Monday, June 20, 2011

Free Book Week from Carina Press

Geesh! I just wiped three inches of dust off of my blog. That's a shame!

But, I have some great information to share, so it was worth the cleaning.

First, visit Christine Bell's Blog for her contest and more information on free book week.

Then, all week long go to Carina and download the following books for free with the links (hover over the book titles) and codes:

Every weekday, all week, Carina is offering a spectacular title for free download. And when they say free, they mean ACTUALLY free. Not “sorta free”, or “free with a $50 purchase” free, but actually, totally, no strings attached FREE! So, get thee to Carina press to download a free book every day! Here are the books being offered, and the links and promo codes for your free download:

Monday’s FREE BOOK is:
The Debutante’s Dilemma by Elyse Mady
Just type in the promo code DEBUTANTEFREE at checkout

Tuesday’s FREE BOOK is:
Demon’s Fall by Karalynn Lee
Just type in the promo code DEMONFREE at checkout

Wednesday’s FREE BOOK is:
The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale by Christine Bell
Just type in the promo code TWISTEDFREE at checkout

Thursday’s FREE BOOK is:
Blue Galaxy by Diane Dooley
Just type in the promo code GALAXYFREE at checkout

Friday’s FREE BOOK is:
Friendly Fire by Megan Hart
Just type in the promo code FRIENDLYFREE at checkout

Thanks!!! And see you soon, I promise.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Warrior Wednesday: Tales from the Unpubbed Welcomes Ju Dimello

I hope everyone is busy with attending the Savvy Authors DigiCon E-Pub Conference, but I hope you'll take a few minutes to welcome our next warrior guest Ju Dimello.

Thanks to our hostess Melinda for coming up with this unique theme for budding writers to congregate and share a part of ourselves. Without much ado, here I go, spilling all my secrets in a colorful journey...
Hey, a warrior's gotta have some memorable roots..So here's mine :

Born and brought up in South India, I hadn't stumbled across romantic novels until my early twenties. Twenty-two to be more exact...and I should thank my hostel mate for 'loaning' me my first ever Mills and Boon! I've been hooked ever since.. And "the rest they say is history"? No way!
Reading and me :

Well, here I can shout and claim that I don’t remember a time I wasn't fascinated by stories—either in the form of comics or listening to the various epics from my grandmother or nagging my uncle (who, btw is an English Literature Prof) to narrate some stories.

My maternal uncle gifted me some of his earliest paper-backs : those of Irwing Wallace even before I entered my teen years.. and boy, did I struggle?
You bet !

But I couldn't stop reading after I got my hands on BOOKS... In school, I lost myself in mythology, Dr Who, Robin Cook, Sidney Sheldon, Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes etc.

One thing I came to realize was that - books were my companion through hard times and happiest moments.. A good book always had the power to pull me out of the dumps and they made my day complete, satisfied.

From the moment I had my hands on the romance, I couldn't get enough of them. I am addicted and I love being addicted :) Should I iterate that Happily Ever After's are a must for me now? The spicier the better ;)

Transition to writer :

Totally unlike most of the wonderful authors out there who wrote since their childhood, I feel like a fish out of water when I think of how odd my writing journey began....

The golden days of my story telling days began with an idea of my first story when I was about 8 yrs old. It was about a girl who had been injected with some drug that would make her listen to everything the villan says. Obviously she didn't have a hero to help her out of it..but her cousins - who were a part of a secret organization of rich-spies helped her. Any guesses who were those rich-spy cousins? Who else but our cousins gang - Myself Lucy (English names sounding exotic to our ears, were a must for us to get that drama feeling), my sister was named Dany, cousins respectively named Miranda and Shiela. Every day we enacted a new episode with some case we cracked using our crime solving skills.

Then I ran into some stints with poetry.. One day I had lost my favorite pen (ahem, coughs), and I wrote an ode to it.. Ah, my fish out of water feeling is now almost I'm realizing - I am not that different either.. Who said we writers are normal :)

The actual muse of writing descended on me in February 2009 when I landed flat on my back when chucked out of my job. Recession and all that jazz. Sleepless nights, hair-pulling moments..and bham! Suddenly a story took hold in my mind. I think it was an escapism in itself..or probably my mind's way of preserving its sanity.And the it was as if right time came into effect by itself. And I've been thankful ever since. Strange but true. For that gave me the exact momentum not only to dream, but the courage to follow them thorough even after I got another job.

