How a Major Publisher Took Over My Self-Published Book

Spy Fall_QuincyThis is release week for my latest Regency historical romance, Spy Fall. Or maybe I should say re-release week.

That’s because I originally self-published the story that begins with a daring parachutist spy landing on our drunken rake hero.

Under the working title, The Parachutist, the manuscript finaled in, or won, several contests for unpublished novels. The self-publishing world seemed like it was on fire and, after a few rejections, the time seemed right for me to venture out into the self-publishing jungle.

I quickly realized I didn’t want to wear that many hats. I don’t know enough about marketing — or have a wide-enough reach, like some uber-successful authors — to make a real success of self-publishing. I sold a few copies, but not near as many as I’d sold with my previous publisher.

When book two in the series sold to Loveswept, a romance imprint of Penguin Random House, I mentioned that I had a related book. The editors there were interested in seeing Spy Fall and I can’t tell you how excited I was when they decided to acquire it.

The series got a new name, Rebellious Brides, and the cover was tweaked just a little because they liked both. And we were off!

The world of publishing is in a constant state of flux and, while I’m not sorry I ventured outside my comfort zone to try something new, I’m so much happier to have a major publisher behind my books. I guess I like being on a team!

Here’s a little about Spy Fall:

Lovers of historical fiction could hardly do better than Diana Quincy’s Spy Fall,” proclaims Fresh Fiction. In this uniquely fresh and innovative Regency romance, a fearless French parachutist lands on top of a wicked rogue who endangers her mission—and her heart.
 
Mari Lamarre is gaining fame on both sides of the Channel for her daring aeronautic endeavors, but she hasn’t come to Dorset to showcase her talents. Rather, she’s been tasked with recovering sensitive information that may have fallen into the hands of the Marquess of Aldridge. It’s the riskiest adventure of her career—and it begins with a crash landing. Her fall is broken by the Marquess’s very own son, Cosmo, who’s clearly a rake and a drunk, not to mention a liability. So why does Mari find him so utterly alluring?
 
When he first spots the vision of loveliness in the sky, Lord Cosmo Dunsmore surmises he’s imbibed one drop too many, and an angel has come to fetch him. Little does he know that this female daredevil will make him feel more alive than ever before. But when their torrid affair takes a shocking turn, Cosmo must choose where his loyalties lie: with his respectable father—or with the captivating beauty whose fierce passion makes him feel like a new man.

You can pick up a copy here:

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

parachutistIn case you’re wondering, yes, there really were female parachutists in the early 1800s.

Mari, the heroine in Spy Fall, was loosely inspired by Elisa Garnerin, a real-life French balloonist and parachutist who made several jumps in the early 1800s. When I first learned about her, I realized I’d found the perfect inspiration for my next heroine.

Back then, parachutes had an attached basket and they’d ascend into the sky while secured to a hot air balloon. After cutting loose from the hot air balloon, they’d parachute down to safety.

Happy (almost) summer!

Diana

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STEAL DEAL! ‘Engaging the Earl’ Is $.99

NewMockup-1-200x300

It’s 1819, and Lady Kat is about to wed England’s most eligible bachelor.
But when her first love returns from abroad, an old desire is reborn.

“Sweet, steamy, and thoroughly enjoyable”
(New York Times bestselling author Grace Burrowes).

Here’s a little pre-holiday treat for readers.

Engaging the Earl, from my Accidental Peers series, is on sale for 99 cents for a limited time. I was never a big fan of man chest covers, but I do like the relative subtlety of this one. It hints (a little) at the darkness in the hero, who has returned from the war suffering symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which makes him believe he isn’t good enough for the heroine. Luckily, she sees it differently!

Here’s the blurb:

When the man she can’t forget reappears at her betrothal ball, Lady Katherine Granville’s perfectly arranged future is thrown into tumult. Although she’s set to wed Society’s most eligible bachelor, Kat secretly yearns for her childhood love, an untitled loner who vanished long ago after her father forbade their marriage.

After years abroad, the dark and brooding Edward Stanhope returns to England a changed man. No longer a second son with no prospects, his battlefield strategies have won him an earldom. His return should be a victorious one, but the new Earl of Randolph is battling secret demons that no one can discover. Least of all, Kat.

Edward remains cold and distant, hoping she’ll marry a man more worthy of her. But nothing is settled when Kat sets out to win back her first love. Can Kat and the new Earl of Randolph find their way back to each other and finally prove love really is sweeter the second time around?

