My Path to Publication – Gwen Kirkwood

I hope you’re all finding these ‘Path to Publication’ post inspiring, I certainly am. It’s so interesting to hear the publication journeys other authors have taken and the pitfalls they’ve encountered along the way. Today’s guest is Gwen Kirkwood who writes Scottish historical romance. Welcome, Gwen, can you tell us how you became a published author?


My first novel was published a long time ago in the 1980’s. I was incredibly ill-informed about the writing world then. I had never heard of the RNA. There were no mobile phones. Very few people had home computers. The only writers’ group in my area was for men, and only for “superior” poetry. This area is now known as Dumfries and Galloway and there are numerous writing groups in various small towns, as well as the Wigtown book Festival.

Like my mother and granny I have been an avid reader all my life. I can’t imagine anyone would want to write stories if they do not enjoy reading. When I married and had a young family life was busy, especially when we moved to a different farm with changes to make inside and out. I needed lighter reading – Lucilla Andrews, Lucy Walker, Mary Burchill and I became a regular reader of Woman’s Weekly. When the magazine organised a competition asking readers to write the first chapter of a novel and a synopsis I decided to have a go. The three judges were from Woman and Home, Women’s Hour and Woman’s Weekly. I didn’t win but Lynda O’Byrne, fiction editor of Woman’s Weekly, wrote to say she had liked my entry and she thought I should finish the novel. She even suggested a publisher – Robert Hale. I know now how lucky I was. Few busy editors would take time to give someone valuable encouragement. (If Lynda O’ Byrne is still around I would love to be able to thank her and tell her I have just written my thirtieth novel).

I was not a typist so I wrote everything long hand, with many scribbles and changes. I discovered the Writers and Artist’s Year book in the library and learned how to present a manuscript. I snatched any spare minutes and typed laboriously on a wee portable typewriter and eventually submitted to Robert Hale. They wrote back and said it was too long. I assumed that was a kindly rejection. I knew nothing of their Rainbow Romance Novels with a maximum length of 45,000 words so I put it in a cupboard and got on with life. A while later I received a letter from Hale asking if the shortened MS was available yet. I made a frantic effort to shorten it and then retype it all with the help of Mr Tippex. It was a hard slog.

Lonely is the Valley – my first novel set in Wales and Scotland was published, plus a contract for two more. I wrote as Lynn Granger but I have changed all my books to my own name now they are available as e-books.

I was writing my fourth Rainbow Romance when we bought an Amstrad computer for the farm accounts and correspondence. I thought the Word Processor (a program called Superwriter) was magic. I began to write sagas extending from 45,000 to100,000 words.

 I had an Amstrad too, Gwen! And for years I wrote my stories on a small, portable typewriter using lots of Tippex. How times have changed. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your super publication story with us.


About Gwen

Most of my novels are set in the countryside and have authentic details of history, farm life and the changes which have taken place through the years, so it will be no surprise to hear I am from a long line of farmers. I was born in Yorkshire, attended a small Church school then grammar school. I enjoyed school and a wide variety of subjects but when it came time to make a life choice I opted for agricultural college, disappointing my mother and going against the advice of my teachers, who felt I was wasting my education and ability. I have no regrets, but I wish my mother and a well-respected headmaster could have lived to see some of my books published. They would also realise how much education most progressive farmers need these days.

I had no plans to become a writer but I have never lacked imagination and I always enjoyed telling stories to myself in bed while waiting for sleep to claim me. I confess I still do this. I came across an old exercise book with a half-finished story of an adventure on the lines of Enid Blyton, one of the early authors I enjoyed, so I suppose I had a subconscious desire to write even then. Also while at college I won an essay competition arranged by a national feeding stuffs manufacturer. It was on breeding better dairy cows!

I had three Scottish grandparents and after college, and a spell at the Ministry of Agriculture Experimental farm in Nottingham, I eventually moved to Scotland, putting the lectures in microbiology to good use as a dairy inspector for the County Council health department, this being the time of school milk and before pasteurisation became compulsory. I cannot claim the work was fascinating but I met my husband, a dairy farmer and a keen breeder and judge of Clydesdale horses. So I have spent most of my adult life farming in Scotland. We have three children and six grandchildren.


You can contact Gwen online here:

Here are some of Gwen’s books


You can purchase them here:


Remember to check in next Saturday to find out how Jake Cross became a published author.




My Path to Publication – Jennifer Macaire

My guest this week is Jennifer Macaire, who has written several articles and books  and is currently published by Accent Press. Welcome, Jennifer, can you share your publication journey with us?

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I don’t know many authors whose path to publication ran smoothly. But one thing defines us – our sheer stubbornness and determination in the face of rejection.

