Cindy Ervin Huff’s Path to Publication

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

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cindy huff 2016Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Christi. I’m happy to share my path to publication. I’ve been doing this writing thing off and on for decades.

I was first published in 3rd grade. My teacher put a poem I wrote in a mimeograph class paper. In 8th grade I wrote a very short story that the teacher encouraged me to submit to a contest. I didn’t win or even place, but I was hooked. I spent my high school years on the newspaper staff and writing lots of skits for Thespians to perform at a variety of functions. Over the years my writing has evolved with life. While my children were young, I wrote for children’s magazines and radio programs. I’d started a novel many years before my debut Secrets & Charades that is probably in a file somewhere. My mind has always been full of stories. As a teen, I used to put myself to sleep plotting an episode of a favorite TV show. I’d talk to characters in the shower, too. Wait. I still do.

After stepping out into the work force, I put writing aside for another decade. God got my attention about 15 years ago and redirected me back to writing. I wasn’t sure it was His voice, so I put out a fleece and he answered by providing the funds to take courses through the Christian Writer’s Guild. I knew I was rusty and publishing had changed. I’d never written a novel before and knew I need some instruction.  After completing the courses and the first draft of my historical romance, there were years of rewriting and submitting my debut novel to publishers. Those were times when I wanted to quit, days of directing my attention to blog posts, figuring out social media, and writing lots of on-line articles.  Let me see, twenty or so rejections later my novel won the Editor’s Choice Award and a contract with LPC. I’m thrilled to say my historical romance Secrets & Charades recently won third Place in the Maxwell Awards.

Random factoids about me

I was a military brat. Which means I’ve developed the ability to meet strangers and engage them in conversation. Military families move a lot. As kids, my sisters and I made friends quickly and a few years later made new ones. I call myself an introverted extravert. I like interacting with people. I’ll strike up a conversation with random strangers, but I love my time to myself. I’m ok with being alone.

I think I’m addicted to tea. No one actually admits their addictions but hey, I talk to random strangers. I’ll drink hot tea all year long. I even have a tea ball, so I can drink the “good stuff,” the loose-leaf variety from England, India and China. I’m also a chocoholic. That’s common among women so I’m not embarrassed to admit it.

The Story behind New Duet

I’m excited about my newest release New Duet. It’s a contemporary romance set in Aurora, Illinois where I have lived for over 40 years. We have a large immigrant population from around the world, and generational neighborhoods. Our downtown has a great artist niche and some fun restaurants. The Paramount Theater built in the 1931 and on the National Historic Register has great Broadway performances. Aurora is a wonderful backdrop for my story.

Widow Isabella Wilson is still recovering from her abusive marriage when she joins her sister in Aurora. Dan Sweeney attends the local college after leaving the army career he loved, to find a new life with his disability. Isabella hopes to rediscover her muse and her identity in Christ as she heals from her past. Dan is trying to adapt to his new normal.  Together they help each other while resisting their attraction.

The inspiration came when I was standing on the platform during a worship service. My writer’s mind said what if the worship leader dropped dead. No, I had no ill-will toward my friend.  But I’m sure a drama from the past was the seed for the idea. During a leadership meeting many years ago a visiting missionary dropped dead from an aneurism during the meeting. He finished what he had to say and went instantly into the presence of His Savior. It was traumatic for the men in the meeting. The seed of the idea evolved around the worship leader’s wife.  That sent my mind spinning to develop the character of Isabella. The heart of her story is to inspire abused women to break out of their circumstance and move on.

But who would be the hero?  I had a conversation with my son who left the army to go to college due to a medical condition he developed while in the military. He has a heart for veterans and understood about PTSD and trying to rebuild a life after the military. So, I gave former Army sergeant Dan some disabilities and a desire to find his new normal. My son showed me a video of a veteran and his service dog. Then I decided Dan needed Brutus, a German Shepherd/Pitbull mix to help him. Both breeds have been a part of our family. So, Brutus has a mixed pedigree.  Again, my goal in creating the character of Dan is to give the physically wounded hope that God works all things together. Both Isabella and Dan will learn the past doesn’t need to haunt the present.

A word of wisdom to aspiring writer

Be patient, it takes time. While you wait for that first break, learn all you can. Be part of a critique group, and join an online writers group. Subscribe to blogs and writing magazines. Read, read, read craft books and lots of novels in the genre you want to write in. Immerse yourself in the writing craft. Attend writers conferences to meet authors, editors and agents. Tell yourself every day, I am a writer.

Upcoming release

I have a novella coming out in The Cowboys novella collection, released through LPC in August 2019.

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Back Cover Copy for New Duet:

Isabella Melinda Wilson has been squeezed into the music ministry model of her controlling husband’s making. Before she can leave him, he leaves her a guilt-ridden widow. Her mother-in-law is no comfort and presses the guilt button at every turn. Isabella flees to her sister’s home in search of her own identity and a new beginning.

