Dana Romanin’s Path to Publication

Today Dana Romanin has stopped by the blog to share her Path to Publication story. Without further ado, here’s Dana…

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SONY DSCYou’ll read in my bio that when I was little I would sit under a grove of forsythia bushes and pretend that I was Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I did sit under the bush with ants crawling on my leg and dream of being a writer. But, dear reader, that’s all I did—dream.

I rarely wrote. I spent most of the time dreaming about what it would be like to be a writer.

When I actually tried to write under that forsythia bush, I was rudely ripped from my pretend Anne world with the cruel reality of how difficult writing can be.

But I still dreamed of writing.

I wrote stories, rewrote the endings of books, and continued stories long after I finished reading them—in my mind.

This went on throughout my high school years and soon it was time for me to head to college. I got into Virginia Tech.  Since I only seemed capable of writing in my mind I thought it best to get a degree in business. I decided to major in marketing management and minor in psychology. Little did I know at the time how much those majors would actually help me in my writing career.

After college, I was an analyst for a consulting firm in Washington D.C. I remember one day when one of my managers complimented me on my writing skills. To me, that was one of the best compliments I could have gotten. Even if it was about testing a new billing system for a major telephone company. I yawned just writing that last sentence.

I got married and jumped at the chance to work from home as a sales engineer. I sold fixtures to manufacturing plants to test circuit boards. Huh. What happened? I dozed off there for a second.

But I still dreamed of writing.

Writing a book seemed impossible. I’d start a book. Then stop in exasperation. It was just too doggone hard.

After having my first child, I quit my sales engineer job because it involved a lot of travel and did I mention it was boring? Anyway, I settled in to be a stay-at-home mom.

But I still dreamed of writing.

I started taking an at home course on writing children’s books. But I stopped. It was too time-consuming.

And then I got involved with helping out with my church’s youth group. And, dear reader, teens are in a world of hurt.

Fast forward about ten years, three kids, way too many pets, a bazillion youth group meetings, and I finally found my “why.”

Why I wanted to write. And that made all the difference.

You see before I was writing for myself. But about six years ago, I discovered that I wanted to write for teens. To make them happy. To make them smile. To give them hope.

Once I discovered my “why” nothing would stop me. I attended conferences. I read every book I could on writing. I got involved in a critique group. Entered contests. Started a website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Wattpad. Basically, I went social media crazy. But most importantly, I focused on developing my writing skills.

I no longer dreamed about writing. I actually wrote.

It took about six years of writing, critiquing, social media frenzy, and going to conferences until I finally caught my break. I entered one of my books, Abby’s Letters, in the ACFW Genesis Contest and it semi-finaled. Soon after, I got my agent, Cyle Young, and my contract at Clean Reads publishing for Abby’s Letters.

My story isn’t over, of course. I still have a lot of writing to do. But now that I know my “why ” I’m not going to stop—not while there are young adults out there in this world who could use a laugh or even a good cry.

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Abby’s Letters Back Cover Copy:

For years, Jane’s mom told her horror stories about her time spent in foster care. Now she’s determined to keep her little sister from suffering the same fate.

Seventeen-year-old Jane Sanders has had to take care of her alcoholic mother and little sister, Abby, since her dad died seven years ago. And now Mom had to go and die too. Authorities determine it was a homeless transient who died in the fire of the old manufacturing plant, but Jane knows the truth.

There is no way she’s going to let Abby go into foster care which leaves her with one option—fake her mom’s life. As far as Abby knows, their mom is in rehab. And Jane wants to keep it that way. She’d be eighteen in a few months then she could become legal guardian to her sister. With the help of her best friend, Clark, it should be easy, right?

Juggling nosy neighbors, a concerned school counselor, and an oblivious new boyfriend turns out to be harder than Jane thought. But the real problem begins when Abby starts writing letters to Mom. Through Abby’s letters, Jane sees a different side to their mom—a side she could have loved. And loving Mom is something she didn’t plan on. Because loving somebody makes it harder to ignore their death.

Buy Links:

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Endorsements:

“Heart-wrenching, beautiful, and complex, Abby’s Letters is an exquisitely written treatise on mother-daughter relationships, forgiveness, and love. Romanin skillfully tells this fragile family’s story with tenderness and grace, highlighting the interplay of a young woman’s painful past, uncertain future, and unflinching sisterly devotion. Each moment in this novel is a treasure shaped by masterful prose and lyrical storytelling. Do not miss this book. This is a story that should be read by anyone who is a mother or who loves one.”

–Megan Whitson Lee, author of Suburban Dangers and the award-winning novel, Captives.

“Dana Romanin’s debut novel is a poignant tale of love and lives lost, and one girl’s attempt to keep what’s left of her family together, despite all the odds. A wonderful and thought-provoking read.”

