Hi all published and aspiring authors. I’m Diana Rubino, author of 18 historical and paranormal novels. My publishers are The Wild Rose Press and Solstice Publishing.
My story will inspire you to push on, if nothing else will. It’s unique, because I'm probably the longest aspiring author to be published—18 years. I wrote my first novel in 1982, after a dose of reality in the brokerage business. In those days, executive-level women were virtually nonexistent in the finance industry. My first novel was largely autobiographical, as most first novels are. Although my third and fourth novels came close to getting published with Harlequin, they didn't quite make it.
Because I’m a huge history buff, I decided to write a historical, which became The Jewels of Warwick, set around Henry VIII and a fictional mistress. Jewels took 2 years to research and write, with no Internet. This was 1990. It came very close to publication with several romance houses, but missed the mark for containing too little romance. When I finished Jewels, I scoured the history books for another legendary figure to write about. While I browsed the Cambridge Library stacks, a book snagged my eye. Lying, not standing, on the wrong shelf was Crown of Roses by Valerie Anand. It drew me like a magnet. Richard III is a central character in the story, and the author thanks ‘the Richard III Society’ for helping her. Who’s this Richard III Society? I wondered.
Already hooked on Richard, his tragic death at 32 and his reputation as a usurper and a murderer of his little nephews, I joined this Richard III Society through snail mail, no internet.
As everyone else who has a story about how they ‘met’ Richard, he fascinated me. I’d found the subject of my next novel! And it tied in perfectly as a prequel to The Jewels of Warwick. Titled Thy Name is Love, it made the same rounds of publishers, remaining homeless after several rewrites and seven years.
But the miracle of the Internet came to all of us. My first online experience was CompuServe’s Romance Forum in 1993. This led to meeting many authors who shared leads and their own writing journeys. In 1999, Lisa Hamilton, an author I'd met on the CompuServe Romance Forum, sent me a list of E-publishers, since E-publishing was new and quickly catching on. One of those publishers was Domhan Books, a British publisher who also did print.
When I heard back from them, I figured it was just another rejection, but it was an offer to publish my historicals, since Siobhan McNally, the owner of Domhan Books, was a huge Richard sympathizer. They also published print books, so I lived the moment I’d dreamed about—seeing my first book in print. This was 18 years after that first novel went out into the world.
What surprised me most about the publishing business is that it's very hard to be recognized. You really have to work on promotion as well as writing. I've read many differing opinions on this, but I do believe you should promote as much as time allows, without taking away writing time. Giveaways seem to be a great way to market your books. I started out giving away bookmarks, pens, and the other usual trinkets, but one author said ‘your book is your best giveaway.’
I never felt I had enough information to convey at a workshop, but I can tell aspiring authors to make sure the opening is a grabber, make sure the reader will care about the characters, make sure the novel is structured well, so that it doesn't have a sagging middle or any pacing problems, make sure the stakes are high enough so they're in life or death situations that it seems they can't possibly get out of, make sure the secondary characters aren't mere cardboard, and humor always helps. One huge technical rule: show, don’t tell.
But the #1 rule I learned is that you must convey emotion. Make the reader FEEL what these characters are feeling.
I don’t have any one favorite author, but there are authors whose books I’ll buy if their name is on them. That includes Doug Preston & Lincoln Child (they write great thrillers together), Barbara Erskine (very eerie paranormals set in Essex, England), and Bertrice Small. She never disappoints. For conveying emotion, Lorraine Heath has a unique talent for this.
I’ve never had a deadline from a publisher, but I’d once sent an agent the first 3 chapters of my vampire romance. He said he’d like to see the entire ms., so I wrote 5,000 words a day till it was finished. He later rejected it. Oh, well. But at least I know I’m capable of turning out 5,000 words a day. My usual output is 2,500 words a day.
In my ‘other’ life, I own an engineering business with my husband, based in Cambridge.
I’d like to tell any aspiring authors who are frustrated that it’s taken them 3, 4, 5 or more years to get that first contract, remember, I wrote for 18 years before getting ‘the call’ so never give up! Keep believing, and keep the faith! And of course, keep writing, because you’ll only get better. And NEVER give up on your dream!
THE JEWELS OF WARWICK was just re-published with Solstice Publishing and is available in print, and for Kindle.
Please visit my website at www.dianarubino.com, www.dianarubinoauthor.blogspot.com, www.Facebook.com/DianaRubinoAuthor
and follow me on Twitter @DianaLRubino.
Thank you, Diana, for sharing your inspiring story with us; I hope you keep writing and never give up too!
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