Dan Sweeney has one goal. Be as normal as possible. After losing a leg, some fingers and his self-worth, he needs his service dog Brutus to help keep his PTSD at bay. Career-less and clueless about the future, he struggles to put his life back together.

Isabella isn’t looking for a new relationship and Dan feels unworthy of one. Can these two broken people heal into one whole love?

Buy Link for New Duet

Amazon

 

About Cindy:

Cindy Ervin Huff is a multi-published writer and her debut novel Secret’s and Charades won the Editor’s Choice Award in 2014 and placed third in the Maxwell Awards in 2017. Her contemporary romance New Duet released in May 2018. She has been featured in numerous periodicals over the last thirty years. Cindy is a member of ACFW and founding member of the Aurora, Illinois, chapter of Word Weavers. Although she has been creating stories in her head since childhood it wasn’t until high school those imaginary characters began appearing on paper. After raising her family, she began her novel writing adventures. Cindy loves to encourage new writers on their journey. She and her husband make their home in Aurora, Illinois. They have five children and six grandchildren.

 

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Rachel Magee’s Path to Publication

Today I’m excited to have Rachel Magee here, sharing her Path to Publication story. Without further ado, here’s Rachel…

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Rachel Magee author photoIt’s hard to say when I started writing because I don’t remember not writing. As early as elementary school I was scribbling stories on notebooks in my free time. I wrote my first novel length book when I was twelve and entered it in a contest for young writers. I would make my friends plot out stories with me and spent hours curled up with my favorite pen and trusty spiral notebook.

But never during any of that time did I ever consider being a published author. To me, published authors were superheroes, the rare elite who were predestined to be famous and possessed special super writing powers. I was just me. My stories weren’t special. I wrote them because I couldn’t not write them, because my happy place was in front of a computer making characters come alive.

Then, one day my husband was transferring files to my new computer and asked if I ever thought about trying to get them published. I told him my superhero theory, to which he responded with a simple sentence that changed the way I thought about my writing.

“Every published author started out unpublished.”

Huh. So I decided to give it a shot. That week, when I was at the public library with my kids, I checked out three books on how to write and publish a novel. There were so many words I didn’t know it made my head spin. Critique partner, beta readers, query letters, synopsis writing. I had a lot to learn!

About a year after that, I sent out my first query letter. Daily, I checked my email in eager anticipation of my future as a published author. It should come as no surprise to anyone in the writing community that the answer to that first query was no. Along with the responses to a whole lot of queries after that. But because my kids were watching me go through this journey, I wasn’t willing to give up. I wanted to be the example of working hard to achieve your goals not the example of throwing in the towel when it got hard. Although between us, it was much tougher than I had imagined.

One day, my critique partner told me about a publisher she’d heard of who would be a perfect fit for me. Then she called every day after that to see if I had submitted to them. I finally did it just so she would talk about something else. And guess what? That publisher offered me my first contract!

I can’t describe the day I got the final galley of Happily Ever Afters. The book was so beautiful with the fancy cover, the real copyright page, and my name in big letters on the front. As it turned out, published authors weren’t superheroes. They were people like you and me who had stories in our heads and the persistence to see our dreams to fruition. And maybe we have a dash of super powers, too. After all, every book holds a little bit of magic.

Happy writing, friends.

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Lainey Stratton does not fall in love with strangers she meets on vacation. It simply doesn’t make logical sense. So when Lainey meets Carter Thompson on the first day of her Caribbean vacation, she knows it could never amount to anything more than a crush.  At the end of the vacation she will return to Dallas and he will return to DC, and that will be the end of it. Well, unless he wants to join her at a friend’s destination wedding, which would be considered vacation too, right?

But when an unexpected tragedy sends Lainey’s logical world spiraling out of control, she realizes her vacation crush might be the only one who can help her pick up the pieces of her shattered life.  That is, as long as she can get out of the way of her own happiness.  And as long as Carter’s past doesn’t catch up with him before she gets a chance.

Buy Links:

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Ibook

About the Author:

Rachel wrote her first novel when she was twelve and entered it into a contest for young author/illustrators. Unfortunately, the judges weren’t impressed with her stick figures. So she dropped the dream of becoming a world famous illustrator and stuck to spinning stories. When she’s not busy working on her latest book, she loves to travel with her family and friends. By far, her favorite destination is the beach, which tends to work its way into most of her stories.

Between vacations, you can find her at home in The Woodlands, TX with her wonderful husband, their two adventurous kids and a couple of spirited pets, all of whom share Rachel’s love of the ocean. Well, except the cat and dog. They’re both afraid of water. Find out more about what Rachel has been up to at rachelmageebooks.com.

Connect with Rachel:

Website: rachelmageebooks.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rachelmageeauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rachell_magee

Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/2/100755997821645118769

 

Kim Turner: Path to Publication

Today I’m excited to have Kim Turner hosting my blog and sharing her Path to Publication story. Without further ado, here’s Kim…

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IMG_0025[1]In 2001 I attended Georgia Romance Writers Moonlight and Magnolias conference so I could spend time with a friend of mine from childhood, Sherrilyn Kenyon. I had often thought about writing a novel but at that time a lot was going on in my life but I did go home thinking I would start on an idea for a story that I had been tossing around in my head for a long time. So I got home and started writing like a maniac…all three chapters and then it sat there.

