Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Guest – Nancy Gideon (and a prize!)

“It’s a Long Way to the Top if You Want to Rock ‘n Roll”

(But, first, Debra’s going to jump in here and mention that with over 50 published books under her belt, Nancy has seen the highways and byways of publishing over the years! And she’s here to light a fire under us. She doesn’t pull punches, and I suspect that facing reality and investing in the journey is why Nancy has 50 published books. You know?)

You’ve got to pay your dues.

Writers are all too familiar with that phrase. Of course, it could mean heading for Pay Pal to pony up our membership fee for all those groups and clubs and organizations that fill our creative wells. But there’s another kind of dues, the kind that implies obligation, guilt, resentment and frustration. If life is a highway, the route to success is a tricky toll road. And exact change is sometimes necessary!

We start out in our writing career with our pockets full of dreams, ready to be fleeced of our innocence. The first thing to ravel is the concept that writing the best possible book is all it takes. “Genius, of course, will be instantly recognized and rewarded.” Well, sometimes it can work that way, but more than likely that fast lane to fame and fortune is reached from a two track filled with ruts and wrong turns. And maybe Yoda-like shepherd to herd us in the right direction with words of wisdom.

First toll: blood, sweat and possibly years. We learn our craft. There are no short cuts, no blue light specials, no osmosis that will transform a casual scribbler into an author. It takes practice and knowledge as well as instinctive skill. It. Is. Hard. Work. Butt in chair. Hands on keyboard. Nothing glamorous about it. We take classes in grammar, in GMC. Enter contests. This is where we trim that fluffy softness we’ve been spinning dreams with and wind it into a tight weather-resistant berber that can stand up to heavy foot traffic. Study, listen and learn. The school of hard knocks doesn’t end until we have something worth selling.

Next booth: Entering the Marketplace. We drop in our fears and our expectations before pulling through. We’re in the real writing world now. We’ve got a product to peddle…just like the five to ten thousand other writers who’ll be competing for that one space in the publishers lot. Parallel parking takes skill and timing. We knock over cones, go over the lines, miss the mark by a mile. But we keep working on it. Submit. Revise. Submit again. (Better their desk than ours.) We watch for opportunities: wear tight shoes and pantyhose for a chance to talk to an editor or agent at those hot and crowded mixers. We take that step out of our comfort zone and MEET the people who can help us get to our destination. (Don’t tailgate. That’s just rude.) Chat in the hotel bar, pass out cards, get introductions. We think of it as speed dating until we find the perfect match of editor/agent/author. And remember, no contact is a wasted contact. You never know when that assistant you tossed around titles with at one house will be the senior editor buying your book at another. Believe me, that was a worthwhile lesson learned (to the tune of six books!)

Watch out for detours. Don’t get distracted by all the things that keep us from doing the one thing we need to do, which is write the book. “Yes, I should. Yes, I can. Yes, I will.” We join twenty loops, speak at every venue we can find from the Cub Scouts to Senior Centers, volunteer to judge contests, alphabetize our reference books, critique for anyone who asks, bake cookies for home room, take junior to judo, offer to mentor, post on blogs because we need to give back. Whoa. Pull over. We’re going nowhere fast except in circles. Paying dues does not mean owing everyone every minute of our time. Learn to dole out time and money carefully lest it be all gone before we reach our goal.

Chose a lane and stick with it. “Why does the other lane seem to move faster? Why does that author get comped advertising, a best seller, a movie deal when I’ve worked so much harder? How come Ms. First Book Wonder neatly passes my semi-full of mid-list books on her way to a six-figure contract? Why wasn’t I nominated? I write so much better than…“ Deposit pride and ego and move on. On the weigh station of life, nothing’s fair. Suck it up or take the bus. We’re only responsible for our own path. We can’t hitch a ride on someone else’s. Don’t jump from your lane to the next unless you’re sure it will get you there faster. Sometimes it’s more expedient to stick with what you know than to hop onto every passing trend. But then again, sometime riding with the top down is its own reward.

Whatever you do, go boldly. If you want to rock ‘n roll, drive with the windows down and the music blasting on that less traveled road, enjoy every mile of the trip.

Currently, I’m rock ‘n rolling at Pocket Books with a new dark paranormal shape shifter series. I’m hugely excited about this exciting road I’ve chosen. The series is unique in that it follows the same hero and heroine through the first four books. He’s a shape-shifter searching for his past and she’s a dedicated cop hiding from demons of her own in a steamy New Orleans backdrop where a criminal empire filled with treacherous alliances, a clan of ferocious shape-shifters looking for their prophesied leader, and an inescapable fate conspire to pull them apart. I call it Romeo & Juliet meets Beauty and the Beast in the Big Easy. (See how much I learned at your workshop, Deb!) Hang on tight. It’s a road trip that will blow your hair back.

The first book, MASKED BY MOONLIGHT is on the shelves now. “Intriguing characters and zippy action,” says Publishers Weekly in a starred review. “Gideon masters the tension required to keep her complex and engaging story moving.” CHASED BY MOONLIGHT and CAPTURED BY MOONLIGHT follow in June and July.

Nancy Gideon is the author of over 50 romances ranging from historicals to paranormals and contemporary suspense. She works full time as a legal assistant and never leaves her car port without Map Quest.

To learn more about Nancy’s career road trip and her series, visit:

For a taste of MASKED BY MOONLIGHT, check out her book trailer:

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

And don’t forget to bring the exact change!

What dues have you paid to get where you wanted to go? Was it worth it? Comments don’t have to relate to writing. A winner for an autographed copy of MASKED BY MOONLIGHT will be drawn at random.


