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.


  1. Hi there, Nas! You have a such a great story. Thanks for stopping by Melinda's hangout. I was a 'closet reader', too, through much of high school and college. Mostly because I was in lit classes where you were only supposed to read Big Important Books. Now, I'm happy to have read those BIBs but I'm even more happy to be able to read (and write) what I love - romance!

  2. Hey Nas, great story. I was a closet reader too, although for me that didn’t start until my late teens.

  3. Hello Nas. It's too funny cause I used to burn my food at times, but mine was (and still is) Harlequin Intrigue. I just could NOT put the books down. Too far out in la-la land in the story.

    Great story!

  4. Hi, Nas! I enjoyed learning about you today! You've provided some great advice, and thanks for sharing your scars!

  5. Hi Nas, I too was a closet writer until I found the HQ boards. You had some great advice to share with other unpublished writer's out there. Good luck on your submission to the medical line I have my fingers crossed for you.

  6. Thanks everyone for stopping in! Funny how us romance lovers hid our books when we were younger, now I don't care who sees me carrying one.

    Great story Nas!!

  7. Hey, Nas, love the photo of you in the rose garden. Hang in there - one of the great things about writing is that you do get better the more you do (I could dance my head off and still be awful, LOL!). I definitely credit joining RWA as a major step towards being published. Just having people who 'get' what you're doing makes a difference! Good luck!

  8. Hello Kristina,

    Thanks for the welcome at Melinda's. You know reading Shakespear(I didn't enjoy old english!) tales in school didn't held me in enthrall as much as reading M&B!

  9. Hi Angelina,

    So many of us being closet readers, then we came outta closet!!!

  10. Hi Donna,

    I get you...reading Intrigues, you just can't leave the books down for a second, the build up excitement is so much!

  11. Hello Maria,

    Glad you liked the real me!

  12. Hi Alyssa,

    I've found the HQ boards to be absolutely awesome!

    And just recently I started hanging out at Savvy Authors, since I'm taking a workshop there given by Carina Press Senior Editor Angela James, and it also is very informative.

  13. Hi Melinda,

    Thanks for inviting me here, you have a nice, warm blog where everyone's making me very welcome!

    And friends, the best advice I had, which I can safely inpart here is " can always go back and layer in/change and add emotions to the story. But write! You can always fix a bad page with something written but do absolutely nothing at a blank page!"

  14. Hello Anna,

    Lovely to see you here! Sadly I had to crop the photo to make it load easier thus cutting out the big blooms.

    Thanks for the advice about joining RWA and the best wishes. It's deeply appreciated.

    Friends, check out Anna Campbell's "HER RECKLESS SURRENDER" Wow! A very passionate love story with a very special twist, which I came across for the very first time ever!

  15. Hi Nas, keep on writing and submitting. It took some of us many years to get published. Hang in there and never give up! Joining RWA is a great move. Good luck!

  16. Wow, Nas, thanks for the plug! ;-)

  17. Hello Kandy,

    So very lovely to see you here! Thanks for the boost.

    Friends, like Kandy, the characters in her books are interested in cooking (Maddy in LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD is a chef-turned-magazine food editor; Serena the heroine of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK is a hopeless cook who tries very hard). At the moment, Kandy is writing a character who she wants to be a gadget collector like her.

    Kandy, have you ever heard the saying men have, that "A woman's place is in the kitchen" well we'd all like to tell such men that "Kitchen is where all the sharp knives are!" Like your next character, the trained chef who wants quality, perfectly sharpened knives!

  18. Hi Anna, you very welcome. Maybe we should join a dancing group then you wouldn't have to dance your head off! Next time we should take a cruise together with some, dance instructors!

    Which would you prefer, salsa or ball-room? Ever since I saw Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, I've been a big fan!

  19. Hi Nas!
    I'm late, but here. (Had to finish 1,500 words before I let myself blog. I am one hard taskmaster sometimes!) Anyway, those scars weren't so bad. I love your picture. Beautiful!!! Rejections are terrible. But they are a fact of life in this business. I gave myself one day to pout and be upset and read each one over and over. Then I filed it away and resumed writing. I also love craft books. I have a bunch of them. And when I'm blocked I take them out and read them. It really helps!!!

  20. Hi Wendy,

    Thanks for being here! Craft books are so helpful. But I just took a workshop BEFORE YOU HIT SEND: SELF EDITING FOR PUBLISHED AND UNPUBLISHED AUTHORS given by Angela James. It's really good so far!

  21. Nas, thank you for sharing your story and your journey! I admire your tenacity and love of writing. Don't give up!!

  22. Weird. I left a comment and it disappeared. Anyway, great blog Nas. I love that I'm not the only one who burns food! I can't wait to hear your Call story! I'm waiting for my full response from the medical too. Good luck sweetie!