Happy days yet? I wish. My husband encouraged me to follow my desires, which is the greatest support I could get.. and well, it also means, I have to wholeheartedly support his - which was to pursue academics. So, I quit my job a couple of months ago to move to Canada....And I'm sitting in this freezing weather, staring out to the 4-5 feet of snow as I type this post, wondering about life. I know that I must be filling the walls (er..documents) with my creativity in the long, blissful days that stretch ahead without interruptions. But I miss going for a job and the steady income it provided :) Miss the mundane days to fuel my characters's steamy nights.. I worry about my parents and in-laws who depend on our financial and moral support..And trying hard not to feel worthless.. I thought I was prepared for this move, but I’m still adjusting..

The most confusing thing is, when I sit to write, the fact that I'm not applying for jobs hover in the back of my mind...and when I try to apply, the characters turn their backs to me and refuse to talk! Grrrr... Talk about the proverbial caught between rock and hard place...And is it any wonder that I named my blog as "Dreams and realities"?

My journey so far :
After numerous MS's shelved under various stages of completion, I subbed the story I thought was my strongest (early 2010) to spice briefs and my second strongest one to noc bite.. (after winning a pitch). Got the quickest R's in history (within 2 weeks) and that was the hardest.. to realize that I wasn't yet ready.. and then to believe that my story wasn't all crap.

After moping, crying and a lot of kicking (both given and taken), I jumped back into the wagon with a wee bit thicker skin and an open mind to learn. On my later submissions, I garnered a few feedback and nibbles....I have a line of medals and proud badges I wear on my sleeve (aka R's) for all my attempts so far and I'm still learning, writing and subbing and hoping :)

And what I've found so far is that I'm a through and through novella girl. I love to start my stories with a bang! And my characters are out of this world, literally, since they're all paranormals ;) and they're rearing to get down and dirty right from page one ;) Rest assured, it is like controlling a herd of wild bulls to do some farming (ie, story writing).. I know every parent (writer) is in love with their child (stories), but I hope when mine does get released, I can refer back to these words of mine :)

A few closet revelations :
I am an introvert. Until I started my blog, I never had any online presence (except emails)! I shied away from it until I decided to bite the bullet sometime in late 2009! Don't you dare think that I am the same in person or one-on-one conversations. As my DH says, I have the unique ability to either convince someone or confuse someone, no matter how confident they are ;) And that’s his polite way of saying I literally eat everyone’s brains! Ugh!

Hey, but that doesn't mean my writing was/is all that crappy.. To prove it, let me write you a poetry which I had written sometime in my high school.. I lost the original paper, but I can recall it pretty decently..

LIFE (A contrast)
What a horrid life is this,
When what you want is amiss!
When you want to be free,
And just go to watch the sea,
None agrees to your proposal,
And nothing is at your disposal.
Life, life, how bad,
The worst we've ever had!
What a wonderful life is this,
What you want is at your fingertips.
If you know only to sing,
It’s like trying to fly with only one wing.
Learn to dance as well,
Be happy as a bluebell.
Life, life, how beautiful,
Even though it must be dutiful!

Ah - there you have it ;) ::ducks head and hides:: before someone throws something at me ...

Happy reading and happy writing to all ! So bring on your best. This warrior is here to stay!!!

It's been cathartic to share my battle scars with you and I want to thank Melinda once again for hosting such a wonderful event where we can meet every Wednesday. I also want to thank Nas Dean for pointing me towards this blog :) And thanks to each one of you for being there as role models, friends and supporters in this journey.

Y'all rock!

Don’t hesitate to drop me a line whenever you feel like or you’re always welcome to pop in my blog:
And I'm going to borrow the following line to end my post..You haven't yet seen the last of me yet. I'll be back! (Hopefully soon and as an author).


Thank you so much for guest blogging today! Everyone make sure you follow the link above to Ju's blog to continue to follow her on her journey to publication.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Norway is the new Scotland. Spread the word.

My ancestors hail from Scotland, and I love romance books with a kilt wearing Highland warrior. So, when I first saw Kris Tualla's tagline about Norway being the new Scotland, I was intrigued. Really, I thought? Convince me.

She does!