Clara Burton said...

I know personally that Nancy Gideon gives great advice & awesome writing. As an aspiring writer, I've been in writing groups and/or a conference attendee where Nancy has generously given of her time, knowledge and most of all, friendship. Nancy, you're truly one of my writing mentors. I can't count the number of your books that I've read, and also studied. Haven't started the Moonlight series yet, but I'm eager to do so. Keep up the great work...don't really need to say that...I know you will. :-) *hugs* Clara

Betina said...

Nancy! Welcom to the convertible and congratulations on forging a new path and blazing new trails! You inspire us all. And I LOVE the metaphor of the road and all those pesky tolls and potholes. So true and so worth reminding ourselves that we compete only with ourselves in the writing. And everything else. . . meh. Have fun with it, follow your bliss, or be prepared for a long slog-- uphill all the way.


CrystalGB said...

Great advice. I love the cover to Masked By Moonlight.

Linda Henderson said...

Before I had to retire on disability I had the perfect job, to me that is. I feel like every job I worked before, no matter how meaningless it seemed at the time just led me to the place I needed to be to get my last job. I learned early not to lie about skills that I didn't have, but always told any potential employers that I didn't know how to do it but I'd be willing to learn. I learned a lot of stuff that way. So, I feel like I paid my dues along the way and I always advise people to do the same. Sure, it's possible to walk into the perfect primo job the first time you get out there, but not often. So, don't be afraid to start out small and work your way up.

Suzanne said...

Great post! I guess my "dues" came by making it through Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and getting my head back on straight enough to turn it into a paranormal series. Anxious to read MASKED BY MOONIGHT!

Michele Hauf said...

Hey, Nancy! From VampChix to Riding, glad to see you over here today! And it's even better to see your books out on the shelves again.

Leanne said...

Congratulations Nancy! Loved what you said about sticking to your own lane. It reminds me of the lines at McDonalds. haha
Love your steamy setting and premise!

cait045 said...

The advice to "Pick a Lane and stick with it" is what I really need to work on. I get side tracked so easily its kinda sad at times.

Helen Brenna said...

Welcome Nancy and congrats on the new series. 50 books and you work full-time. Holy cow!

Since I am relatively newly published, I needed to hear this. It's so easy to get sidetracked in this business. Thanks for all these wonderful words of wisdom!

Karyn Gerrard said...

Great advice and all so true. Thanks so much, And all the best for your release!

Whoa, love that cover, and shape-shifters? sounds wonderful!

ncgideon said...

Thanks guys! I'm turning 55 tomorrow and, in keeping with the road trip theme, I feel I missed a great chance to allude to Sammy Hagar's "Can't Drive 55!" Darn.

Virginia said...

Great advise! I have not read your books before but Masked by Moonlight sounds like a really good read!

RachaelfromNJ said...

I haven't paid dues because I haven't gotton where I wanted to go, but I am on my way now. So hopefully I will get there soon.

I love the cover for Masked by Moonlight! Wow! This book sounds so good and I would LOVE to win it!! I love everything you said Nancy. It's so true.

LSUReader said...

I can't pass up a chance to comment when someone closes with "laissez les bon temps rouler!" Makes me want to sit down with family, a crawfish boil and football reruns. Loved your advice, especially the part about going boldly and driving with the windows down. When I think about my life, the formal education was all the easy part. It's the real-life stuff that's so hard and so valuable. Thanks for visiting.

Debra Dixon said...

Nancy missed a chance to extend the metaphor?? What is the world coming to!! (g)

ncgideon said...

I know I must be slipping. I can usally draaaag them out for at least a chapter or two. Old age...

chey said...

Hmmm dues... I had to leave the country to get full time work after graduation (who'd have thought it'd be so hard to get full time work as a nurse?) I had to miss almost everything going on at home with my family and friends for a few years. Finally got full-time at home.

mbreakfield said...

I guess some of my dues was working with the flu, when we were short-handed at work.

Pamela Keener said...

The premise of Masked by Moonlight sounds awesome.

I think over the years I have paid my dues in my job as a police officer for 25 years. There were a lot of get togethers and holidays missed in the name of duty. I refuse to work a job now that entails weekends and holidays or even midnighters. So that being said if the job doesn't fit in those perameters then it isn't going to be my job.
Love & Hugs,

stephenia said...

Great cover! Your book sounds like a winner. I worked lots of extra hours far away from home in the Navy for 20 years and lots of weekends/holidays as a nurse. I'm not sure I think of it as paying my dues, just the life choices that I made. What I gained from my life trade-offs was always more enriching than any sacrifices I made. But I do enjoy NOT working weekends and extra hours anymore!


ncgideon said...

Trade offs, exactly. It's all about balance. I think it was Zig Ziglar who said "You can have everything you want, you just can't have it all at once." Priority.

NL Gassert said...

I’m so going to look up MASKED BY MOONLIGHT. I need a good book for my long flight to Europe next week.

I like the idea of driving with my windows down, the music blaring and the wind in my hair, but alas I’m stalled on the shoulder right now. I’m thinking it’s time to trade in the car for a moped and just go slow for a bit and enjoy the scenery.


karenk said...

patience is the key...and it's worth the wait :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Dina said...

well, since I don't feel I'm where I want to be, I must not have pd my dues correctly, still trying though. ;)

donnas said...

Sounds like a great book I am really looking forward to it. And I think for dues its close to the same as a lot of people, working at a job that isnt your ideal or dream in order to pay off school and get some experience so you can take the chance and do what you want.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

katsrus said...

Great advice. I just love your book cover. I have not read your books but; sure will be looking for them. Wonderful post.
Sue B