Sunday, August 8, 2010

Just Published - Nina Croft

Today I'd like to welcome Nina Croft to Just Published. Nina was first published with Shadowfire Press at the beginning of this year, followed soon after by Harlequin and will join The Wild Rose Press as an author! What an inspiring journey so far.

The specifics of Nina's first book are:


Title: Tiger of Talmare
Genre: Sci-Fi Erotica
Words: 30,000
Publisher: Shadowfire Press
Date Published: January 2010
Blurb:
Melissa Stark will take on just about any job as long as the price is right. But this particular job she would gladly take on for free because Captain Zachary Knight has been a thorn in her side ever since she stole his starship ten years ago.

Back then he was a genuine hero and poster boy for the army's hybrid breeding program. Now things have changed. Zach has been accused of a massacre on the planet of Talmare and is being shipped home to stand trial. But certain influential people want to make sure Zach never reaches Earth and Mel and her crew on The Revenge have been hired to intercept him and return him to Talmare.

It should have been easy money. The problem is, Zach is impossible to resist and once Mel gets her hands on him she's doesn't want to let him go. Now those same people are also after Mel.

Nina, how would you describe what you write?
I write romance, mainly paranormal and I’m particularly fond of Vampires. However, Tiger of Talmare is actually a Space Opera – an adventure story set in the future but the focus is still on the romance.

So, what’s your writing process in a nutshell?
I’m still quite new to this and experimenting with techniques, but I suspect I fall in the plotter corner. If I don’t plot, I tend to get stuck in the middle. So now I sort out my characters and outline and even do detailed scene breakdowns with estimated word counts, goals, conflicts etc before I start. Then I give myself a word count per day and try to stick to it. Sometimes I manage it, sometimes I don’t.

That sounds like a great disciplined approach. What has your submission history looked like? Rejections? Manuscripts written? Number of years ‘seriously writing’, etc?
I spent a number of years submitting to Mills and Boons Modern line, which is Harlequin Presents in the USA. I got some very encouraging rejections, overall they liked my writing but I was having issues with the story lines, too much external conflict. Around the middle of 2008, I decided to get serious with the writing. I was reading a lot of paranormal romance by then, so I thought I’d have a go. My first nocturne bite submission was in January 2009. It was rejected very quickly. The second was the following April and was submitted as part of one of the pitch competitions on the Harlequin forums. In the meantime I’d written Tiger of Talmare for an Anthology call at Samhain Publishing. It was rejected there. I was a little uncertain what to do with the story, but then I saw the submission call on Shadowfire Press – they were looking for Space Opera romances – it seemed perfect. So I submitted and was accepted within days. Very refreshing.

Very soon after that (it was a great week!) Harlequin accepted my Nocturne bite, The Prophecy. It was published this February, and I have now had a second bite accepted by Harlequin, and a novella, Bound to Night, coming out with The Wild Rose Press very soon.

How did you pick your publisher?
I knew I wanted to write romance and so Harlequin seemed the obvious publisher to target. But some of my stories don’t fit with the Harlequin guidelines, and with those it was a matter of searching the web until I found a suitable home.

What’s your ‘call’ story?
I’ve never got a call!

My acceptances have all been by email. With Tiger, I sent it out to Shadowfire Press and received an email within days saying they would like to publish it. I was in shock, nothing in the whole publishing business had led me to believe anything could happen that fast – I love Shadowfire!

With The Prophesy it took somewhat longer. I’d seen the pitch competition on the Harlequin forum – write a two paragraph blurb and win the chance to pitch on–line with a Harlequin editor. I don’t remember much from the pitch – I’ve blanked it from my mind, but I did come away with a request for my manuscript.

So I polished it up and sent it on its way. Then I waited. I live in Spain and most emails come in the night, so for a while switching my email on in the morning was an act of true courage. After three months I was totally convinced my poor story must be lost somewhere in cyberspace, so I gave in and emailed the editor. She came back to me right away and said she’d enjoyed my manuscript and it was now with the senior editor for final approval. It was almost enough, but not quite. It was actually another two months before I got the email saying she would like to buy it – I was actually on the harlequin forums at the time, bemoaning the fact that I hadn’t heard anything. So I changed my post straight away.

That's a great story. Did you have an agent when you sold? Now?
No – I’m looking, but it’s painful. I’ve recently completed a full-length aimed at single title, and I’ve started sending out queries, and started getting rejections. But I think it’s one of those things where you just have to persevere.

What’s it like working with a publisher and editor? Are revisions really as bad as you hear?
My revisions so far have been fine, a little stressful because I’m new to it and wasn’t entirely sure whether I was doing the right thing. But my editors have all been great and always say ‘just ask’ if anything’s not clear.

The most difficult thing for me was one of my editors requesting that I lose some of my English dialect, as their books are mainly aimed at the US market. It’s quite straightforward knowing what Americans say as we watch so much American TV over here (I love 24!) the hard part is knowing what Americans don’t say, but we do. Luckily, I have some great American CPs with my critique group, Passionate Critters, who were a huge help. But I reckon I’m definitely due a trip to the states to do a bit of research.

