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Jackie Baldwin guest post: The Long and winding Road to Publication

Ex-priest DI Frank Farrell has returned to his roots in Dumfries, only to be landed with a disturbing murder case. Even worse, Farrell knows the victim: Father Boyd, the man who forced him out of the priesthood fifteen years ago.

With no leads, Farrell must delve into the old priest’s past, one that is inextricably linked with his own. But his attention is diverted when twin boys go missing. One twin is recovered in an abandoned church. But where is his brother?
Are the two cases linked or is the church just a coincidence? It’s clear someone is playing a sinister game and Farrell can’t help but feel it is directed at him. Either way, it’s a game he needs to win before someone else turns up dead

Even I was shocked when I looked back on my computer and realised that I started writing this novel with a two line blurb back in 2005. Jules Horne, our local writer in residence, decided to be my cheerleader for the next 12 months and mentor me through a first draft. One of my early tasks was to crystallise an image of my main character so I went on the hunt for someone who bore Farrell’s face. I remember ‘casually’ following a German tourist around our holiday resort and standing the kids in front of him as an excuse to take his photo. Poor man must have thought he had a stalker.

Eventually, I lurched to the end of that first draft and typed The End. If anyone had dared to say to me at that stage that it was really only the beginning, I would not have believed them. From then on I drafted and redrafted until I was sure it was as was as good as I could get it, (it wasn’t!) Armed with a copy of The Writers and Artists Yearbook, I wrote off to some agents and waited…and waited. Every morning the postman was greeted with the same mixture of fear and excitement with which I remember waiting for my exam results. I soon learned to hate the sound of my SAE thumping on to the floor. A few agents requested the full MS. Cue much ungraceful leaping for joy and excited screams which usually caused the kids to run in thinking I’d seen a spider. One agent thought it might be a good idea if I did X. Another thought it might be a rather good idea if I did Y. I did both X+Y, (this is starting to sound like algebra). This went on for some time. Eventually my book was in bits and scattered across my computer files like confetti. The ones that had expressed interest didn’t take me on.

Life got in the way and for a few years I was flat out at work and constantly dashing around with the kids. But writing was like a growing itch and eventually I had to scratch it again. This is where ‘Crime and Publishment’ came in, an annual weekend of masterclasses in crime writing at Gretna. On the final morning, we had an opportunity to pitch to an agent. He made such an insightful comment that I could almost see the cartoon lightbulb switch on above my head. That comment triggered a massive re-write. I had just finished that when it was nearly time to go back to Crime and Publishment. One of the writers posted in our Facebook page that Killer Reads, Harper Collins were open for submissions. An old hand at this submission malarkey by now, I fired everything off expecting precisely nothing. Two weeks later I received a publishing contract through the post. I didn’t stop shaking until lunchtime the following day!

Twitter: JackieMBaldwin1
Facebook Page: Jackie Baldwin Author

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