Megan received the following review from me...and I meant every word of it...
'Megan Denby is a hugely talented Author. In this, her first novel, she has created a high benchmark for what she can achieve. This is a book that is easily read by both female and male readers. Megan's intelligent and intuitive use of male themes, mixed in with a story of love, devotion, betrayal, trust, hope, determination, makes for a compelling read. Meara, the main character is brilliantly crafted, and leaves you in no doubt, what a warm and loving person she is. Taken on a wild roller-coaster, starting in Scotland during the Napoleonic Wars, and then crossing oceans and back to have her life restored, this is both artistic and touching. An insight into the cruelty of humanity and the vulnerabilities that the devious exploit. Fantastic use of words. Keep a look out for Megan, as I believe she is going to be a best-seller!'
I learned a great deal from Sue and the other writers but I think the most valuable thing I learned was to 'tone down' my writing. I was under the impression that adjectives needed to be used in every sentence to make it exciting. One of the students, after reading something I'd written, described my prose as a Krispy Krème donut - just a little too sweet. This made a huge impression on me and I quickly changed my style to a 'show, don't tell' technique so that my readers could experience my stories through action, thoughts, dialogue and their senses rather than through exposition coated in outrageous adjectives.
I must have done something right as Sue invited me to the 'next level' of her creative writing classes. I had the honour of learning many tips from seasoned writers and I quickly overcame my shyness. I received tremendous feedback from Sue and my fellow students - praise that I needed to move forward with my writing. I completed my novel, A Thistle in the Mist, but my life took a different course and I didn't pursue it any further at that time.
Years later, I pulled out my manuscript and began to edit. I was surprised how my thoughts toward writing had changed. In the ensuing years, I had read hundreds of books and I knew exactly what I liked. So I edited and cut and rewrote. I tried to write the kind of story I loved to read. When I sent it out to agents, one agent in particular, a lovely lady from the agency that represents Dan Brown told me she found my prose to have a "hypnotic, fairy-tale-like quality" and my stayed with her for days. This was a huge boost to my ego!
Throughout the years my style of writing has basically remained the same. Although I have toned down my overuse of adjectives, I just write from the heart. I love beautiful words and words that evoke emotion and it is natural for me to write in this style.
It was very late one evening, during my submission process, and I decided to send out one more query letter. I had researched one particular agent who preferred the first three chapters in addition to a query letter. I sent it off then hopped into bed. I always keep my cell phone on my bedside table in case any of my kids need me and as I prepared to turn off my light, my phone beeped. I checked the email and it was a reply from the agent. She loved what she had read and wanted the entire manuscript.
This agent was from the New York agency that represents the author, Dan Brown so you can imagine my ridiculous excitement. I stayed up until 3am, obsessively going over my manuscript before I let it go to her. She ultimately rejected my story as she felt I needed to make my male character, Duncan, more likeable and she felt I needed to enhance the historical details but she did offer to look at anything else I had written. It was in her rejection letter that she told me my prose had a 'hypnotic fairy-tale-like-quality'. It was this particular praise that had an enormous effect on me as a writer. I carried her rejection around on my phone for months - reading and re-reading this small bit of validation that had touched me to my very core. She 'got' my writing! I credit this agent, Courtney Miller-Callihan, for making me believe in myself. I remolded Duncan and implemented a few of her other suggestions and in so doing, I believe I crafted a story that has touched many readers - exactly what I had set out to do twelve years ago.
I enjoy the freedom I have to promote as I like, control my own storyline and cover art and I also like that my deadlines are my own.
However it would be nice to just write and not have to worry about everything else that goes with it. So, when my second book is complete I will approach one particular agent who showed interest in my first book. She invited me to send any other work when it was completed so I will take advantage of this offer. If she is not interested, I will self-publish and be grateful that I have this option!