Writing

On my friend John J Asher

Sometimes the people who become your best friends are who’d you expect. The kid your age who ends up living next door. The neighborhood family expecting a baby the same time as you. A coworker you laugh with at lunch.

But then there are the ones who are only on the periphery of your life when an unexpected connection is formed, and they become people you can’t live without.

John was that.

Stolen shot of us at a party in 2011.

We met at a writer’s group I joined in 2004. He sat at the long table filled with 15-20 writers on any given Sunday. He usually had good stuff to say. We did not speak much then, not any more than any other members of the group.

But that changed in August 2006. He submitted a few chapters of his novel in progress, A Dignified Exit, and I was stunned.

I was known for my rather sharp critiques. I never liked anything. So the group, and certainly John, was surprised, when I passed him this:

John, John, John.

Writing like yours is what feels comfortable to me. It’s beautiful and honest and illuminates elements of life worth slowing down and examining in fine detail. It’s patient and languorous and sad and true.

I know I’m not living up to my reputation as the novel-slasher of NIP, but I know good stuff when I see it, and this is good stuff.

This will not be an easy book to sell, but it’s worth it. Keep trying. Persevere.

August 2006

Shortly after this, according to our very first private email a few days later, we started a query critique group with fellow author Suzann Kale, who was working on Midnight Tequila. The three of us helped each other submit queries to agents over the next month.

Then came one of those moments you don’t forget — a member of our writers group, Melanie Typaldos, author of a middle grade book featuring a capybara, had a pre-surgery party, and I sat by John. I don’t really remember anything about the party other than him and our intense conversation about writing, the pain of creation, and living as an artist with only one foot in reality.

Afterward we wrote each other rather exuberant emails on writing and decided to meet more often. Our discussions went all over the place — novel inspiration, themes from our lives that melted into our fiction, and the painful nature of trying to wrestle with the forces of creation, whether in writing, like we both did, or as a painter and illustrator (John illustrated dozens of children’s books) and photographer (I was working as a portrait photographer at the time.)

In one of our email conversations during this period he told me this:

There is a feeling like no other in knowing you have done something that is truly good. It doesn’t happen often, mysteriously elusive, but when it does, you’re somehow in touch with your higher self. Something beyond the self. Every once in a while I am blessed with a gift from the infinite.

John Asher — September 2006

By the end of the year, we were talking on the phone every day, Monday through Friday, around 2:00, the last hour before my girls got home from school. We read each other sections of our books. Talked about our queries to agents. Commiserated over rejections. These daily conversations went on for another 10 years, punctuated with group meetings, happy hours, and the restaurants where we became such regulars that the waiters knew us by name and placed our orders as we found a table. He never failed to send me a Valentine in those early years, original sketches and mixed media I still love to take out.

Since I did photography, he sometimes asked me for new photos of him for his web sites and books. I took a few, once at a party in 2008, and once by the jukebox at Catfish Parlor in 2012, where we met often.

When I wound up in the hospital in 2010, John showed up, book in hand, and read to me while everyone tried to figure out what was wrong. A young surgeon insisted I needed my gall bladder removed when I knew I didn’t, so John became my partner in crime when I snuck out to avoid the scalpel! (Spoiler — I was misdiagnosed and still have my gall bladder today!)

Later that year, I was at the Heart Hospital when John had back-to-back surgeries, one planned, one emergency. No one was sure he’d pull it out, but a week later we celebrated his 75th in a post-surgical rehab hospital.

I made the switch to self publishing in July 2011, and John waited to see how it would go for me before doing it himself, publishing both A Dignified Exit and The Dogs of Mexico in December. We rode the early wave of self-publishing and both had a glorious time with it. John went on to release several more books, and I published close to fifty. He liked to tease me about my fandom, and on my birthday in 2015 he sent me this:

John’s long-time friend Tommy Kendrick did this video of John in 2015 after narrating John’s book The Dogs of Mexico in audio. These were great days.

