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Under the working title, The Parachutist, the manuscript finaled in, or won, several contests for unpublished novels.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

Release of A SPY UNMASKED and the things I’m thankful for

Today is the release day for my historical romance, A Spy Unmasked. It’s the first book In The Crown’s Secret Service Series about sexy spies and the feisty, independent women who capture their hearts. At The Spy’s Pleasure will be released in April 2015. It’s always an exciting time when an author has a new release. But instead of blogging about spies in the Regency period, I want to write about all the things I’m truly grateful for.

A Spy Unmasked Cover - Tina Gabrielle

My Writing Organizations

I can easily say I wouldn’t be published if it wasn’t for Romance Writer’s of America and my local NJ Romance Writer’s Chapter. I believe I was born a writer, and I fondly remember writing my first book when I was sixteen. Needless to say, it was not publishable and it sits in the back of my file cabinet. But these two organizations taught me how to write professional, commercial fiction. A huge difference for me. They also taught me about the business side of being an author. I still religiously attend workshops with my notepad. It’s an ongoing learning process. I’ve also met my closest friends—including my fellow Femmes—writers that aren’t scared when I say “I hear my character’s voices in my head.” And the conferences that NJRW and RWA held are where I met my agent and editors.

The Readers

Where would any author be without the readers? I cherish each one. I’m also thankful for reviews. I value the time readers spend writing them.

My Critique Partners

I’ve had several critique partners over the years. All of them have helped make my books shine. I think of finding a good critique partner like dating. You have to find the right match for you. I’ve been lucky and will always be grateful.

Volunteering

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m grateful for volunteering. I’m on the NJ Romance Writer’s board as the hospitality chair, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. At meetings I hand out milk chocolate kisses for authors who are brave enough to submit their work and white chocolate hugs for authors who received rejections (a regular part of being a writer). I enjoy handing out flowers to celebrate each member’s good news. I also volunteer and run a monthly critique group at my local library. Every month aspiring writers get together in the library and read their work. I organize the dates and times with the library, and even though I don’t always get time to read my own work, I’m thankful for the group. Many people have helped me on the way to publication and I feel a deep sense of satisfaction helping others now.

Family Support

I know of writers who gave up on their dreams because they didn’t have family support. Many of us have kids, day jobs, and/or elderly parents, and we all need a support system. I’m thankful for mine.

James Bond

Ok, I have to say I’m thankful for Ian Fleming. In A Spy Unmasked,  my hero, Robert Ware is a safecracker and an expert in the fine art of finessing open safes. He’s also a master spy for the Crown. I grew up watching the Bond flicks and I love them still. Spies are mysterious and dangerous. They often have close calls but somehow they always end up escaping unscathed. And when the intrigue surrounding the spying is interwoven with the romance, the result is a sizzling read. So who’s my favorite Bond actor?

Daniel Craig in swim suit

KINDLE GIVEAWAY!

I can’t depart without some type of shameless promotion for A Spy Unmasked. I’m offering a prize of a new Kindle Fire HD6 to a winner who reads the book and leaves an honest review at Amazon. I’ll pick one winner on Sunday November 16, 2014, from all the reviews posted. See my website for details!  Here’s a quick blurb of the book:

London 1820

The mission did not go quite as Robert Ware–known in society as the new Earl of Kirkland–planned. A spy in the service of His Majesty, Robert is a “guest” at a masquerade party as he retrieves vital information for a murder investigation. Until he’s quite unexpectedly interrupted by an exquisite, masked woman with glittering green eyes. And a pistol she has cocked and aimed right at him…

Lady Sophia Merrill has defiantly taken up justice’s shining sword, determined to expose the brigand who murdered her eccentric but brilliant father, and stole his latest invention. Now she must masquerade as Robert’s betrothed in order to infiltrate the Inventor’s Society and find the killer. But the undeniable potent attraction between them not only imperils the investigation, but Sophia’s reputation… and both of their lives.

 So what are you most thankful for? And who’s your favorite James Bond actor? I’d love to hear your views, so please share!

Tina Gabrielle

A SPY UNMASKED – Out Now!

You can find me at:

 www.tinagabrielle.com

 http://twitter.com/tinagabrielle

 https://www.facebook.com/TinaGabrielle

In The Barrister's Bed InTheBarristersChambers Original Artwork A Perfect Scandal LADYOFSCANDAL Cover

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

Housekeeping and Editing…Two Challenging Tasks!

