I had written my first book in the fifth grade as part of a class project and I knew then that I wanted to one day be a writer. Of course, my parents had different ideas and being the dutiful daughter, I took a slight detour, but even during that detour, I always made stops along the road to continue writing. During college and then law school, my pile of books to read and novel were always at my side until finally, after my daughter was born, I decided to commit to becoming published. I felt I had accomplished many things except one – following the dream in my heart.
With that dream firmly in my mind, I devoted more time to my writing and learning more about my craft. I ended up taking an adult education class taught by none other than Fern Michaels, a New York Times best-selling author. She also turned out to be a neighbor at time which was quite exciting. Fern was delightful as a teacher and very down to earth. She also surprised me by asking for my manuscript when the class was over – she wanted to send it to her editor because she thought I had potential.
I was floored and so happy. Fern did send it out, but it wasn’t quite right for her publisher who asked me to write something contemporary. I tackled that and a two years later, had a new book. I sent that one out repeatedly, but it didn’t sell. In the meantime, I had started work on yet another book when I attended a NJRW conference (a great conference by the way. This year it’s on Oct 5 and 6). I met Gwynne Forster there and we started talking about our projects. She told me to send my book back to Kensington and I did. A few weeks later I got a letter saying that while that book was too long, did I have another. Included in the letter were a set of guidelines. I knew my new novel would work and sent it out.
It sold and eventually I would sell another 7 to Kensington. A success story some might say, and yes, it was until the line I was writing for folded.
By then I was in the mood to write something darker and started a vampire story. I began to shop it around and all I heard was, “It’ll never sell. No one is buying vampires.”
That didn’t stop me. I had to write this book and I did over a Christmas break. I shopped it around some more and ran into a Harlequin editor who I knew. She asked me what I was working on and I explained, only I knew it wasn’t right for them. Imagine my surprise when she said, “Send it.” I did and after many months of negotiations and revisions, Harlequion acquired what would become the first book in the ongoing THE CALLING vampire novels (I am working on another 3 for 2008 and 2009 which will bring it 10 books in the series).
So, what was I to do next? I’d done contemporary romances and was starting to build a name in paranormals. I needed a change of pace and decided I wanted to do a story about female relationships. Four friends actually in sexy South Beach . I had an agent by then and was certain that editors would receive it well and so with the synopsis and three chapters done, we sent it off.
What happened? Editors knew I could write a romance and I could write vampires, but could I write something about relationships? I quickly found out I had to write the entire book. Not easy to do when you are already working a full-time job, but I went home and so as to not lose momentum, worked on that book every free hour I had.
A month later, the book was done and within a few weeks, I had accepted an offer from Simon & Schuster for that book – SEX AND THE SOUTH BEACH CHICAS – and three others. SOUTH BEACH CHICAS CATCH THEIR MAN is the follow-up to the first story. I knew when I had finished the first book that the stories of all the friends were not yet over. In particular, I wanted to explore the relationship between Sylvia and Carlos, but also, the relationship between Sylvia and her mother, Virginia, since it reminded me so much of the friendship and love that my mom and I had shared. Plus, I wanted to show that forty-something women could be sexy!
I guess the moral of this story is – never give up. The publishing road is one filled with detours, bumps and sometimes immense potholes, but if writing is your passion, you’ll find a way to navigate around those obstacles and keep to your journey.
Author of SOUTH BEACH CHICAS CATCH THEIR MAN
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