When I added more children to my life in late 2015, phone calls got hard for me to pull off, so we emailed all our daily issues. A quick search of my inbox shows over 4,000 messages. When I finally got everyone school age again, we found new spots to have lunch, including this spot at Hyde Park Grill last fall near his new apartment.

When he landed back in rehab to strengthen up earlier this year, I stopped by several times a week. Things weren’t going well, and he had one last book that was finished but he hadn’t released it yet. I asked him what the heck was he waiting for? His daughter and I went to his place to raid his computer for the files, and so his final book, James and Jilly, came out in May.

John was with me in 2006 as I searched for an agent for my very first novel, Helena the Muse, which he told me just a few weeks ago was still his favorite. As we went over the figures for his final novel and I told him my marketing plan for it, he reversed the conversation — what in the heck was I waiting for in not releasing my best work?

Maybe I will. I haven’t even read it in a decade, since those days when John and I would pore over every sentence of our manuscripts, critiquing the placement of a phrase, or the variation of a verb. Reading it again will certainly channel him, and the faith he had in me — a faith we shared in each other.

John R Jones, known to his fans as author John J Asher, died in the early morning hours of August 15, 2019.

I’m not really sure what my creative life looks like without him. The perfect critique partner is an impossible find. But for thirteen glorious years, I had it. He was never too busy to hear the latest plot I was struggling with. No phrase was too small or insignificant to discuss.

The imprint of his influence will remain with me always, even on the work I will have to continue without him.

New year, new pen name!

I haven’t written a Deanna-book in a while, as I’ve been focused on branded pen names that write very specific types of books.

The Sweetest Match and The Perfect Disaster both take place in the fall of 2018 in Applebottom, Missouri. The two books can be read in any order and are completely standalone. You won’t be confused regardless of where you start with the Applebottom books.

The Sweetest Match

She wrote secret messages of love and longing in the frosting of the cakes she decorated, thinking no one would notice.

First the town did.
Then so did he.

Sweetest Match cover

Apple Books: http://bit.ly/Sweet-AP

Kobo: http://bit.ly/Sweet-KB

GP: http://bit.ly/Sweet-GP

BN: http://bit.ly/Sweetest-BN

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2GqorDL

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2SlEQk8

Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/SweetCanZon

Amazon AUS: http://bit.ly/SweetAUSZon

The Perfect Disaster

Her giant pup drags her across town, right into the arms of the football coach.

Perfect Disaster cover

Apple Books: http://bit.ly/PDis-AP

BN: http://bit.ly/PDis-BN

Google Play: http://bit.ly/PDis-GP

Kobo: http://bit.ly/PDis-KB

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2EgAUHf

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2GTg0lx

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2Xsrbq4

Amazon AUS: https://amzn.to/2BW92YJ

On MARCH 17, all Abby’s email and text subscribers will receive an exclusive wedding epilogue. This will happen for every book, so you get to see the happy day for each couple. The epilogues are written by Gertrude, the curmudgeonly matriarch of Applebottom, who has her own take on everything that happens in her town. She’s a hoot! Sign up to get those — if you’ve missed some, you’ll have a chance right away to upload the weddings from earlier books.

Here’s the Abby Box giveaway!

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The Little Dude Book is here!

I’ve never had a book more people have asked for than this one!

A couple years ago, before we adopted Little Dude, I typed up the very first conversation between him and Elizabeth. We were out walking, hoping to find a good spot to view the super moon. It went like this:

Eliza: Look at the super moon! It’s so big!
LD: No it’s not! I could hold it in my hand!
Eliza: It’s only small because it’s far away. It’s a super moon because it’s closer than usual.
LD: I don’t see a cape. It’s not a super anything.
Eliza: Sigh.
LD: Can it be a Batman moon instead?

The response was tremendous. Friends and family wanted to know more about this Little Dude who had entered our lives. We were unable to share details or pictures, so our extended circle came to know him from the conversations I posted every so often.

The conversations covered the period when Little Dude was five and six, crossing the point when he went from a foster child to our adopted son.

I’m still quite protective of him online, but I believe the conversations we’ve had paint a very solid picture of our funny, mysterious, unique little guy.

