As the second last story from MagicalMusings ladies, I’m happy to introduce our newest member, Virna DePaul. Personally, I love hearing how other authors got started and Virna has kindly shared her writer’s journey with us. So take it away, Virna …
Thanks, Liz, for asking me to talk about my writing journey.
I’ve always loved to write (I was an English major in college and an appellate lawyer for years), but I didn’t actually start writing fiction until the end of 2006. I’d been suffering from insomnia after the birth of my son and decided to put my two a.m. ramblings to good use. Because I love the genre and because of my background as a criminal prosecutor, I started writing contemporary romantic suspense. I got an agent pretty quickly, and received plenty of great feedback and interest on my stories, but that first sale kept eluding me. Eventually, I began experimenting, focusing on what else I liked to read and what was selling.
In late 2009, paranormal romances were selling like crazy. I love “team” books a la Suzanne Brockmann and Cindy Gerard, and I couldn’t recall a single paranormal series that focused on a whole special ops team comprised of different paranormal creatures. I decided to write a story that was part X-men and part Romancing the Stone, a story where the “Otherborn” weren’t being persecuted by the U.S. government (at least, not anymore) but actively recruited. Chosen By Blood, Book 1 in the Para-Ops series, was the result.
When I began writing the manuscript that would end up being CBB, I immediately had that “this is it” feeling. Sure enough, I had immediate editorial interest in the manuscript. Two editors at Harlequin were particularly enthusiastic about the manuscript. After some back and forth communication on suggested revisions, which I completed, they said they couldn’t be in a better position to bring it in front of the publishing house’s acquisitions committee. However, despite their love for the series, the marketing department had concerns about bringing on another debut paranormal author. They were already launching three new authors and were afraid bringing in another would detract from the others.
My agent forwarded me a great note from one of the editors at Harlequin. She said she was so disappointed not to have been able to buy my book and that she was sure I’d sell to another house. She also offered to give me the revision notes she’d made on the full manuscript. I gratefully (albeit, tearfully) accepted and used those notes to make the manuscript even stronger. A few months later, I received the call that the book had sold to Berkley.
What has followed has continued to be a whirlwind journey of ups and downs. I ended up selling different projects to those two editors who’d wanted to buy my first book. As such, I now write contemporary romantic suspense for HQN and Harlequin Romantic Suspense. I’ve also continued to make connections with other authors and editors. Most recently, I sold a three-book series to Random House. And finally, I’ve dipped my toes into the self-publishing arena, continuing to try different things and consistently being pleasantly surprised by the success I encounter as a result.
Pursuing publication has come with its fair share of challenges and heartache. Fortunately, however, it has also come with character building moments and personal joy. I’ve made extremely good friends along the way, and I even overcame my fear of flying because I was so motivated to attend conferences and writing retreats across the nation. Maintaining my passion to write is sometimes a more daunting goal than making that first sale, but I try to remember: There’s always a new story in me; it’s up to me to give it wings.
I hope my story encourages each of you to hang in there and give your dreams flight. For a detailed account of my full writing journey, you can read more at my blog, Just Sold A Book, Now What?