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Interview with Renee Dominick
Renee Dominick’s Path to Publication
Today I chat with Renee Dominick, about her Path to Publication.
Renee Dominick is the spicy alter ego of a Seattle-area writer. She loves the energy of a vibrant, big city, and adores everything about Italy (except maybe squid ink). Besides writing, she gets her thrills skiing, especially at Whistler, and walking down forested roads hoping to encounter local wildlife–black bears excluded. Her travels, real and imagined, inspire all of her stories.
Hi Renee! 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!
Thank you so much for having me, Maddison. I hope I can provide a laugh if nothing else. The journey to becoming a published author definitely requires laughter along the way.
Lol! So true 🙂 Let’s jump straight in then:
- How long have you been writing for?
Forever? It seems like all writers say that, but I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I majored in English in college, with my concentration in creative writing, so it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I just got…let’s call it derailed, for quite a number of years.
- How long did it take you from when you started writing, to when you became a published (or soon to be) published author?
Too many years to admit to, ha! More than 20.
- 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 write from home. I’m easily distracted by external noise stimulation, so coffee shops are out. Even at home, I often wear earbuds to keep myself immersed, and not hearing what’s going on around me. I work mostly at my kitchen table where I can see outside, into my yard and garden. The familiar view provides a sort of sensual stimulation when I glance up, without being too distracting. (Unless there’s a coyote or raccoon hanging around. Then it’s distracting.
- Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in-between?
Technically I’m in-between, but I’m terribly uncomfortable plotting. I need certain bits as a structural skeleton (characters and their arcs, opening scene, end goal), but everything else develops organically. I tried to hard-core plot a book recently and I lost all interest in the story. I need the sense of discovery to keep me going.
- What is your favourite part of the writing process?
Definitely first drafting. I started out writing three non-Regency historicals, and I got lost for weeks in research. But stumbling upon obscure tidbits that dovetail with my stories…it’s like finding a lost pyramid in the rainforest. I love the discovery phase of getting a story on the page.
- What is the most important part of a novel to you: plot, characters, or setting?
As a romance novelist I should say characters, but recently I’ve thought a lot about what all my manuscripts have in common, and I’m discovering that setting is integral in all of them. I’ll call it a toss-up between the two.
- Describe your writing routine (how long do you spending plotting the novel, time spent writing, editing, submitting it):
This part of my writer-existence is all out of whack. I can spend years on the manuscript, or days. I submit and then forget. HOLD ME HARDER was in queue at Entangled for a *very* long time. I had stopped thinking about it entirely and moved on, writing two other novel manuscripts. A “true professional” might have nudged, or found some other outlet to submit to. (I might be a little too laissez faire for my own good. *grimaces*)
- How many books a year do you usually write (or are you aiming to write):
I have no clue at this point. I’m pretty meticulous, so I don’t know if I can become one of those 4-6-books-a-year people. I guess we’ll all find out together.
- How did you get your agent, or your publishing contract (if applicable)?
Like many, I was in the slush pile. I didn’t query HOLD ME HARDER to agents because of its length (it’s worth mentioning here that HMH is a novella), so I went straight to publishers who accepted shorter works.
- How did you cope with rejection during the querying process?
I really worried about this side of the business. Throughout the years, I had to learn how to take critique well, and because that was a process, I thought rejections would leave me a pile of wreckage. But they didn’t. Somehow my mind accepted them as part and parcel of the business. (Also, I suppose maturity helped some.) Mostly, I just shrugged, and for every R that came in, I sent a new query.
- Describe the time when you got ‘the call’ regarding publication:
Ha, well, it was an email, so naturally I assumed it would be a rejection. I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t. I did stay sitting down for a good long while, because my legs were pretty wobbly.
- Can you describe what your own path to publication was like?
Oh, boy, it’s been winding. My strength was in writing short, so first I had to learn how to write a novel, then I had to learn how to write a novel well. I’m still learning, really. I don’t see a time when that will ever stop.
I subbed my first stories right out of college (the hubris, ha!), then I went on very long hiatus while I raised my family. I’m a terrific procrastinator, a terrible organizer, and I tend to get hyper-focused on important tasks. I couldn’t manage the whole writing-mom thing. I am honestly awestruck by people who can manage everything that goes along with raising kids, working, and trying to be a professional writer.
Once my kids didn’t require so much of my time, I went back to work writing, but it was years before I felt anything was good enough to submit. Basically, I’m a perfectionist, as well as the tortoise, not the hare.
- What were your biggest learning experiences or surprises throughout the publishing journey?
Everything about the publishing journey is a learning experience, and the surprises are constant. It’s a unique industry, and nothing in my former work-life prepared me for it. The biggest step forward for me was finding an online support group. I joined the forums at Absolute Write, and it was there I found the final pieces that allowed me to get something saleable. Beta readers, supportive friends, shared disappointments, market information, advice, laughs…all of it.
- Looking back, what do you think you did right that helped you break in?
Just kept writing, honing my craft, maintaining a professional attitude, even in the face of disappointment. Especially in the face of disappointment, actually.
- Is there anything you wish you could do differently?
Probably everything! But in all honesty, I try not to look back so as not to get sucked into the regret vortex. I find it’s better for my psyche to learn from my mistakes and move forward, which is why I’m a turtle. Sometimes it requires a big rest, and substantial effort, to muster the next step, but at least I’m not moving backward.
- Any advice for aspiring writers on writing and submitting?
There is so much writing advice out there—both good and bad—but none of it applies if you aren’t actually, you know, writing. So, get words on the page. That’s all that matters. You can’t do much in the publishing world with a blank piece of paper.
- What advice can you give to other writers on building a platform and gaining a readership base?
I’m not the gal for advice on this. I love the writing—even the parts I don’t love (hello, revision)—but self-promotion is not my strength, and never has been. I even dreaded having to sell scout cookies as a kid, and who doesn’t want to buy cookies??
The best thing I can do is write books people enjoy reading, and hope to forge relationships with readers and fellow writers. We’re all a community that wants the same thing: wonderful stories.
- What’s up next for you, and what are you working on now?
I’m hard at work on edits to Book 2 of the To Have and To Hold series, and there is an almost-finished novel next in queue after that.
- How can people connect with you?
The best bet is to sign up for my newsletter here: http://reneedominick.com/join-newsletter/. Other than that, following/liking my Facebook page, or catching me on Twitter.
- Anything else you want to add?
Just a word to say how grateful I am for the Romance community—writers and readers. It’s a wonderful, supportive, and empowering place, filled with passionate people. What a gift.
Thank you, again, for inviting me, Maddison! Romance Rules!
It was an absolute pleasure to host you Renee, and I’m sure that my readers have had a great time reading about your ‘path to publication’
You can find Renee in the following spots:
AND you can purchase her book ‘Hold me harder’ here: https://entangledpublishing.com/hold-me-harder.html
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