Here’s the book you all wanted so much:

Welcome to the Dude’s Eye View.

Little Dude arrived in his sixth (and final!) foster home at age 4.

He brought with him a wicked sense of humor and a take on the world his foster parents had never heard before.

From his unique perspective, you’ll learn
• the logic of lint traps
• the necessity of bribing reindeer
• why Girl Scout cookies are suitable for breakfast, and most of all
• the importance of wearing a cape

Along the way, you’ll see a lost little boy (and his mom!) navigate the emotional and complicated world of adoption from foster care.

Paperback and Hardcover Links:

SIGNED Hardcover

Barnes and Noble

Powell’s Books

Books a Million

Amazon

Ebook Links:

Apple Books Barnes and Noble Kobo Google Play

Amazon

Forever Christmas, my rainbow baby book, has arrived

It’s here!    👶

My mission to help grieving moms through story has come to its conclusion! The rainbow baby is often the end of the grief journey, even though losing a child to miscarriage or stillbirth or infant death is forever part of your life story, one that will create feelings of sorrow at unexpected moments for always.

Today we celebrate rainbows and see how far we’ve come.

The FOREVER books
A USA Today bestselling series

Six years ago, Corabelle and Gavin’s journey into family began with an unplanned pregnancy in high school. Their baby was born prematurely with a heart condition, and died at seven days old. FOREVER INNOCENT (which is a free download) takes you through this journey.

The tragedy splits the couple, and the fallout from their choices leads them both back to the college they had originally chosen before the pregnancy. There, Gavin realizes Corabelle is the love of his life and he must make things right.

If you only read Book 1 and this final Book 6 of the series, you would get a fairly complete picture of what they go through. The middle four books deal with other complications as well as friends they make along they way.

Book 6, FOREVER CHRISTMAS takes you through the frightening second pregnancy for Corabelle, with all its tender hope and debilitating fear.

Rainbow babies are called the beauty after the storm. For anyone who has been touched by loss, these stories are an honest portrayal of how you live through the worst, and finally, the best days of your life.

You can get FOREVER INNOCENT for free here:
Amazon – http://deannaroy.com/ForeverInnocentZon
BN Free – http://deannaroy.com/ForeverInnocentBN
Kobo – http://deannaroy.com/ForeverInnocentKB
Google Play – http://deannaroy.com/ForeverInnocentGP
iTunes – http://deannaroy.com/ForeverInnocentIT

And the new release FOREVER CHRISTMAS is now available here:

iBooks: http://apple.co/2l9Ak84
BN/Nook: http://bit.ly/ForeverCNook
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2gZAmus
Kobo: http://bit.ly/ForCKobo
Google Play: http://bit.ly/ForCG

Thank you to EVERYONE who changed their profile picture to use the Forever Christmas frame this week. There are so many rainbow babies in the world. Over 100 of them have dedications in my book.

Rainbow Babies, Bonus Books, and the Ugly Cry Queen

When I lost my first baby, I didn’t think at the time I might one day write about it.

I was so alone in the world. I had just quit my job to be a mom. My Bunco group had turned into an endless series of baby showers for its members. That was treacherous territory now. So I quit. I spent my days in solitude.

My husband was bewildered, as many spouses are, at the length and depth and breadth of my grief. I half-heartedly looked for other jobs, but mostly I planted flowers and tried to make peace with something that would never, ever make sense.

By the time I got pregnant with Emily, I was more than a little dead to optimism. There was definitely a point when I started bleeding that I completely gave up hope and assumed she was dead. (Spoiler: she’s a freshman in college now.)

I have a public journal that I kept with her, as by that time my mission to help others who had lost pregnancies was in full swing at  www.pregnancyloss.info. (If you want to see some amazeballs 90s web work, you can visit my original site on the WayBack — sadly the animated GIFs and MIDI music did not survive the backups.)

It’s painful to read those hopeless entries. I did not believe motherhood would ever be something that happened to me.

