At The Editorial Department we are ecstatic anytime we have good news to share in regard to client success, and this week we are pleased to announce that author Marissa Campbell has struck a deal with St. Martin’s Press to publish her novel,Raven’s Blood, through her agent, Margaret Bail, at Inklings Literary Agency. Campbell’s book is a work of historical fiction set in the late 9th Century, featuring the struggles of a pagan heroine amid the political backdrop of Alfred the Great’s war against the Vikings. She noted that she was floored when she heard the news that she was being offered a deal, “I wasn’t sitting and promptly plopped onto a wooden bench as the strength in my legs wavered and my hands holding the phone shook,” she said.
In regard to her book, the author also indicated that maintaining the motivation to keep writing was not always easy. “On the days when I couldn’t seem to find inspiration, or when I was looking at another rejection letter, I honestly wouldn’t have been able to articulate why I felt the need to keep writing.” But despite these challenging moments, Campbell was determined to continue, and interacting with other authors helped her to keep going. “Every writer I’ve ever met has inspired me. Passion is exhilarating and contagious.”
She said that finding friends who are writers was also important to her success, and that she looked upon fellow writers as mentors. “Surrounding yourself with people who follow their passion is a nurturing experience,” Campbell said. “When you hit those lows as a writer, it’s important to know you’re not alone, that you have a group of supportive people you can turn to. And when you hit the highest of highs, it’s awesome to have friends who get exactly why it is you are so excited! My writers group, The B7, has been tenderly holding the space for me to test and flex my writing muscles right from the beginning. I also belong to the Writers Community of Durham Region, a wonderful and dedicated group of writers over three hundred members strong.”
She elaborated the reasons for wanting and needing to write. “A good book moves me and wraps me up in its world until it becomes my reality for the entire time I’m lost in those pages. I am compelled to try and bring that same experience to my readers. I want my story to touch people. I want them to feel each of the emotions I felt when writing it. I want them to love my characters as much as I do. I want to share in the experience of story with the reader.”
“My husband would tell you it was sheer pigheaded stubbornness and an obstinate refusal to give up. Despite the obstacles—staring rejection in the face, toiling in obscurity, sitting at that chair staring at a white screen while the cursor winks its blank stare back at me—I write because I have to, because the story that is burning inside me must be told. I write because I yearn to see those words in print and can’t rest until my words move a reader in some mystical way. Perhaps my husband was right.”
Campbell went on to note that finishing the novel and getting it to the point of revision where she finally had a copy that would compete with other submissions was time consuming and difficult. “It took me two and a half years from research to final edits to complete Raven’s Blood, and the moment I finished, I started testing the waters by querying agents. After several rejections, I knew something was wrong. I had a general sense of what needed to be done but I needed solid feedback. I hired TED to help with substantive edits. As a fan of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King, there was only one company I wanted working on my manuscript. TED’s editors pointed out some key elements that needed to be changed or I risked limiting the commercial appeal of the work. I didn’t hesitate.”
Campbell said that TED’s work with her was no small factor in her success. “The key, and I cannot stress this enough, is to have the work completely edited. There are so many manuscripts floating around in agent and editor’s inboxes that in order to stand out from the crowd you need to prove you are professional and serious about your craft. If a manuscript is good, but needs a lot of editing, an agent will just move onto the next manuscript in the pile. You have to make yours stand out,” Campbell said.
Campbell’s description of the plot and themes of Raven’s Blood is not unlike her own journey toward publication. “In my mind, the driving theme in the novel is that we must follow our passions,” she said. Following what feels right to us, what makes us happy, is what brings us to life—it fills us with vitality—but that path is typically fraught with challenges. In life, we are going to bump up against people and organizations that feel we should conform, or toe the line. But the desire to break the mold, to step outside the box is what fuels us, it’s what makes us feel alive. I firmly believe we need to follow our dreams and live life to the fullest expression of our passionate selves. Avelynn feels that need deep in her core and it motivates and compels her to act.”