The Road To Publication – by Dani Collins

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The Ultimate Seduction, 21st Century Gentlemen’s Club

For me, the road to publication was a rocky one with many, many detours. I started when I was twenty-one and didn’t receive the call until I was forty-six. Not only did little things like marriage and babies and day jobs get in the way, but the entire industry shrank then evolved and exploded.

One question I’m often asked is, How did you persevere for twenty-five years? My answer is simple: I didn’t know it would take that long. Every January first I told myself, This is the year. Every new manuscript was The One.

Yes, absolutely, I had dark times, but those few times when I really, really thought about quitting, things would happen to coax me along. My husband would say, I think you should keep at it. I’d place in a contest or get an encouraging letter from an editor.

By year twenty, I realized I’d already worked longer at being unpublished than many people do in paying jobs. It was a career in itself. And I was so mad, and in so deep, I refused outright to let publishing lick me. I was going to show it that I was made of sterner stuff.

I wish I could say there was one specific action, one secret I figured out, that tipped me from ‘pretty close’ to ‘first sale.’ I was lucky enough to final in Mills & Boon’s Instant Seduction contest, but even though I was given the opportunity to work with an editor, it still took four years and half a dozen manuscripts to level up to The Call.

I’ve actually given up trying to figure out why my journey was the long way and so many other authors seem to find short cuts. It’s really easy to compare yourself to others, and can be really self-destructive when you do. I had to overcome a lot of envy in those early years and knew I’d come a long way the other day when a friend was asked by her publisher to do a signing and I had a mixed reaction of, “Wow. Good for her!” yet gave a little sigh of relief that it hadn’t happened to me. Not that signings are bad things. Obviously not and of course I’d be thrilled to be asked, but that’s her journey, and traffic is plenty busy on mine without my taking on something more.

Because here’s the other thing about the road to publication. You don’t travel it once. You get The Call and think you’ve arrived, but guess what? You have to turn around and drive that same road again with a second manuscript and a third. You also have to stop by the social media outlet on the way and talk up yourself and your story. Maybe you were tracking your mileage before, but now your accounting involves trying to work out how much you’re spending and making by title. (If you’re me, you do. I’m nuts that way.)

Everything is bigger better faster, but guess what? All those synopses and query letters and pitches that I thought were a waste of time when they were rejected turned out to be valuable learning ground. In fact, now that I’ve got some street cred, I’ve been able to revise three of my rejected manuscripts into paying titles and I have hopes for two more. I like to think I just showed up too early with a lot of them. Publishing wasn’t ready, but it is now.

This has turned into a bit of a preach to fellow unpublished authors. Given my long journey, I really did have to learn to be all zen about enjoying the process and embracing all the good things about being an unpublished author. It’s a time when your writing belongs solely to you and the outside noise is much lower. But I think anyone pursuing any goal should look at how far they’ve come rather than agonizing over how much more distance is still to be traveled.

I usually try to tie my guest posts to my current release. In this case, The TheUltimateSeductionUltimate Seduction is a good example of the sorts of bumps I wasn’t really prepared for. On the one hand, my editor requested I participate in the series, which was a feather in my cap, but it was a really tight deadline and it was a collaboration project. As lovely as my fellow Presents authors, Maya Blake and Victoria Parker turned out to be, collaborating was a new skill for me, not something I had previously trained for.

So the scenery shifts as the road continues. Publication is not a destination. It’s a journey.

Have you pursued a goal that’s taken a lot of time and grit? What kept you going? Any struggles with jealousy and (pun intended) Are we there yet?

A commenter’s name will be chosen to receive a print copy of THE ULTIMATE SEDUCTION!

BLURB:

“I’m about to make you an offer you can’t refuse.” 

Tiffany Davis takes her first delicious step into the exclusive masquerade ball hosted by the secretive Q Virtus gentleman’s club. Here, behind the mask, Tiffany can hide her scars and reveal her true self—a powerful businesswoman with an offer for the president of Bregnovia, Ryzard Vrbancic.