  23. Hi Nas,
    What a great story! Loved learning a little more about my new friend.

    I avoid burning food by using a digital timer. I used to work in medical research in a laboratory, and I got used to timing things, so it was natural to use one at home and it REALLY helps avoid disasters :) Now I can read away and be reminded before it's too late!

    Good luck with your submission, bella!


  24. Hello Liz,

    Thank you for the boost and for checking out my story.

  25. Hi Calisa,

    Thanks for the best wishes and I'm also waiting to hear your "Call" story! All the best to you too.

  26. Hello Serena,

    So very lovely of you to drop by. You are a bambola for checking out my story and liking it.

    That's a great tip about using a digital timer. And it's good to know I'm not alone in getting food spoilt, while reading.

    And thanks so much for the good wishes for my submission.

    Great abbraccio to you too, amica!

  27. Nas- I think the best thing a pre-published author can do for themselves is to establish an online presence, so kudos on that! The writing community is just so supportive, and it's great to build that, make friends and network. I look forward to reading your call story some day soon!

  28. Hi Nas - I loved reading your story andseeing some more pictures of you in real life instead of just your virtual presence on the eHarlequin message boards. And I want to thank you for the lovely mention of my 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. I just did an interview where they asked why I wrote it - and you just gave the answer really. I wrote it so that people who can never get to a workshop or a talk I've given can still have the advice I can pass on.

    Your story sounds so like mine at the beginning - all those books - I used to love the Famous Five etc too! And how great that already you have had some sort of a response from and editor, telling you what you are doing right and what not - advic like that is like gold dust! I still have the first response I ever got from an editor giving me advice - I remember sitting down to write the next time thinking, 'Ok, I'll give her emotional punch. . .' and the next book was the first acceptance. Now I'm writing book 60! But I still get that terrible stomach twisting feeling of panic when I send in a new submission. I don't think it ever goes away. I hope you'll have success too. I'd love to hear about it when you do.


  29. Hi Christine,

    Thanks so much for your kind words. Girl, I'm so happy for you, you are on a roll!

  30. Hello Kate,

    Congratulations on writing the Sixtieth Book. Sixty! wow!

    I'm so very lucky that you decided to come by.

    I absolutely love the support in the writing community. I have met the best people, so many authors who have gone out of their way to offer advice and help. You are one of them, Kate, you give so generously of your time to us. It's been amazing.

    And the KATE WALKER'S 12 POINT GUIDE TO WRITING ROMANCE is a tremendous writer's tool to have. It's separate Chapters are so much help.
    There's a chapter on :

    Characterisation and Heroines
    The Intense Black Moment
    and the A Beleivable Happy Ending among some others.

    It's a great help to aspiring writers like me who can't be present in your workshops. SO a huge thanks to you for writing it. And as you so rightly said about rejection :

    "What you do after that rejection that matters. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again . . .having learned from what went wrong in the first place. Personally, I've always felt that it's the fear of rejection - even after almost 60 titles - that keeps me sharp, clamps down on any tendency to get arrogant or complacent - I remember how it can happen, remember the sting of it - so I work my damndest to make sure it doesn't happen again.

    And I alway sympathise and understand how a rejection feels for everyone else - at any stage of their writing career. Unfortunately rejection is part of this busiess - it's one fo the battle scars you earn for being brave enough to submit."

    So I will work on my craft and keep on submitting. I hope I can keep yours and everyone else's faith in me.

  31. Hey Nas and Melinda!

    Melinda, your blog is very elegant - no wonder you won a "One Lovely Blog" award!

    Nas, it's great to read your journey so far! I heartily endorse what others have said here - keep writing because it's all learning. You've chosen terrific craft books to help you hone your skills and I have those ones on my shelf too. And I thought I'd add another one you might like to look at - Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation, Conflict.

    Good luck with your next submission!

  32. Hello Sharon,

    Thank you for being here today. I've been a long time fan of your HM&B Medical books.

    I've read about Debra Dixon's GMC and that's next on my list to buy.

    And thanks for the terrific boost!

  33. Hello Belinda, I love your blog and the unpubbed warriors interviews.

    You won a Stylish Blogger Award. Get your award at my blog.

  34. Wow! Hello everyone! I go to bed early and BAM the comments are filled up.

    Thank you to everyone who has stopped by to say howdy to Nas.

    @Angelina Rain - special thanks for the blog award, I'll get it put up today!

  35. Nas, such an interesting interview! And thanks for the kind words. :)

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  37. Hello Rachel,

    Thanks so much for coming by. Your words of wisdom and of other authors in these comments have made such an impact on me.

    Thank you!

    Friends, Rachel Baily is the author of chocolate laden "At The Billionaire's beck And Call" and her latest HM&B Desire release is "Million Dollar Amnesia Scandal"