I’d been writing short stories and articles for magazines and doing fairly well, so I decided to try a novel. My first book was a murder mystery. I sent it to an agent who told me to put it in a drawer and write another book. (Sound advice!) So I started a short story for a sci-fi magazine but it turned into a novel, and then into a seven book series about a time traveller going to interview Alexander the Great and getting kidnapped and stranded in 333 BC! Cue a year of research, then another year of polishing the first book – and then sending it off to a publisher, who wrote back that time travel novels were not selling, would I take the time travel element out and send it again?

I must have gotten fifty rejections for my series. Historical fiction was a hard sell – especially a campy, tongue-in-cheek time travel book with a bisexual hero (not a popular hero type) and a threesome (erotica? One publisher sent the manuscript back with “I can’t handle this!” written in red ink). It was set in Ancient Greece (not a popular time period – another publisher wanted to know if I could make it into a Regency romance…) On some days I felt like I was trying to sell spareribs at a vegetarian convention. It seemed no one wanted a cross genre book. I finally placed it with an Australian publisher, and the first book did very well there, becoming an Australian best seller, but the publisher folded before the others were published and I was back at square one.

This is where a normal person tosses the manuscript into the trash and takes up cliff diving or motorcycle racing – something easier – but we writers are not normal, and I kept the manuscript, wrote and published about twenty other books including YA books, and published some erotica written under a pen name. But my Alexander series was still my favourite, and so I sent it out once more to Accent Press, a small publisher in Wales whose book list included authors I absolutely adored – and they accepted it!  Now I had to sell it – so off it trotted to the Historical Novel Society where it got some lovely reviews, and to book blogs, so other people could hear about it – and I sent notes to family and friends. (For anyone who thinks the path to publishing ends when the book is published – I have news for you…)

I wrote articles for historical magazines and kept my blog up to date. At the same time I tried (often without succeeding, I might add) to keep the house clean, the family fed, the dog walked, and do my job (I have two part time jobs besides writing) and write other books, because I can’t seem to stop – it’s like breathing. Perhaps it would be nice to be able to sit down and not be thinking about the easiest way to travel to Tunis from Paris in the twelfth century, or how a sabre-tooth tiger kills its prey, or what Alexander the Great was thinking when he headed over the Hindu Kush mountains into the unknown – where some said Atlas stood holding up the edge of the world, and where others said a great waterfall fell into the chasms of Hades…and only my imagination could tell me.

So I have to write it down.

What a fascinating and inspiring publication journey, Jennifer. I really enjoyed The Road to Alexander. 

About Jennifer:

Jennifer Macaire lives in France with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She grew up in New York State, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. After graduation in St. Thomas, she moved to NYC where she modelled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

You can contact Jennifer online here:

Blog :

Facebook page :

Twitter : @jennnifermacaire

Instagram :

Here’s some of Jennifer’s books

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The Time for Alexander series – Accent Press

The Road to Alexander on Amazon kindle:

Remember to check in next Saturday to find out how Gwen Kirkwood got published!






My Path to Publication – Sarah Evans

A warm welcome to Sarah Evans, my guest today. Sarah has decided to take the self-publishing route, and talks to us about her experience, sharing some of the things she has learnt along the way. Welcome, Sarah, can you tell us why you made the decision to self-publish?


I’ve been writing for a few years and I’ve always enjoyed the thought of being a self-published author. I liked the idea that you can earn more royalties, rather than most of them going to the publisher, and that I could create something of my own design. Plus, it would save me having any more rejections!

As well as writing Christian non-fiction I also write knitting patterns. I’ve been knitting since I was a child so this was a natural progression. I publish individual patterns on Ravelry ( ) but I always liked the idea of having a book published with my own knitting patterns for others to enjoy.

I’d been researching how to self-publish on Amazon and at first glance, it seemed like it was so simple anyone could it! For me, I didn’t find it simple at all, in fact, it was quite stressful, but I did learn a lot from the experience.

Self-publishing a book with pictures was much more difficult. I found that the size of the photographs was a problem as it made the file size of the finished document too high and because of the number of pictures inside, it makes the print copy of the book much more expensive than what I wanted to charge. I discovered that the quality of the pictures in the printed book are not of the same quality you find in traditional published books.

The text wasn’t properly formatted so parts of it was out of alignment. Of course, I’ve since discovered a great video on how to format books to Kindle, so I’m in the process of changing the whole layout of the book to make it look more professional and I’m reducing the file size of the pictures which hopefully will make a big difference. It’s all a steep learning curve and unless you do it, you can’t know how things will turn out.

