Guest Post Day! Today’s host is Amy Mullen, a fellow Historical Romance author from Astraea Press.
Without further ado, here’s Amy.
How I Got Published
My writing career began when I was young. I started out doing what a lot of teenagers do. I wrote poems about my broken heart, and short stories about how everything was going wrong. I have a suspicion teen angst has started many a writing career!
After college, I settled into a job I thought I could do. I never had a passion for anything and I could never figure out why. I took a few jobs as a receptionist, but I was never close to happiness, or even some sort of contentment. When a neighbor gave me his old computer, and by old I mean ancient, I plugged it in and stared at it. I cannot remember why, but something in my mind said “write.” So I did.
The end result was a finished book. I still have it somewhere, along with the submission package I put together, stuffed in my closet. I spent a lot of time writing it and getting it ready to go, but deep inside I knew it was not good enough. I tried a few more but never got past six or seven chapters when the stories fizzled. I stuffed it all away and forgot about it. I wrote a few poems for Blue Mountain Arts, which were accepted for market review, but were ultimately rejected.
That was about 1995-1996.
In 2005, I was in need of some extra money. I was at home with my oldest, and through my calculations I realized any jobs I could get at the time would net about 25 dollars a week after childcare and other expenses. It didn’t make sense to do it. I started looking around online and found a company looking for web content. I knew I could do it. I signed up, my first article was accepted, and my freelance writing career began.
I wrote steadily from that point on, up until about six months ago. I cannot tell you how sick I am of SEO and article marketing. At first, I pumped out the articles, taking pride in actually putting effort into them and writing articles with value. I had a few steady clients that helped me pay the bills, and some odd projects with websites in need of content. It was great to write for a living, but my heart was not in it.
When my son (now almost four) was born three months early, I took my first real break from what I was doing. During that time, I realized how robotic it had become and how much I was starting to hate it. I loved writing, I just couldn’t write about BBQ grills and credit cards any longer. When my son was about a year old, the old need to write for myself popped back up. I started writing again. This time, I decided I needed to write what made me happy.
I wrote my current release, A Stormy Knight, a few hours at a time, while my son slept and my oldest child attended school. I wrote until one in the morning, or would sneak in a half an hour whenever I could. I sent the beginning to a friend, who quickly pointed out I was writing in the wrong tense. Oops! It took me a few years to get it done because I had so much going on, but when I finished, I finally felt I had found what was missing from my writing in the past.
I revised it. I edited it countless times, perhaps too many times. Once I was happy – and I use that word loosely as I don’t think any writer is ever happy with the end result – I sent it out to Harlequin. If you are going to dream, you might as well dream big, right? While my baby was out sitting in someone’s inbox, I started my second book. I queried a few agents. I received one rejection and the other two did not bother to respond.
An excruciating nine months later I got my rejection from Harlequin.
As rejections go, it was pretty nice, even though they had the wrong name on the email. The book name was correct though. They complimented my writing style and my ability to conjure the time period authentically, but it was not what they were looking for. I was lamenting my rejection with a friend, when she suggested her publisher. There was one sticking point – it was a clean house. This meant no explicit sex or language.
A light bulb went off in my head. I made a bad assumption when I wrote my book. I assumed you could not sell a romance without adjectives like ‘throbbing’ included. There were two of those scenes in my book and I hated writing them. I don’t mind them when reading, but I tend to scan them rather than read them word for word. The more I thought about a clean version of my book, the more excited I got.
I submitted to Astraea Press just a week later. I received a reply about a week and a half after that. Stephanie liked my writing and my premise, but there were some problems. If I would be willing to rework the book, she would be happy to look at it again. I knew I was lucky. Most would have just rejected it, but I got a second chance. The major problem was I was head-hopping. Oops again! If you have ever read something with POV that shifts from paragraph to paragraph, you know how hard it is to read. I had made a colossal mistake!