Please welcome the talented and original Kris Tualla as my guest today. Let's see if she can convince you as she has convinced me. Leave a comment with your email addy for a chance to win an e-copy of the book A Woman of Choice.

When I first decided to write an historical romance novel, I didn't know anything about the romance market. But I did know there are a mega-zillion "kilted warrior" stories already published. That sub-genre has been going strong for decades. When I went to Amazon and searched book titles for "highlander" there were 2,976 results…

I didn't want to write more of those.

So, what DID I want to write? Well, they say write what you know. I was already going to need to research my time period… (I may be old, but "Historical" still precedes my lifetime… barely.) I chose the Missouri Territory because I spent my childhood in Kansas City. The terrain and the weather are familiar to me.

One thing I knew - the hero would not be Scots. What else is sexy? Vikings! So my hero became Norwegian: big, blond, buff, blue-eyed and beautiful. Strong. Stoic. Spectacular.

I was driving past IKEA when I heard a hyped-up commercial on the radio: H&M was coming soon! "Hmm," I thought. "These are both Scandinavian stores… I guess that's the next big thing."

And then it hit me. My hook. My brand. My big, blond, buff, beautiful heroes with oceanic eyes! Norwegian men are the next big thing.

And I'll tell everyone that Norway is the NEW Scotland! I even made a video about it:
Ta-daaaaaaa! Now I needed some history:

After Napoleon's defeat in 1814, the Danish Prince, Christian Frederick, convened the National Assembly in Norway, where he was elected as King. But the triumphant nations refused to accept this attempt by Norway to become independent, with the Danish prince as their new king.

Following a brief show of strength by Sweden, King Christian Frederick caved, renounced all claims to Norway's throne, and fled the country.

When I created the setting for "A Prince of Norway" I backed up a couple of generations to King Christian VI. His son, Frederick V had seventeen children by 2 wives and a mistress - and one short-lived sister. So I gave Frederick a stronger, fictional sister.

My Marit Christiansen married and escaped her brother's lifestyle by emigrating to the New World. Settled in Philadelphia, she birthed a daughter, the princess Kirsten Sven. Kirsten's life was saved during the Revolutionary War by a handsome American soldier of Norse heritage - Reidar Magnus Hansen.

These are Nicolas Hansen's parents.

Before I could see which of the seventeen descendents of King Frederick might be involved in the 1814 switch of regents, they needed to be charted, tracked, and fictionalized if they fell off the radar, which almost all of then did. That was fun. (And the family tree is posted on my website:

So in 1818, the oldest and most powerful of these fictionalized descendents sent Nicolas a letter, strongly requesting that he return to Norway (he went there in 1806 at age 19) to candidate for a reclaimed throne. The times being what they were, the letter didn't reach him until 1820, at which point he had remarried and had a second child.

This is the set-up for A Prince of Norway.

Intrigued? Is it time you found a new brand of hero? Please allow me to help.

For every 10 people who comment here, I will give away one free e-copy of A Woman of Choice - the beginning of the trilogy. And, yes. Commenter #11 warrants 2 copies! Comment #21? I'll give away three.


In February at the end of my blog tour, I'll give away one SIGNED PAPERBACK SET of the trilogy. Here's how you can get in on that deal:
1. Go to and find the "Secret Word" on my home page.
2. Send an email to with "Signed Trilogy Giveaway" in the subject line. Put the secret word in the body.
3. Comment on any blog at any time in the tour to activate your entry. Each day's blog location is listed at

A Woman of Choice, A Prince of Norway, and A Matter of Principle are all available at

A Woman of Choice - Missouri Territory, 1819
A woman is viciously betrayed and abandoned by her unfaithful husband. She is rescued by a widower uninterested in love. In desperation, she becomes engaged to his best friend. One woman, three very different men. Life is about choices.

A Prince of Norway - Christiania, Norway, 1820
American-born Nicolas Hansen has been asked to candidate for his great-grandfather's throne. His new wife Sydney isn't about to let him go to Norway and face that possibility alone. The moment they arrive at Akershus Castle, the political intrigue and maneuvering begin. Can Sydney trust anyone? Will Nicolas resist the seduction of power? Or will he claim the throne for himself? Most importantly: will their young marriage survive the malicious mischief of the ambitious royal family?