To read an excerpt, or for more information about the Accidental Peers series, please visit my website.

You can buy your copy here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca

Happy Reading!

 

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The Standing Desk: What’s Old is New Again

When I started using a standing desk at the day job, I thought I was onto something new.

Turns out I was wrong.

In fact, standing desks have been used for much of human history. The elevated surfaces were built so that people could stand and write on a slanted surface. Tall stools were often nearby for when people needed to sit for a bit.

Members of the Doctors Commons, a society of lawyers, stand while working. (circa 1857)

Members of the Doctors Commons, a society of lawyers, stand while working. (circa 1857)

Thomas Jefferson was among the first on record to adopt the standing desk; he designed his own in the 1700s.

The nation’s third president came up with an adjustable desk that allowed him to stand (maybe while writing the Declaration of Independence?) or to bring it down to a level where he could sit  on a stool.

The six-legged desk also had an adjustable work surface that slanted upward.

The standing desk designed by Thomas Jefferson.

The standing desk designed by Thomas Jefferson.

Winston Churchill, Virginia Woolf, Lewis Carroll and Charles Dickens were also known to use standing desks.

Woolf’s nephew, Quentin Bell, wrote that she “had a desk standing about three feet six inches high with a sloping top; it was so high that she had to stand at her work.”

I’m not sure why they all worked on their feet, but I was motivated by health concerns and the impact of sitting for too many hours each day–first at the day job and then at home while writing my novels.

Multiple studies suggest people who sit for extended periods of time run an increased risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, leg disorders, soft bones…not to mention a sore backside.

Way back in 1883, Popular Science magazine also cited health reasons when encouraging readers to use standing desks.

“At the first symptoms of indigestion, book-keepers, entry-clerks, authors, and editors should get a telescope-desk. Literary occupations need not necessarily involve sedentary habits, though, as the alternative of a standing-desk, I should prefer a Turkish writing-tablet and a square yard of carpet-cloth to squat upon.”

Illustration for an adjustable standing desk from an 1899 book, "School Hygiene," by Dr. Ludwig Wilhelm Johannes Kotelmann, John A. Bergström and Edward Conradi.

Illustration for an adjustable standing desk from an 1899 book, “School Hygiene,” by Dr. Ludwig Wilhelm Johannes Kotelmann, John A. Bergström and Edward Conradi.

A man stands while he works in this painting from 1829.

A man stands while he works in this painting from 1829.

Ernest Hemingway always stood while he worked, according to a 1958 Paris Review article:

“A working habit he has had from the beginning, Hemingway stands when he writes. He stands in a pair of his oversized loafers on the worn skin of a lesser kudu — the typewriter and the reading board chest-high opposite him.

Ernest Hemingway types at his standing desk.

Ernest Hemingway types at his standing desk.

In the book, Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir, AE Hotchner describes Hemingway’s set-up at his home in Havana:

“He never worked at the desk. Instead, he used a stand up work place he had fashioned out of a bookcase near his bed. His portable typewriter was snugged in there and papers were spread along the top of the bookcase on either side of it. He used a reading board for longhand writing.”

In Engaging the Earl, war hero Edward Stanhope returns home on the evening the woman he left behind becomes engaged to another man.

In Engaging the Earl, war hero Edward Stanhope returns home on the evening the woman he left behind becomes engaged to another man.

People have asked me if the creative juices flow while I’m standing up.

I was on my feet for much of the time while completing my latest book, Engaging the Earl, which is out today. (Shameless Plug Alert: $.99 for a limited time!)

I’ll admit writing was a challenge at first, but now I don’t even think about it. In fact, I’m more comfortable standing for four or five hours each day.

All in all, I feel much better, my body isn’t as stiff, my bottom doesn’t get sore, and I rarely get those aches across the back of my shoulders that I feel after sitting for long periods of time.

I’m such a fan that I am ready to get rid of my makeshift standing desk at home to splurge on the real thing.

After all, Hemingway, Woolf, Carroll and the rest of them must have been onto something!

And before I leave you…

5 Interesting Reasons to Read ENGAGING THE EARL

1. The hero returns from years at war on the evening the woman he left behind becomes engaged to another man.

2. Edward suffers from nostalgia…which is known today as Post Traumatic Stress (The U.S. military has stopped referring to this condition as a disorder–dropping the D from PTSD–to remove the stigma associated with it.)