I researched head-hopping and got back to work. I used every spare moment, and did not feel bad about bribing my husband for more time so I could get it done. With my heart thumping and a good luck kiss from both of my children, I resubmitted to Astraea Press. I got a reply quickly, with a contract attached. It was a memorable moment – and it was also 12:30 at night. I was alone, the kids were sleeping, and my husband was running sound for a band. I had no one to tell. As I sat there, I started to cry. It may sound simple – getting a contract on the second try, but it took me nearly twenty years to get there.
Unable to hold it in, I called my husband. He answered, but the music in the background was loud. I burst into tears again as I excitedly told him my good news. He could not understand me. I feel bad about this now, because he ran outside to call me back. He thought something was wrong with the kids. But no, for a change, nothing was wrong. In fact, finally – it was great.
Book Back Blurb:
In twelfth century England, Gemma de Vere and Nicholas de Reymes find love at a young age. Too naïve to truly understand what is happening, their fledgling relationship is torn apart by political games and scheming minds. Nicholas and his family disappear into the night and Gemma is left with a shattered heart.
Seven years later, Gemma still harbors a broken heart, and retreats into a life in which she will not be foolish enough to fall in love again. Mysterious deaths and accidents begin to plague those living within the walls of Blackstone Castle, and her father falls ill. She has no choice but to seek the assistance of King Henry.
Help arrives in the form of her childhood love, the handsome and imposing Nicholas, who is now a fierce and loyal knight bent on revenge. The pain and anguish he feels over the fate of his family casts Gemma as his enemy. To him, she represents all the misfortune in his life as he tries to keep her at arm’s length and far away from his heart.
Their journey towards truth is riddled with treachery and danger from an unlikely source. Will they find their way back to each other, or will his need for revenge outweigh the love he feels in her arms?
“You defy me,” he said as he spun around to face her, “and you do it at every opportunity. You have caused me great pain, and I will have no more of it. You lead my men astray and cause them to be weak. I cannot be lord with you undermining my authority within these walls!”
Gemma steadied her voice, her only option clear, “I shall leave then. I will go to my uncle in Wales. We shall remain married. There is nothing that can change that, so your hold on this land is secure. ‘Tis all you care for. I once loved it here, but living with a man who does not know how to trust me is too much to bear.”
“You are my wife, like it or hate it, and you will do as you are told! You will stay out of my way, and you will not step foot outside of the keep until I say so.” His entire body was tense, his voice harsh.
“Nay,” she said while lifting her chin, “I shall leave. What you do not know, Nicholas de Reymes, is that I love you.”
He froze as she spoke but did not say anything.
“And because of that love” she continued, tears falling in earnest, “I can no longer abide this life. For the second time, loving you has been a mistake. My feelings betray me, and they anger you. I will be gone before I cause you more pain. I will take Isabel with me, and my father can come when he is up to travel. All I ask is you treat him well in my absence.”
“You will do no such thing!” he said. “It makes no sense, and I will not have you telling me what you are going to do. You are my wife, and you will do as I say. I will keep you safe, and I cannot do that if you are not here.”
“‘Tis not up to you,” she said, her voice low, “and you will not stop me. I love you, but I must be stronger than love. I realize now you feel I am the cause of all pain here. ‘Tis only right I lift the burden and leave so all who reside here are safe.” She abruptly left the room, unable to face him for a moment longer.
Amy Mullen is a freelance writer and romance author living in Corning, NY, with her husband, Patrick, two children, Rayna and Haylen, and an orange cat named Steve. Her first novel is a medieval romance titled “A Stormy Knight.”
Amy has been writing about love both lost and regained since she was old enough to have her first broken heart. Her love of history and her intermittent jaunts into amateur genealogy led her to a love affair with writing historical fiction. When not writing, she snaps pictures, enjoys the company of her children, and when time allows, loves to bury her nose in a good book.
You can buy Amy’s book at the following locations:
Barnes and Noble