Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Burning of Isobel Key by Jen McConnel (remember when I reviewed it?) has not only been renamed but has a fancy beautiful cover to go along with it! Introducing.... The Secret of Isobel Key!

Isn't it beautiful?!

Jen has also stopped by to talk to us about the birth of her novel!

The Birth of a Novel

Every book I’ve ever written has been born in a slightly different way, and THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY has gone through evolutions not only as a story, but as my writing process grows and changes.  I’d love to share a bit more about how this story went from idea to draft to the shiny version you’ll be able to read in December.  Time warp with me back to 2009, where this journey begins.

2009: I wrote the very first draft of ISOBEL during NaNoWriMo in November 2009.  It was barely over 50,000 words, and I thought it was done.  Then I set it aside and forgot about it.

2010: I attended my first writing conference since moving to North Carolina, and I pulled ISOBEL out of the drawer.  I wrote a query and submitted both a ten pages critique and a query critique.  I got some wonderful feedback, and a horrifying surprise: the ten page critique turned into a request for the full.
I hadn’t edited the novel AT ALL since completing it in 2009, but I smiled at the agent and said I’d send it immediately.  I then went home, printed the whole thing out, sat in the back yard for three solid days, revising by hand until I hated the book and never wanted to see it again.  I typed up my changes (the ones I could read, at least), and sent it off.  I also sent the book off to a couple of my recently discovered critique partners, and waited for feedback. A few weeks later, I got a polite, helpful rejection from the agent who’d requested it, and I put the book away again after making some changes.

2011: I pulled ISOBEL out again and decided to take it to a writing class I’d enrolled in.  I was also working on a YA novel at the time, but I felt like ISOBEL was closer to being ready for group critique.  I set myself the goal of expanding the 50,000 word baby to a respectable 75,000 word work, and I set to it.  I received a lot of valuable feedback from the class, and I bulked up the novel.  Then, I put it away again.

2012: I was feeling more confident with my YA novels by this time, and I had been pursuing traditional publication for one of them for most of this year.  In the summer, I decided that I’d like to try my hand at self-publishing.  But which of my manuscripts was even close to ready?  I pulled ISOBEL out once again, and this time, I put it through my new revision process; I sent a draft of the manuscript to my Kindle, and then I read through it with a pen and notebook, copying out passages I wanted to change by hand.  I went back to the computer, typed in my changes, and did it again. And again.  The 75,000 word draft slimmed down to 63,000 words. When I was satisfied with it, I sent it out to my CPs.  After incorporating their feedback, I took the book for another revision whirl.

Then I began the process of getting ready to self-publish the title.  I handed the book off to my copy editor, and began focusing on the business aspect of the project.

I self-published ISOBEL in September of 2012, but that’s not the end of the story.

2013: After a conversation with the editor at Bloomsbury Spark, I submitted ISOBEL for her consideration.  When it was accepted, I entered a new revision process.  This time, instead of working mostly on my own, I was engaged in a dialogue.  Meredith, my editor, sent me her thoughts for the novel in an email, and I started to tackle her suggestions.  We sent draft after draft back and forth between us during the summer and fall of 2013, chipping away at the story and getting it even more ready to put in your hands.

It’s been an amazing four years, and I’ve learned more from this book than I could have imagined.  As much as I have come to enjoy my evolving editorial process, I really prefer the dialogue that I’ve had with my editor this year.  It’s great to step out of the solitary editing cave and into a partnership, and I am so pleased with the way ISOBEL has changed over the years.  I can’t wait to share it with y’all!

About Jen McConnel

Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn't crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches college writing composition and yoga. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.  Her debut NA novel, THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY, is coming December 2013 from Bloomsbury Spark . Visit  to learn more.

Connect With Jen


Lou is in the middle of a quarter-life crisis. Fresh out of college, she’s unemployed and unsure of herself. But when she gets the chance to escape to Scotland with her best friend, it could be the answer to her quest for self-discovery. The trip is not at all what she expected, especially when her tour guide turns out to be the dreamy historian Brian, and together they embark on a hunt for information about Isobel Key, a woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century.

They set out to learn the truth of the condemned witch, but Lou isn’t prepared for the knowledge that awaits her. She must face her own demons if she has any hope of righting the wrongs of the past.

Flashing between seventeenth century Scotland and a contemporary romance, THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY is a mystery that will please readers of all ages.

Learn More

Thank you so much for stopping by and congrats again with the new cover!

1 comment:

  1. Sorry for my delayed response, but thanks so much for helping me celebrate the launch! :)