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Interview with Negeen Papehn

Negeen’s Path to Publication

Today I chat with the lovely Negeen Papehn, the debut author of ‘Forbidden By Faith’, who shares with us her path to publication. Her debut ‘Forbidden By Faith’ is scheduled for release on February 20th 2018!

Born and raised in California, Negeen spends half her week dreaming up stories between lovers and the other half as a dentist. FORBIDDEN BY FAITH, set in Los Angeles, is a Contemporary Romance that encompasses the journey of self-discovery, while battling family and cultural expectations, in the name of true love.


Hi Negeen, I’m so excited to have you on my blog, and thank you so much for sharing your ‘Path to Publication’ experience with us all. I know so many of my readers will love to hear about how you went from an aspiring author to a published one, and many will gather inspiration from the journey!

Thanks Maddison! I’m very excited to be here with all of you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story.


  • How long have you been writing for?

I’ve been writing in some form since I was a teenager. Back then, I wrote a lot of poetry and even a handful of original songs. But the novel writing is relatively new. I started about four years ago.


  • How long did it take you from when you started writing, to when you became a published (or soon to be) published author?

It took me a year to finish my first novel then another year to find representation. By the time the book is released in February, it will be almost three years, start to finish.


  • Where do you write from, home, office, coffee shop, etc? And do you have any pre-writing or actual writing rituals (such as lighting a candle, listening to music, etc)?

I literally write everywhere! I never have mapped out writing time, but rather, I write in small sprints. Usually thirty minutes to an hour before an interruption, if I’m lucky. So wherever I am and I can get a moment to write, I do. But mostly, you’ll find me at my desk in the spare bedroom or the dining room table if I’m at home, at my desk in my office if I’m at work, or at the local coffee shop. No matter where I am, though, I always have my headphones in and music blasting. It’s the only way I can block out the world around me. And it also helps set the mood for the scene, so I strategically pick the playlist.


  • Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in-between?

I am a pantser to a fault. I wish I was a plotter. I’ve tried to write it all out, create a step-by-step outline, but once I start writing, the story changes course and veers off in directions I wasn’t anticipating. The problem that arises with that is that I get stuck a lot, trying to plot my way out of a hole I’ve written myself into, LOL.


  • What is your favourite part of the writing process?

My favorite part of the writing process is when my manuscript is ready for the first round of beta readers. I love sharing my work with people. Hearing their reactions and listening to their responses is my drug of choice. I just love picking their brains! And it doesn’t have to just be praise. I welcome their constructive criticism as well. Makes the story better, and makes me a better writer.


  • What is the most important part of a novel to you: plot, characters, or setting?

Definitely characters. In my opinion, they’re what create the story. If they are complicated, emotional, raw, and real, you could have any plot or any setting and your readers will still be invested. Or at least that’s how I feel.


  • Describe your writing routine (how long do you spending plotting the novel, time spent writing, editing, submitting it):

Hmmm….I don’t have this down to an exact science yet. I spend the least amount of time plotting, which may be one of my weakness, truthfully. Reason why I end up lost at times and stuck on the storyline. It usually takes me a week or so to work out the basics on the plot.


I’ve written two full novels so far and am on my third. I’d say on average it takes me anywhere from 8-12 months to write the first draft.

Editing is the longest of the processes and most complicated for me. I usually have my critique partners reading along with me as I write, and edit throughout the process. Then once the first draft is completely done, I do a read through myself and try to catch any plot holes/issues I may have missed. Then I give it to the first round of betas. I take their feedback and make changes based on what I see fit. Then another round of new betas. Last read through on my end and edits. Then I’m ready to submit.

I’ve only submitted one novel so far. The entire submission process took around six months. I sent it to about 20 agents/editors. The first response came about a month later. Some were outright rejections, others requested fulls. Took another few months before I heard anything from those. In April of 2016, City Owl Press made me an offer.


  • How many books a year do you usually write (or are you aiming to write):

I write one book a year. I’m usually editing the book from the previous year simultaneously. I’d really like to be able to have two manuscripts completed in a year, at some point.


  • How did you get your agent, or your publishing contract (if applicable)?

I came across City Owl Press one night after the sting of the most recent round of rejections was fresh, and the wine wasn’t helping, LOL. I started researching agents and publishers to gather a new set of people to send submissions out to and came across their site. I liked what I saw and sent my submission late that evening. A few weeks later, my editor Amanda reached out and asked for a full MS. A few months passed and I didn’t hear anything. I’d given up hope. One morning, as I was getting ready for work, an email popped up on my phone screen. I took the ever dreaded deep breath to prepare myself for yet another “thanks but no thanks,” but when I opened it, her first line read, “Sorry it took me so long to get back to you but I have good news, City Owl Press would like to publish your novel!” I just started screaming from the bathroom, which brought my husband running because he thought something had happened. I was jumping up and down squealing when he got there.


  • How did you cope with rejection during the querying process?

Friends. I made some author friends in various social media outlets that were going through the same thing so we coped together. I also had family and friends in my personal life that kept encouraging me forward despite the fact that there were times I really wanted to give up. So I had an awesome support system. I wouldn’t have made it this far without them.


