Saturday, July 3, 2010

Welcome Liz Fichera

New Me, New Motto
By Liz Fichera

I started 2010 with a new motto. It fit my snarky mood. Here’s my new mantra:

When you can’t enter through the front door, kick in a window!


Because that’s how I felt at the start of 2010. I needed to ratchet-up my writing career. Same old, same old wasn’t working.
I’d spent 2008 and part of 2009 watching a young adult novel that I loved get kicked in the shins, abused, and generally rejected over and over by probably every editor in New York City. It was brutal. I heard everything from the familiar, "Love the voice, but it’s just not right for me…" to "Thanks, but no thanks." I learned the hard way that young adult novels without words like boarding school, vampire, werewolf, fairy, or zombie weren’t exactly popular among editors.

Unfortunately, I don’t do normal. Or even popular. While I love a good werewolf or vampire story as much as the next person, it’s not what my heart desires to write.

During 2009, in order to maintain what little sanity I had left, I decided to tackle something new. I wrote a historical romance novel, my first. But it had to have all of the things I loved: Native American characters, epic themes, suspense, a strong heroine and, of course, a love story. CAPTIVE SPIRIT was born. And I had so much fun writing it. Writing the book literally saved me. In fact the research that I did for the novel at the Phoenix Heard Museum was almost as fun as writing the story because I learned so much about the Hohokam Indians, but that is another topic all together.

Then in November of 2009, I began to see tweets and news articles for a brand-new Harlequin digital imprint called Carina Press. I loved their motto, "Where no great story goes untold." Angela James is the Carina Press Executive Editor and I began to follow her tweets. Who knew Twitter could be so useful?

Most of all, I also liked how Carina was not afraid to shake up the traditional publishing model. They seemed less about trends and more about good writing and stories. I was, to say the least, intrigued. And at the start of 2010, I was determined to shake up everything about my writing career, including where to submit.

So sometime after New Year’s, one of Angela’s tweets flashed across my laptop. "Send us your historicals!" she tweeted. "Our editors are hungry for historicals!"

Humph, I thought. Why not send CAPTIVE SPIRIT?

I quickly polished up my query, the dreaded synopsis, and my manuscript and sent it off into cyberspace to Angela with a single, hopeful, heartfelt keystroke.

By mid-March, I got "The Call."

I had been having coffee with my girlfriends at Starbucks and hadn’t heard my cell phone ring. Angela left a message on my voicemail telling me that the Carina Press acquisitions team loved CAPTIVE SPIRIT and wanted to publish it.

PUBLISH?! Say what?!!

When I first played her voicemail, I seriously got dizzy, mostly because I began to hyperventilate. I had never heard the words "loved" and "publish" in the same sentence, not unless they preceded that horrible, ugly, troll of a word "but." I must have replayed Angela’s message twelve times.

Now four months later, I am one of the Carina Press launch authors. CAPTIVE SPIRIT was published on June 28, and I couldn’t be happier working with such a hip group. Best of all, I’m writing again and loving it more than ever, all because one single, important change.

**********************

Liz Fichera was born and raised in Park Ridge, Illinois, and always wanted to be Laura Ingalls ON THE BANKS OF PLUM CREEK, but we can’t have everything. She now lives very happily in the American Southwest. Liz likes to write stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things, oftentimes against the backdrop of Native American legends. Her debut historical romance novel CAPTIVE SPIRIT is available from Carina Press and wherever digital books are sold. Please visit her web site at http://www.lizfichera.com/ where she keeps cool stuff like a first chapter excerpt, book trailer, and more of her favorite quotations.

One person who comments on today’s post or leaves a question will be entered to win a free digital copy of CAPTIVE SPIRIT.

16 comments:

Sean Cummings said...

>>I learned the hard way that young adult novels without words like boarding school, vampire, werewolf, fairy, or zombie weren’t exactly popular among editors. <<

I hear ya!

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Sean,

You can relate? Yes! I'm hopeful that at least once in my life a trend will come around and I'll be on it. Better yet, I'd rather start a trend! :-)

Sean Cummings said...

Apparently the new trend in YA is dystopian, presumably without sparkly vampires.