When I wrote Forever Innocent, this juxtaposition of terrible tragedy and the youthfulness of Gavin and Corabelle propelled the book into the sort of bestseller territory I hadn’t anticipated. When I finished the series with Forever Family, I really felt we were done telling that story.

But I’d skipped something important, something the women who have been with me literally from my own hard days were quick to point out. I did not have a rainbow pregnancy depicted in all its ups and downs.

So this year, I did that. I added a book to the series that begins with Corabelle’s decision to move on, forget about pregnancy, and try to live a life without that tender hope. It moves through the roller coaster of finding out that she will have to live out her fear a second time. And all the way through the inevitable hardships that come when you are that scared for that long.

Because, trust me, nine months is a really long time to be terrified.

For moms who just want to go through that process with Corabelle, it’s fine to skip straight to Forever Christmas. It stands alone in that sense. For those who want to see her and Gavin’s entire journey, it’s best to start at the beginning with  Forever Innocent .

Book one is a free download, so it’s easy to start. I hope by the time you get through the six books, whether baby loss has touched your life personally, or you are just up for an ugly cry that becomes the happiest Christmas of all, these characters are more than just a book to you. They are trusted friends who show you the path so many families must walk, and that your empathy and understanding will guide you when moments like this come to pass in your home, your extended family, your friends, or your social media feed.

It’s been quite a journey. I shed a whole lot of tears while writing these pages, and I can only hope I got it right.

Arriving Dec. 14, 2018
Just in time for the holidays

Forever Christmas

They tell mothers like me, a woman whose baby has died, that a new pregnancy will bring a rainbow baby. You know, the beauty after the storm.

What they don’t say is how hard it’s going to be. How scary. How emotional. That at the lowest point, I will completely give up hope.

I do have a saving grace. Several, in fact. Gavin, my hot, sex-on-the-kitchen-counter, loves-me-on-my-bad-days husband. He’s been with me since the beginning. And I have Jenny and Tina, girlfriends I met along the way. They’re the good ones. The ones who bring you Kleenex and vodka.

But I also have you. Tens of thousands of you who read my story and have cheered me on, waiting for me and Gavin to have a healthy baby. It helps me, knowing you’re out there, waiting, hoping. Some of you have lost babies yourselves. You know what I’m about to endure.

So it’s time for the happiest happy ending of all. What better time than at Christmas?

(Don’t forget your tissues. And maybe the vodka too.)

______

Forever Christmas can be read as a standalone, but if this is your first introduction to the Forever novels, I recommend reading Forever Innocent to understand their backstory.

PREORDER LINKS

 

 

The new series of dance standalones is here!

I really had to push myself these last six months to write. I had a child graduate high school, another child take a hard turn with her health (we’ll be at Dell Children’s Hospital all next week), and an adoption to finish (big day should be June 16!)

In this series, you see the other side of adoption, when a young girl must give up her baby, but finds a desperate, secret way to see her child a few years later.

Book 1: Forbidden Dance

I never should have danced with a stranger…
An emotional new novel from six-time USA Today bestselling author Deanna Roy

Kindle iBooks Kobo Google Play Nook

Three things about me:

1. I’m not as innocent as everybody thinks. I know I’m shy and quiet, but like they say, still waters run deep.

2. I’ve been home schooled since freshman year. It was punishment, but I deserved it. My parents didn’t know what else to do.

3. I’m not the greatest dancer, but it’s the only thing I love with all my heart. Actually, there is one other thing, but it’s the biggest secret of my life. One I can’t tell anyone. Not even you.

Which brings me to a surprise bonus thing to know.

4. I met Blitz Craven, you know, the super famous reality TV dance star. His show is like The Bachelor, only he’s looking for a dance partner. He showed up at my dance studio after his big disgrace, thinking he could use the wheelchair ballerinas I teach to get back in the world’s good favor.

When he looks at me, I know what he’s thinking. (See item number one.) Everyone wants to protect me from him, their shy, innocent Livia. But when we dance, I want it, more than anything. Soon we’re sneaking into back rooms, dancing, kissing, planning dates away from the cameras and the wrath of my family.