–Diana Sharples, young adult author of Running Lean.

“Dana Romanin debuts on the YA scene with a heartfelt story of holding on, letting go, and growing up. I was immediately invested in the characters and was hooked from the beginning until the very end. Romanin has a fresh, authentic voice that delivers for YA readers of any age.”
–Nicole Quigley, award-winning author of Like Moonlight at Low Tide

 

Author Bio:

Dana Romanin has dreamed of being a writer since she was a little girl pretending to be Anne Shirley (from Anne of Green Gables). She used to write under a forsythia bush, but now she writes in a messy office that she shares with her sewing obsessed daughter.

Dana’s short story, The Silence of Sand, was chosen for adaptation into a short film performed by the Blue Man Group. Dana has also published short fiction for teens in Encounter—The Magazine and had a short story published in a Family Fiction anthology, The Story 2014. Her first novel, Abby’s Letters, releases in June 2017.

She lives in a small town near the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia with her wonderful husband, three beautiful kids, and a lot of persnickety pets.

You can find her blog and awkward videos on her website http://www.DanaRomanin.com. She can also be found on Twitter (@DanaRomanin) and her Facebook fan page (DanaRomaninAuthor).

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Path to Publication: Jennifer Froelich

Today’s Path to Publication post is by fellow Clean Reads author, Jennifer Froelich. Without further ado, here’s Jennifer…

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First TypewriterMy mom bought me a blue typewriter for my tenth birthday, not too long after I had hand-written a story about a group of kids who solved a mystery involving a rich old lady, a spooky manor, and a priceless diamond. With my new typewriter, I went on to write another story about a little girl who found a magical rainbow bridge outside her bedroom window, which she crossed to a secret island in the sky.

You might think I knew then that I wanted to be a novelist. I didn’t. I wanted to be a nurse, then a doctor, then, briefly, an NFL cheerleader. As I grew, my career goals constantly changed. I wanted to teach, I wanted to be an interior designer, then an architect. When I joined choir in high school I was good enough to imagine a career on the stage, but not good enough for those aspirations to last. After that, my love of sewing inspired an interest in fashion design, and I dreamed of an exclusive boutique with rich clients who wore my one-of-a-kind designs.

But when I graduated from high school, none of those fantastic ideas stuck. Instead, I decided I would be practical and chose a major that would lead to good money: accounting. It took me a couple of years to admit (out loud) that balancing spreadsheets was not for me. The idea of writing novels was starting to break free from my subconscious at that point, but I was still too practical to pursue it head on. Instead, I changed my major to journalism, reasoning that I could find solid work by writing, even if I wasn’t writing fiction.

I’m happy with the degree I earned. Because of my degree in journalism, I have been able to take on editorial jobs to augment my creative writing through the years. I also learned a lot of valuable research and interview skills, along with the rules of newsworthiness, which are great to consider, even when writing a novel.

After graduating from college, I immediately became a mother, which prompted me to take on those freelance writing jobs while I raised my kids. For years, I subcontracted for a Writer’s Digest book doctor: editing, proofreading, critiquing and ghostwriting for other aspiring writers. Seeing what worked (and what didn’t) for those writers was a great learning experience for me while I worked on my own fiction.

My debut novel, Dream of Me, is about two strangers who meet in shared dreams, which motivates them to try and find each other in the real world. The concept came to me after I had an odd dream myself and wondered if the person I dreamed about was somewhere else in the world, sharing that same dream. When I finished writing it, I shared it with my book doctor client and he loved it, so I started sending query letters to literary agents. I gave up somewhere after 100. Some of the agents were encouraging (great concept, keep trying, etc.) others just sent a form rejection letter without so much as a private address. (A letter beginning with “Dear author” is never something you want to pull out of your mailbox). So I put Dream of Me in a box and began to write another book.

I can’t remember why I decided to set my second novel in Mexico. But when I started researching the Copper Canyon and the legends of the Aztec people, I knew that’s where my story should take place. Eventually, I wrote Sacrifices, a story about two former lovers who are reunited as FBI and Mexican Federal agents, working together to find a serial killer who believes he is a reincarnated Aztec god. Ultimately, I changed my title to A Place Between Breaths, based on a marksmanship term that echoed themes in the story.

Right about that time, I was approached by a small publishing house looking for new titles. I was excited about the prospect, but wary of their inexperience. I decided to show them Dream of Me and see what they thought. They offered me a contract. Unfortunately, my wariness ended up being justified. I spent several months rewriting and editing my manuscript, only to have the owners close shop just as I was finished. I was devastated, but after crying and moping for a while, I thought: The book is done and edited. Why don’t I just self-publish it? So that’s what I did. I remember getting my first review, in which the reader wrote: “I was completely mesmerized by this book!” That’s still one of my favorite memories – reading a perfect stranger’s words, praising mine. I had readers! My book had fans!

