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Archive for May 1st, 2008


We have winners! The little Diva helped pick out names before she went off to bed.

The winners of a book from Deb’s backlist are…..

Stefanie D

Maureen

JenniferY

Fedora

Azteclady

Nathalie

Congrats ladies!!

Please email me at mad @ romancereaderatheart.com (without the spaces) with your choice of book from Deb’s backlist and snail mail addy. Enjoy!

And just so you have a face to put to the little Diva’s name, here’s a picture of my little one. Isn’t she adorable? *G*

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On the eve of the American invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, an international cast of schemers, spies, clergy, and scientists race to claim the greatest prize the world has ever seen. American archaeologist Molly O’Dwyer has unearthed a long-lost burial mound in ancient Babylon. Whose remains are in it? Are they related to the mysterious Gospel of Hannaniah, the alleged daughter of Jesus of Nazareth? Will the revelation of her shocking findings destroy the church and the faith of billions? This tale of intrigue, betrayal, and ruthless ambition set against the treacherous background of the Middle East on the brink of war, piles on the suspense until the final gripping scenes.

What to Write?

Surely this is a question that has gone through most unpublished writers’ minds when they are in pursuit of an agent or a publisher. Do I write a mystery? Should I throw down the gauntlet at Stephen King and write a horror tale? How about science fiction or the next Harry Potter?

People in the know advise to look at what’s on the best seller lists, what’s hot, what’s in. The problem for me has always been that, by the time I tried to write what was hot or in, the subject was no longer hot or in. I’m still on Shakespeare while the rest of the world has gone googoo over Diablo What’s-her-name. I figured, as well, every other budding author is doing the same thing I am. Looking at Dean Koontz’s success of John Grisham’s and trying to follow down their golden paths. But you can’t. Because everyone else is going down that same well-worn path. How do you separate yourself from the crowd? How do you make yourself stand out so that an agent or publisher will choose you over the multitude? Not without a great deal of difficulty, obviously.

Other people suggest, “Write what you know.” Well, okay. Except, what I knew bored me. Why do I want to write about things in my life? That’s why I write. To get away from those things.

Having dispenses with that thoughtful bit of advice, I chose to go my own way. Write whatever interests me at the moment. No matter what. If it’s not best-seller material, so what? If I’m talented enough, surely some agent or publisher will recognize my genius and scoop me up in a chariot filled with royalty checks.

So, here’s what I wrote about:

PAN DORA ISLAND: Chimps in the wild taught how to use sign language by a madman. When the madman commits suicide, the chimpanzees are left to evolve with this newfound skill of communicating with words.

LIGEIA: A studious slave teams up with her favorite author, Edgar Allan Poe, to uncover the killer of president Zachary Taylor.

GOSPEL OF HANNANIAH: The ‘autobiography’ of Jesus’ illegitimate daughter.

PRETTY IN PINSK: Two CIA operatives start a dating service in post Cold War Russia.

You get the idea. Eclectic. Don’t pin me down to any genre. Distinctive. And this was only the tip of the creative iceberg.

Where did it get me? Back to looking up what was on the best seller list.

Ultimately, I drew this conclusion: you have to write what gives you joy, no matter what the consequences. You have to love the characters you give life to and the worlds they inhabit. Because you can’t count on success ever happening. Writing has to give you pleasure. You have to long to be in the places where your writing takes you. If it’s not good enough for publishing houses or agencies, so be it. I don’t think youi can write a good publishable novel if you are not enjoying the experience. Many published authors who write series or stay within a particular genre run out of juice. And their novels, while published, even successful, are no longer particularly good.

I went back to the drawing board, which in the old days was a lined notebook and a portable typewriter. In the early 1990s I read an article in the Boston Globe in which a prelate of the catholic Church stated he had the right and power to deny congregants access to God if they belonged to organizations he disapproved of. In other words, he was going to deny members of the Church access to the sacraments, the rites and rituals of the Church, if they were pro-choice. That was when I decided to write TRACES OF A LIFE, the precursor to my debut novel, HUNTING THE KING.

TRACES concerns archaeologist Molly O’Dwyer, who is a passionate seeker of knowledge but who remains a loyal observant Catholic. Her mother had been a pagan when Molly was a child. Molly was practically raised on the campus of the Jesuit institution where her mother had taught anthropology. Her conflict throughout TRACES and HUNTING is that of an intelligent being who questions her organized religion when it comes into conflict with her own morality. In TRACES, Molly is assigned to a dig on a Boston harbor island and there, coincidentally, begins to uncover the truth about her own past and what her mother was doing in defiance of the Church and common law. In short, I decided to write a mystery with an important moral spine. I wanted to challenge the Church and the arrogant position of those who felt that they could deny people God because they had a degree in theology and a position of political power within the Church.

At the time, by coincidence or luck, I had an agent. This particular agent was a New York agent, as opposed to my New Jersey agent, my Arkansas agent, and my California agent. So, I was excited for the first time in many years that my novel TRACES might actually be sold.

Wrong. My agent quit. She was so frustrated by the publishing business that she decided she wasn’t going to represent fiction anymore.

So, there I was bereft and alone again naturally. I returned, in my frustration, to the best seller list. DA VINCI CODE happened to be the hot thing of the moment, so I took my lovely red-headed archaeologist Molly O’Dwyer and sent her on an expedition into war torn Iraq in search of the remains of Jesus. I figured, surely this can’t miss.

Well, sure and begorrah, it did. For two years, during which time I wrote two more novels, all the while sending out that all too familiar deluge of letters to agents around the globe. I wrote an anti-war novel aimed at Bush/Cheney, THEY WERE CALLED TO DUTY, and a sure-to-reach-Oprah novel called ALBERTVILLE.

Letters went out. Letters went unanswered. Same old story. No one wanted anything I wrote, no matter what genre I wrote in. Finally, luck stepped in like the swaggering pimp in a Blaxpoitation flick. I found Kunati Books on a web site called FirstWriter. Sick and tired of agents, cynical about the book business in the US, I searched for a publisher or agent in Canada that might be more amenable to what I was trying to do. I hit on Kunati. They were looking for cutting-edge fiction, page-turners that had the feel of a Hollywood film to them. I knew right away what I was going to send to them. Molly O’Dwyer in Iraq. This happened in late March 2007. In August Kunati’s publisher, Derek Armstrong, contacted me by email and offered me a contract. I had been writing for 34 years.

So, what to write? My experience may be unusual. At least, I hope it is. Maybe I did things wrong, I don’t know. I still say you have to write what is in you top write. Not what you know, but what matters to you. If I hadn’t stumbled on Kunati Books, I would still be floundering to this day. I’m convinced of it. But if HUNTING THE KING doesn’t do well and Kunati doesn’t offer me a contract for a second novel, I will persevere. I always have. And I will continue to write what matters to me.

Next up: COMRADE LOLITA. Via con dios.

****Make sure to leave a comment! One reader will receive a copy of HUNTING THE KING.

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