But I’m afraid. As thrilling as my life has become, I still have a secret. And if I stay with Blitz, the world will figure it out.

iBooksAmazon ~ BN ~ Kobo ~ Google Play

 

Book 2: Wounded Dance

The quiet happy life Livia has built with Blitz is threatened by a man from her past.


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Book 3: Wicked Dance

Livia and Blitz think they’ve left their reality TV show days behind, but the three jilted finalists have other ideas.

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Book 4: Tender Dance

Livia’s secret is exposed to the world and her life shatters. Uprooted from everything and everyone she has ever known, a door opens in the form of a traveling ballet company. But then there is Blitz. For the first time, she must ask herself, what is it that she has always wanted?

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Book 5: Final Dance

In the final book of the series, Blitz and Livia plan their quiet wedding. But guess who has other plans? See the fight between Hollywood and our couple for the biggest wedding in television history as the Lovers Dance series comes to a close.

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Boxed Set: All 5 Books

Get Blitz and Livia’s entire story in one volume, plus a bonus story about Livia’s dance friend Aurora.

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Prequel: Billionaire’s Dance

Before Dreamcatcher’s Dance Academy ever existed, there was a girl in love with two billionaire brothers. Only one of them would win her heart and build the dance school of her dreams.

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_____________

Fans should find Deanna on her Facebook page, the reader group, the email list, via text, on Twitter, Instagram, Bookbub, or Goodreads.

 

Inspiration from Stevie Nicks and the 24 Karat Gold Tour

It’s midnight-thirty and I have a passel of kids home for spring break, but I’m going to write this because it’s exactly what Stevie Nicks would do. I know this because she told me so.

She’s on tour with her solo songs, things she wrote outside of the Fleetwood Mac sets, so the stories behind the lyrics were a prominent part of her concert.

She’s an inspiration without even having to try. She’s 68, still touring (in heels!) and her voice is as distinctive and true as anything you’ve heard in a recording from any of the last five decades.

You could be inspired by her stories of unabashedly calling up Tom Petty or Prince to collaborate or play a song she just wrote (or, in the case of “Stand Back,” rewrote based on “Little Red Corvette.”)

Or you could take her “Follow your dreams” speeches — and there were several mixed into her concert material — at face value.

But here’s the story I found to say it best.

Stevie is a struggling young artist working two jobs, as a waitress and a house cleaner. She writes songs as she can, and finally gets enough attention in the industry to record her first album.

The album comes out and is released to the world, the culmination of her dreams, hard work and distinctive voice.

And she remains a waitress and a house cleaner.

Nothing really happens. The album goes nowhere. Her label drops her.

But here’s the thing. Artists make art. So she kept right on going, kept writing, kept singing. From looking at snow covered hills from a rich person’s house to inspire her to write “Landslide,” to trying to honor the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in “New Orleans,” she held tight to the things that spoke to her, and retold them in song.

Then one day, Fleetwood Mac called.

It’s possible (and, in fact, quite probable) that your first efforts at your passion will move invisibly through time, impacting only you.

But you are the most important person. Without you, that art never existed in the first place.

The only opportunity that is lost is the art you never make at all.

Based on all the things I felt moved to create after tonight, I’m going to be doing some collaborating after the release of my next series (15 days until Forbidden Dance, y’all.) And also telling a few more stories about the inspiration for the stories. And asking other authors to do the same. It’s important.

Sometimes the best way to inspire people to follow their dreams is simply to follow yours.

The Book That Almost Never Was — Elektra Chaos

When I first started writing Elektra Chaos, things hadn’t gotten bad yet. My daughter Elizabeth, who is on the cover, had been diagnosed with epilepsy for four years at that point, and we had the seizures under control.

She was still going through a lot, as the medicine made her gain a lot of weight, and her previous friends had dumped her. But some of the other girls with a little more weight to them had picked her up and dusted her off, so we were getting through fifth grade.

I was about halfway through this book, which features a girl with epilepsy — the story Elizabeth wanted me to tell — when everything fell apart. The seizures returned. She couldn’t go through a week without one. Her life was regularly in danger as she tried to do normal things like climb playscapes or go swimming.