Here are my tips to make your book a success:

  • Correctly format your book to make it look as professional as traditional published books. Along with this I would recommend getting another person to read it for you just to make sure there are no spelling errors, that it makes sense, and that it flows smoothly.
  • E-Books do not need an ISBN. I wish I had known this before getting myself one, as publishers can track the sales of your book if you use one. This obviously is great if you know that you’re going to sell more than 5,000 copies of your book. If, however, it sells poorly, then the publisher will see this and think that you’re not a big deal author. You do need an ISBN if you publish a paperback version though.
  • The royalty side of things: if you sell your book for less than $2.99, £1.99 in the UK, then you only receive 35% royalties, but if you sell your book at the recommended price of $2.99, you receive 70% royalties. For further details please look on Amazon’s website.
  • I would also advise you to pay for a professional to make you a book cover, unless you’re a tech wizard and can make your own. These can be bought on for a low price and you will have a great front cover for your book.

Now I have gone through the whole process I now know that my next e-book will be perfectly formatted, it will have a professionally made front cover, will be professionally edited, and there will be no pictures so it should turn out perfectly. I’m glad I went through the process as I’m now wiser about the process and I know the pit falls to avoid. 😊

Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Sarah. I’m sure other authors who are thinking of self-publishing will find your advice very useful.

Author Bio

Sarah is a Christian author and avid crafter. She has had articles published in UK magazines and her first non-fiction book was published by CWR in 2017, called Jacob, taking hold of God’s Blessing. She blogs regularly and you can find more about her here:

Connect with Sarah online:




Here are Sarah’s books.  To buy a copy click here:


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Check back in next Saturday to read Jennifer Macaire’s publication journey.

My Path to Publication – Kate Mallinder

Today I’m delighted to introduce you to Kate Mallinder, who I met a few years ago. As soon as I read a piece of Kate’s writing I was sure that it was only a matter of time before she got published so I’m delighted that her debut novel will be released next month by Firefly Press. Welcome Kate, can you tell us about your ‘publication’ journey.

Kate Mallinder profile image

As I’m sat here, only a few weeks away from my debut book coming out, I’m thinking how easy it would be to say this was meant to be, that I always knew I would be published one day and that it’s been a heartily uplifting journey to get here. But that wouldn’t be entirely true.

I started writing seriously six years ago, and I first met Karen soon after. She was the first professional who took my writing seriously. I wrote a book, sent it to agents, got nowhere. Wrote another book, sent it to agents, got a couple of full requests, but nothing. Wrote another book, sent it to agents, got lots of full requests, a few offers and signed with Hannah Sheppard from DHH Literary Agency. I thought the hard bit was done.

That was four years ago. Since then I have done a lot of writing, a lot of editing, a lot of waiting to hear, of obsessively checking my emails, of meeting with publishers, of being told another book has been taken to acquisitions, of so many near misses and rejections.

It was when I was writing Summer of No Regrets that it hit me – this wasn’t going to happen. I had given it my all, my very best shot, and it wasn’t good enough (luckily now I have my agent’s voice in my head telling me otherwise, rather than my persuasive inner critic)

However the story would not leave me alone. It was a brain-strain to write as it has four points-of-view, but I wanted to see if I could make it work. There were moments of joy writing it, but mainly it was showing up, day after day, dodging my inner critic long enough to write a few words.

While I was editing, I was still certain it wouldn’t get published, so I made plans to do other things. I applied to do an MA, I sent short pieces off everywhere I could find. If I was going to be rejected, may as well collect them, so I set out to get 100 rejections in a year.

Writing is this funny thing, for me anyway. I love it and loathe it at the same time. The feeling when it’s going well is like flying, nothing touches you. But when it isn’t, everything bites. This is why I try to, even in a small way, celebrate each micro-success: each chapter finished, each new goal reached, each positive comment received. Even so, it’s a struggle to stay on an even keel.

Summer of No Regrets is inspired by my own experiences with facing up to my fears, for not saying no to opportunities just because I think I’ll fail, for having a go and failing, and getting up and trying again.

Yet, if I were to look back with rose-tinted specs, I would say that it’s my best writing yet. That it’s a story that would not have happened without the rejections that came before it, and so, in a skewed kind of way, my journey has been a good thing.

What an inspiring story, Kate. I love the idea of celebrating each small step towards your goal, it’s important to remember how far you’ve come in your writing and not let the rejections get you down. Congratulations on your debut novel! 

Here is Kate’s novel

Summer of No Regrets - cover

Summer of No Regrets is a feel-good contemporary story for teens and is out May 2 with Firefly Press. It’s been included in the Top Ten Summer YA Books by The Reading Agency.

Pre-order here:

Author bio:

Kate lives with her husband, four children and two cats near Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire. If left to her own devices, she’d live on a window seat with a good book and a never-ending cup of tea.

Contact details:

Find Kate on twitter: @KateMallinder

On Instagram: kate.mallinder


Check back in next Saturday to read Sarah Evans ‘path to publication’ story.