 

Fast forward ten years and I had completed my Masters, got married, had a daughter, adopted a daughter from China, and life was rolling right along. But somehow that story continued to build inside my head and so in 2011 I pulled it back out determined to finish. And in eight months I had completed not only one story but three and they were all over 160,000 words each…little did I know about writing romance at that time.
So I called up Sherri and said , “Hey? Guess what? I have written three novels, a series of old west brothers. What do I do next?” I mean I was ready to take the world by storm…I had completed three stories and it had been great fun.
Well when I think of it now, she should have laughed at me but she didn’t. She listened to my ideas and what I had to tell her and then she suggested I join Romance Writer’s of America and Georgia Romance Writers so I could network and learn the craft. “Oh.” I remember saying but I was gonna take the world by surprise.
So I did what she said and joined and began going to meetings and taking notes and learning. And it didn’t take me long to realize those three stories were all right but in no way would be what romance editors would want. I knew this partly because when I attended M&M once more in 2012 I pitched the first story to two editors, one who bit my head clean off and handed it back to me and another who was incredibly nice–both of who asked for the manuscript that I never sent.
The reason was I had learned enough at GRW meetings to know my stories weren’t what they needed to be. So I opened a new word document and started on a mail-order-bride meets sheriff story with intentions of writing within the little box that romance editors preferred. I also went to meetings and conferences and learned from other writers and authors and I paid attention and studied the craft. I was determined to make it happen. That story is what is now Sawyer’s Rose.
I pitched that story about 13 times with the typical “we could not identify with your voice” rejections coming in one by one over the next two years.
But then on Jan. 12, 2015 I was at work on my lunch break glancing at emails…and there was one from The Wild Rose Press. I ignored it at first not sure I wanted the rest of my day suck because it was another rejection. But curiosity and wondering if there was an inkling of a chance got the better of me. I remember sitting there and reading the email over and over as it just would not compute in this brain of mine. I was being offered a contract on the story and no the rest of my day did not suck. Imagine my joy at being able to share this news with Sherri and thank her for pointing me in the right direction.
And after starting a new story and rewriting it nine times with three major story changes I was getting published. So dreams do come true but not without giving it all you have. I read and studied and listened and learned and pitched even when it scared the daylights out of me. I tell aspiring writers there are a few things I have learned along this road to getting published. The first thing is to never give up. The second is to listen and learn and study. The third one is to write what you write. Too many opinions on Sawyer’s Rose made it not even my story…so I went back and started over at an earlier point and did the story the way I wanted to–the contract came right after that. The last bit of advice I would like to offer is to keep learning and hang on tight because publication itself is quite a ride of its own!
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Kim’s books can be found as ebooks at most book sellers and in print on Amazon and with The Wild Rose Press!
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As if he doesn’t have enough to handle between running outlaws out of Cheyenne, keeping his brothers out of trouble, and avenging his father’s death, Sheriff Sawyer McCade’s meddling mother just dumped a mysterious mail-order bride on his doorstep. One woman can be more trouble than a band of renegades, and while this one has him all stirred up, he’d rather get to the bottom of the story she isn’t telling.

Rose Parker had it all—until a web of danger and deceit sends her running to Cheyenne posing as a mail-order bride. Escaping the evils of New York seems sensible until she meets the unsuspecting sheriff who didn’t ask for her, has no intention of marrying her, and won’t rest until he uncovers her secret and sends her back home.

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Bounty hunter Wyatt McCade is taking down outlaws one at a time. He’s been in love with Tess Sullivan for years, but she refuses to give in to her feelings. Reeling from the rejection of his marriage proposal, he chases bounties with little concern for his own safety. When word reaches him that Tess never left for Boston, he rides for Cheyenne to confront her. Instead, he is ambushed and left for dead.

Doctor Tess Sullivan shattered her heart by refusing Wyatt McCade’s marriage proposal and making the biggest mistake of her life, by holding onto a secret. Pining for his return, she blames herself when he arrives in Cheyenne near death. Forgiveness comes quickly in his arms, but she finds herself a pawn in a deadly game of revenge.

When McCade lands are threatened, Tess is caught in the balance. On the bounty hunt of his life, Wyatt will risk everything to rescue the woman he loves.

Author Bio:

Kim Turner writes western historical romance, and discovered her passion of writing at the age of eight by writing poems, short stories and journals. Kim graduated from Clayton State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and holds a Master’s Degree in Adult Education from Central Michigan University.

Working as a registered nurse educator for over twenty-seven years, she enjoys studying the medical treatments of the old west as well as keeping up with the latest western movies and television series. While she loves reading anything from highlanders to pirates, she claims to have an unquenchable thirst for the American Cowboy when choosing her reads.

