about the manuscript by that point, so I started subbing it out to publishers.

Acceptance! I’d sent the story out five times – with five rejections – before I saw a call for manuscripts of Verla Kay’s Children’s Writers and Illustrators Message Board. I thought my story fit Blooming Tree’s expectations, so I sent it in. About four months later I received a call – acceptance – YAY! I thought I was done ——— NOT!

Revise for Editor. My editor told me the story was not yet finished. It needed more action, more depth of character and more EVERYTHING! This was probably the most difficult point in the revision process for me. I really wanted to be finished, but I took a good hard look at the manuscript and realized she was right. The story wasn’t finished. I found some new characters (some of my favorites) and some more adventures my main characters needed to experience. After this revision was finished, my editor asked for one more small revision. This was mostly more of the same types of things my critique buddies had helped me with. After that came the copy edits. What amazed me was how many typos are still in a manuscript after it’s been edited six times. I think we still had 30 or so things to fix. After the copy edits were completed, I really was DONE ——— with the writing, that is. The marketing and promotion has just begun.

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