Q&A with Writer’s Digest Mark of Quality Winner Bonnie McKernan
We recently announced that Cliff of the Ruin, by Bonnie McKernan, was the fifth winner of the prestigious Writer’s Digest Mark of Quality. The book has received effusive praise, including Midwest Book Review which “very much recommended” the title. The Past in Review cautions readers of sleeplessness, stating “leave it in the hands of an accomplished writer and you are about to pull an all-nighter of a reading session.”
Here we dig a little deeper into Bonnie’s inspiration and future writing plans.
What inspired you to write Cliff of the Ruin?
It started with a question: Is there a difference between wishful thinking and hope?
Heavy, I know. But it was a question that wouldn’t leave me alone. The best way to frame it, I decided, was to bury it in a fairytale, a place where the line between legend and truth would be likewise precarious. I chose Ireland and its mythology as a backdrop because I had lived in that country for a time and was well-versed in its rich culture and complex history. I was also drawn to its gorgeous landscapes and mysterious ruins that would no doubt enhance the plot.
Another inspiration: I’m a sucker for a good love story.
Why did you choose Abbott Press?
I had been a subscriber to Writer’s Digest magazine for many years and had attended several of the Writer’s Digest conferences in New York. I also had taken part in many Writer’s Digest webinars to improve my craft—one of which had WD guru Chuck Sambuchino critiquing my story synopsis. The importance of Writer’s Digest to the writing community is undeniable, so when I discovered the company had launched a publishing offshoot in the form of Abbott Press, I was thrilled. They already felt like family.
What were your first thoughts on learning your book had earned the Writer’s Digest Mark of Quality seal?
There were no thoughts, just elation. Then relief. Any author who has made the decision to treat his/her writing not as a hobby but as a bona fide profession is barraged by doubt. Am I good enough? Have I wasted my time? Is my skin thick enough to withstand criticism? Will enough people read it? It’s like holding one’s breath f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Good book reviews let some of that pent-up anxiety out, but the validation that comes with receiving the Writer’s Digest Mark of Quality allowed me to exhale fully. It felt really good. I relaxed.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors hoping to receive the Writer’s Digest Mark of Quality seal?
Just know that when your manuscript is finally finished, it probably isn’t. Hire a professional editor or proofreader to catch inconsistencies and mistakes you absolutely will not catch no matter how many times you’ve proofed it yourself. A word of caution: If your hired editor makes fewer and fewer corrections as the pages turn, it’s most likely because he or she is getting caught up in the story, not because your later chapters are miraculously error-free. Be sure to request a re-read. You’ve worked too hard to allow a silly mistake be the final word.
Do you have plans on writing another book?
Absolutely. Though it is difficult to bid farewell to the characters of my first book because I love them so very much, new characters are already being fleshed out for a second romantic historical adventure. Like Cliff of the Ruin, the book will be built in layers, carefully, with enough good research to enrich the themes. I can’t wait to see where the new story will take me!
Check out a Q&A with Writer’s Digest Mark of Quality winner, Bonnie McKernan! Click to tweet
“The validation that comes with receiving the Mark of Quality allowed me to exhale fully. It felt really good. I relaxed.” Click to tweet
Hire an editor! “You’ve worked too hard to allow a silly mistake be the final word.” Click to tweet