Today's guest is Gerald Meunier, author of the debut Clay Holt thriller, Rogue Patriot. This novel was released in May and is available in hardcover and ebook editions.
I learned of Gerald's novel through my work on Chiseled in Rock blog where I help promote the published authors of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.
The Road to Rogue Patriot By Gerald Meunier, Guest Blogger
You’ve all heard this before: “I’ve always wanted to write a novel.” After living most of a life—my life—I realized I still hadn’t written it. I knew what I wanted to write about, but the business world constantly lured me away.
I’d always been good at “writing”. I cut my teeth on writing in the business world by becoming adept with marketing-related material. People found value in my “creativity”. Eventually my creativity channeled into business plans and advising small businesses. That was never my goal as a writer, but it usually paid the bills. Sometimes very, very well. (Excuse the use of adverbs to make my point, lol).
I began to research the world of fiction to determine where my “great American novel” would fit. Throughout my life, I’d been drawn to quite a variety of fiction—literary and commercial—action/adventure, mystery, suspense, humor, some science fiction. I relished Hemingway and read the works of many highly-acclaimed “literary” novelists. During my research, I pondered the meaning of a category called “mainstream”. Before I figured out what it meant, a car accident changed my life.
It took years to get back on my feet, both physically and financially, all the while trying to fit writing into my life. At that pace, I knew I’d never realize my dream. I had to change my approach. To do it, I had to turn my thinking and my lifestyle upside down. I needed to fit my life into my writing.
It wasn’t easy. I learned that publishing as a first-time novelist was difficult without other types of publishing credentials, such as short stories, articles, or non-fiction books. I had developed specialized backpacking techniques in Colorado, so it seemed logical that I should write a non-fiction book on that subject. I joined the Colorado Mountain Club in 2000 and quickly attained Trip Leader status. I knew this would help me get published.
Through the 1990s, I’d grown concerned about political issues. After 9/11, I paid more attention to border security and the lack thereof. Illegal immigration naturally entered the realm of national security while politicians did nothing. I researched these subjects so much that I put the backpacking project aside thinking I could channel my patriotic passions into a non-fiction book about the disintegration of our country. However, my marketing background helped me realize that without something called a “platform”, I had no chance of publishing that book.
In 2004, I abandoned non-fiction projects in favor of writing short stories to give myself credentials directed more toward publishing a novel. I found immediate success when the CMC published a story about a hiking incident in the mountains.
I continued working on short stories, but life had a way of interrupting my efforts. I devoted hours researching the meager markets for short fiction. With little time available to market my stories, I made feeble attempts anyway, sending a story out to one or two publications at a time. I got nowhere.
Then, I got serious. I joined Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers in 2006. After coming up with the concept for my thriller, I joined critique groups immediately because I knew feedback would be important in developing my craft. It was painful, but I stuck it out for nearly one-and-a half years. My writing improved. I continued to pay attention to politics and the issues I cared about. Meanwhile, I’d heard about published authors using “readers” to provide needed critique of their manuscripts. It turned out that their readers were usually their agent or their spouse. I had neither, so I trained a friend to be a reader.
I moved to Wyoming in 2010 and found another active writer community where I found three more readers. That was the turning point for getting my novel published. Because it deals with timely issues and because of the turmoil in the publishing world, I gave up trying to get an agent and went with a small publisher. Rogue Patriot was released in May.
Thanks, Gerald, for telling us about your path to publication. Each author's story is a little different, yet we all have the same end goal.
Like Gerald, I also highly recommend critique groups and critiquing readers to help us along the way.
For more information about Gerald and his novel, Rogue Patriot, visit his website and blog. Gerald is on Facebook and Twitter.