  • Describe the time when you got ‘the call’ regarding publication:

My ‘call’ was actually an email. My editor lives overseas, so the email came in at some ungodly hour. I think it was like 2AM my time, or something like that. I was obviously asleep being that it was a Thursday J So I saw it pop up on my phone when I went to turn my alarm off. I didn’t immediately look at it, preparing myself for the worse. I’d already gotten a handful of rejections at that point, and was assuming it was just more of the same. I got my kids up and ready for school. When I finally made it to my bathroom to start putting myself together for work, I couldn’t resist any longer. I took a deep breath and opened the email. My eyes scanned the first two lines quickly, bracing myself for the disappointment that I’d become accustomed to. But instead of ‘thanks but no thanks,’ it was ‘thanks and we want you.’ I started screaming, which brought my husband running, thinking something terrible had happened. I was squealing and jumping up and down when I told him the news. Then I sent a text message to my family, spent my forty-minute drive to work on the phone with my sister-in-law, and then blabbed it to my boss and all my co-workers. It was definitely a good day 🙂


  • Can you describe what your own path to publication was like?

My path to publication felt like a whirlwind. It moved at light speed from getting my first draft completed, to submitting and getting a publishing deal. It all happened so fast that I still have a hard time believing it!

It took me one year to finish the manuscript, another year to do multiple rounds of edits utilizing my beta readers and critique partners. Then, about six months after submitting, I received my publishing deal.


  • What were your biggest learning experiences or surprises throughout the publishing journey?

The people that have been alongside me through this journey are amazing. I’ve made so many fabulous author friends. I never expected to make so many connections and find so much support in the writing community.


  • Looking back, what do you think you did right that helped you break in?

Honestly, I think timing really is what did it for me. I wrote a story about a very touchy subject, at a time in this country where very touchy subjects were rearing their ugly heads. I caught a lot of attention that way, and rather quickly. So I don’t think I personally did anything special. I think that the timing was just right.


  • Best advice you’ve ever been given, or have heard, about writing?

“No matter what happens, you’ve already won.” My boss said that to me. He’s one of my biggest fans. I was having a panic attack over covers and marketing and the idea that this whole thing will flop because I make the wrong choice on color or don’t know how to get the word out there correctly, etc. I was freaking out about failing. He said, “The reason why you were able to go through this entire process so quickly is because you were fierce. You didn’t start this thinking you’d become some big famous author. You told me you did this because you wanted to and you loved it. And because of that you had nothing to lose; you were fearless. Don’t you see, you’ve already won? This has become so much more than you ever imagined. Remember that. Hold onto that. You can’t fail.”

I repeat it like a mantra when I’m having the many panic attacks I have over this whole thing, LOL.


  • Any advice for aspiring writers on writing and submitting?

Hang in there. It’s a bumpy road, I won’t lie. But stay determined and keep going because amongst the rejections, you will get that call.


  • What advice can you give to other writers on building a platform and gaining a readership base?

Put yourself out there as much as you can. It’s tough manning all the different social media platforms and making a presence. It almost feels like a full time job! But I have found quite a few author friends and a fabulous support team, so it’s well worth it.


  • What’s up next for you, and what are you working on now?

I’m currently writing the second book in the Forbidden Love Series. I’m also getting ready to start submitting my stand alone novel, What Will Be, for representation.


  • How can people connect with you?

They can connect with me through my website:

I can also be found on FB:

Or Twitter: @NegeenPapehn   And Instagram:


  • Anything else you want to add?

Thank you so much for interviewing me! I hope my answers help other author’s forging on their own path to publication.


Thank you so much Negeen for sharing your Path to Publication with us! What an awesome journey, with many more adventures to come. Good luck with your release of ‘Forbidden By Faith’ – can’t wait to have a read 🙂

And for those of you who want to have a read of Negeen’s awesome book ‘Forbidden By Faith’, it’s scheduled for release on Feb 20th, 2018. Click on the pic below for more info.

‘Forbidden by Faith’

Sara knows her life would be easier if she married a Muslim man, but when has love ever been easy?
​Raised by her immigrant Iranian Muslim parents, she’s been taught that a good daughter makes decisions based on her family’s approval, and she’s spent most of her life doing just that. Then one night, she meets Maziar, and her world is turned upside down. She feels an instant electricity between them, and it seems like fate when he tells her he’s also Iranian. Just as her mind begins to soar with the possibilities, he shatters her hopes when he tells her he’s Jewish.
Despite the centuries of unrest behind them, Sara and Maziar embark on a forbidden love affair, attempting to navigate through the cultural and religious prejudices that beat them down and attempt to tear them apart.
Deep within the trenches of her battle, Sara finds herself more empowered and careless than ever before. Angry at and disappointed by the people she’s idolized all her life, she’s determined to forge her own path. But choosing who to be could mean creating a life that’s no longer acceptable to those around her.
Sara feels herself growing into an independent and confident woman, but will it be worth the ultimate cost: her family?


About Negeen:

Negeen Papehn was born and raised in southern California, where she currently lives with her husband and two rambunctious boys. She wasn’t always a writer. A graduate of USC dental school, Negeen spends half of her week with patients and the other half in front of her laptop. In the little time she finds in between, she loves to play with her boys, go wine tasting with her friends, throw parties, and relax with her family.
Her debut novel FORBIDDEN BY FAITH will be out with City Owl Press February of 2018


Negeen can be found on the following platforms:

Facebook link:
Twitter link:
Instagram link:
Goodreads link:
Buy link for your latest or soon to be released book:Amazon:

Amazon Print:





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