Saturday, May 4, 2013

Never Say Never

A long long time ago I had an idea for a book about a single mom of two boys who happened to stumble upon a series of crimes in her neighborhood. She was an ex-cop, a new divorcee, and a pro at car pool. The book was called Big Girls Don't Cry and it was the first in a planned series of books named after Oldies songs. (Going to the Chapel would be the second...)

I tried and tried to get a publisher interested in that series but although they liked my "voice" (my style of writing), and my humor, they didn't quite like anything else. Ha! One thing I kept hearing over and over again was that the book needed a stronger "hook." Mine, as a single mom-based series, wasn't strong enough.

A normal person might have moved on, but most writers are far normal. We're a tenacious, stubborn lot. I put the book aside while I let the critiques I received simmer. Which advice to take? Which to ignore?

So one day while I was watching HGTV's Surprise Gardener, it hit me that this show could be my hook--gardening/landscaping. Instead of my main character being an ex-cop, I could turn my single mom into a landscape designer who does backyard makeovers in one day. She could dig up all kinds of trouble--and bodies. While rewriting, I also decided she had one son too many (harsh, I know), and that her ex should be the cop in the story.

Nina Quinn was born. And with the new rebirth, a new set of titles. The first one: A Hoe Lot of Trouble.

Within a few months of finishing the revised manuscript, I found an agent, and within three weeks of that, she had secured a three-book deal for me. I was over the moon.

That three-book deal turned into five books, and then word came from the publishing house that their entire cozy mystery line was being cut. A lucky few authors were able to move their series to other houses, but dozens of authors lost their jobs.

Including me.

There wasn't much I could do to keep Nina going. Heartbroken, I had to move on, to another series, to another publisher (Lucy Valentine was born). I truly believed I'd never write another Nina mystery.

Ha! I should have known better. Never say never, right?

Because years and years later, ebooks and self-publishing started transforming the book world. And with that came the opportunity to bring Nina out of retirement. I started with Trouble Under the Tree in 2011, picking up her series where it left off in 2008. And I just released the seventh book in the series, The Root of all Trouble, a couple of weeks ago (currently available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords, coming soon in trade paperback).

It's been amazing to me to receive letters from readers telling me how much they've missed Nina. Me, too. And I'm so glad she's back. This time, for good.

Happy reading!


Janean said...

Heather I Love Nina and can't wait to read your new Nina book. When are you coming back to NC?

Heather Blake Webber said...

Thanks, Janean! I'm not sure about NC! I sure did love it there, though. :)

holdenj said...

I downloaded Root right away! I enjoy the characters so much, and was so happy you were able to get back to them!

Anonymous said...

I recently finished reading The Root of All Trouble and love how it ended and what seems to be coming in future books. And didn't this same thing happen with the Lucy Valentine books, self-published the most recent one? I'm so glad that opportunity is now available to authors.

Tiffany said...

I'm so happy you're continuing the Nina series. I love her, and all the quirky side characters, too! I'm just waiting for The Root of All Trouble to become available on the Kobo website so I can snatch it up! *hint, hint* :O)

Lynda said...

I love the Nina books, and the Lucy books, and the Darcy books, and I'm looking forward to the Carly books. Glad you persevered and I look forward to future books in any of your series.

Michelle said...

I am very happy that the Nina series will continue!! I do like the Lucy Valentine books also. Will there be more of those anytime soon?

Joanie said...

I loved this book, and put my Amazon review up yesterday--amazed at how all of our reviews kept saying the same thing "This is the best book of the series"

You--and Nina--gave me a very satisfying reading experience last week. The work week was brutal, but the reading part of the week outstanding!

Bev said...

I couldn't wait for the paperback to come out so I downloaded it from Amazon the other day. Can't wait to get started. I love Nina and Lucy! Now that you're done with the new Nina book when can we expect a new Lucy? :)

Heather Blake Webber said...

Thank you, Julia! I'm happy, too.

Anon, yep, did the same thing with Lucy Valentine, and I'm SO grateful I can. She has so many more stories to tell.

Thank you, Tiffany! Sometimes the uploading takes forever. Hang in there!

Thank you so much, Lynda--you're always so supportive. I really appreciate it!

Michelle, thank you! There will be more Lucy books. The next one will be either late summer or early fall. :)

Joanie, I loved your review--thank you soooo much! And I'm sorry about the work week--hoping it's not so brutal next week.

Bev, the paperbacks take forever, too. I have to proof them through snail mail, and if I find one error, it starts the whole process over again. New Lucy at the end of summer / early fall. I have to finish the Wishcraft book I'm writing right now (as Heather Blake) and edit my new potion book (A Potion to Die for as Heather Blake) and whew...being busy is a good thing, right??? :)

Book Dragon said...

I love smashwords! I picked up A Hoe lot of Trouble today :-)

Heather Blake Webber said...

Thank you, Book Dragon! I hope you enjoy the book.

Aurian said...

Hi Heather, I absolutely love your Heather Blake books, and will search out your other series soon. So glad with self publishing authors can finally continue series they and their readers love and stupid publishers discontinue.

Heather Blake Webber said...

Aurian, I just saw your review of The Good, the Bad, and the Witchy--it's wonderful, thank you!!!! I'm happy authors can continue series, too. Lots of great books out there right now that otherwise wouldn't be. It's an interesting time in publishing, but a good one. :)

IYamVixen2 said...

I love both Heathers. So glad that I have a Nook so that I can get my re-released books that are hard to find in print, but can be found in e-ink. I love the Nina Quinn series. It is the perfect mix for my love of both cozies and gardening.
I miss actual gardening shows on HGTV. You can only flip so many houses. I want Gardener's Diary and Gardener's Journal and that guy from Oklahoma.....sigh....
So I'll read Nina Quinn adventures and dirt diggin' and be happy there.