A Matter of Principle - St. Louis, State of Missouri, 1821
Nicolas Hansen has returned from Norway determined to change the world. But when he runs for State Legislator in the brand-new state of Missouri, the enemies he made over the past two years aren't about to step quietly aside. Sydney has made enemies of her own, both by marrying Nicolas and by practicing midwifery. When a newspaper reporter makes it his goal to destroy them, Nicolas must rethink his path once again. But this time, it's a matter of principle.

Thank you Kris for joining us today!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Warrior Wednesday: Tales of the Unpubbed Welcomes Calisa Lewis

Hi All! Welcome to another segment of Warrior Wednesday. I am tickled pink to introduce to you my critique partner Calisa Lewis.

Thank you for having me here Melinda.

I’m Calisa Lewis. I’ve been reading the other Warrior posts each week and nodding my head so much my husband thought I had a crucial screw loose! Man can I relate with the others when it comes to the long road to publication.

I don’t have a tall stack of rejection letters yet, but I have my share. The thing is- if you don’t finish a manuscript, if you never send it in and get those painful scars racked up- you won’t learn. What’s that saying? If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not doing it right.

My writing began very early though, and pain free. Picture it. 10 years old, Mr. Matthew’s fifth grade class, Connell elementary in Washington State. I was bored in class one day and decided to write instead of listening to lessons. On plain note paper I wrote my first book. I think it was only eight to ten pages about bubblegum—with pictures drawn by yours truly. I took that book to the school library and donated it. I was thrilled that the librarian actually put the book on a shelf as a loner! I checked it out one day just because I could!

I got to thinking about that little ‘book’ a couple of weeks ago and looked up the school and called them. Cathleen, the woman I spoke with, agreed to research and see if my little book has somehow survived the years somewhere on school property. I don’t hold much hope, but if it is still there she agreed to help me retrieve it, or at least a copy.

I’ve always loved horses, ranches and cowboys…yum! But when I was younger those things were nothing more than a part of life. The cowboys I hung out with were more pest than hero because I was ‘one of them’ and knew who they really were. Or so I thought. So back in my early writing days I wrote poetry that had nothing to do with heroes and heroines, or even love. Then I graduated when I discovered boys. Love entered the poems and I found music in a deep way. Moreover, I discovered the cute men who sang. I started writing again because of those cuties. All of my stories then revolved around musicians on summer vacations and long weekends.

Then my cowboys had resurgence. I realized a very important fact- I was no longer ‘one of them’. They are hot, sexy men who no longer seemed pesky—and now do sinful things to a pair of Levis!

I still have those early pathetic efforts in my office. I pull them out now and then and read just for the pure joy of it. I don’t cringe over the horrendousness of non-craft or head hopping (I do have to close my eyes to those things though). I go back in time to when my writing bug hatched. Will I ever revise those into ‘real’ manuscripts? Probably never happen. I will move forward.

My first attempt to ‘really write’ took a year from a thought I’d had once, and after my daughters were all mostly grown. I had scratched a beginning and that was it. I pulled out those scratchings and wrote Contract For Love. I found authors Brenda Nyveld and Robbie Grady (before Robyn agented up or sold her first Modern Heat or Desire) on eHqn when they offered to become my first critique partners. I can’t tell you how much I learned from those two literary angels during that year of edits! On July 3rd, 2005 I mailed my first ever 3-chapter partial, with synopsis and query letter, to Silhouette Desire. I received a request from the editor to send a partial to Silhouette Special Edition and then, also to send the full to Desire. Within 3 weeks I received my first rejection letter from SSE. I called the Desire editor almost 2 years later and was told that she’d ‘passed the full to another genre editor’. I never got a rejection from Desire because somewhere along the way the full was actually lost and not passed on.

Heads up Warriors- it happens. One thing I learned about that is to follow up after a reasonable amount of time. You may need to resubmit a lost submission. I currently have a second cowboy story partial with SSE, and will soon be sending a follow up query since it’s been seven months with no word.

In August 2010 Melinda came to my new and wonderful CBC crit group with a challenge. HQ Medicals was running a fast track special event. Why don’t we write a chapter and submit just to see what happens. I struggled for two weeks and came up with one chapter. Two days later the editor asked for the first three chapters…as yet unwritten. I spent a month writing two chapters that shouldn’t have taken me a week to write. I sent those off. Two weeks and one day later the editor emailed. When I get the full ms written, she wants it!! I spent the next two months writing Perfect Doctor Viv. On Dec. 18th I sent it to her. I was shocked when just five weeks (Jan 24th) she sent me a five page revision letter! So I struggle now, not just to write, but to make this promising story sell. Melinda has asked me to remember the spelling of her name. I won’t forget Mel!

