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  • Catherine Downen


I have finally published my first book. I’ve always dreamed of saying these words. The Markings was such a fun story to write but was also one that took so much time. I had the original idea for the story back in 2011, when I was just a freshman in high school. Back then, the story used to be called Forever. Which, if you’ve read The Markings, means nothing to the storyline, but there is a reference to this hidden in the book. Since then, a lot has changed with this story like character names, plot, and world-building details, but a lot has also remained the same. 

My goal with The Markings was to write a YA Fantasy novel that would be fresh and new, yet have all my favorite elements of books I read growing up. Writing for The Markings began as short chapters with ideas I had of where the story could go. In 2011, I had written up to the point where Paylon ambushes the camp and realized I didn’t know where I wanted the story to go from there. After that, I fine-tuned those opening chapters (which I would just end up completely re-writing at a later date). Then in 2015, I sat down with my opening story idea and finally brought it to life. By early 2016 I had finished my first draft of the manuscript for The Markings, but at the time it was called The Gifted. I stood by this title for a long time until I realized it was already taken by Marvel, and that’s when I went back to brainstorming for the current title, The Markings. For all of 2016 and most of 2017, I sent this story to agent after agent with no one wanting to take it on. As an up and coming author, I was incredibly disappointed and wondered what I had done wrong. At the time, I had never thought self-publishing would be an option. For 2018 I edited The Markings on and off while I worked on getting my degree as a Mechanical Engineer. 

When I graduated in 2019 I realized I was determined to stop dreaming about being an author and make it a reality. However I was still consumed with the idea of needing an agent, and so I continued to query while I moved on to write the second book in the series. By late 2019 I decided to create an author page on Twitter and that’s when I learned how many more opportunities I had as an author. I began to wonder if maybe self-publishing would be something I could do, and so I accepted the challenge and began the journey of self-publishing. 

My first task was to get beta readers for my work. In the past I had a lot of people read parts of the story. Even some people way back in 2011 got a chance to see the very first stages of this story. However, no one had read my now polished manuscript from front to back yet and I was excited, but also nervous, to get those opinions. My beta reading round lasted just over two months and I got back floods of information on things that worked and didn’t work in the story. Now, early 2020, I had all the feedback I needed to finish The Markings. 

Many individuals have touched the story known as The Markings today. Some praised the work and loved it from the beginning, and some doubted my dreams and me. In the end, The Markings has turned out to be a novel I love and am so proud of. The Markings is book one in the series, and I’m even more excited about where the story will go from here. Thank you for taking the time to be a part of my journey as an author. I hope you enjoy my story and you fall in love with the characters and world I’ve created.

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