Kim lives south of Atlanta with her husband and calls her greatest accomplishment the birth of one daughter and the adoption of another from China-neither of which came easy. Kim is a member of Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers. Kim’s Motto: It’s All About A Cowboy and the Woman He Loves.

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Laurie Germaine: Path to Publication

Today I’m excited to host fellow Clean Reads author, Laurie Germaine! She’s agreed to share her Path to Publication story. Without further ado, here’s Laurie…

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It was during those bliss-filled days in elementary school when I declared I wanted to become a published author by the time I turned forty. I don’t feel my path to publication got underway, however, until after I graduated from college, when I could give writing the focused time and attention it deserved. Of course, then I got married, had children, and got my butt whipped by postpartum depression. Despite my long-time faith in God, I sank into a cycle of negative thinking and vicious self-talk, and though I wrote as often as I could, those chains of bondage paralyzed me from ever moving my stories beyond my laptop.

Several times over the ensuing years, I would try not to write, but fail miserably—kind of like trying not to breathe and then realizing you need that life-giving gulp of air. What could I do but persist at the craft, shuffling my way down the path, my chains dragging behind me. At last, I wrote “The End” to one of my WIPs, an inspirational romance that had taken years of time, energy, and tears to write—or rather, to perfect. I set about querying some agents and publishers, but soon encountered a new problem: I was exhausted. I had grown weary of my story and its characters, and in my attempt to gain perfection with words, I had lost my joy for using them.

So, I did something I never thought I’d have the courage to do and set aside the manuscript I’d agonized over for so long. It was time to write a story just for me. Something that would renew my delight for crafting a good tale. Something fun and uplifting, that would make me giggle and, yes, give me warm fuzzies.

At the time, the holidays were approaching, and I yearned to read a Christmas story that wasn’t written for a six-year-old. I wanted the fantasy fun of Santa and his elves, but I also craved the depth of a 300-page novel. And romance. It had to have romance. When I couldn’t find anything that met those specifications, I decided to write what I wanted to read.

Long ago, my mom had given me a 1000-piece puzzle depicting Dept 56’s North Pole Series, and my imagination had been enamored with it ever since. Using the picture as a visual jumping-off point, I began brainstorming my Christmas story in February of 2013, when an ACFW online course helped me nail down and flesh out the characters. It went through four drafts over the next two and a half years, at which point I was willing to subject it to critique partners via ACFW. By the spring of ’16, with draft #5 in hand, I geared up to blaze a querying trail through the summer, determined to pitch Tinsel in a Tangle to at least 30-35 agents and publishers before taking a break and switching tactics.

I had some initial interest in the story, followed by plenty of rejections, and then there came a one-two punch in October of ’16 with Stephanie from Clean Reads offering me a contract—wahoo!—and another publishing house asking to see my full manuscript. If they accepted it, this publishing house would put my novel in brick and mortar bookstores, as well as online, so I took the extra time to see where that might go.

In the end, like the few other bites I’d gotten, the publishing house passed on Tinsel because its Christmas theme created a limited sales window in any calendar year. By then, I realized such were the breaks for an unknown, wannabe author with a slim-to-none platform trying to pitch a Christmas novel. This has made me all the more grateful to Clean Reads for giving me the opportunity to share my quirky, beloved characters beyond my circle of friends and family. And kudos to Amanda from AM Designs for an amazing cover. She captured the fun, flirty, light-hearted tone of the book perfectly, and I smile every time I see it.

So. Eighteen years. That’s how long it’s been since I graduated college and made writing one of the top priorities in my life. A longer journey than others—longer than I’d like—but God had some work to do in me. And while I haven’t fully routed the negative self-talk, I do treat myself far kinder than I used to.

But you know what’s my big take-away from this path to publication? God’s attention to detail. A few years ago, I had accepted the fact it was unlikely I’d make my published-before-forty goal, but God never forgot the desire of my heart. Just a few weeks before I turned the big 4-0, I signed the contract with Clean Reads. And on Tinsel’s release day, I’ll still be two months’ shy of forty-one. 😉

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Book Summary:

In the arctic town of Flitterndorf, generations of elves have worked alongside generations of Kringles to make gifts for believing children worldwide. Never have they endured a tall, blundering elf like Tinsel, however.

Despite her setbacks, Tinsel’s determined to prove her worth by nabbing an internship at the Workshop. But when her latest mishap destroys gift reserves and puts Christmas in jeopardy, she lands a punishment mucking reindeer stalls for Santa’s hotshot grandson, Niklas. If she wants a second chance at that internship, she must collaborate with the twinkle-eyed flirt to redeem herself in everyone’s eyes—and do it without messing up. For one more calamity will not only bring about the holiday’s demise, she’ll be immortalized as the elf who shattered children’s faith in Santa Claus. 

So not the way she wants to go down in history.

Buy Links:

Amazon           Barnes and Noble         iTunes

Author Bio:

As a New England native who once dreamed of raising her family in Europe, Laurie is a walking testimony to God’s sense of humor, since she now lives (quite happily) in Montana with her husband, two daughters, and their lovable Alaskan Malamute.