I am determined this is my year to leave the ranks of struggling, aspiring writer as a graduate to still struggling, published author! Can you imagine how much my little Bubblegum book might one day be worth when I’m a NYT bestselling author!?! Wooot

Thank you Calisa so much for guest blogging! To continue to follow Calisa on her journey to publication, click here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mystery Monday Musings

A mystery is just a mystery, right? Wrong! This is something I've learned over the past couple of weeks. I've told everyone that I was writing a cozy mystery, easily defined in my mind. Small town, amateur sleuth (well, one of them anyway), murder happens off the page, sexy smexy stuff happens off the page and everything has a Jessica Fletcher feel to it.

Alas, it is not to be. There are some darker moments in my mystery plot which moves it out of the cozy realm.

I was then introduced to two additional types of mysteries. The hard-boiled and the soft-boiled.

The hard-boiled mystery is just that. Hard. It has a tougher edge to it, and could possibly showcase the violence and sex.

Nope, mine isn't that either.

On to a soft-boiled mystery. Ahh...this sounds more like it. Although some may say the cozy and soft-boiled are the same, I'm going to go with the popular belief that they are different. But, barely. Soft-boiled mysteries are a softer, gentler type of mystery. Oh, don't worry, still a murder in there, still a sleuth, but the mystery can take a few dark turns and a few light ones. Like coloring outside the lines.

I think the moral to this rather short story is, know your genre. And if you are blending genres, know that too.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Mystery Monday Musings

Mystery Monday Musings... say that three times real fast! I am currently enrolled in Misa Ramirez's SavvyU Course - Building a Mystery from Back to Front. I'm very excited about this six month journey and I want to take you all along for the ride. Now, it is a paid course, so I won't be sharing the details of the classes, but I'd love to share with you the process I'm going through to create my mystery on Mondays.

For my first Mystery Monday post, I'm going to introduce you to my two main characters. To do this, I'd like to share a little excercise I did called the WalMart Q&A. Please meet Aiden and Lottie:

Me: When was the last time you stood in a long line at Walmart, and how did you react to the wait?

Aiden O'Reilly:

Walmart? *scoffs* You’re kidding, right? I can’t stand to drive by one, let alone go in. The packed parking lots, the swarms of shoppers, the malodor of the store, the shoppers with too much time on their hands and not enough checkout clerks. My ex used to disappear in there for hours. Tell me she was going to one section, and an hour and fifty laps later, I’d find her in the dog food department. We didn’t own a dog. And she wouldn’t even be close to finished.

You can keep your Walmart. I drive right past and down to Gus’s Grocer on 2nd Ave. Yeah, it’s still open, and Gus still cuts the meat with a cigarette hanging from between his lips. I can get everything I need right there. The cashier always has a smile on her face and the bag boy offers to take out your groceries.

Huh, Walmart. *grumbles and looks back down to the stack of papers he was grading*

Lottie Hendricks:

*smiles and looks down at her clasped hands sitting on her lap* I don’t mind waiting in line. Somebody has to be last. Just the other day, Ms. Mirna Fields asked the woman in front of me if she could cut in line. She’d be late for her doctor’s appointment if she didn’t. The younger woman was terribly rude. I can’t stand to see the elderly treated that way. So, I stepped in and told Ms. Mirna she could go in front of me. And her granddaughter was with her, with a separate cart. I let her go too, because they probably needed to leave at the same time. Then, Ms. Rose Etheridge needed to be somewhere. I’m not even sure she’d been standing in the same line as us, but I let her go ahead too. It took me a while to get out of the store that day. But, I did help the others by letting them go first.

*her hands smooth her skirt, and she finally meets my gaze* Nice talking to you, but it’s my day to volunteer down at the animal shelter before helping with spaghetti dinner at the VFW hall, and Lucille is out sick, again, so I have to change the sheets at the B&B myself because Katie has a date.

