Writing romance was a fantasy I started taking seriously when I turned forty, but then I was always a late developer. I got serious about a journalistic career at twenty-four, real love at twenty-nine and motherhood at thirty-four. But I always loved the way romances took me on an emotional journey and I think that’s the strength of our genre over any other, the way our books make people feel. And I certainly went through the whole range of emotions in the five years it took to get published. A New Zealander (Kiwi), I live with my partner and son north of
Came on Friday the 13th which pretty much sums up the whole topsy turvy process of getting there. Other people talk about champagne and bubbles, euphoria and joy...for ten minutes I felt relief so deep I could only slump in my chair. And there was a strange sense of saying lines to the editor because I’d rehearsed that gracious acceptance so often in my imagination that the reality was strangely flat...c’mon Karina, more EMOTION like we planned.
But that’s life for you, the excitement came later when my mind accepted that this time it’s REAL. Then I rang everybody I knew and let the joy inflate until I almost burst with it. But the very best moment for me was holding the advance copy in my hand some months later and reading my words in type...just like a real book. And I flicked through the pages and my name was on every one, can you imagine? ☺
The tears really flowed when I read the dedication to my parents and thought, I did it. I may never sell another book but for the rest of my life I can say, I’m a published author. I fully intend to bore the pants off everyone in the rest home, so make sure you check the residents names in another forty plus years...you don’t want to end up sitting in the rocker next to me.
I just realised I’m supposed to be telling you how I got there aren’t I? I think that’s the part most new writers have in common. They suffer. Most authors take an average of 4.5 years and five books before they get the call and most writers secretly tell themselves they’re so talented they will be the exception to the rule. You have to; otherwise you wouldn’t put yourself through it. Over time you come to realise that talent is only a small part of the mix, you also need craft and you also need words...lots of them...on the page. But most of all you need persistence.
Of course some people will get their first book published and it’s right to think you’ll be one of them. Self-belief is very important. But if it doesn’t turn out that way, keep the self-belief. Ultimately that will get you the Call.
I was very lucky and very unlucky to win competitions as an unpublished writer. I won New Zealand’s Clendon Award for my first book and was the first Australasian to win a Golden Heart (the American equivalent of the Oscars for unpublished writers), for my second book. Both NEARLY got published.
Both gave me a huge morale boost and simultaneously dumped a lot of expectations on my shoulders, which in the Clendon’s case took four years to fulfil. The other mantle I carried through those years was being the only Clendon winner who hadn’t sold.
It was good for my ego to be puffed up and then deflated because it taught me that this business is a roller coaster ride and that’s its thrill. Treat the highs and the lows with the same pragmatism, keep your sense of humour and keep writing.
The manuscript that was accepted was my fourth book (the third is a mish mash of a single title begging for attention) so guess what? I fit the statistics almost exactly. Yikes, I’m average.
MR IMPERFECT, Karina's debut Superromance came out September and is still available online.
The second in the loose trilogy of three friends and business partners MR IRRESISTIBLE (a rework of her Clendon winner) will be published June 07.