Monday, October 25, 2010

A CHALLENGING JOURNEY



Being asked to be a part of this blog is so exciting, but I have to say I feel intimated by everyone having so much knowledge of western and Texas history. I don’t have a particular western story to tell about a particular place, so I’ll just tell a little bit of general information about myself and my endeavors of late.

First, I’m a native Texan. Fifth generation. My ancestors migrated to Texas from Alabama and Mississippi during and after the Civil War. Before that, they came from Ireland mostly, landed in the Carolinas and migrated south. So my genes have been here a long time.

I grew up among cowboys. I traveled away from that culture for a time, but I now live smack-dab in the middle of cowboy country. South of me is a town and county where more than a few rodeo cowboys own retire and/or own ranches. North of me is cutting horse country where on any given day you can drive up the highway and see magnificent equine athletes grazing on both sides of the road. Fort Worth is the home of the American Cutting Horse Association and some of the premiere cutting horse shows in the country occur there. Watching a well-trained cutting horse strut his stuff is an entertaining sight.

I set out to write about fifteen years ago. Back then, I belonged to no organizations, had never heard of RWA and had no clue how New York publishing works. If I had known how difficult selling a book in NY City is, I might have found it too daunting to tackle. It took six years for me to sell. During that time, I joined various writing organizations and critique groups, including a “destructive critique” group that almost made me give up writing altogether. But it was an educational experience I’ll never forget. It toughened my hide for what was eventually to come in the publishing biz. There’s a reason for everything, as my departed granny would tell me.

My first book, “THE LOVE OF A COWBOY,” was a book about a cowboy only by coincidence. It started out to be a Harlequin book. I attended a writers’ meeting one day in which a Harlequin author outlined the hooks that might be attractive to a Harlequin editor, i.e., cowboys, alpha males, families, secret babies, lost love recaptured. On my way home from the meeting, I thought about it and decided I could write about those things. In fact, I could write about ALL of those things.

The next thing I knew, I had a 165,000-word saga about an Idaho ranching family and how a half-Filipino Texas woman changed their outlooks on life. It won a first place in the Southern Writers’ Conference contest and the editor who judged it bought it. She had no interest in the saga, but wanted to pluck out the romance between the two main protagonists and publish it as a romance. After banging on those NY City doors for six years, no way was I going to say “no.”

A part of me still thinks the family saga was a better story and I often wonder how my writing life might have been different if she had bought the saga. But among the many things I didn’t know back then was that unless you’re writing science fiction or fantasy, or non-fiction, the chance of an unknown name selling a 165,0000-page book in New York is as scarce as hen’s teeth.

I’ve now written and published eight mainstream romance novels and co-written seven zany romantic comedies. My most recent romance novel, “MAN OF THE WEST,” was released in April, 2010. It’s a sequel to “LONE STAR WOMAN,” released last year. Both books are set in the Texas Panhandle in ranching country and are stories of cowboys and cowgirls and ranching families.

The latest Dixie Cash book, “OUR RED HOT ROMANCE IS LEAVING ME BLUE,” was released by Avon in June. The next Dixie Cash book, “I CAN’T MAKE YOU LOVE ME, BUT I CAN MAKE YOU LEAVE,” will be released next summer. The Dixie Cash books are a series revolving around Debbie Sue Overstreet and Edwina Perkins-Martin whose hijinks keep people laughing.

I’ve learned a lot about the publishing business and I’m not nearly as intimidated by it as I used to be. It’s sort of like wrestling a dinosaur. For example, my contemporary western trilogy proposal that has been on the table in New York for more than a year has been rejected by all but one of the big guys. It’s sort of a Dallas (TV show) knock-off, but more cowboy-ish than Dallas was. The climate in NY publishing right now is frosty. So I’m working on another proposal, which I hope to have ready for submission in the next couple of weeks.

I’m also working at putting a couple of my out-of-print Anna Jeffrey books up as Kindle books. So far I’ve uploaded “SWEET WATER,” which was released in paperback in 2006. It won some contests and has some good reader reviews online. It’s available in the Kindle Book Store on Amazon as well as B&N, Sony, iPad and Kobo for $2.99. It isn’t a cowboy story, but it’s set in far West Texas, and has plenty of Texas flavor. A blurb is up on the Amazon page.

At the same time I’m doing all of that, I’m striving to get my rights back on other books that have gone out of print.

Writing fiction is an inspiring, interesting enterprise, sometimes rewarding, oftentimes disappointing. But I still do it every single day. I’m determined.  


10 comments:

  1. And you write so well that readers love you! I've loved every book you've written and wish you the best for your proposal. You are an inspiration to other writers--especially those who are not yet published. You persevere through ups and downs and write and write. Kudos to you!

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  2. Anna--I love your latest book cover! I hope NY snaps up your "Dallas" proposal.

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  3. ANNA--I love getting to know new people, and with you--I feel like I now know a celebrity. The Dixie Cash books come to our library,and I've read a couple of them--some time back, so forgive me that I don't remember the titles. You and your writing partner are pure genius.
    You do a great job "promoting" yourself, by simply explaining who you are and what you do, you have made a new admirer here. And I hope you will find many more. After all--that's why we're here--to sell our books!
    Your post was great--Celia

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  4. It's really great getting to know you. You definitely have a strong drive for bringing your dreams to reality and I commend you for that.

    Your book covers are great and I look forward to reading them.

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  5. Thank you, Marin. If it's the "Man of the West" cover, I can take no credit. That came out of the publisher's art department. And they do indeed have a great art department. ..... If it's the Kindle cover you're speaking of, I hired someone to design that cover, as the publishers own the covers on the out-of-print books and do not allow authors to use them in a different venue.

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  6. Hi, Celia. My writing partner is my sister. She's the funny one. She has a great imagination. I appreciate your reading the books.

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  7. Hi, Paisley ..... If someone asks me what it takes to get published in New York and if I have to give a short answer, I simply say endurance and luck and never lose confidence in your ability. Also, you have to write a damn good book and be able to recognize that it is or isn't.

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  8. Hi Anna, I too have been a fan of yours for several years. Keeping writing is key. It's like exercise. If you let it slip, it's harder to get back into the swing of it. Hope to hear good news from your proposal soon.

    Jane

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  9. I love reading about each of our authors and getting to know them.

    Love the "wrestling a dinosaur" analogy, LOL.

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