I had aimed my last two manuscripts at Desire. The first came 2nd in the Clendon 2004 and I'd already had a request for the full - picked up from the slush pile. It was rejected with some very nice comments.
My second manuscript, "Waiting for Jack", also aimed at Desire, came 2nd in RWNZ Great Beginnings contest 2005. Kimberley Young requested the full.
When the guidelines for Desire changed, I considered chucking it in and going back to sewing quilts. But after the challenge of writing, I knew I'd never find the same satisfaction.
Then on 24th November at 10 pm Kimberley Young rang. I'd gone to bed early. I couldn't find my voice or my glasses - she must have wondered if she'd made a serious mistake. They'd read the ms and were asking for revisions! With revisions she told me the ms would suit the new Modern Extra line. She wanted them back in early December. They weren't major but they were coming at the busiest time of the year with school reports, concert and discos.
Kim emailed me again - could I get it in asap? I was so reluctant to press that send button in case I remembered something that absolutely had to be in there.
I sent it on Tuesday 13th December and she rang on Friday night! She said something like, "We've reread your manuscript and the changes you've made…" P-a-u-s-e. I didn't know whether I was supposed to answer that. I think I mumbled an ineffectual "oh…" Then she said "we love it and we want to buy it." The words I'd heard in my head so many times!
2. How long have you been writing with the intention of getting published?
I've been writing eight years, seriously for seven.
3. What do you think has made the difference between your unpublished works and the manuscript that was accepted?
A combination of things. Timing, the right manuscript and the right editor. Aiming the right manuscript at the right market. (Although I was lucky there; I 'fell' into it.) Injecting more emotion and giving my characters clearer motivations has improved each subsequent manuscript. And practice, practice, practice.
4. Where do you see your publishing future?
At present I'm happy to write more category romance. In the future I hope to find a home for my other novels, because I believe they are different, and a lot of time, emotion and angst went into them. But that's down the track.
Behind Closed Doors was my third category romance, and the first one to be published. I owe that success to Romance Writers of New Zealand's Great Beginnings contest. The following is a list of contests I've placed in over the past few years.
2000 RWAmerica, Australian Chapter - Short Story Competition (2nd place)
2000 Wild Rose Full Novel - Through the Circle of Destiny (finalist)
2000 RWAustralia Query Letter/Synopsis - Through the Circle of Destiny (3rd)
2001 RWAustralia Tall, Dark & Delicious - To Hold a Rainbow (1st)
2004 RWNZ Clendon Award Agents Choice - His Blue Lady (3rd)
2004 Valerie Parv Award - Shadow on the Storm (2nd)
2005 RWNZ Great Beginnings - Waiting for Jack (2nd)
I've lived in Adelaide, South Australia all my life, a lovely city close to sandy beaches and the beautiful Mt. Lofty Ranges. When I finished school I went into junior primary teaching and hold a Dip T and a B Ed with a major in science. I've since left teaching and now write full-time. I have two adult children, Matthew and Rachel.
I'd like to say I've watched the sun set at the top of the Empire State building, learnt to fly a plane, seen an aurora… Been accepted for the first manned mission to Mars. Sadly, these remain on my 'to do' list. Perhaps one day…?
On a more down to earth note, travels include Papua/New Guinea when my parents lived in the capital of Port Moresby in the sixties, Hong Kong and Malaysia. When the kids were younger we took them to the west coast of America. Highlights were a snow-topped Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge, Sedona and the Native American cultural sites nearby. Never got to see Yosemite where our bus got bogged in snow and had to be towed away before we ever got to the gates.
In 1998 I traveled solo to the United Kingdom and Holland. In Amsterdam I spent an interesting and informative evening touring the red light district and sex museum with my Dutch pen-friend. All in the name of research, of course. The Scottish Highlands blew me away with their beauty and Scottish history came alive for me on the Culloden battlefield.
I've sold my own paintings, quilts and quilted jackets. Belonged to the Astronomical Society of South Australia and found planets, stars and Halley's Comet with my own telescope. A turning point in my life came when I researched my family history. I unearthed a few skeletons and rattled a few bones - including my own.
And my first novel was born - a reincarnation story. It was the book of my heart and is currently hibernating in a cupboard somewhere. Subsequent novels included a trilogy of time travel adventures and a contemporary romance involving a psychic hero before I wrote my first 'straight' contemporary romance. All did well in contests but publishers declined them.
Over the next few years I entered more than sixty contests in Australia, New Zealand and US which must make me a contest junkie. But I believe the more contests you enter the more likely you are to get your work read by an editor. And it happened for me!
The following is part of an interview Aussie author and critique partner, Trish Morey did when my work was finally accepted by Mills and Boon.
Tips for writers who want
to be published:
Join a writers' organisation. Get support and friendship from other writers, enter contests, get a great magazine and website info.
Polish your work and enter those contests.
Read, read, read.
Write what you love.
Check the guidelines and submit your work to the appropriate publishers.