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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

TOPIC: An Author's Life...with Yvonne Lindsay

Being a published author is an ... involved ... process, and I take my hat off to those who've been in the business more than a few years now.

As a pre-pubbed author I was always curious about what happened once you received THE CALL and stepped into the world of publishing.

What did it involve? How did they handled the day to day pressures? Did they developed routines, set goals etc.? What did they like/dislike about the process?

So I asked my special guests these questions and many of them have offered some intriguing insights into their lives. Maybe they'll even give you a heads up on what to expect if you're thinking of entering the world of "getting published".

Please welcome my next guest...

USA Today Bestselling author, YVONNE LINDSAY, took 13 years and multiple rejections before she sold her first story to Harlequin Desire in April of 2005.

Her first book rose to #1 on the Borders/Waldenbooks Series Bestseller list and in 2007 was also nominated for the prestigious Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year Award. Her books are distributed in more than 27 countries and in almost as many languages.

With 23 contracted titles through Harlequin, Yvonne is thrilled to be living the life she always dreamed of bringing her stories to her readers.

Author Facts
Pseudonym or Given Name on the cover? Why a pseudonym?
Given name. My family and I discussed this at length when I sold my first book and, while I’d always thought I’d take a pseudonym, they convinced me to write as who I am.
Location: Auckland, New Zealand.

Auckland, NZ
Published Genre/s: Contemporary Series romance with Harlequin Desire.
Website: http://www.yvonnelindsay.com
First published in: October 2006. 
Number of books published: By end of 2012, 20 books and 1 novella plus 2 online titles with eHarlequin.

The Nitty Gritty
List up to 5 significant events in your journey to publication.
  • Hearing Susan Napier speak at a local community centre guided me toward joining RWNZ in it’s first year or so. After that,
  • Robyn Donald influenced me to finish a book when she spoke at an RWNZ conference back when I was a three chapters and synopsis queen.
  • Fiona Brand then influenced me to enter competitions with that finished book, which won the RWAustralia 1999 Emma Darcy Award and led to the opportunity to submit directly to an editor for four years.
  • During that time I benefitted hugely from the mentorship of Bronwyn Jameson, and the friendship of Trish Morey who I’d finalled in the Emma Darcy with, and both of them kept me sane when I didn’t make it with that editor and through more rejections after winning the 2004 RWNZ Clendon Award.
  • The combination of the years of advice and support all helped to make me and my writing stronger, which eventually led to my first sale in 2005.
What resources/techniques/events did you find useful to develop your writing skills/craft? Competitions were a huge help when I was also working and busy raising a, then, young family. They gave me a chance to write sections of a book, rather than a whole book when I just couldn’t find the time to devote to a complete manuscript.

As to events, conferences in New Zealand and eventually in Australia as well. The richness of the experience of an intense weekend with likeminded people and learning from other writers and specialists in their fields is priceless for any writer.

Can you share the special moment when you received THE CALL/THE EMAIL?
In early February 2005 I’d had an email, followed by a phone call, from the editor I’d been working with and submitting to for four years after I won the 1999 Emma Darcy award.

During the phone call the editor said she felt that no matter which way we tried to push my work, I just didn’t quite fit in with either of the category romance lines they published at the time and she suggested looking elsewhere. Totally devastated, I felt as if all the work I’d done up until then had been a waste of time.

To me, my dream was dead. I gave up writing altogether...for two whole weeks. But, as many people know, you can’t just give up something that has been a driving goal for a good part of your life.

Bronwyn Jameson had been prodding me for some time to query Silhouette (now Harlequin) Desire—so I did. To my shock, I very quickly received a letter back in response to my query letter and synopsis, requesting my full manuscript. I was lucky enough to attend a weekend at Kara School of Writing with Robyn Donald and Daphne Claire where they gave me guidance on how to improve the work.

I posted that manuscript on the 31st of March 2005 and on 21 April 2005, while I was halfway through putting my makeup on before heading out the door to my day job, the phone rang and on the end of the line was my new editor offering to buy my book.

