Before we get to the fun I need to offer up a prayer that all goes well with my oldest daughter’s laser back surgery this morning.
God keep my baby safe and allow the doctor to operate successfully and heal her pain-filled back with this surgery, I pray. Amen
I am so very excited to have my critique partner, and an awesome writer, back on the Ranch! She’s here to share the grueling story behind her new release (it comes available tomorrow, June 6th!!!), Secrets of Jenkins Bridge.
Talk about a nightmare to publication! This books been through the wringers. J But it was well worth it by the wonderful end results. Beautiful cover, awesome premise and a breathtaking story!
I’ll let her take it from here, so please give a huge Ranch welcome to romantic suspense, and Soul Mate Publisher, author Donna Shields!
To begin, I want to thank Calisa for having me here today!
It’s my pleasure, Donna. Tell us the story behind the story. 🙂
In the Fall of 2006, I had just begun Pre-Med at the University of South Carolina Upstate after transferring from Greenville Tech (I had put in three years here on and off full time). I was so excited. My goal was to become a Pediatric Oncologist and had my sights set on the Medical University down in Charleston. Then, the first slam came. My daughter was expelled from school. With no family here, no true friends (they were back in CT), and really no one I could rely on to help, I had to quit going to school. (And yes I wanted to kick her butt. This wasn’t the first time).
Then, the second slam came. When I thought I could possibly go back, I was told by Financial Aid I had hit my limit on receiving loans (didn’t realize they had this). If I wanted to go back, I’d have to get a personal loan. (Fat chance of that happening).
I’ve always wanted to write a book, but really never had the time to sit down and do it. Since I had to stay home with my daughter (and yes, I tortured her with school work), I gave it a shot.
Fast forward to early 2008. I had finished the manuscript and edited it. I titled it Second Chance and got working on the query letter. I had one goal – to have it published with Harlequin for their Intrigue line. After all, they were like the top romance publishing company (as far as I was concerned). And I read so many Intrigues, I thought I kind of knew what they were looking for. I sent out the query letter and within two weeks I had a response: they wanted the full manuscript. So, off I sent it practically hysterical someone wanted to read it.
Along came the third and fourth slams. I was rejected. And it killed me inside. I was crushed big time. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I went to Connecticut that summer as my aunt was dying only to come back to huge marital issues. I packed and returned to Connecticut for a full year. We reconciled and I returned to South Carolina. During that year, I didn’t touch my writing. Not knowing what I wanted to do or which direction my life should head in, I pulled Second Chance back out and reread the rejection letter. After all, it was detailed at least. And after reading over my manuscript, I realized the editor was completely right.
I began ripping it apart with the help of my newly found critique partners and discovered a diamond in the rough so to speak. I worked on it little by little as I worked on another book, The Swan Cove Murders, which was published by Soul Mate Publishing. Thanks to my critique partners, I renamed it Secret of Jenkins Bridge. I sent it to my editor and within two weeks said she loved it, wanted it, and sent me a contract for it.
Then, came the wait on the edits. First round went okay. Again, this was my baby so I was having some trouble with changes. Second round was even more excruciating. We had set a release date for December 18th and then January 25th. I couldn’t get the edits finished in time for both dates as I was working a full time job, with Christmas, more marital issues, and then the grandbaby (now 7 months old) and the daughter moved back in with us. Can you say UGH? (And yes, this is the same daughter).
Fast forward … My editor and I weren’t seeing eye to eye on the last couple of chapters. I had to stop editing and step back. I concentrated on my third book for a while. But, I knew my edits weren’t going to go away. I had to face it and put on my big girl’s pants. And I realized she was right. I set out and made the changes, rewriting the last couple of chapters per her suggestions. And guess what I found out? My editor rocks! Because the ending came out awesome.
And finally we have a release date! As a matter of fact, it’s tomorrow! And I’m so stinking excited that I’m giving away 2 copies to randomly drawn winners from the comments posted here today! You’ll receive a free copy of Secrets of Jenkins Bridge.
Hunting down a dangerous mob boss has brought FBI agent Mitchell Donovan home, reawakening an old flame, resurrecting a dead best friend, and discovering fatherhood. As if those aren’t enough, his new case will push everything else aside: finding the kidnappers who took the daughter he never knew he had.
