Friday, June 15, 2012

That special email...

I've told this story before, but I suppose in this case it bears repeating. I grew up a writer. From the time I knew how to spell (and even before) I was writing stories, poems, songs... whatever. I wrote a book when I was fifteen; a Christian Fantasy (which wasn't even a genre then!) and that book is still 'under the bed'. Then I grew up, got married, had a baby... and effectively stopped writing.

In 1995, my mother passed away after a long and difficult illness. In the weeks following her death I helped my father go through her records. We found a metal file box, and in that file box was everything I ever wrote. Every poem. Every scribble. Every version of every story. Every high school paper I appeared in. That discovery made me see what my mother always saw... I was an author. So, in January of 1996 I began writing. I finished a novel I called Gray Clouds (still unpublished), and began searching for an agent or publisher. I did have an agent for a few years, and he told me I had a lot of 'close calls' with publishing, but he never got me results, so I ultimately ended up going my own way. It was during the early 2000s ebook publishing really became the 'talk'. I was very leery. I mean, if my book was on a disk (which is how they were provided back then... mailed to you), was it really a book? I had a couple very good friends and critique partners who had already taken the plunge into ebooks, and had garnered contracts. So, I decided... why not?

At this point, I had finished my second novel Precious Things. It was a much better novel than Gray Clouds, so I did some research on the ebook publishers out there at the time and I submitted to a few. It was a Sunday morning when I received an email from Wings ePress, offering me a contract for Precious Things. I was thrilled! What a rush! I can remember breaking out in a cold sweat, but feeling my face burning at the same time. I ran back upstairs (I was downstairs making breakfast) and told my husband. I think I may have cried. :-) And so... my publishing journey began.

So very much has happened since then. Precious Things was published by Wings, as well as Tender Hearts. While I was busy promoting Precious Things, I was contacted by an editor for another house who had read my excerpts and liked my online presence. She wanted to know if I had anything else going on. At the time, I was just flirting with the concept of The Phoenix Rebellion, and I told her about it. My approach was different from most romance novels, so I wasn't holding my breath. But, she loved it... and my writing career bloomed!

Much has happened since then. I published, I ended contracts. I published others... the publisher went bankrupt. I opened my own publishing house. I suppose it all leads back to that one email on a Sunday morning. The seed that bloomed.

Precious Things has gone through a transformation since that first release. It's got a much better cover (don't even get me started on the horror stories of terrible cover art I've been given!) and the story has been revised just enough to make it better. And now, it's available again. I love Precious Things because it's the book I was told no one would read. I had several New York traditional publishing editors reject Precious Things, but their rejections inspired me. Every one of those editors said "I love your writing. It's clean and fresh, and the hero and heroine are great..." but, they always added in some way "No woman will ever want to read a romance novel with a handicapped hero. None."

I'm the type of person who better not be told what I can't do. Because I'll be the one looking over my shoulder saying "Watch me..."  Benjamin Prescott Roth is deaf, born deaf. And somehow these editors believed that fact would reduce his worth to a reader to such a degree they wouldn't read about him. I could make the heroine deaf... that was okay... but not him. Well, they were wrong. Readers love Benjamin. Not because he's deaf or not deaf... but because he is who he is. The book isn't about him being deaf, but that is a real part of him and helped mold him. I couldn't just switch it over to Jewell!

Okay, I've gotten a little off track here. :-) Anyway, that first release -- that first published work -- is now and still available. This blog's theme is the fantasmic, but hey... I am what I am. :-)

Here's an excerpt. This is a brand new scene I wrote for the revisions. I think it's a good example of how taking away a sense heightens the others. This is from Benjamin's point of view after a chance 'outside the office' lunch meeting. Just to make sure it's clear, since you're kind of jumping into the story, Benjamin is oral and reads lips with great proficiency. His communication with Jewell is a mix of speaking, reading lips, and sign. All sign language is in italics.