After that, I tried to find an agent for A Place Between Breaths, but found that the publishing world had only gotten more difficult to navigate. Most respected agents had full client lists, and those who were seeking new talent were not interested in my suspense novel. After a few almost-but-not-quite-perfect connections, I decided to self-publish again. I had learned a lot from my experience with Dream of Me and the process went much more smoothly. Once again, I was getting great reviews and building a small, but loyal readership.

Marketing books while trying to write another one has always been the most difficult thing about this business, and that was no exception as I continued to try and sell Dream of Me and A Place Between Breaths while writing my third novel, Stealing Liberty. It didn’t help that this novel, in multiple ways, was going to be more challenging than the other two.

In the first place, I was breaking the rule of sticking with one genre: Stealing Liberty was going to be a young adult novel. It was also a dystopian story, which had already peaked in popularity with The Hunger Games and the Divergent series. Stealing Liberty needed to be a series as well, so what were the chances readers would care about three books, let alone one, if dystopian fiction was already on the way out? Add to that the fact that Stealing Liberty would feature a Christian character (which never, ever happens in popular mainstream fiction) and once again, I faced the possibility of writing a book that no one was interested in publishing.

But I had to write it. I loved the story, I thought it was important and relevant, and ultimately decided that even if I was faced with only self-publication again, it was something I had to see through. As I feared, when I finished writing it and began to query literary agents, I received multiple rejections.

Then one day, I got a call from Cyle Young at Hartline Literary. He was interested in the story, but wanted to make sure I was as serious about the work in front of me as I had been about writing the novel in the first place. We went through several rounds of edits together, focused entirely on the first three chapters (some of which I am almost convinced were designed to see how thick-skinned I was.) Keeping my cool and working hard paid off, though, and Hartline offered me a contract. After I signed, Cyle and his intern, Tessa Hall, worked with me to create a solid book proposal, which they sent out to every young adult publisher in the business.

Then came another round of rejections. Again, I learned how fluid the publishing world can be. Contracts are often offered because a story hits some specific niche that is hot right at that moment, be it pirates or princesses, androids, or shepherds (I made that last one up – the last book I read about shepherds was Far from the Madding Crowd – not exactly recent.) But regardless, the writing has to be impeccable and the subject, plot and characters exactly what those publishers are looking for at exactly the right time. As it turned out, I was right to be concerned about how my Christian character would be received. She was the only sticking point for every major publisher we approached – even the “Christian” ones, curiously, who are more and more pushing away from any mention of Jesus in favor of a simple clean-reading model.

But then Cyle received an offer from a small press called Clean Reads. The publisher said her intake reader called Stealing Liberty one of the best she had read. And since they were not scared away by my Christian character, we negotiated a publishing contract.

Stealing Liberty was released in June and the response has been fantastic. Readers love it, it’s getting great reviews, and I am in the process of writing the sequel. Along the way I’ve learned these truths about the publishing industry: First, writing is paramount. It has to be good in every way, just to get your foot in the door. Second, everything takes more work than you imagine it will: writing, editing, marketing, social media management – all of it. Third, there are millions of books out there to read – too many for any one person to read in one lifetime, which means yours – as amazing as it may be – will get buried under a pile of distraction. There’s no magic way to gain readers. You do it day by day, word by word, reader by reader.

But the payoff? Having readers respond so positively to your characters and story. Readersfavorite.com recently gave Stealing Liberty a five-star review. The reviewer wrote: “When I finished the novel, I wanted to give it a round of applause…”

That’s why I do what I do.

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When Reed Paine is sent to a secret detention school for teens whose parents are branded enemies of the state, he doesn’t expect to find friendship – especially after coming face to face with Riley Paca, a girl who has every reason to hate him.

But when Reed, Riley and a few others start reading the old books they find in tunnels under the school, they begin to question what they are taught about the last days of America and the gov-ernment that has risen in its place.

Then the government decides to sell the Liberty Bell and Reed and his friends risk everything to steal it – to take back their history and the liberty that has been stolen from them.

Buy Links:

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About the Author

Jennifer Froelich’s new novel, STEALING LIBERTY, is now available from Clean Reads books. Readers praised her debut novel, Dream of Me, as well-orchestrated with outstanding imagery. Her second novel, A Place Between Breaths, was called a roller-coaster ride with enough twists and turns to keep everyone interested and awarded an Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest’s 23rd Annual Self Published Book competition. Jennifer worked for many years as a freelance editor and ghost writer before publishing her own work. She lives in Idaho with her husband, two children and a cat named Katniss.

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