Astounded by her audacity, only the fire in Tiffany’s eyes makes Ryzard look twice. He has no interest in her business deal, but the promise of a woman who can match his ruthless determination makes him eager to seduce from her the one thing she’s not offering….

EXCERPT:

Ryzard followed the man’s gaze and his entire being crackled to attention.

Well beyond the pool’s light, in a corner mostly blocked by a buffet table and ice sculpture, a woman undulated like a cobra, utterly fascinating in her hypnotic movements timed perfectly with the music. Her splayed hands slid down her body with sexy knowledge, her hips popped in time to the beat, and her feet kick-stepped into motion.

She twirled. The motion lifted her brassy curls like a skirt before she planted her feet wide and swayed her weight between them. The flex of her spine gave way to a roll of her hips, and she was back into motion again.

Setting down his drink, Ryzard beelined toward her. He couldn’t tell if the woman had a partner, but it didn’t matter. He was cutting in.

She was alone, lifting her arms to gather her hair, eyes closed as she felt the music as much as heard it. She arched and stretched—

He caught her around the waist and used the shocked press of her hands at his shoulders to push her into accepting his lead, stepping into her space, then retreating, bringing her with him. As he moved her into a side step, she recovered, matching his move while her gaze pinned to his.

He couldn’t tell what color her eyes were. The light was too low, her feathery mask shadowing her gaze into twin glinting lights, but he reacted to the fixation in them. She was deciding whether to accept him.

A rush of excitement for the challenge ran through him. After a few more quick steps, he swung her into half pivots, catching each of her wrists in turn, one bare, one clad in silk, enjoying the flash of her bare knee through the slit of her skirt.

How had she been overlooked by every man here? She was exquisite.

Lifting her hand over her head, he spun her around then clasped her shoulder blades into his chest. Her buttocks—fine, firm, round globes as if heaven had sent him a valentine—pressed into his lap. Bending her before him, he buried his nose in her hair and inhaled, then followed her push to straighten and matched the sway of her hips with his own.

Tiffany’s heart pounded so hard she thought it would escape her chest. One second she’d been slightly drunk, lost in the joy of letting the salsa rhythm control her muscles. Now a stranger was doing it. And doing it well. He pulled her around into a waltz stance that he quickly shifted so they grazed each other’s sides, left, right, left.

She kicked each time, surprised how easily the movements came back to her. It had been years, but this man knew what he was doing, sliding her slowly behind his back, then catching her hand on the other side. He pushed her to back up a step, bringing one of her arms behind his head, the other behind her own. A few backward steps and they were connected by only one hand, arms outstretched, then he spun her back into him, catching her into his chest.

He stopped.

The conga beat pulsed through her as he ran his hands down her sides. Her own flew to cover his knuckles, but she didn’t stop him. It felt too amazing. His fingertips grazed the sides of her breasts, flexed into the taut muscles of her waist and clasped her hips to push them in a hula circle that he followed with his own, his crotch pressed tight to her buttocks.

Sensual pleasure electrified her. No one touched her anymore. After being a genderless automaton for so long, she was a woman again, alive, capable of captivating and enticing a man. She nudged her hips into his and flashed a cheeky glance back at him.

After a brilliant debut in the UK with No Longer Forbidden, a Mills & Boon Modern Book Of The Month January 2013, Dani’s first Harlequin Presents, Proof Of Their Sin, won the Reviewer’s Choice by Romantic Times Book Reviews for Best First In Series. While her focus is Harlequin Presents, Dani has also published a romantic comedy, a medieval fantasy, and coming August of 2014, an erotic romance collection with HarlequinE. Whatever the genre, she always delivers sexy alpha heroes, witty, spirited heroines, complex emotions and loads of passion.

Enter Dani Collins’ Masked Desires Contest for a chance to express your secret desires from behind a masquerade mask.

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