Benjamin had plenty to do in the office. His day was filled with reviewing reports, compiling data, and watching various markets as they closed, and opened, depending on the market. But he considered it a stroke of luck that on the one day he wandered outside of Bulwark he would run into Jewell, just sitting in a restaurant, all alone.
She was flushed, bright color blooming in her pale cheeks, and tiny ringlets escaped the french braid that hugged her skull to sprinkle across her brow and along her cheeks. As warm as the day was, he hoped that perhaps he was responsible for the pretty blush and the nervous flitter of her hands. It was wrong, he knew it was wrong, but he couldn't help himself and didn't want to try.
"I feel like I'm holding you up, Benjamin," she said, poking her fork around in the remains of her pasta and chicken. "I peeked in your office before I left to see if you wanted to come with me--"
"You did?"
She nodded, looking at him through her lashes as she created a new bite. He noted how she made sure each bite had at least two pieces of pasta, a piece of chicken and either a tomato or an olive. Sometimes both, but she was running out of olives. Taking the bite, she set down her fork and wiped her lips with a napkin before signing. "Don't you go stir crazy eating at your desk every day?"
"I've never thought about it."
Jewell sat back, dropping her napkin on the remains of her lunch left in her plate. Her smile made his pulse jump, and he liked it. "I believe I'm going to need to get you out of the office more often, Mr. Roth," she signed, feigning a serious expression as she wagged a finger at him. "It's my duty as your executive assistant."
"I don't recall that in your job description."
"I'm taking the initiative."
He was saved from making a completely inappropriate comment, one that was sure to bring a new flush of color to her pale cheeks, by the return of the waitress. Benjamin didn't bother to look up, keeping his attention on Jewell. She looked at the waitress, shook her head and waved a hand at the empty plate. The waitress took it and set the bill on the counter. Jewell reached for it, but Benjamin was faster. He grinned at the shocked look on her face.
"Hey, now. You didn't even eat."
He just grinned and shifted to take his wallet from his back pocket. Leaving a bill on the table, he stood and offered his hand to help her stand. It pleased him in a way he couldn't qualify when she took it and came to her feet, retrieving her jacket from the back of her seat. He liked her bare arms. They were trim, but just as pale as her face and sprinkled with freckles.
They stepped back into the oppressive humidity of the afternoon, both slipping on their sunglasses against the bright sun. Walking in unison, they turned down Market Street toward the Financial District. The walk was short, but August in New England was as hot and humid as any southern bayou or Florida everglade, especially here in the city deep in the jungle of massive steel and glass buildings that blocked any cooling breeze that might drift in off the Atlantic Ocean. They reached the light at the corner, and joined the mass of people waiting to cross. Benjamin chanced a glance in her direction, catching her huff as she blew wisps of hair off her forehead.
"Perhaps we should save our next lunch outing for a slightly less smothering day."
She smiled and nodded. "Please."
The light changed and they all moved en masse. Benjamin cupped her elbow, not realizing until they stepped onto the other curb that he'd once again reached for her. It felt natural, instinctual. And once again, she hadn't moved away. It would be so easy to slide his fingers down the inside of her arm and take her hand, just to see if she'd let him shift his fingers between hers.
They crossed Market and headed down Friend Street toward the tower of steel and glass that housed Bulwark. He dropped his hand from her elbow as they neared the building, and caught the slight tip of her head as she looked down at her bare arm then up at the gleaming face of the tower. Benjamin stepped forward and pulled open the glass lobby doors.
A refreshing wave of cooler air washed over them. Jewell stopped inside the doors and tipped her head back, a slow smile on her lips. He put his hand against her back to move forward, and felt the purr of a groan vibrate through her ribcage.
The reaction in his gut was intense and nearly made him stumble.
She waved to the security guard at the front desk as they crossed the black marble floor to the bank of elevators. He noted that Jewell smiled at every person that passed them, and nearly every one of them returned the smile. She inspired the reaction; he understood that even for himself. When Jewell smiled at him, he couldn't help but smile back.

"This story will tug the reader's heartstrings with the powerful emotions of love, hate, fear, pain, and betrayal with the author's sensual descriptions. I enjoyed the writing style and loved the strong, deaf hero and heroine, the heartbeat of the novel... Never make the mistake of thinking that deaf heroes can't be strong, romantic, or capture a woman's heart. Mrs. Delaney proves otherwise with her five-star novel."

BJ Robinson -- True Hidden Treasures Blog
Rating = 5 Stars


  1. What a great book this is! It never occured to me that a deaf person couldn't be a hero in a romance novel. I have read this book more than once and now I'm going to have to buy it again to read the updated version! Oy!

    I consider myself lucky because this book was published in hard copy in a very limited edition which I snapped up and even got Gail to autograph for me! It is one of my prized possesions and I display it with great pride!

    I've read many other novels that Gail has written but by far my favorite is the Phoenix Rebellion series. Her newest book, "Janus", in the continuing series was not at all what I expected but was a fantastic read. The only thing that disappointed me is that it's a very long wait for the next installment.

    If you haven't read any of Gail's novels, you are seriously missing some great fiction. She makes me laugh and cry and I become totally invested it the characters who are at times totally loveable and sometimes completely irritating.

    I knew Gail before her first novel was published (through the internet) and have enjoyed watching her success grow. I've also been privy to some of her frustrations and ups and downs (albeit from the outside) as she has advanced in the publishing world. I have great respect for Gail as an author and a person, and I look forward to following her career for a long time to come!

    1. Barbara, you are so sweet! Your calendars stood as my inspiration more than once. :-)

      Precious Things will be in print again, though I can't say right now when. Maybe next year some time. The book did change, but not the fundamentals, if that makes sense. I've added scenes more than I've taken away.

      Oh, one thing changes... it's a happy change compared to the original. That's all I'm going to say on the matter.

  2. I like this story, Gail. You have a way of sucking me into your powerful way of writing - yes, I am reading one of your futuristic books -- a first for me and I am enjoying it once I got over worrying about Michael. :)

    Thanks for sharing your story. Proves my point - NEVER ever give up on a dream. :)

    1. Michael... dear, sweet, beautiful Michael. I shall always and forever worry about Michael. I can't help it.

      I'm glad you're trying something new and enjoying it, Paisley.

  3. I've heard most of this before, but enjoyed reading it again. Wonderful story. :)