Thursday, March 01, 2007

Writer's Wednesday with Abby Gaines

Our latest author is New Zealand author, and NASCAR fan, Abby Gaines. Give her a big Pink Heart Society welcome!!!

About Abby :: I’ve wanted to be a writer for what feels like forever. I wrote my first manuscript aimed at Mills & Boon when I was a teenager. I wrote it longhand in school notebooks, passing my work to my younger sister to read at the end of each day – dear old sis is still one of my biggest fans! When I was finished, I typed it up on a typewriter, complete with carbon copy, then sent it to M&B in London.

I seriously believed it would sell. I was seriously deluded....

A form rejection arrived not long later, and that was the end of my writing ambitions for some time (except for the sci-fi novel I also wrote back then – a terrible choice given that I don’t read or enjoy sci-fi!).

I spent the next many years going to university, then working at IBM, where I met my husband and married him fairly promptly. Then living in London for several years, becoming a PR consultant and, when our first child was born, taking up freelance business journalism so that I could stay home with the kids.

The Road to Publication

Six and a half years ago, I was tired of writing articles about business – it felt like the same old stories, same old people. I started to think about other ways I could work as a writer...and then I remembered my old ambition to write romance novels.

I’m a how-to junkie, so I immediately got a load of books out of the library that would teach me how to write romance, and I also started reading romance again for the first time in years – and loved it! I also joined Romance Writers of New Zealand, a fabulous, inspiring, nurturing organization, and later Romance Writers of America, which took my professionalism to a new level.

Although I knew back then that I had a learning curve and some hard work in front of me, I naively thought that because I already made my living from my writing, it wouldn’t take me long to sell my first book. And I meant my first book – I wasn’t planning on writing lots of manuscripts that would get rejected!

I look back and laugh now, but overall I think it’s best to feel that way when you get started. Would I really have kept going if I’d known I would write six complete books and large chunks of a few others before I sold anything? Would I have even started if I’d known this was a five-year-plus project?

Along the way I had loads – and loads – of rejections from agents and editors. I firmly believe you don’t sell if you don’t submit, and certainly when I finally did sell a manuscript it was one that had been rejected by several editors but with enough positive feedback for me to revise it and keep submitting.

I also had several contest successes along the way, and those are good for keeping the morale up.

I got The Call from Victoria Curran at Harlequin Superromance in April 2006. It was both a thrill and a relief. Soon afterward, I sold a book that was sitting on Tina Colombo’s desk at the Harlequin NASCAR line (see, this is the joy of having lots of submissions out there!). The months after those sales flew by, and it seemed no time until I was holding my first book in my hand – yay! I’ve now sold five books and a novella across those two lines. It’s busy, and it’s definitely scary, and I suspect I have more self-doubt now than I ever did before I was published (go figure!), but it’s wonderful!

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Abby!

For more about Abby and her novels, check out her website, and Novelchicks, the eHarlequin reading blog of Abby and her writing friends.


  1. Abby, thanks for sharing. I'm always interested in knowing about an author's journey!

  2. Fab story, Abby!
    Another "overnight" success LOL. It might have taken you five years but you've sold five books in a short space of time. CONGRATS

  3. Hi, Abby! Love your story :-). And I agree with Fiona's "'overnight' success" comment, LOL! You're off and running, that's for sure!

  4. Abby, I love your story. WLIT is already in my TBR stack...can't wait.

  5. Thanks for the comments. Everyone's journey is different, but the same themes keep cropping up - namely, rejection and perseverance :) . But yes, selling several books within a short space of time did make up for all those years of trying (though, sadly, on one of those subsequent sales was of an earlier mansucript).

    Carol, hope you enjoy the book!