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PATIENCE – AND CRITIQUE CIRCLE – PAY OFF
By Diana Rubino
My 'overnight success' took 18 years. I wrote my first novel at age 23, after a dose of reality in the brokerage business. This was the early '80s, when executive-level women were virtually nonexistent in the world of finance. My first novel, largely autobiographical, as most first novels are, featured my heroine who made it to the top of a brokerage firm. It was continually rejected on the grounds that I had an axe to grindand of course I did.
After three more novels, which I consider practice at honing my craft, I wrote my first historical, The Jewels of Warwick, centered around Henry VIII and two fictional heroines. I have a strong spiritual connection with late medieval England, which is the basis for my enchantment with this place and time. Jewels took 2 years to research and write, with no internet. 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. 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. 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.
In 1999 with the Internet making my life so much easier, I queried the many E-publishers that had recently set up shop, and British publisher Domhan Books responded in March with an offer for my two historicals. Fortunately, Domhan also published print books. I then wrote a time travel, One Too Many Times, and a family saga set in New York City. I switched gears with the urban fantasy Fakin’ It, which won a Romantic Times Top Picks award, with a 4 1/2 star review.
The Richard III Society’s American branch formed a New England Chapter, which I joined immediately. That’s where I met my friend Joan Szechtman, who also writes novels about Richard. Before we met, we’d both written time travel novels in which Richard is transported to modern times, and fumbles with several modern trappings.
Joan introduced me to Critique Circle and my work improved immensely with the critiques I received. My critiquing experience led the way to editing positions and publishing contracts with Eternal Press and Moongypsy Press.
If it wasn’t for the writing and editing techniques CC taught me, I don’t believe I’d have landed my agent, Jewelann Cone, who I’ve been with for 4 years. She tells me my three latest novels are far more advanced than my earlier work. My recent novels are currently being considered by the ‘big houses’ including St. Martin’s Press and Simon & Schuster.
CC gave me the ability to read my work as an editor, to tighten and polish, to add more emotion, to show instead of tell, and the opportunity to critique other authors’ work also made me a better writer.
Even though your first, second, third, or even fourth novel may never see print, not a word is wasted if it's considered a learning experience. I also believe that you must write from the heart, and your passion will shine through in your work. These are also lessons I learned with CC. And for me, I know there are many roads to success, but patience is the best way!
A NECESSARY END is a paranormal twist on John Wilkes Booth's insane plot to assassinate President Lincoln.
It contains no fictional characters.
When Booth, under the guise of seeking spiritual advice, visits the President's medium to gather information about Lincoln's habits in order to kidnap him, a malevolent spirit begins to haunt and torment him, driving him to the brink of insanity. A mysterious coin also appears out of nowhere, and returns every time Booth tries to discard it. Each return of the bloodthirsty Roman coin brings increasingly terrifying events and eerie hauntings.
In the midst of these strange visitations, Booth falls in love with Alice Grey, a beautiful actress who's hired by the government to spy on him. She’s torn between her love for Booth and her duty to protect the President from assassination.
It is a 'dark' paranormal because a malevolent spirit haunts Booth to assassinate the 'tyrant' as in Julius Caesar. But since I believe every situation, no matter how foreboding, allows for humor, I've added a few lighter scenes that offer the reader some much-needed relief. How can Booth's plot not leave itself wide open for humor? It was pure comic farce, how he recruited this motley band of adoring disciples and gave them each an assignment in his absurd conspiracy. Yes, Booth sure gets what's coming to him in the end.