I hope you get a giggle out of this short interviews! And please, tell me how you react to long lines in WalMart.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Warrior Wednesday: Tales from the Unpubbed Welcomes Anastasia V. Pergakis

Hello friends. Welcome to another Warrior Wednesday. I love having guests on my blog and reading their trials and tribulations as they relate to the fickle world of writing. I hope you are enjoying them too. Please give a warm welcome to Anastasia...

Thanks Melinda for asking me to be here today. I feel honored! It’s great that you have the unpubbed warriors on your blog!

Well, my love for stories was there since the day I learned what a story was. I fell in love with Disney movies and read as many books as I could. It didn’t matter what genre (granted I didn’t know what a genre was at the time). I just read for the adventure and the characters.

While I read all the time, the first book I actually remember that has stuck with me my whole life was Call of the Wild by Jack London. I read that book over and over again! In fact I read it so much, one day the book literally disintegrated in my hands! I cried for a long time after the book fell apart because I couldn’t find another copy of it at my school library and at the time, I had no idea there was such a thing as a public library!

I started writing poetry and fell in love with words. I think I was one of the few kids – the only kid at my school – that loved English class. Words and their meanings and how to use them fascinated me! No, to this day I still can’t tell you the difference between a transitive verb and an intransitive verb without really thinking about it. I was more interested in the meaning of words. Especially words that meant one thing but people used it in another way, or words that mean different things depending on the context of the conversation. I loved word riddles (well riddles of any kind really).

I daydreamed a lot as a kid about knights in shining armor, wizards, faeries, elves and damsels in distress. Evil princes, mean step-mothers, and true love. I got in trouble in school A LOT for daydreaming!

While I did write some stories of my own in Junior and High School, they were mostly prompted by an assignment. In high school I wrote lots of poetry but not much else on my own. It wasn’t until I got my first car at the age of 17 that I decided to write my own stories. I don’t know why the car was the catalyst for me to write down the daydreams I’d had for years. Maybe the freedom the car gave me also gave me the courage to share the stories in my head – to get out there in every sense of the way.

The problem was my drinking addiction. I never noticed at the time of course and would continue to drink for a few years after, but the harshness of my life had caused me to see the world in a different way. There wasn’t a day that didn’t go by that I wasn’t drinking or thinking about drinking. Words, life, everything had lost that magical appeal to me. I’d been to the puppet show and I’d seen the strings. There was no magic. This spiral into the dark began many years before in actual truthness, but for the sake of this blog post, I won’t tell you all the gory details!

This is where some of my darker poetry comes from and my twisted short stories. Life had lost all its magic and so I wrote these twisted stories – with a happy ending – in order to escape the harsh reality of life. Because let’s face it, at the time, there was no such thing as a happy ending except on paper.

My writing was put on hold after that for a few years as my personal life took over. Okay, truthfully, my first husband was a horrible person and didn’t ALLOW me to write, and even after we split up, I just didn’t write. Love had been magical to me once and after that relationship ended, it wasn’t anymore.

It wasn’t until I began to recover – through AA – a little over 4 years ago that the writing and story bug came back to me. I met my second husband then and he has always been supportive of my writing – and he is often the catalyst to much of my imaginings.

I started attending workshops, meeting other authors, meeting other authors in AA even! And I realized that while life wasn’t the happy, rosy place, I thought it was as a kid, there was still a happy ending – even for me!

I’ve been writing ever since and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. Writing is my new addiction and I love everything related to it. It’s my life. It’s hard sometimes and sure I cry about it, but it’s SO worth it.

I submitted my first novel last year – twice. Both times asked for partials but in the end both rejected the story. But I wasn’t as torn up about as I thought I would be. In fact, I was happy in a way. It wasn’t the end of the world – I mean come on, I’ve lived through worse right? It was a rejection of me personally or my stories or anything like that. I just wasn’t ready for publication. Nothing wrong with that.

I believe in the power of positive thinking and forward motion. So as long as I keep learning and trying and moving, everything will be okay.

And I’ll live happily ever after.

Thanks so much for stopping by Anastasia! To continue to follow Anastasia on her journey to publication, click here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Warrior Wednesday: Tales from the Unpubbed Welcomes Nas Dean

I'm so glad you've decided to join me for another segment of Warrior Wednesday: Tales from the Unpubbed. The authors I've asked to be guests I've met from various places all over the web, and I am happy to call each of them friends.

Please welcome my next warrior and friend - Nas Dean...