Though she’s been crafting stories from a young age, she found renewed joy once she combined her year-round love for Christmas with an unused BA in German, and the seed was sown for her debut novel, Tinsel in a Tangle. Prompted by God, she is donating all proceeds she receives from the sale of this book to helping girls rescued from sex trafficking. When she’s not immersed in her latest WIP or honing important life skills as a stay-home mom, you can find her knitting anything from clothes to toys, or creating dioramas for her 16-inch poseable dolls.

Social Media:

Website:          lauriegermaine.com

Blog:                scatteredwhimsy.com

Facebook:        facebook.com/lauriegermaineauthor

Twitter:           twitter.com/LaurieGermaine

Pinterest:         pinterest.com/lauriegermaine

 

Lucie Ulrich: Path to Publication

I’m excited to announce that Lucie Ulrich, fellow Clean Reads author, has agreed to host my blog with a Path to Publication post. Without further ado, here’s Lucie…

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Lucie

Unlike so many aspiring authors who knew from a young age they wanted to write, my bug didn’t bite until I was in my mid-forties. Having no college degree, and never having taken a creative writing class—or any sort of writing class, I ventured out on my own.

I worked as a drama director, at my (then) church, and eventually took on the position of performing arts director at a small private school. I wrote skits and plays with ease—whether serious or comedic. Novels, on the other hand, were a different animal.

Since I dealt with kids, I assumed I’d write for young adults. I was wrong. As time passed, I realized that romance with plenty of family drama better suited me best, and once I got going, I was hard to stop. I wrote so much, in fact, one of my first attempts ran nearly 150,000 words. Needless to say, I had a lot to learn.

My training began with a small online critique group which included a published author, an editor, and two college professors. To say I was intimidated would be a gross understatement. Though I got some great feedback, I needed more, and after a year or so, our little group moved to a much larger critiquing site.

Learning the ins and outs of POV, active vs passive voice, info dump, punctuation (though I still struggle there), and so much more took years, but what an education it was.

When I felt I was ready to submit a manuscript, I learned, by way of a few rejections, that most major publishing houses wouldn’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, and I was in no position to search out an agent. The author from my first critique group told me about a site for inspirational authors to submit a general query that would be made available to a plethora of publishers. There was a fee involved, but I felt it was worth it. My second attempt resulted in a contract with an up-and-coming imprint looking for fresh voices in Christian fiction. “Broken Vessels” came to life. Though I only published the one book with them, it was all I needed to keep going.

A Facebook pitch party brought me to my second, and current publisher, Clean Reads. “Finding Hope” is my most recent release, but I just signed my fifth contract in four years, and I hope for many more.

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Nearly sixteen years after relinquishing the rights to his unborn child, Noah Cooper is stunned to discover his daughter, Hope, wants to meet him. With the love and support of his family, Noah sets off from Elk Flats, Montana to Albany, New York, having no idea what changes are in store for him.

Cancer survivor and widow, Beth Peterson, is more than a little nervous to meet her daughter’s birth father. Their initial meeting goes well, but things decline in a hurry when Noah invites Hope to spend time at the ranch without speaking to Beth about it first.

Determined to meet her new family, a battle of wills ensues between Hope and her mother. While Hope longs for a connection, Beth fears losing her daughter to virtual strangers—strangers who live two thousand miles away.

Struggles and misunderstandings abound between Noah and Beth, despite their growing attraction for one another. Noah is ready to commit, while Beth can’t let go of the memory of her husband and the imperfections cancer has forced her to live with.
Will hope, patience, and prayer be enough to pull this family together?

Buy links:

Amazon

BN

KOBO

iBooks

About the author: Lucie Ulrich is an award-winning author of inspirational fiction. Her books are filled with stories of faith, family and forgiveness. She was honored to receive a RONE Award for her second novel, “The Rose Ring.”
A former performing arts director, Lucie now enjoys going on photo shoots with her husband, and taking long (or short) road trips. She continues to find inspiration as she and her husband explore the four corners of the United States.

 

Social Media:

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Path to Publication: Tamar Sloan

Today’s Path to Publication story comes from fellow Clean Reads author, Tamar Sloan. Without further ado, here’s Tamar…

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Tamar Sloan

Interestingly, I never considered I’d be a writer. As a child I loved to read (I devoured romance novels from the moment I discovered them), but it NEVER occurred to me that I could write one myself. My first book came to me in a dream (so cliché, right?). But it was a beautiful dream. There were moving scenes of a boy who never came of age like every one of his kind has. It was a story about the girl who has wounds of her own (and totally underestimates her potential) and the power of their connection. A connection powerful enough to spark Noah’s change, and to challenge Eden’s beliefs. And it was an idea that wouldn’t go away. I thought, maybe I could…

Many dedicated hours later punctuated by much cursing and head-desking, Prophecy Awakened was born. I had aspirations of it being the next Twilight; the books and movies that inspired my images of werewolves and epic love. And then reality hit. I entered a couple of competitions, I submitted to publishers and agents. I won one comp and finalised in the other…and all the publishers and agents politely declined. By then I had completed most of the second book in the Prime Prophecy Series, Prophecy Accepted.