Katherine Delaney never forgot the heartbreak Mitchell had caused with his abrupt departure all those years ago. With her dead ex-husband accused of murder and her daughter kidnapped, she will place her trust in the one man who could trample her heart again if she gets too close. But, will the resurrection of Katherine’s ex-husband and Mitchell’s chase for a killer destroy their second chance at love and happiness?
Donna Shields grew up on romance and scary stories. With her love for suspense and the slightly unusual, she enjoys tying these elements together to create stories full of love, danger and the paranormal.
She lives in the beautiful upstate of South Carolina with her husband, her children, and some great haunts. She’s a mom, a ‘gramma’, a wife, a friend, an avid reader and writer. When she’s not occupied with all that, she loves traveling to Playa del Carmen and Jamaica.
Here’s where you can find Donna and her books:
AVAILABLE NOW from Soul Mate Publishing: The Swan Cove Murders: Where the dead speak to her, danger finds her, and love saves her.
COMING JUNE 6TH: Secrets of Jenkins Bridge
Soul Mate Publishing http://soulmatepublishing.com/
Soul Mate Authors Group Blog: http://smpauthors.wordpress.com/
And there you have it! What a harrowing tale in itself. Lol But being one of those lucky critique partners Donna mentioned—I can readily vouch for this book. I enjoyed it from the first time I read it. Not only that one, but you’ll want to check out her Swan Cove Murders! Both from Soulmate Publishing and (as of tomorrow) both available now! Leave a comment for your chance to own a copy of Secrets of Jenkins Bridge!
We have a winner of Callie Hutton’s Historical A Run For Love.
Congratuklations Donna Shields!!!!!!!!!!
OMG! (for those who don’t know- the ‘G’ stands for Gosh) I am so, so excited today! My critique partner of nearly two years is here on the ranch. Welcome my dear friend and awesome author, Don-na Shi-el-ds!!!!! (Yep, still Oprah today. Don’t ask. :))
This is so very special for me since we joined our CBC crit group within a short time of each other. Neither of us published, very few submissions or rejections under our belts at that point, raw newbies basically. And yesterday…yesterday… her first book was released with Soulmate Publishing!
I can’t express how thrilled, how proud (or how jealous of her Jimmy Thomas cover!) and just how WOOOHOOOO I am of her! I had the chance to read this story before it was sold. From the first tentative words I was hooked.
It takes some of my favorite ingredients and makes a great story. Hot detective, misunderstood psychic, ex-fiancé and a ghost. Ok, those last two are one in the same. That’s what makes it such a great read. Not convinced? I’ll let Donna tell you about her journey and The Swan Cove Murders. Grab a coffee and a gooey cinnamon roll, or chocolate éclair if you prefer (I’m still looking for my own chuckwagon chef) and get cozy. It’s all yours, Donna.
My first sale. Wow. I’m still in awe over it. It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride, that’s for sure. I think fleshing out the idea for The Swan Cove Murders might have been the easy part. Okay, maybe not. There really is no ‘easy part’ at all. No sugarcoating it here! But, with all the hard work, some sleepless nights, great criticism and lots of endless hair pulling, in the end it was all well worth it.
It all began with that spark of an idea – spirits communicating those final words. A simple ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m okay’ or even ‘Leave my home’. Well, in the case of my story, my ghosts are a bit more complicated. One is a murderer and the other is my heroineLena’s fiancé and also my hero Nicholas’ brother.
Then came Savvy Authors May Boot Camp, much like NaNo only in May, lol. I signed up. I struggled. I yanked my hair out. I even wanted to throw my computer out the window. And it wouldn’t be an experience without my hero and heroine wanting their story ‘right now’. But, over that 31 day period, I wrote that first rough draft.
Next was June Revision Hell at Savvy Authors. The same scenario but amplified by a hundred times. Again, I pushed myself to do it. One in particular, Barbara Rae Robinson, kept encouraging me and vice versa throughout June. Even into July. She was a pretty solid rock for me.