Then the medicine quit working completely. We tried another, and this one made her sick and listless. She lost an incredible amount of body weight in a dramatic few months. She couldn’t eat. Her skin got wounds that wouldn’t heal. I began to think she wasn’t going to come out of this. I began to wonder if my future was one without my little girl.

So I quit writing the book.

I still cry just thinking about those days.

With the help of our pediatrician and neurologist, we did get it turned around. We had three good years in middle school before everything started to fall apart again last summer. We’re still in that hard place, and to have the finished book come out while I’m back in darker days hasn’t been easy. Those who follow our story over on Facebook know she was discovered at Disneyland in a puddle, unconscious, having a seizure. They are a constant right now, anytime things get too loud or she feels off. We’re struggling to find a new way to control them.

But the book is here, and it’s important to us.

Elizabeth wanted to see an adventure story where the girl has seizures, and saves the world anyway.

Kindle iBooks Kobo Books a Million Nook

 

In this magic adventure novel, Elektra’s epilepsy is important, but not everything. It’s a story about a girl who thinks she’s meant to be the bully, the bad guy, and that makes it easier for her to handle the weirdness that comes with having such a difficult, embarrassing problem like seizures.

But suddenly, her magic power is asking more of her. To change. To be the hero she’s never thought she could be. At least she aims to try.

The book is written for 9-12 year olds, a lot like the original Harry Potter or early Rick Riordan books. I’m pleased to be done with it, but even MORE glad when my little Elektra at home finds a stable place again.

You can also see the other books in the series.

 

You can read more about Elizabeth in these blog posts.

One MILLION views? Really! Let’s give some stuff away!

I’m still sitting here in shock looking at this.

Almostonemillion

We’re ThisClose to getting to 1 million views for my series video on Facebook. That’s so stinking crazy! I keep falling out of my chair!

So I’ve got a BUNCH O’ GIVEAWAYS!

Giveaway ONE is for the BIG READERS to buy whatever books they want.

  • Kindle Fire!
  • Amazon Gift Cards!
  • iTunes gift Cards!

Giveaway TWO is for DEANNA FANS.

  • Rare swag set with a one-of-a-kind bracelet with a miniature Forever Innocent book and a sterling silver butterfly.
  • Complete signed set of the entire Forever series.
  • Signed set of the first book of FOUR Deanna series under all her pen names!

Feel free to enter both — I separated them so that the big fans would get a better shot at the swag and book one! Can’t wait to see that bracelet on somebody! <3

GIVEAWAY ONE: Kindle Fire and Gift Cards

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GIVEAWAY TWO: Bracelet, rare swag, signed books!

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Did you miss the VIDEO?

HERE IT IS! 🙂

 

 

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Forever Innocent

Book 1 of the USA Today bestselling seriesweb-Forever-Innocent-3D

Have you ever heard a really sad song and know it describes your life exactly?

That’s me.

But it’s not just one. It’s every sad song. The one where you plan a lifetime with your absolute soulmate, then he leaves you.

The one where you’re making your way in the world, then everything shatters.

And the one where you love a tiny little person with all your heart.

And he dies.

I wish I could say I don’t blame Gavin for leaving when things got hard, but I do. He took off during our baby’s funeral and I didn’t see him again for four years.

But when fate throws us back together, despite everything — his mistakes, my secrets, our failure — one thing is perfectly clear.

Our love song still has one more verse.

Five full-length novels

Forever-series-hardcovers

“A remarkable story about love, loss, and moving forward.”
— Burning Impossibly Bright Blog

“An everlasting hope that love can conquer all.”
— Hesperia Loves Books

“Put this on your TBR list and bump it to the top.”
Eat Sleep Read Blog

eBook downloads 

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Paperbacks

Amazon Barnes & Noble Powell’s Books A Million

Okay, this one’s gonna end in tears

In the summer of 2013, I had a problem. Kurt and I had just given up on getting pregnant and I had two surgeries in a row sealing the deal. No babies for us. Not biologically ours, anyway.