Being Australian I get that, although I've been in the US a long time! How did you feel the first time you saw your cover? How much input did you have?
I loved my cover for Tiger; it was almost exactly what I’d asked for. The only thing I was a little disappointed about was I wanted my hero to have stripes!

I also loved my cover for The Prophecy, though it was completely different from how I envisaged it.

I’ve found my input to be limited. We fill out an Art Fact Sheet which gives a lot of information about the hero, heroine, important scenes and so on, but after that it’s really up to the publisher. Luckily, so far I’ve been very happy with my covers.

What was release day like?
Weird in a way, quite anticlimactic. I only clicked onto the Harlequin site about a hundred times – honest. Maybe because I live so far from everywhere, it’s hard to feel involved.

How did you market your book?
I’m going to whizz past this question as I’ve done very little marketing, and I’m feeling guilty about it. But that’s going to change. Honest. I’m working on a plan.

LOL. What’s the most surprising thing you learned during the publishing process?
Actually, how fast things can move. You get so used to long waits during the submission process, but things can move faster once you’ve been accepted. I signed my contract for the Prophecy in October and the book was out in February. However I’m sure the process is a lot longer with print books – hopefully I’ll find out one day.

What do you think were the factors that got you published?
I think it varied. With Tiger, I absolutely loved writing it, it was great fun and I basically wrote what I wanted with very little constraint other than word count. I think the enthusiasm comes out in the book and that’s maybe what got it published.

The Prophecy was slightly different, in that harlequin have quite precise guidelines. I read everything I could, loads of bites, interviews with editors and really tried to give them what they wanted.

What’s your 5 year plan look like?
My next big thing is obviously getting a full-length novel accepted. Eventually I’d love to be in a position where I’m contracted to write so many books a year. The whole concept of being contracted for a book you haven’t written yet just blows me away.

After that I’d like to branch out into single title.

Genre wise, I’ll probably stick to paranormal and science fiction as they are so much fun to write, although I’d love to have a go at an historical sometime - maybe an historical paranormal.

So, what’s next for you?
I have a novella, Bound to Night, coming out soon with The Wild Rose Press, and a second Nocturne Bite, The Darkness, coming out in October. I have a couple of full lengths submitted (keeping my fingers crossed) and am currently working on a Science Fiction novella.

That's fabulous! What’s the best advice you can impart to writers aspiring to be published?
Don’t give up.

That's great adivce! Thanks, Nina for being here today and sharing your story, how you did it and what you've learned. Best of luck with your pursuits for a bigger book and your goal for single title. I wish you all the best!!

25 comments:

  1. Great interview 'Nina' and a continued inspiration and help to all her pals on Writers Abroad.

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  2. Awesome interview! You are truly an inspiration!

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  3. You sound really organised. I'm impressed. Good luck with the full lengths

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  4. The blurb for Tiger sounds great. And I agree with Anne, your writing process seems very disciplined. Do you think that has been a critical factor in your success?

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  5. A very informative interview and Nina, your publishing journey is an inspiration to us all. Congrats on your successes and long may they continue!

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  6. Inspirational interview. I'm impressed with how organised you are and the hard work you've put in. The success is well deserved. Keep it coming.

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  7. Great interview, Nina! I love the way you've continued to submit to epublishers even though you've been contracted by "the bigs". :)

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  8. This is very uplifting. Thank you!

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  9. I love the covers of your books...they've done a great job with them.....

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  10. You do have great covers, Nina! Thanks for sharing your writing journey!

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  11. Fun interview!

    Love your covers, Nina! Your commitment to success leaves me breathless. LOL I'm so digging it!

    Congrats and best wishes!

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  12. Wonderful interview -- great to meet you, Nina!

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  13. I absolutely LOVED The Prophecy! You're definitely an inspiration. Congrats on your pubbed success. :)

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  14. Nina is having some issues posting a comment, so she asked me to include the following:

    Thanks for all the comments and the good luck!
    Tatiana - no, I doubt it's a factor, mainly because I'm new to this, and my writing process is still evolving. When I wrote Tiger, I was still hoping I could make it as a panster - I always wanted to be one of those people that can just sit down and write a wonderful story without any planning - but unfortunately, I'm not.

    Nina

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  15. Thanks for sharing, Nina! Very inspiring. Best wishes for your future.

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  16. Love your journey story, Nina. You make the entire process seem doable. ...and I love your writing. I'm glad you shared with us.
    Can't wait until you make that Single Title break-through!

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  17. Way cool Nina, and I really enjoyed your Nocturne Bites. I'll pick up Tiger of Talmare as well :)

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  18. Wonderful interview. Tiger of Talmare sounds great. And I agree, you do have great covers.

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  19. I'm in! At last. Thanks for all the great comments! Nina.

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  20. I thoroughly enjoyed your interview(journey to publication). I like your advice "don't give up" which is great advice for many situations.

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