Liz Fichera said...

Sean, Dang, I'm still gonna miss that trend too. :-) I just wish there were more variety in YA. It's like that market holds onto a trend and doesn't let go. Then the trend becomes like an unwanted guest at a party who doesn't know when to leave. It's interesting.

Janet said...

Good morning, Liz! And welcome to The Prairies :)

This is a great post - and one that resonates with me as I'm flogging a medieval that's getting rejected all over the place. I think it's time I kick in a window.

I love the premise of you book - and so glad to see a historical that's a little different. Here's to fabulous sales and a long career!!

Liz Fichera said...

Hi, Janet!

Thanks so much for having me! It's cool to finally be able to post on your blog, after having been a "stalker" for a while. :-)

I'm sure it's been said a million times before but timing and a little bit of luck seem to be so critical to a writer's success--over and above skill!

As a reader too, though, I'm drawn to books that are different, a little out of the mainstream. Of course, the writing still has to be compelling, regardless of genre, subject matter, etc. But a medieval? Sounds cool! I'm already intrigued. Good luck, Janet!

Claire Robyns said...

Hi Liz, I always love hearing "call" stories, keeps me believing that perseverance does pay off ~ sometimes :)

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Claire! Great to *see* you here! Perseverance or insanity, I'm not real sure!

Throughout the whole time, though, I'd like to think I kept honing my craft. The best advice I ever got was "keep writing." And so I did.

I'm looking forward to downloading your new release next week! :-)

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Liz, I read/write historicals, too!

I don't believe you said it, but I'm assuming Captive Spirit is not a YA novel, correct?

Have you tried subbing your YA manuscripts to Harlequin Teen? It's a new imprint, too.

Excellent post. Thanks for blogging with us, today.

Anita.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi, Anita!

Thanks so much for having me here!

CAPTIVE SPIRIT is not considered YA; however, the main characters Aiyana and Honovi are in their late teens--or, to put it in 16th century Hohokam terms: "sixteen harvests."

Funny you should mention Harlequin Teen but I do currently have another contemporary YA manuscript that I wrote in the last year on submission with them. Fingers crossed, right? :-)

So nice to *meet* you! I'll pop by your site because I do love historicals too. Always looking for more to read!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Liz, good for you for getting another ms out there.

Are you a member of the eHarlequin community yet? It's a fantastic place to visit and learn. I can't say enough good things about it. You can find me at my eHarl blog.

I sure hope Harlequin Teen picks up your book. Sending good wishes your way.

Anita.

Helena said...

What an inspiring story of "never give up" -- and welcome to the Prairie, Liz.

More power to you for latching onto Carina Press, and for getting The Call. I was very intrigued when they first announced they were looking for manuscripts, and their flexible guidelines appealed to me. Unfortunately, I didn't have anything close to being ready to submit at that time (getting closer now), but you deserve a round of applause for being one of their "launch authors." It's a degree of distinction to be a charter member of a new venture.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, and giving us hope!

Liz Fichera said...

Anita,

Yes, I recently got my author page/blog at e-Harlequin and try to get over there as much as possible. I will look for you!

Thanks for the good wishes!

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Helena,

Thanks so much for the encouraging words--I sure do appreciate them. In my case with Carina, it was timing and a little luck. I happened to have a manuscript ready to go, they happened to be seeking historicals, and fortunately Captive Spirit got somebody's attention.

I can also tell you that working with Carina has been a dream--professional from the get-go. I also really appreciate the variety of books they publish too.

Thanks very much!

Shannon McKelden said...

Great interview, Liz! I felt the same way when I heard about Carina Press for the first time. I had a couple of "chick lit" novels that I loved that had been submitted to every NY print publisher out there...thanks, but no thanks. But Carina Press IS taking chances, which is exciting for all of us, especially those of us who have books that were given a second chance. Captive Spirit sounds like a great book! Best of luck with sales!

Shannon McKelden
shannon @ shannonmckelden.com

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Shannon,

Thanks so much! I think the other great thing about digital publishing is that it doesn't take 18 months to 2 years to see a book published either and get it in readers' hands. And why should it?

Great seeing you here!