So I decided to shelve Prophecy Awakened, the young adult paranormal romance genre was hibernating according to the big names out there. But now that I’d started I discovered a passion and a talent I didn’t know existed. More characters and stories came knocking (some far more insistently and impatiently than others) and I moved onto the next idea that wouldn’t go away.

It was a whim, a hope that maybe I gave up too easily on Noah and Eden’s story that had me sending it out to some of the independent publishing houses. Sending out something that you’ve put so much time and effort into takes courage; it’s a process that flies high on hope, one that is weighed down by the knowledge that crashing can really hurt.

The first offer had me calling my husband (once I read the email several times just to make sure…):

‘Are you sitting down?’

‘Yeah, why?’

‘Then stand up, because you’re gonna need to sit down after I tell you this!’

The first offer of publication is an amazing feeling that you spend a lot of time dreaming and imagining, then discovering it’s even better than you thought. In the end, Prophecy Awakened had two offers, and a too-late request for a full manuscript. The willingness of those publishing houses to invest in my dream-molded-onto-paper was motivating, exciting and infinitely terrifying!

So here we are — Prophecy Awakened is on virtual shelves thanks to Clean Reads and I can’t wait to see what readers think of it. Prophecy Accepted is waiting to be published as my next book (Make it Count – a young adult contemporary romance) has just received its first offer of publication.

It just shows you, never underestimate your potential or what is waiting just around the corner.

 

Prophecy Awakened book cover

Eden – shy, wounded…all she wants is to finish her senior year and escape to college.

Noah – the guy who’s spent two years drifting aimlessly, not knowing why he failed to come of age as every one of his ancestors has.

When the two meet the connection is instantaneous and undeniable. A connection that has Eden running and Noah burning to know more.

A connection destined to be the catalyst for a prophecy that neither knew existed.

A prophecy others are willing to kill for.

As families rupture and struggle to realign, as their hearts connect and ignite, Eden learns to trust. But with their love and life on the line, Eden must find the power to believe.

Prophecy Awakened (ISBN: 978-1-62135-652-3, Clean Reads Publishing) is now available at www.tamarsloan.com and on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBooks.

 

About the Author:

A school psychologist by day, Tamar channels her passion for books into creating young adult stories about discovering life and love beyond our comfort zones. She is the award-winning author of the Prime Prophecy Series. Her debut novel, Prophecy Awakened, is an epic story of a love that defies boundaries.

When not reading, writing or working with teens, Tamar can be found with her ever-patient husband and two beautiful sons enjoying country life on their small acreage in the Australian bush.

Connect with Tamar:

Tamar finds it deeply rewarding to share her stories and she loves to hear from her readers and fellow lovers of all things book related. You can find her at www.tamarsloan.com or on Facebook www.facebook.com.au/tamarsloanwriter or Twitter www.twitter.com/sloantamar.

 

Brett Armstrong’s Path to Publication story

Today I welcome fellow Clean Reads author, Brett Armstrong, to share his Path to Publication story. Without further ado, here’s Brett…

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Author-picture

 

Path to Publication

My journey to being published really started when I was nine years old.  That was when, after years of reading books in the library, particularly history books, I decided to write a story of my own.  The result was an original story set in the last years of the Aztec Empire.  A slave from a rival people group was supposed to have been sacrificed, but escapes and blends into Aztec society, determined to get revenge.  Which he eventually did and overthrew the Aztec Emperor.  It was all handwritten and led me to write two “sequels” which followed the characters all the way to Hernan Cortes’ arrival and subsequent devastation of the Aztecs.  I say it was my first step to publishing, because after I finished part III in Aztec, I got a special folder, bound the handwritten pages in it, drew some cover art and even made up my own press name and put it on the back.  To nine year old me, I had written my first book and was pretty proud.

Over the next decade I kept writing stories as they came to me.  Some set in space, some horror stories, a western, whatever caught my imagination.  My English teachers and high school creative writing teacher were very positive about my writing and encouraged me to pursue it in college.  During my senior year, however, I was pretty much convinced there was no way I could be a writer professionally, and thought I should pursue a career in biomechanical engineering (I also did well in anatomy, art, and math). I found out West Virginia University, my college of choice, was going to have a program in biomechanical engineering through a newspaper article on it.  I went to Morgantown intent on following that path only to discover the biomechanical engineering program wasn’t a degree program yet and wouldn’t be for years.  It was only a modified mechanical engineering program with a certificate saying I had worked on biomedical topics while at WVU.  Seeing I was at a loss, a friend talked me into moving into computer engineering.  So for three years I prepared to be a computer engineer, even though I realized pretty quickly it wasn’t going to be my life’s passion. I don’t think I really contemplated that full on though until I had a blank space in my schedule for my first semester junior year and decided to take a creative writing class for fun.  Which it was. A lot of fun actually.  So much fun I took the next level course a semester later.