3. The heroine’s dog helps Edward cope with his attacks. I decided to bring a dog into the story after being moved by an article about an Iraq war veteran whose trained service dog helps him manage his PTS.

4. Edward is loosely inspired by Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, who wasn’t allowed to marry an earl’s daughter because he was a second son with no prospects. Ten years later, after gaining a dukedom for his war service, Wellington returned to marry the woman he left behind.

5. Engaging the Earl is only $.99 for a limited time. And who doesn’t love a good bargain?

Amazon ~ B&N ~ iBooks ~ Kobo ~ GoogleBooks

Lesson Learned From Frozen: Write To Your Own Trend

Sisters, Elsa and Anna

Sisters, Elsa and Anna

Last week I stepped outside the 5% of the US population who has not seen the movie Frozen. I had been wanting the see the movie for a long time. With my background in Musical Theatre, this type of movie is within my personal category of MUST SEE.  Unfortunately, my daughter initially saw the movie without me, and she fell into the minority of children in the United States who didn’t feel the need to see it again. We live busy lives, and at a certain point I realized I was destined to see the movie once it came out on DVD. Even then, I BEGGED her to watch the movie with me, and when begging didn’t work, I moved into the phase of motherhood I’m really good at. I tortured her with the promise I would not stop singing Let It Go until she agreed to watch the movie with me.  As a former professional singer, the threat initially fell flat. I sang the song a few times through while doing chores around the house, and while maybe my singing proved a distraction from her current focus (reading The Fault In Our Stars) I transitioned into singing Let It Go BADLY, changing as many words as possible to capture her attention.  When I started to incorporate some truly horrific dance choreography into the performance, she put the book down and raced me to the door to rent the DVD. Even an 11 yr. old has her breaking point!

I was expecting a typical Disney love story movie musical in Frozen. Perhaps my love of another Disney movie, Brave which I blogged about years ago (Brave: Tackling the Complex Mother/Daughter Relationship) should have told me to expect much more than your typical Boy-Girl story. Yes, there is an adorable dancing and singing snowman, and while love and relationships between a man and a woman is within the story, it resides within a subplot. The main focus of the story is the love found within a family, in this instance, the strong bond of love and friendship between two sisters.

The focus of family in this movie sensation caused me to take a look at my own writing and the writing industry in general. When it comes to market trends, we are told not to write to trends but to write ahead of a trend. Study the industry and figure out what might be the next big thing. If you want to jump on the werewolf, shape-shifter craze, you better have written it already because writing it while that market is hot, only means by the time you’re ready to bring your story to the world, you will have missed the trend. So what is an author who is trying to write a break out novel in the industry supposed to do? One of our Femmes, Michele Mannon, wrote ahead of a trend. She had the idea to write Hot Alpha Male MMA stories before it really became a trend and took hold in the market. This stroke of brilliance it has paid off in spades for Michele. Another Femme, Diana Quincy, paved her own trail or trend within the popular Historical Romance genre with her Accidental Peers series. Both wrote from their hearts stories they were destined to tell with unique hooks. So what then about a contemporary writer like me who writes humorous, sexy, family driven contemporaries? I’m not about to write a shape-shifting story in the hopes of making a market splash. It just isn’t in me. My writing time is so limited, I have to write something this is true to my soul otherwise the time spent on a project will feel empty and the story will fall flat.

The explosion of the movie Frozen with the focus of true love and sacrifice residing within the family structure has given me hope. This has reminded me that, regardless of current or past market trends, the trend or the importance of Family within our society will never die out. I will continue to write from my heart and produce funny, family centric stories. My next romance series will focus on more than one family and how all their lives intersect and impact one another within a community. I’m planning to explore more complex family relationships while keeping the focus on one couple’s messy journey to a happily ever after. I started to explore this a bit in the third installment of my Brothers of Audubon Springs series, The Right Chord, which releases on August 6th. Could this be the next trend? I don’t know, but I do know I’m excited to tell the stories within this new series set. As a writer, motivation and excitement for a project are half the battle.

I’m wondering if anyone else was surprise by the twist in the focus of Frozen? Also, what do you believe will be the next big trend and what current trends in the writing, movie, or television industries have captured your attention or surprised you?

Happy reading and writing!