It was magical—the moment I had waited for, for what felt like forever. I had always thought myself prepared for such an eventuality and even had a checklist of what I should ask and information I should know next to every phone in our house should “The Call” ever eventuate. I always thought I could be cool, calm, collected and professional but I was soooo wrong.

I cried, I gushed, I cried some more, I told my editor that it was the happiest day of my life. I felt like I’d finally, finally, reached an incredible milestone—something I’d actively strived for, for thirteen years. It was amazing.

How important is it to set career goals? Can you give an example of one you have for yourself?
For me it’s important to set career goals on a regular basis, otherwise I feel like I’m a bit of a gerbil running on a wheel. My current goal is to complete a single title manuscript that’s been ticking away in the back of my mind for several years now. Personally, I want to write this book to prove to myself that I can. Professionally, I’d like to widen my horizons and my readership while still writing for Desire.

Is there anything you think pre-published writers need to know about the business/industry before they're published?
I think people need to remember this is a business and you need to behave professionally with everyone you deal with—all along the road to publication. Respect is hard-earned and easily lost, so once you’ve earned that respect, hold onto it and treasure it and nurture it for all you’re worth. 

A Bit of Fun
Favorite color: Blue, no, purple, no, blue, no, purple. Purply blue? :-)
Hunkiest hero ever: Black Niall in Linda Howard’s book, SON OF THE MORNING.
Most daring thing you've done in your life: White water rafting. I’ve done it, now I don’t ever have to do it again.
Greatest love: My family.
Timeout/relaxation for me includes: Reading and not having to cook or do dishes.
Special quote/saying you like: "Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least." – Goethe

31 comments:

  1. Wonderful interview with Yvonne, thank you Kylie! Although I'm puzzled that white water rafting takes the prize for Most Daring - surely launching yourself out of a skydiving plane takes the prize?! Whatever the case, Yvonne continues to inspire as one of New Zealand's most gracious romance writers who is always so supportive of our community. Her success is so well deserved. Shar

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  2. LOL, Shar. I had not yet flung myself from a plane when Kylie interviewed me. Although I do believe I was probably safer during the tandem skydive than I was in that raft and that freezing water!

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    1. The fellow I tandem sky-dived with said your body goes into sensory overload when you leap out of a plane for the first time and most people don't remember much of their experience.

      I loved every minute of it! And I journalled my jump. Now every time I read the entry I get a smaller adrenalin rush just remembering it.

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    2. I agree with your jump-master, Kylie. Even though I've never had major ear problems before, and used to scuba dive back in the day, I had horrendous trouble with my ears and equalising through a lot of the 15,000 feet of our jump. I think that spoiled the sheer joy of it more than anything for me. Have to say, I loved the free fall. Totally forgot about a parachute until the darn thing opened and jolted me back to reality, LOL! Our #1 kid paid for a video of her jump and when we watch it it's like reliving the experience all over again. Good idea on the journalling, though. That really would keep it fresh.

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  3. I totally agree with you, Shar, about Yvonne's generosity & graciousness. :-) There has been times she's said something in conversations that I remember and have taken as advice from years ago.

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    1. Sheesh, you two, you're making me blush!

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  4. Yvonne you're a braver person that i am, that's for sure. Sky diving - no way Jose. Most scarieset thing for me - taking the Space Mountain ride at Disneyland...and my daughter's bruises as i clutched her in the dark proved it.

    Jane B

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    1. Jane, I was weirdly detached from the whole skydiving experience at the time. I think I've enjoyed it way more in retrospect, LOL! And that Space Mountain ride is a-m-a-z-i-n-g!

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    2. Never, ever been on a roller coaster ride of any sort, not even the very small kiddie ones. Then two friends & I went to Disneyland and they dragged me onto Space Mt. - couldn't see where I was going and it was fantastic. No anticipation helped me enjoy the ride. LOL Never been on any other either.