I admit I’m not much of a housekeeper. I know mothers that excel at having a well-kept home. I’ve stopped by to drop my kids off at scheduled play dates or even unexpectedly to sell Girl Scout cookies and have been invited into homes that are often tidy and beautiful. I do clean, but more often than not, there are toys strewn about, and my office/playroom is well…just plain messy.

MessyDesk

One rainy afternoon, I was mumbling under my breath while cleaning out closets when my hubby walked in and said, “What’s the big deal? Think of it as cleaning up your manuscript after the first draft.” I dropped the trash bag stuffed with kids’ clothes intended for Goodwill, and looked up at him in shock. As an engineer and introvert, he’s definitely on the quiet side, but sometimes he blurts out very helpful and insightful things. I started thinking and came to the conclusion he was totally on point.

So what do cleaning the house and editing your book really have in common? It turns out to be a whole lot.

Read the entire manuscript in one sitting

Get the feel for the story. Resist marking the pages and making notes in the margins. Just read for the content. This will reveal overwriting, sections that need more explanation, or unfinished plot points. It’s similar to walking through the house and noting what needs to be cleaned, which closets need to be organized, and how big of a task you have ahead of you.
(more…)

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.
(more…)

Things This Writer Is Thankful For

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! I don’t know about you but in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, it’s more apparent than ever how much I have to be thankful for. Nothing like the biggest and worst storm on record to make you appreciate the little things in life.

Here’s a short list of the things I’m thankful for in my writing life…

The Internet

Research can be fun, but it can also be a major time suck. I’m so grateful for all the wonderful historical blogs and sites that make it easier to find the nuggets of information I need. Google Books is worth its weight in gold for first person historical accounts.
(more…)

Following the Trends

Boeken Kringloop Woerden 02

On a recent trip home, my uncle asked me, “There’s no chance your pen name is E.L. James, is there? Ha, ha, ha.” (Yes, I know. Comedy runs deep in my family.) “I wish,” I answered sincerely, thinking of my mortgage. “Well, why don’t you write a book like that?” someone else asked me.

Yeah, I thought. Why don’t I write an erotic romance? Thanks to authors like Anne Rice, Lora Leigh, Lauren Dane, and Maya Banks, I’m very familiar with the genre. And it’s hot, hot, hot! right now, due to Fifty Shades.

But do I want to write a story because the genre is trending…or write the story most suited to my voice?

Which is not to say it can’t be both. I don’t think there’s any harm in trying to write in a different genre as long as you are willing to abandon it if it doesn’t feel right. Like trying on a pair of skinny jeans, hoping they fit, but putting them back on the shelf because all they do is emphasize your muffin top. (Note: This has SO not happened to me.) You may discover a talent for an untried genre. Plus, learning to adapt your voice to different genres seems to be the best way expand your talent as a writer.

Agent Rachelle Gardner says the only way to make a living as a writer is through volume and variety. To think you’re going to write one book that’s going to sell millions of copies is unrealistic. Yes, it happens to a lucky few. But for the rest of us, we’ve got to learn how to write many sellable, marketable books over different genres. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it?

That said, I don’t want to jump into every publishing fad that comes along, either. I would be hard pressed to ever write a paranormal, for example. Or an Amish romance (which I was told at RWA ’11 are very popular). My brain isn’t wired that way and that would be some Herculean flexing of my writing muscle.

It’s tricky. As newbies, we’re told, “Write a unique story that is riveting and polished, and it will find an audience,” but is that really true? Sure, self-publishing makes this idea slightly more plausible. But there are gatekeepers in publishing, whether it’s an agent or an editor, and they know what is selling and what’s still sitting on the shelves. You may have an outstanding vampire story on your hands, but no one’s buying it because the genre has been labeled as dead by industry insiders. (Pun intended.) Then what?

So in your writing journeys, how have you grappled with the trends? Let us know! Anyone who leaves a comment in the next four weeks will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift certificate, courtesy of the Femmes.

  • Recent Releases by the Femmes

  • JB Schroeder

  • Joanna Shupe

  • Tina Gabrielle

  • Maria K. Alexander

  • Michele Mannon

  • Diana Quincy

  • RoseAnn DeFranco

  • The Femmes:

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 13,645 other followers

  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Stuff