When I was little, I was obsessed with telling stories. So much so, in fact, that I used to wander around the schoolyard at recess, telling them out loud to myself as if I was somehow listening to an audiobook and creating one at the same time. That should give you a sort of idea of the kind of child I was—a really f***ing weird one.  Now that I’m an adult, I’m still pretty weird, but—or so I hope – at least a little less so. You’ve been warned.

Thanks for stopping by, reader. It’s been a long journey to get to where I am now–one book, at least, truly, fully finished. I’d be lying if I said that journey was a pleasant one. When I first came up with the initial spark for this book (over a late-night fireside chat with my brother about how, if we could, we would remake the Star Wars prequels), I was still in college, pursuing a double-major in history and creative writing in the mistaken belief that this would open doors for me as an author (spoiler alert: it didn’t). I suppose I can admit I was one of those “snowflake” millennials the media loves to hate so much. As a child, I’d been exposed to one too many motivational posters. “Follow your dreams,” they read. “Shoot for the moon. If you fail, at least you’ll land among the stars.”

I shot for the moon, and I landed in a dingy apartment in the small-town Midwestern United States spending six hours a day applying for jobs on Indeed.com and the rest in an unpaid internship as a Spanish-English interpreter. Not exactly the stars I’d envisioned.

It didn’t help that I suffered from crippling self-esteem problems and was convinced that I was entirely terrible at anything besides writing fantasy novels. Job interviews were a real drag: where do I see myself in five years? Unclear, but is the sweet release of death too much to hope for? It’s got to beat Cleveland in the winter, at least (sorry, Cleveland).

Over the course of several highly unpleasant and financially unstable years, I managed to find and lose an honest-to-God literary agent. After speaking with the Big Fantasy Publishing Houses, this agent let me know my book was too cross-market—since the protagonist’s age changes over the course of the story, the powers that be weren’t sure how one could profitably market the thing. I was told that to have a shot I’d need to age Marilia up to sixteen and keep her there so that the book would be more palatable to a YA audience. I was also–and this was a real sticking point—told to have Marilia learn all she needs to know about strategy, sword-fighting, and all the rest in the span of a few months. I expressed my concern that this might make Marilia into a bit of a Mary Sue and was blithely told that I shouldn’t worry about such things.

Hang on, you may be thinking. Is this just one of those bitter rejected authors taking the opportunity to rant about the shallow fools in the publishing industry who didn’t appreciate their brilliance? Yes, kind of. Ranting is fun. Don’t ever let anyone take that away from you.

Maybe I’m a bit of an unreliable narrator. Maybe the publishing industry just really sucks. Probably, the truth is somewhere in between. If you yourself are an unrequited writer, sent me an email, and maybe we can swap sob stories.

Since I always had a knack for making my life as difficult as possible, I declined my agent’s suggestions and found myself back at square one—no agent, no publishing deal, no writing career in sight, and no belief that anything better was on the horizon.

But it did. Is life perfect now? No, there’s still a troublingly high statistical likelihood that we’re all sliding towards a bleak, post-apocalyptic future. But it could be worse.

Hey, at least I finally finished a book. It only took nine years.

If you found it entertaining, inspiring, or at least a better way to pass the time than watching Season Eight of Game of Thrones, I’d appreciate an Amazon or Goodreads review. In all seriousness, I take my readers’ feedback seriously, and since there are two books on the way…it also makes me feel just a little bit better to know that the struggle wasn’t all for nothing, that the story that kept me afloat during some of my darkest years was able to touch someone else’s life and make it just a little bit better.

That’s all, folks. Morgan Cole out.