While in the second creative writing course I had a couple breakthrough moments writing-wise. The first came when I wrote a short story titled Destitutio Quod Remissio and had it critiqued by the class.  My professor called it “beautiful” and my classmates said it was “cinematic”, “epic”, and most importantly enthusiastically volunteered to help me turn the story into a novel.  That was the first and only time in any creative writing course I’ve been privy to that kind of sentiment.  Later in the semester I remember walking to my car after class, which was a fair distance, and just stopping in midstride.  My thoughts from the moment I’d left the classroom to that point had been fixated on writing.  I knew that with the semester ending soon, my writing would be as well and the thought was painful.  It caught me by surprise, though in retrospect it seems like I had always been building to it, but I realized I did not want to give up writing.  Writing felt different, far different from any other task I’d ever undertaken. Even subjects I enjoyed: history, math, and art, never made me feel the way delving deep into the fictional realm of story could. I often tell people, standing there I understood the statement attributed to 1924 Olympic gold medalist Eric Liddell, “God made me fast.  When I run, I feel His pleasure.”  I haven’t been able to shake the feeling since.

My then fiancée graciously indulged and encouraged my newfound determination to pursue writing.  She read my first adult novel (still unpublished and a work-in-progress) and has supported me every step of my journey, even when the proverbial stack of rejection e-mails began piling up.  I read up on agents, publishers, query letters, and just about any and every of the myriad of topics related to getting a book into print to refine my pitches and queries.  Meanwhile, I graduated from WVU with my computer engineering and computer science degrees, and had a minor in creative writing along with the first thirty pages of the novelization of Destitutio Quod Remissio in hand. Within a year I had the completed manuscript and submitted it in the 2014 CrossBooks Writing Contest.  While I waited on the outcome of that contest I really started thinking about what life as a writer should look like for me and I decided that rather than going into writing full time, I wanted to be able to give back.  If God blessed me with the privilege to write for others I wanted to also be able to give from what I’d received.  So I decided I would keep working full-time at my new job as programmer analyst for the WV Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology and write in my free time.  In that way I could donate my book royalties to charity and mission work.

In April 2014, Destitutio Quod Remissio was announced as the winner of the CrossBooks Writing Contest.  I literally jumped up and down when I got the phone call. It was a national contest from an imprint of B&H Publishing Group/LifeWay (the publisher for Southern Baptist churches) and meant Destitutio Quod Remissio would be in print, receive a marketing and publicity campaign, and next year I’d get to be a judge on the next contest’s panel.  By October 31st, Destitutio Quod Remissio was on Amazon.  In spite of everything I’d read up that point on getting a book published, I had neglected to read up on what to do after you had a book in hand as an author.  Which for the record, I do not recommend.  I knew nothing of marketing, blog tours, street teams, book signings and festivals, any of that side of publishing. I was leaning pretty heavily on the publisher to market the book for me.  That was a mistake and a rather large one.  I did have a few helpful things happen, though even those I didn’t actively pursue, like getting a book signing at a local LifeWay store and having an article about me in my state’s biggest newspaper.  I’m still trying to find my way to where I should have been three years ago. Or a more positive way of looking at it is that I’m learning and making progress.

My road to being a published author also hit a major road bump when I found out just shy of a year after winning the contest that LifeWay had decided to close CrossBooks permanently.  In May my publisher was gone and had handed my book over to Thomas Nelson’s self-publishing imprint West Bow Press. Thankfully I didn’t have to pay to have it re-published through them, but all of the marketing from CrossBooks I had been depending on was gone.  DQR was back in print by my birthday in August, though a lot of my pride that came with it had been leveled. Which was a good thing.  Because instead of fixate on what I had done, I focused on other things.  A major portion of my focus went to my wife and our infant son.  He was born just after I found out about CrossBooks, so I really appreciated being distracted by waiting for a first smile, giggle, and figuring out this thing called tummy-time.

I also kept writing, which I think is really imperative.  I might be jaded, but I feel like a lot of the aspects of publishing (marketing, brand-building, etc.) are useful and necessary for an author to make it in the publishing world of today, but they also take a lot of a writer’s attention away from writing itself.  From the time CrossBooks disappeared to August 2015, I did a lot of writing. Over 100,000 words worth actually.  And most of it late at night and during nap times. It was during that period of defeat that I finished the bulk of a new novel which I called Day Moon. I had the idea for it about the same time I was finishing up school at WVU and working on Destitutio Quod Remissio, but had held off on writing Day Moon until late 2014.  That was when I decided to start writing it for my creative writing master’s thesis work.  I graduated in March 2015 with close to 40,000 words written and from March to August I wrote three quarters of the book and started on its sequel.  The whole thing was a huge shift for me, because I had quickly come to fancy myself a historical fiction writer and while history has its hand on the book, Day Moon pretty clearly is sci-fi and dystopian.

