Jul 23

The Story With a Twenty Year Gestation by Gail MacMillan

ImageIt’s a delight to welcome fellow Canadian, Gail MacMillan to Travel Back in Time.

Great to be here, Anna. I’ve always been fascinated by the colorful history of my homeland, north eastern New Brunswick.  Over the years I’ve written two local history books and numerous articles on the subject but that still didn’t satisfy my need to excite readers about the remarkable people and events of our region’s past.  Consequently I set out to write a sweeping saga loosely based on a leading family of the Miramichi area during the turbulent years of the late 1840’s.  This was the era when steam ships were rapidly replacing the windjammers.  The building of sailing ships had been a major industry along the Miramichi and this change proved a major blow to the local economy and heralded the financial demise of the family depicted in the story, the patriarch of which stubbornly refused to change with the times.

After I’d made this decision, I became caught up in writing magazine articles, working full days as an administrative assistant, and studying at night to complete my university degree.  I didn’t give up.  Whenever there was a vacant half hour, a morning when getting up an hour early could provide time, I was back at the story which, at that time, I’d entitled “Winds of Change.”

The years slipped away.  I managed to graduate from university the same spring my eldest daughter got her degree in education.  That should have freed up more time but I’d decided to do post graduate in expository and narrative writing at the University of Western Ontario.  Then, finally, with magazine markets becoming fewer and these studies finished, I got seriously back at the story.

Ten years after I started the project, I finally felt it was ready to ship off in pursuit of an agent.  That was when the adventure began.  The first agent, without consulting me, took the manuscript to England and only when she returned and confessed she’d failed to make a sale did I learn of what she’d done…no contract involved.  Seemingly annoyed by her lack of success, she stopped corresponding.  I believe I got the manuscript (in those days before e-mail) a month or so later.  Then a second agent offered to represent the story.  At first she was enthusiastic but this energy waned quickly until finally she stopped responding to my queries and vanished.  I never did locate her…or my manuscript. Shadows of Love Cover

Discouraged, I banished the story to a desk drawer where it was to languish for a decade.  Then, one day after I’d been writing for my present publisher for a couple of years, I mentioned the story to my editor.  She asked to see it but by then it had to be computerized.  So I set out on the daunting task to type this 100,000 word tale into e-mailable form.  As I tapped away, I had to keep reminding myself of all the great authors who created masterpieces by candlelight with quill pens to put my task in some kind of prospective.

The end result, after several extensive edits, was that The Wild Rose Press published the story under the revised title “Shadows of Love”, not as a historical romance but as women’s fiction.  Its content was judged too serious to come under the same genre as my usual lighter, brighter yarns. The book that was conceived over twenty years ago was finally born and my dream of a story set in my region’s amazing past realized.


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  1. Norah Wilson

    So glad you persevered through all that to publish Shadows of Love, Gail!

    1. Gail MacMillan

      Thanks, Norah. You and the group have been a tremendous support. Gail

  2. Linda Hall

    Lovely to read of this adventure. And yes, I, too, have wondered about those quill pen days! We have it so easy with computers when correspondence takes only minutes. I, too, remember waiting for the mail only to have those manuscripts “returned.”
    But so glad to see the book finally made it!

  3. Lina

    Hi Gail,
    Enjoyed reading your about your path to publication. Congrats on getting Shadows of Love published. Love the cover.

    1. Gail MacMillan

      Thanks as always for the support, Lina. It’s a pretty cover.

  4. Lana Williams

    What a story! Thank you for not leaving that book in a drawer! It sounds like a wonderful read! Tweeted as well!

    1. Gail MacMillan

      Thanks so much for the support, Lana. The tweet is important. Gail

  5. Mimi Barbour

    Hi Gail,
    I was so happy to see your name when Anna announced her guest on our loop. As you know, I’ve read some of your previous work and must say how much I enjoy the stories. Good luck with Shadows of Love. After all the time and effort you put in to finally publishing this novel, you certainly deserve the best. xoxo

    1. Gail MacMillan

      Thanks, Mimi. I know you work just as hard.

  6. Melissa Keir

    What a beautiful cover and an inspiring story. I loved that you never gave up. That’s the way of life, the things that are hardest to accomplish are often our favorites. 🙂

    I wish you all the best!

    1. Gail MacMillan

      Thanks so much, Melissa. Your encouragement is much appreciated.

  7. Sydney

    Oh, Gail, how many authors had similar experiences with agents and gave up? Those agents were so unprofessional. Good for you in persevering. It paid off!!

    1. Gail MacMillan

      Thanks so much, Sydney. Keeping at is the key…even when you’re feeling “lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut” Jed Clampett

  8. Judy

    So happy that you persevered and all is good at the end of line. As is often said–we whom laughs last laugh longest!

    1. Gail MacMillan

      I’ve always found starting a book is easy. Getting to the end…one long journey.

  9. Barbara Phinney

    It’s a wonderful story of perseverance! Thank you for sharing it with us..

    1. Gail MacMillan

      Thanks, Barb. I know you have a few of the same. Gail

  10. kathleen lawless

    Perseverance is right! What an inspiring success story.

    1. Gail MacMillan

      Thank you so much, Kathleen. I guess I’m a bit like a terrier…I never let go.


  11. Reggi

    Hi Gail,
    What a wonderful end to your twenty year journey. So great to hear of a dream come true.

    1. Gail MacMillan

      Thanks, Reggi. At times it seemed more a bit of nightmare than a dream but it ended as best it could.

  12. Charlene Daley

    Gail, my dedicated awesome friend just never gives up. I know someday she’ll make it BIG. Her books will become movies. Mark my word.

    1. Gail MacMillan

      It’s wonderful to believe in a book or a dream but it’s even more wonderful to have a loyal friend whose faith never falters. Charlene, you’re the best.

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