We started looking into adoption. We knew it was expensive. We were solid financially, but finding another $30k was gonna be tough.

I was still doing photography and had published a few books — Baby Dust was out, and did all right, but nothing that would pull in that kind of money. I wrote two romances but they flopped totally and went in the red.

I was fortunate at that time to make a couple really important friends. One was Mimi Strong, who I’d met on Kboards. Another was HM Ward, who had a similar background as me, photographer turned writer, and also lived in Texas.

Mimi had some big success with a billionaire series she had written and took me under her wing. We looked at my current fan base, all baby-loss moms, and where to go to expand. She told me new adult romances, set at college age, were the big thing.

Well, I had tried new adult already, twice, and those were flops. But she insisted I had done it wrong. So she coached me. Mimi made me sit down and come up with a college romance that hadn’t already been done but would have a very strong hook. Something only I could write.

Well, of course I knew what it had to be.

The character of Corabelle came first. Her baby had died. To make the story happen in college, she had to be a teen mother. Then Gavin, her boyfriend. He had to have something in his past that made him take off when the going got tough, even though he had loved Corabelle.

And I had to find a way to get them back together that wasn’t too hokey. And I had to keep them apart enough to make a book.

Into the fall we worked on the book, Mimi reading my work and telling me what I was doing wrong. When it came time for covers, Mimi was insistent I have the right look. We pored over images, trying to find something that wasn’t overused but still affordable since I had such a low budget (although the moment mine came out, the same image popped up everywhere.)

Here are the couples who didn’t make the cut (and I know what you’re thinking — no way any of those were Corabelle and Gavin!)

old-fi-cover-mocks

We did everything we could think of for the book release. Blog tours. Goodreads giveaways. NetGalley. A book trailer. Mimi was pushing it out to her fans.

And it was doing much better than my other books. Way better. But after a week, it just started to dive. If it was over now, that was it. It would earn out its costs, which were a lot more than my other books had been, but that was about it. Kurt and I talked about me going ahead and going back to work, even though I’d have to quit when we got the children. But at least to earn the fees.

Then I took a wild chance. I knew HM Ward just a little bit. We’d messaged some. She was huge at the time. Just huge. Her Arrangement series was topping every chart. And I boldly asked if she would share my book with her fans.

She didn’t respond for two days. I thought, okay, I’ve overstepped. No way would she do a favor like that for someone she barely knew. I was a little embarrassed to have asked.

I remember going to a football game that night. My daughter was a freshman and marching at halftime. My parents were in town too, to see her. While we waited for them to come out, I pulled out my phone to see how much farther my book had fallen in rankings.

And almost fell out of my seat.

I had sold 1000 copies that day.

I frantically checked my messages, and sure enough, HM had sent a message. “Posted it. Think I sold a couple hundred. :)”

This visibility set off a chain reaction. The book didn’t fall. I hit #4 on iBooks. Top 50 BN. I came breathlessly close to the top 100 on Amazon.

Over 700 readers signed up for my mail list to find out about my next book. Everyone was asking — what’s it going to be?

And a big chorus was insisting — Corabelle and Gavin’s story isn’t over.

I sat down immediately to write Forever Loved. This book did just as well as Forever Innocent. Sell through was something crazy like 90%.

We had done it.

Now, two years later, we’ve come to the last book. The business changed a lot, and college romances fell out of favor. But I wrote a few more. A set of the first three books hit the USA Today bestseller list last January, a huge accomplishment. I couldn’t be more pleased with how it all went.

Forever-series-hardcovers

I’d love to show you a picture of the two little boys who live with us now, but it’s not time yet. Just know that they are here, and that all you fans were instrumental in getting them here. And that putting this series to bed is like tucking in your child for the last time before they leave home. It’s hard.

But what a journey it’s been.

I will be writing a little more slowly now but plan to have a book out in May and a new series starting in the fall. You can stay in touch with me on the email list.

Enjoy the trailer. I have loved being on this road with all of you.

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