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Publishing a Series Out of Order & Other Adventures in Publishing

UnderwoodKeyboardThe one thing all newer authors learn pretty quickly is that there is no blueprint, no “how to” guide, to publishing.

We kind of have to feel our way around, gleaning what information we can from conferences and loops while being careful not to ask our editors or agent too many questions for fear of being a pest or looking stupid (at least in my case).

I’m a new-ish author.  Even though I’ve published three books in the past year, I remain a novice in many ways and how I handled my first series certainly attests to that fact.

My debut novel, published in April 2013, was not the first manuscript I wrote; it wasn’t even the first book I sold. The first title I sold was Tempting Bella, the third book in the series. My fabulous agent went to bat for me right away, asking my editor to publish the second book in the series, Seducing Charlotte, first.

Why not the publish the first book in the series first? After all, that would make the most sense as reviewers have certainly pointed out.
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TEMPTING BELLA Giveaway Winner

Tempting Bella_The winner of our Dirty Talk, Regency Style giveaway is:

Ki Pha

Ki Pha wins a copy of Tempting Bella,  book #2 in Diana Quincy’s Accidental Peers series. Please see your inbox for more details.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by.

Happy Reading!

Dirty Talk, Regency Style

CompromisingWillaThis week’s release of Compromising Willa, my third Regency romance, got me thinking about language and how we use it.

Working on edits for Compromising Willa probably triggered my current preoccupation with words because I was also writing my first contemporary romance at the same time. This meant I had to jump back and forth between historical and modern-day dialogue, making sure my 19th Century duke hero didn’t end up saying things like “dude” and “cool.”

Compromising Willa was the first book I ever wrote and I certainly made mistakes regarding historical accuracy along the way. In a critical scene where the hero meets the heroine for the first time, I had him strike a match to light his cheroot. It was a great scene except that the story takes place during the Regency period, well before matches were invented. Oops.

Since then, I have done my best to get the research right. Sometimes an author takes a little license to move the story forward, but in general I’ve tried to be as historically accurate as possible.  These days, when researching the proper language for historicals, I often turn to the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

Some of the crass terms crack me up, so  I thought I’d share a few:

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Can an Arranged Marriage Lead to Love?

Thanks for stopping by! This is my first blog post as an official Femme and I’m thrilled to be here. I’m kicking off official “Femme-dom” with the release of my second historical romance, Tempting Bella.   

A 13-year-old girl is forced to marry the heir to a dukedom in order to settle a gaming debt between their fathers. After the ceremony, the bride and groom go their separate ways. Years later, the groom spies an enchanting beauty at Imagethe opera and is thrilled to learn she is his wife.

The true love story of Lady Sara Cadogan and Charles Lennox, the Earl of March, who later became the Duke of Richmond, inspired my latest historical romance,  Tempting Bella, the second book in my Accidental Peers series.

I add my own twist by making Bella  a future duchess in her own right, meaning she’ll inherit the dukedom once her father passes.

That little tidbit also came about from my research, when I read about Henrietta Godolphin, the 2nd Duchess of Marlborough. Her father, the first Duke of Marlborough, had two sons but neither lived to adulthood. An act of  parliament in 1706 allowed the first duke’s daughters to inherit his English titles. Henrietta became a duchess in her own right after her father’s death in 1722. Sadly, like her father, she outlived both of her sons, so the titles passed to her sister’s son.
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A Chat + Giveaway With Historical Author Diana Quincy

This week, the Femmes are happy to welcome debut Historical author Diana Quincy to the blog. Not only is she incredibly talented, Diana is smart, generous, and hilarious. Her first novel, SEDUCING CHARLOTTE, has just been released with Entangled Publishing.

VF: Give us three words that describe SEDUCING CHARLOTTE. Seducing-Charlotte-Cover-200x300

DQ: Sexy, smart and surprising. (At least I hope that’s what readers will think!)

VF: How did you get the idea for the story? 

DQ: I was doing research for another project when I stumbled onto information about the Luddite uprisings. For those readers who don’t know, the concept originated with a workers’ rebellion which began in Nottinghamshire, England, in 1811, when desperate, unemployed workers took to breaking into factories at night to wreck the machines which had stolen their livelihoods.I was fascinated to read that the machine breakers were led by the elusive Ned Ludd, a man who may or may not have been fictional. That sparked the idea of a story about machine breakers and placing my hero and heroine on opposite sides of the conflict. 
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