And then came the pitches over at Savvy. Talk about tough competition. Lots of writers had some great pitches going on. And I didn’t think anyone would even remotely take on my story. It’s blended genres after all. From what I hear, it’s hard to get into traditional publishing companies with these. Finally came my chance when Debby Gilbert from Soul Mate Publishing wanted to read my first 50 pages. Off I sent my baby and I was scared to death. I thought for sure she would hate it. She shocked me when she asked for the entire manuscript. Of course I figured: Great, I hooked her and she’ll hate the rest of the story.
But I got THE email (kind of like THE CALL) saying she was offering me a contract for The Swan Cove Murders and I cried. Yup, sure did. No pride here. When she told me over and over again every time she read it for edits, semi-final galley, and final galley that she loved reading it each time, the tears fell, but of course for joy.
That’s pretty much it. Within a week, I had my cover book art. And that even blew my mind away. It came out better than anything I could have dreamed of. Since Wednesday, I’ve been on cloud nine and I don’t want to ever come back down.
Available NOW: The Swan Cove Murders: Where the dead speak to her, danger finds her, and love saves her.
Coming in December: Secrets of Jenkins Bridge
Soul Mate Publishing http:/ www.soulmatepublishing.com/
As if the violent murder of Lena Dixon’s fiancé hadn’t been bad enough, now his brother, Nicholas Hunter, is court ordered to live with her for the next thirty days. And to top it off, the murderer’s ghost is asserting his innocence and refuses to leave untilLenaand Nicholas prove it.
The skeptic in Nicholas believesLenahas lost her mind until he witnesses some unexplainable events and is forced to believe in her psychic abilities and his heart’s desire.
As their sexual chemistry heats up, so do their guilt levels. Can they make their newfound relationship work, or will it be too late when the real killer comes calling for her?
The door slowly opened, and she slid through the slim opening. The purple smudges under her beautiful hazel eyes spoke volumes to him, crushing his heart. Be strong.
“What do you want? The sheriff already delivered the papers.” The glare radiating from her hazel eyes spoke of wanting to set him on fire, burning him alive. She’d been crying.
She crossed her arms over her chest. “Well, you also know Earl left me the house.”
“A small technicality which will be fixed the day after tomorrow in court.”
She sighed. “Then what do you want today of all days?”
“I would like to get into my attic.” When she didn’t answer, he smiled. “Please.”
Suspicion crept into the fiery gaze. “Why should I let you?”
“I have a key. I can come and go anytime I please.” Vixen. “I thought I’d be nice and ask, before forcing my way in.”
“You certainly aren’t winning me over.”
He put his hands together as if in prayer. “Please. I just need the trunk.” His and Earl’s trunk. After the funeral,Lenahad insisted Nicholas take the treasure trove with him, but the memories inside had been too much to handle at the time.
Her swollen eyes softened a little. “Well…” She pushed open the door and waved him in.
He made his way through the foyer, pausing when he spotted the family photos hanging on the wall. “I see you haven’t changed anything.” He hadn’t been inside the house since Earl’s death.
“Why would I?”
His eyes caught the flower arrangement on the side table near the staircase along with the card sticking up in the middle. “Secret admirer?”
Her face flushed. “How about none of your business? Do you want time with the trunk or what?”
Donna Shields grew up on romance and scary stories. With her love for suspense and the slightly unusual, she enjoys tying these elements together to create stories full of love, danger, and the paranormal.
She lives in the beautiful upstate ofSouth Carolinawith her husband, her children, and some great haunts. She’s a mom, a ‘gramma’, a wife, a friend, an avid reader and writer. When she’s not occupied with all that, she loves traveling to Playa del Carmen andJamaica.
For one lucky commenter she’s offering an ecopy of The Swan Cove Murders! Yep- and if you just can’t wait, you can buy it now.
Also available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Swan-Cove-Murders-ebook/dp/B0065M6GNM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1320978544&sr=8-1
Find Donna Shields at any of these (non tropical but just as lovely) locations:
Soul Mate Authors Group Blog: http://smpauthors.wordpress.com/
Donna, I wish you many wonderful sales and future successes!
Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered for the copy of her book.