BookCon 2019, and How I Got There

Look at the face of that author girl there…just look at it! That is a happy face. That woman is standing next to her publisher at BookCon 2019 in New York City, grinning like a loon with her marketing expert, and signing copies of her first published novel, The Comyn’s Curse. Her friends and family are here, and she is surrounded by people who think books rock. It doesn’t get much better, in my humble opinion.


Never in my wildest dreams did I envision this day…that I would be standing in an exhibit booth signing my little heart out, telling total strangers about the book I had written and published. Never!

So how did this happen? How did I get here with this huge grin on my face?

It’s been a long journey, and there are many people to thank for its more than miraculous ending. They deserve to be called out.

To begin at the beginning, I joined The Write Practice in the spring of 2018, with the vague idea of perhaps someday writing something that someone else might actually like to read. Probably not, but maybe. (That’s how writers think–I am not unique. We can be a mass of insecurities, believe you me!)


I took a course. Courses are fine, nobody sees your writing outside of the group. You cannot fail.

That seemed okay, so I kept on.

I entered a writing contest. I entered a writing contest. There was a possibility of massive failure! Instead I received wondrous critiques from my colleagues, felt very good about my first short story, submitted it with painstaking detail to the contest folk, and…I did not win. Anything. No honorable mention, no short list. Devastation.

I licked my wounds and kept going. Because another thing you need to know about beginning writers is that secretly, we all know that our writing is absolutely awesome. The Next Big Thing. And the comeuppance is painful. but we do not quit. We are writers.

I took another course. It was called 100 Day Book Challenge, and it promised to give me everything I needed to write a novel in 100 days. You see, what you do when you have not won a contest with your first short story is, you write a complete novel. If you don’t get the logic of that, I cannot deal with you.

I didn’t complete the course in 100 days. I was a few weeks short of my goal, but during those 100 days an astonishing thing had happened. I had written most of a novel. The Comyn’s Curse had been critiqued by my wonderful Write Practice colleagues, and a lot of it actually made sense. So I edited it, and ripped it apart, and rewrote huge sections, and then I did an incredible thing…I submitted it to an editor. Yep, a real, live editor, someone who edits for a living…from New York Book editors. A stranger who would not say nice things because she knew me and wanted me to feel good. And she liked it!


Okay, she also suggested some key changes to make it sing. I’ve heard the horror stories about editors who tell you to get rid of key characters who are secretly your favorites, or insist that you delete huge sections of your best (you think) pieces of prose, thereby making mincemeat out of your incredible work. Stephen King haunted me at night, crooning “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings…” and having Stephen King in your head is not recommended for the faint of heart, let me tell you! But I did it. And I survived. And the book was oh so much better for it.

So now I had a book, but nowhere to go with it. What to do next? So I did what every reasonable person on the planet does when stymied—I hit the internet. I researched publishers, both traditional and self-publishing, and I found the next most important link to the success of my venture – ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors.

ALLi is a watchdog group which vets people in the industry–publishers, cover designers, editors, anyone involved in the world of independent publishing. The key to understanding ALLi is simple: green = good, red = bad. And through ALLi I found DartFrog. Very, very green. Screen_Shot_2018-11-18_at_8.28.13_PM_400x

DartFrog Books is a hybrid publisher, a unique publishing platform which helps a writer who wants to self-publish. I did not want to self-publish. There is absolutely nothing wrong with self-publishing, I just didn’t want to do it. I wanted MacMillan or Simon and Schuster to call me out of the blue and say “We hear you have written The Next Big Thing, and we want to give you lots of money and make you rich.” But I am not a total idiot, I knew better and I didn’t want to wait till the cows come home.

DartFrog Books, however, and its CEO and founder Gordon McClellan, know that authors like me are out there, and they offer something else: a chance to BE published. That’s what I said,  be publishedIf the work is good enough, book store quality they call it, they will take on the publishing load, do an edit, a cover, take care of the ISBN and all those pesky details that writers don’t want to deal with. It’s called DartFrog Plus. And this next part gets its own line…

They accepted my book. 

They worked with me, and hooked me up with Suanne Laqueur, a delightful marketing expert who is also the author of several award-winning romance series and a real person who cares. Really cares.

To get back to the grinning author in the pictures…

Along with all the other stuff my package with DartFrogPlus included a signing slot at BookCon, 2019, at the Javits Center in NYC. It was incredible. Here were all these people, total strangers united by one simple code: they read, and they loved books.  I signed my name over 250 times in a two-hour period, talked to hundreds of lovely people who were interested in The Comyn’s Curse, and came away with a new feeling of family.

So without further ado, here are the groups and people who are getting a shout out today, in order of appearance in my writing life:

The Write Practice:

New York Book Editors:


DartFrog Books:

My family and friends: they belong at the beginning, middle and end of the journey. They read the book and posted wonderful testimonials all over social media, trekked to New York to support me, and told me I was not only a wonderful mother and friend but a marvelous author. I mean, can you ask for anything more? They are truly amazing.

maxresdefaultIf any of the information or links I’ve shared here help another author who has written The Next Best Thing and is standing at the cliff top wondering…what next?…I will be extremely gratified, and please let me know so I can pat myself on the back.


9 thoughts on “BookCon 2019, and How I Got There

  1. Vuyo Ngcakani says:

    Wow, Monica! What a great testimonial. It was very inspiring. I was thinking of joining the 100 day book challenge. I have a novel that I’ve had in the works for 5 years. Thanks for telling us your story.

    • mmackinnonwriter says:

      Thanks, Vuyo. All I can say is, I doubt I’d be posting that smiling collage if I hadn’t taken the 100 Day Challenge. I highly recommend it to anyone serious about writing a novel. Good luck!

  2. Kathleen Kiel says:

    So happy to travel this amazing journey with you! I am in awe of your talent and can’t wait to see how far you will soar!

  3. mmackinnonwriter says:

    KK, you are a big part of the story, and I haven’t enough words. (Knowing me, you can appreciate how rare that is!)

  4. Manywoman says:

    Fantastic Monica! Congratulations. And thanks for the encouragement… I will keep all this information in mind when I get ready to publish again. You look terrific… great smile!
    ~Karin E Weiss (a friend on WTP Writer’s Workshop)

  5. mmackinnonwriter says:

    Thanks, Karin! I miss critiqueing your story in the workshop–I’ll be back soon though. Glad if my experience can help–I wish I’d had it when I started the publishing journey!

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