Thanks very much to Melinda, who asks unpubbed writers (warriors) to show their scars. God, these scars hurt too much, yet being a warrior so here I am.

My love story with books started when I was around nine years old and had appendicitis removed. Bored, alone and crying in hospital, my dad brought me some books to cheer me up. For me this was a special gift specially and not to be shared with other siblings. Yay! I was in heaven. So books became my special passion. Later the same year after coming first in my class I received a big colorful picture book of “Gulliver’s Travels”. The world depicted in that book kept me enthralled for hours. So I was away in my dreamland most of the time. Though poor, our family life was happy but rather than squabbling with other siblings I preferred to escape in my books. The common refrain from that time is “Earth to Nas!” because I was always dreaming about my characters and their stories!

Then came Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series, Secret Seven series, Nancy Drew series (I loved the little bit of romance amid the mystery and the thrill!) The Hardy Boys, The Three Investigators. I still remember character names from all these series.

Later, when I discovered Mills & Boons, mind you, at the time (1979-80) the covers were not that hot but still I covered the novels with newspapers so my parents would think it’s school work! I read one M&B in two days. Now I finish one in a day, by the way. Many times I’ve burnt food while cooking because I’m too busy reading. I blame M&B for that and these other things, eg. Being a virgin till the wedding night (around that time all heroines were virgins!) then later expecting romantic gestures from my husband without telling him!

And all these times I wrote. Not exactly a journal, but whatever caught my fancy. I have whole note books filled about my trips abroad. About the hotels, hire cars, exchange rates and the sightseeing.

By the time I had my first baby, I had read so many baby magazines and books that for a while I wrote articles for a community newspaper ‘The Community Globe” on Baby Nutrition, Mother/Child Nutrition. It was a new publisher trying its hand at publishing but folded up later. This was in 1987-88.

I think I was a closet reader and writer. Living in Auckland, New Zealand, I became a member of Manukau Libraries and took out books. All my colleagues and contemporaries were skeptical and I was asked a lot, “You still read?” They went out dancing or nightclubbing and I preferred to spend a quiet night in with a book.

It was only last year, August 2010, that I heard about HM&B Medical Fasttrack, and I decided to submit for the first time ever. God, that rejection hurt! But I had by then discovered the subcare on eHarlequin forum and the support, advice and hugs were awesome! The multi published authors hang out with aspiring writers and answer all their questions and give so generously of their time and support, it simply is staggering. I made many friends online and one such friend (Nancy) asked to see my work. She did a line by line critique of almost five thousand words! I can never forget her generosity. She was gentle with me and said she believed in my plot. And advised me a lot.

It was then I saw that I needed to work on my craft, technique, and the mechanics of writing. I started spending twenty three hours on line out of twenty four! Visited all published authors websites for writing articles and honing the craft articles. For example there’s Liz Fielding, Kate Walker, Lynne Marshall, Michelle Styles and many more authors who all have articles for aspiring writers. Then there are writing workshop handouts from RWA America conferences, hundreds of articles from previous few years. I was submerged in these for some time. At the same time I was writing a Nocturne Bite, using the mechanics I was learning. Start all chapters with a hook, end with a cliffhanger, see that the story and plot moved forward with every scene. Michelle Styles and Donna Alward advised on the forum when I asked about writing craft, to get Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide To Writing Romance and a few other craft books(Writing Romance Novel for Dummies by Leslie Wainger and Donald Mass’s Writing the Breakout Novel). So I invested in these books from The Book Depository. I think it must have been my best move.

I submitted the Nocturne Bite and started on a Medical. Almost but not quite! forgot about the subbed NocBite. After a turnaround of twenty eight days, I received another rejection, but it hurt less! This time the letter contained the magic words,” Although your story contains some of these elements, it lacks others.” This meant I was doing something right. I also realized that I have to make my presence online. So I started a blog and found a whole new world out there. Almost everyone was blogging about their writing so what could I blog about that would be different, I asked myself. My writing journey is not that interesting!

After winning books on blog giveaways I remembered the RWA handout saying that the whole purpose of book giveaways is to create a buzz by word of mouth of the book. It’s marketing strategy by authors to do giveaways yet I realized that the winners were keeping quiet about the books after reading… so I decided to start blogging about all these new release books after reading them. And I invited the authors to talk about their latest releases on my blog: Yet again I must be doing something right as my followers increased and I have a presence online.

