Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Guest Author Melissa Wray: My Road to Publication

By Melissa Wray

I'd like to welcome Melissa Wray to the blog today to talk about something that differs for everyone: their publication journey. With so many options available to writers these days, those roads are quickly turning into a superhighway, and no one travels the exact same route.

Melissa has always loved reading and grew up 600m from the local library. She studied children’s literature at university while completing her Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education (primary) degree. Her debut novel is Destiny Road.

Take it away Melissa...

It was around six years ago that I decided to complete a professional writing course. I had thought about it for a while but the timing was not right up until then. I started a Certificate of Children’s Writing, six months after I had my first child. I naively thought I would have a lot of time on my hands!

After a while I entered a few competitions and received some good feedback. In one I was awarded runner up in the Junior Novel - Honour Book Award for the Ipswich Festival of Children's Literature Writing for Children Competition. This was all the encouragement I needed to keep going.

I have been extremely lucky with my road to publication. I subscribe to a bi-monthly e-zine called Buzz Words. It was through this I saw a competition to win a publishing contract with Morris Publishing Australia. I had originally sent my story to a manuscript assessment service who gave me some great feedback. I then spent another three months playing around with my writing and added an additional 15,000 words. It was just good timing that the competition came up when I had finished polishing the story. I decided to enter the competition and sent the first four chapters off. Destiny Road was shortlisted and I quickly sent off the entire manuscript. I could not believe it when it was accepted. I read the email about 20 times. For the record, I have submitted other stories elsewhere without luck and received the dreaded rejection notes.

Once I was offered the contract I set off on the most exciting ride. I received the contract and could make little sense of it. I sought out advice from the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) and then promptly signed on the dotted line.

I was advised early on to jump on social media outlets and tell everyone. I quickly rang a friend to come around to show me how to use Facebook. I set up my profile page and then created a page to promote Destiny Road.

After that I spent many hours trying to create a book trailer. It was a lot of fun and I was thrilled with the result. For a peek at the Destiny Road book trailer click here. 

If you want to have a go I found this link useful as a starting point.

My next challenge was to create a blog page. Again it was a huge learning curve but well worth the effort.

Elaine Ouston from Morris Publishing Australia has been really flexible with her approach to publishing. She has allowed me to be very involved with the steps in the publishing process. She even allowed one of my best friend to do the photography work for the front cover. It has been a fantastic first time experience.

My biggest tip for any beginning writer is to just write whatever you feel like. Don’t get bogged down with the details and plot as that will fall into place the more you write. Also enter competitions, especially the ones that offer feedback. It’s a great way to learn and develop your skills. Attend author events or workshops to interact with other people. I guarantee you will come away having learned something. Also it pays to read widely in the genre you’re interested in, but remember to stay true to your writing style. Don’t try and mimic someone else’s.

Destiny Road is my first published novel and I am very proud of it. The story is about Jessica who is 16 when she meets her father for the first time. She then makes the heartbreaking decision to leave her mum to live with her dad and get to know him better.

The idea for the story came from when I was 16 because I actually made the same decision, to live with my father for the first time. Unlike Jessica I had known him all my life but my parents divorced when I was very young. I was never able to say thank you to him for saying yes when I asked to live with him. He passed away several years ago and it has always bothered me that I could not get those words out before he died. Now, with Destiny Road, I feel like I have said them, so hopefully he knows.

If you have an questions please don’t hesitate to email me –

Thanks for allowing me to share my experience.

About Destiny Road

Brought up without a father, at 16 Jessica meets him for the first time. Before she has a chance to get to know him, her mother whisks her away to a new town. Leaving her life-long friends behind and starting at a new school is more than Jessica can cope with. Being threatened on her first day at her new school doesn't help at all. She struggles to fit in and begins to question her life.

And then she is faced with a huge decision–a chance to go back to her old life–but it comes at a cost. Follow Jessica's journey as she struggles to find the right path and deals with the trauma of a new life, her first relationship and growing up.


  1. Melissa your story is so much like mine it's scary! I also got my first contract through a competition. I cried at my compiter after I told my wife the news.

  2. Thanks Melissa for sharing your publication journey. I've forgotten how important it was to enter contests.

  3. Thanks for your comments Paul and CS. Competitions are definately worth entering.! Best of luck with your writing.

  4. Thanks so much for hosting me Janet. It was fun sharing my journey so far - what a ride it's been!

  5. From the description this sounds like an awesome story.