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    3. So I guess night time tandem skydiving would be right up your alley then, Kylie? ;-)

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    4. Ohh, now there's a pastime I could try! LOL

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  5. Thanks for your story Yvonne. It's encouraging to know dreams can come true as long as you don't give up. I'll keep banging away at my keyboard.

    Sharon

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    1. Sharon, never ever ever give up on your dreams. Every time I thought I would walk away, a little voice (Robyn Donald's, I believe) said, what if that 'yes' is just around the corner? What if you quit the day/week/month before that editor wants to buy your book? How many authors gave up in despair, too soon?

      So, yeah, keep banging away and keep sending your work out :-)

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    2. I second Yvonne's comment here - I kept banging away at the keyboard 17 years from the day I first submitted work to an editor. :-) Then again, I am Taurean and we're supposed to have stubbornness in spades!

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    3. Stubborn sure helps in this business!

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  6. Great interview, Yvonne. I can't imagine how gutting it must have been to have been told after four long years that your writing didn't fit with either line!
    I'm so glad you didn't give up because I love your books. You're an inspiration to those of us still trying.

    Chris.

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    1. Thanks ChrisM! It was a devastating blow and it did knock my confidence really hard. But I guess when you want something as much as I wanted that first sale, and when you're constantly getting affirmations from competitions and editor interest that your writing is good, then you just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try and try again until you find the right home for your voice and your work.

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    2. Cynthia Kersey's saying is pinned to my office wall - she says, "Believe in yourself, and there will come a day when others will have no choice but to believe in you too."

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    3. I love that saying, Kylie. A pretty powerful affirmation, that's for sure.

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  7. Hi Yvonne and Kylie

    I totally agree with Shar and Kylie about Yvonne's generosity & graciousness. I have seen it towards me and the romance community.
    Yvonne you deserve all the success you have. You have worked so hard for it.
    An inspiring blog, reminding me to make a harder effort in my writing. (I love that quote- it's going where I can see it everyday.)

    I love reading your work.
    Giovanna

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    1. Ahhh, Giovanna! Lovely to see you here. Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm a great believer in magic pennies and paying things forward. I've had so much support from friends and mentors over the years that's it's easy to share that with others striving toward the same goals.

      The quote is a good one, isn't it? I can't even remember where I stumbled across it but it really stuck with me.

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    2. Our thin our romance communities do the whole paying forward thing very well - I'm proud to be a member of both RWAustralia & RWNZ.

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    3. They're a couple of wonderful organisations, aren't they, Kylie? A sisterhood in so many ways :-)

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  8. Whenever I think about giving up writing, I always think about you, Yvonne. Your success is an inspiration and it's great to see your career going from strength to strength.

    Thank you for paying it forward and for being such a great supporter of newly published and unpublished writers.

    Toni

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    1. Thanks, Toni, and you're so welcome. The saying "it's always darkest before the dawn" used to play on my mind a lot when I felt as if I wasn't getting anywhere. Then I'd feel like raging, "just how dark does it have to get?" I think we all hit that point at some stage or another with our creativity. You just have to believe.

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    2. And cry, kick, howl, scream, rant with a good group of writing friends who understand the rejection side of the business - those shoulders and their support come in mighty handy when times get tough. :-)

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  9. Great interview ladies. Yvonne, I remember your 'down't time and how you bounced back. It was a lesson for the rest of us.

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    1. Hi Vonnie, and thanks! Down times are nasty, but the only way from there is up.

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  10. Yvonne, I've always loved your "call" story. It's the one that's stood out for me over the years - and there have been plenty.
    Rejection is hideous but I also believe we need a little bot of it to appreciate the SOLD moment.
    I know what you mean about skydiving - once is enough. I spent half my "trip" wondering who's back yard my shoes were going to land in.

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    1. Thanks, Sue. I think your call story is wonderful, too. You just can't stop believing in yourself and your work, not for long, anyway, right?

      LOL on the shoes. We all had running/walking shoes in the car, by chance, when we decided on the spur of the moment to do our jumps. It was quite a relief not to have to worry about them. So, where did yours end up?

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