Breaking my genre bias has really took me back to my roots storytelling-wise. Day Moon was a strong reminder that telling a good story in the setting and style it needs to be told is the important thing, regardless of what genre it falls in.  Right now I’m at varying stages of completion on an epic fantasy, a speculative history, a historical, and a horror novel. My brief bout of being unpublished again helped me get some priorities straight, correct a bad direction I was going as a writer, and treat me to some humble pie, which really tastes better than one would think.

Round two in seeking publication I researched one-on-one meetings with agents and editors and some less conventional methods of proposing a book. I’m wretched at writing query letters.  Whatever development I’ve had in that regard is negligible and probably all in my head.  What I can do is speak about things I’m passionate about. When I can strip away a lot of the peripheral issues and just talk about writing or a particular story, I do much better.  So I decided to go to the West Virginia Writers Conference and the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in 2016 (the latter happened during my birthday that year so it seemed all the more appropriate). I also started looking into Twitter pitch parties, found four or so that seemed to work well for me and started writing pitches for Day Moon and my two other nearly finished novels.

Even if you never get the courage or opportunity to try face-to-face pitches or Twitter pitch parties, I would encourage every writer to go through the work of preparing for each.  It really helps you hone in on what the most basic elements of your story are and express them in a concise and poignant format. I never had to do that for Destitutio Quod Remissio and I regret that now, because I can see I’ve been much more effective at telling people about Day Moon in casual conversation, querying for reviews, interviews, etc. Before submitting a manuscript to an editor or agent, go through the work of making each kind of pitch and then see how big a difference it makes on the more conventional forms of queries.

I had some likes on most of my pitches for each book at all of the Twitter parties I participated in and submitted my manuscripts to a couple of publishers that were reputable (which is something to watch for in Twitter parties and in general, because not all of publishers are trustworthy; research is crucial).  While attending the conferences I got some really positive reactions to Day Moon’s premise from an agent and a couple editors but no firm commitments.  A couple weeks after the ACFW conference, I found an e-mail from Stephanie Taylor at CleanReads saying she wanted to publish Day MoonI had been interested in CleanReads for some time because I thought their covers were fantastic and knew they had a large selection of young adult books.  CleanReads just seemed like it would be a good fit for Day Moon. After looking into what other authors were saying about CleanReads on AbsoluteWrite and anywhere else I could find information, I decided to accept the offer.

It’s been almost two months since Day Moon was released and it still feels surreal sometimes.  It’s easy to get caught up in promoting, marketing, what is said in reviews, and comparing how my books are doing to books from other authors.  That can all be maddening to deal with, but at the same time, there are incredible moments.  I got to speak at the library I grew up attending as an author and just talk about writing in very pure terms. A man who taught creative writing for decades told me it was “brilliant”.  On another occasion, a woman let me know that after reading Destitutio Quod Remissio she had bought a copy for a loved one because he was going through hard passages in life and she thought the story might help him.

I don’t necessarily feel intrinsically special to be an author, but I do feel privileged to be a part of something special.  Fiction stories have a marvelous potential to get down deep inside someone and make a difference in how he or she faces reality.  To have started out as a nine year old boy with a homemade book and to now be able to really share stories with the world is truly a blessing. The road hasn’t been and still isn’t always smooth, but it is one I’m thankful to be traveling.

DayMoon_Cover

In A.D. 2039, a prodigious seventeen year old, Elliott, is assigned to work on a global software initiative his deceased grandfather helped found.  Project Alexandria is intended to provide the entire world secure and equal access to all accumulated human knowledge.  All forms of print are destroyed in good faith, to ensure everyone has equal footing, and Elliott knows he must soon part with his final treasure:  a book of Shakespeare’s complete works gifted him by his grandfather.  Before it is destroyed, Elliott notices something is amiss with the book, or rather Project Alexandria.  The two do not match, including an extra sonnet titled “Day Moon”.

When Elliott investigates, he uncovers far more than he bargained for.  There are sinister forces backing Project Alexandria who have no intention of using it for its public purpose.  Elliott soon finds himself on the run from federal authorities and facing betrayals and deceit from those closest to him.  Following clues left by his grandfather, with agents close at hand, Elliott desperately hopes to find a way to stop Project Alexandria.  All of history past and yet to be depend on it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Brett Armstrong, author of the award-winning novel, Destitutio Quod Remissio, started writing stories at age nine, penning a tale of revenge and ambition set in the last days of the Aztec Empire.  Twenty years later, he is still telling stories though admittedly his philosophy has deepened with his Christian faith and a master’s degree in creative writing.  His goal with every work is to be like a brush in the Master artist’s hand and his hope is the finished composition always reflects the design God had in mind.  He feels writing should be engaging, immersive, entertaining, and always purposeful.  Continually busy at work with one or more new novels to come, he also enjoys drawing, gardening, and playing with his beautiful wife and son.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook:     https://www.facebook.com/brettarmstrongwv

Twitter:        https://www.twitter.com/BArmstrongWV

Pinterest:      http://www.pinterest.com/ChristianKid044

Website:       www.BrettArmstrong.net

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8281587.Brett_Armstrong

 

BOOK TRAILER:

 

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