Now for the next step I asked HM&B Desire Author Rachel Bailey:
I don't have critique partners or belong to any writers organisation, the nearest being RWA Aust/ RWA NZ.... the membership is not a problem but the airfare is!.....can you recommend any online writing groups/courses?

I think it's a definite advantage to join RWAust or RWNZ even though you're not in the country. Both organisations have members living in other countries - and a lot further away than Fiji - Switzerland, America, Scotland, etc. You can get the monthly newsletters online or posted (I'm just retiring as RWA's newsletter editor, so I'm biased, but they're choc full of info and craft articles), you can join the CP scheme and match yourself to someone, or a group, be on the e-loop and ask authors questions, etc, etc. The only thing face to face you might want is the annual conference, but not everyone goes to that anyway (RWAust has a Claytons Conference online for those who can't make the main one each year).

Rachel Bailey is another such multi published author who takes time out from her busy schedule and answers any questions I may ask, so huge thanks to her and all other authors I’ve mentioned. I’ve also gone to Joanna St James for advice, so you are also included.

At present I have a partial in the slush pile from the first week of November 2010, v-e-r-y- s-l-o-w-l-y moving towards the editor at the Medical HM&B!

Thank you Nas for guest blogging this week. To continue to follow Nas on her journey to publication, click here. And, join me next week as I spotlight another warrior fighting their way to publication.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Warrior Wednesday: Tales from the Unpubbed - Joanna St. James

The new year is here, and with it comes new dreams, expectations and the chance to build our arsenal of tools for the ultimate fight: getting published.

No, I'm not asking you to go all G.I. Jane, but it's a basic story we can learn from. Don't give up, and don't let anyone tell you you can't.

I'm starting a new segment on Wednesdays to honor my fellow battle-scarred warriors and to share a few tales from the frontlines. Tales from the Unpubbed is about the unpublished author's experiences and hopefully will encourage other warriors to keep up the good fight.

So, without further ado, I'd like to introduce my first guest - Ms. Joanna St. James...

You know one thing I have learned in my little while here on earth is that every individual is stressed out just up to their maximum limit. One other thing I have learned since I started blogging, is that it is always good to be able to share your experiences with people who understand you. So when Melinda told me about this series I jumped at it mainly because, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to let other writers know that there are loads of us in the same boat as you.

Amongst other books I read the complete works of Shakespeare when I was eight years old (I did not understand the olde english but I read it anyway) so you see my love for books started before I can remember. It also did not help that I had a dad who inspired me to reach for the stars - he encouraged me to write when I was a kid but I said I would whenever I became ready after all 'how hard can writing be?' - I now like to refer to this as my ego induced haze.

This haze/era lasted till I became an adult and had a baby two years ago, I felt empowered by the birth of my son and my shiny new and hard earned masters degree so I picked up a notepad and a pen and started to write.
I did no homework, all I knew was that I was going to write for harlequin and they would love me, and then it all started to go wrong; my story could only go as far as 5k words (I eventually reached 7.5k), I looked at the harlequin website and the only line I could submit my word count to was Spice Briefs so I sent my plotless and sweet story to Spice Briefs and even had the nerve to get huffy when they told me they would get back to me between 2-4 months - I got rejected six weeks later.

Of Course I was not well equipped to handle a rejection so I went into hiding for another 2 years, I did not write but at least I did my research, read articles and anything I could get my hands on till June 2010. In May my family moved to Corsica and I decided I was going to follow my dreams, I quit my job and decided to stay home with my kidlet and write. In two months I completed two first drafts and then on August 2nd I heard the HMB medical line was offering a fast track to newbie writers like me, so I jumped on that train and now have a requested partial in that office with my fingers crossed.

My rejection count to date is 2 rejection letters (I hope it stays that way because my writer's skin is still kinda tender) During the day I spend time with my toddler and you bloggers, then I write in the dead of the night when everyone has gone to bed usually from 12-3 or 4am, I wake up at 9am or earlier sometimes and start the day over again.

I know my life as a writer might sound tame compared to some of you but believe you me, that is about all I can handle. Does anything about my life resonate with yours? and of course I love hearing advice on ways to get pubbed.

Thanks for having me Melinda.

Thank you for being here Joanna!! To follow Joanna on her path to publication, click here.

Stay tuned next Wednesday for yet another special guest and more war stories.