Clarissa Johal: A Writer’s Journey into Musa Publishing

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Writer’s Journey into Musa Publishing

Every writer has a journey to share.

I wanted to share with you my journey into the Musa Publishing family. I say family because both the company and the authors support each other whole-heartedly. If you haven’t discovered Musa Publishing, please have a look at their website and peruse the wonderful books and genres they offer.

You can learn about their journey here: Musa Publishing: About Us

I’ve been making up stories since I was a kid, I suppose you’d call it daydreaming. If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up however, I would have said a veterinarian or an archaeologist. It never occured to me that writing could be a career. Go figure. But I was constantly making up stories in my head, writing them down in my journal, letting them go. Reality was just no fun when you could escape to someplace nice.

My epiphany came when, in sixth grade, I shared one of my stories in a writing assignment. I was mortified when my teacher, Mr. Gallo, asked me to read it aloud to my class. I don't remember how it went but afterwards, I do remember that several kids came up and talked to me. This, following years of feeling invisible. (I can tell you from experience that moving around and always being the new kid sucks. I would never wish that life on anybody) At the time, it occurred to me that writing was a powerful thing. It could make a connection where there was none. I was hooked on committing my thoughts to paper. And thank you, Mr. Gallo, you were probably the sole person responsible for setting me on my writing path.

Fast forward twenty-four years. After my husband and I decided to have our first child and, a week before she was born, I arranged a leave of absence from my veterinary job with the full intention of returning. The moment my daughter arrived, however, the thought of leaving her to return to work wasn’t even an option. My husband and I decided to manage on one income so I could stay at home. When my daughter would fall asleep nursing, I would write. It took me ten years to complete my YA fantasy, Pradee. Let's face it--life happens. During that time, I had given birth to our second child, started up a petsitting business and began down the path of becoming a full-time mom and business owner. But after finally declaring Pradee finished, the decision was made. I would send out some queries and give the career of writing a go.

Unfortunately, the economy being what it was at the time, nobody wanted to take the risk with a new writer. I had lots a great feedback from agents who said the writing was good, the story intriguing, but since I was new, they just couldn’t take the risk. I was beyond frustrated. I read articles in my Writers Digest about Lulu and CreateSpace, self-publishing companies, but felt reluctant to go there. My breaking point came when I received not one, but three responses in one day. All from agents saying they loved the premise of my novel, and all saying that, unfortunately, they couldn’t take a risk with a new writer at this time.

So, self-publish is exactly what I did. Would I do it again? Probably not. But what I was able to learn through the process of self-publishing was invaluable. I learned to be meticulous, I learned about cover art, I learned that I should have titled my novel something else because nobody could remember the title Pradee or what it referred to (it’s a place, by the way). I also learned that the promotion part of writing is my worst nightmare. I tried everything I knew to get Pradee out there but I’m not, by nature, a pushy person. Unfortunately, the book just didn’t sell many copies. Again, good reviews from those that read it, but lacking in advertising.

There were days that I cried and wondered if I was doing the right thing. Usually, I’d give myself a day to feel pathetic. After that, I managed to pick myself up and continue to write and promote the best I knew how. At that point, I was determined and just couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

A year later, I began writing the second installment to Pradee (it was to be a series of four) feeling like I only had leeway to write YA. Anything else would be, well, frowned upon since I had young children. Plus, it was a genre I was comfortable with because I was reading it all the time. By the time I started chapter four, however, I was hit by two characters that didn’t fit into my young adult fantasy world. At all. Try as I would, they kept coming back. I tried modifying them, but again, to no avail. I ended up putting my YA novel aside and started writing Between. And it came fast. Several months later, I had the complete draft, a year after that, the novel was ready to go. I started submitting in January of 2012 to several agents and publishing houses. Musa Publishing got back to me by April asking for the complete manuscript and I was guardedly elated. Six weeks later, I got the offer.

It’s been two months and Musa Publishing has been a joy. They offer a wide array of genres, allowing me to grow as an author. Everything I had read about them stating that authors came first has been evident from day one. The company and the authors they represent are powerhouses of information and support. I’ve learned tools that I didn’t have before and have applied some of those tools to Pradee and towards my new novel, Between. And Musa is constantly educating their authors on ways to promote, which seems to be my Achilles heel.

I have dreams about Pradee being picked up by a publishing house as “the unsung first novel” and I have dreams about Between being “the one” that rockets me to fame. I think every author does. But now I’m realizing that those things largely depend on me and my ability to market myself. I’m having to swallow my nightmare of feeling self-centered and put myself out there. Again, probably something that every author struggles with.

Between, a story of the paranormal, will be released December 14, 2012 through Musa Publishing's Thalia Imprint. I’ve discovered that I really enjoy writing paranormal fiction and am working on my next novel in the same genre. I’m excited to see where this leg of my journey takes me. 

For more info on Between and Pradee, please visit:
My Author Website

And while you're at it, give Musa a peek as well:
Musa Publishing  


DT said...

Hi Clarissa, I think almost writers trace their creativity all the way back to childhood, when we're trying to make sense of the world and express ourselves clearly. Well done on your publication and here's to a long and successful partnership with Musa.

Clarissa Johal, Author said...

Thanks, Derek!