Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tess tells all....

Please Welcome Tess St. John who tells us a bit about her journey to self publish.

I would like to thank Ciara for having me on her blog today. She’s asked me to speak a bit about my Indie publishing journey.

When I began writing, over six years ago, I found the avenues to publication were limited to impressing an agent or publisher, or spending costly amounts to self-publish a print book.

Each avenue scarier than the next!

Now, let me explain why it was so scary for me. I have a disorder where my equilibrium acts up—and we know reading can aggravate it. I always feared if I miraculously got a contract, I might not be able to fulfill my end of the bargain. And this past November and December the dizziness got so bad I couldn’t read or write. So while we were announcing our New Year’s resolutions at a bar in Galveston (my niece was getting married the next day), I said when I felt better, I would Indie publish my books.

I have a great writing friend, Sandra Edwards, who Indie published last year and she’d been encouraging me to do it. So toward the end of January, when my illness settled a bit, I began working at a pace my dizziness could handle. I had five books written and Second Chances was the most polished of them, so it was the logical one to release first.

Over the years I’ve only sent my work to five agents, who I’d met in person at different conferences. I received four rejections (very nice ones, encouraging me to send other works) and one who said she wasn’t rejecting it, but suggested I get rid of the fluff (which was great advice) and resubmit. I’ve also never sent the first query letter. But all those years I learned my craft. I took classes. I got critique partners. I studied every angle of writing.

Indie publishing has been exhilarating and has given me the freedom I need to write on my time-table and no one else’s. I can’t say it is the road everyone would want to take, but Indie publishing gives me the freedom of working at my own pace and setting my own goals...and if my health interferes...that’s okay. For me, that’s peace of mind.

My first release, out now, titled Second Chances, is a Regency Romance set in 1826. I write from scenes that play like movie reels in my mind and when I wrote Second Chances, the first scene came to me first (which rarely happens), but as I wrote, tears began trickling down my cheeks. I felt so connected to the story (and, well, it was a death scene).

I begin releasing my Romantic Mystery/Suspense series in June with Don’t Let It Show. The series is about FBI agents finding their HEA. These are the first books I wrote and have gone through many transformations, but I love the story each holds and felt they just had to be told.

Below you’ll find a blurb and excerpt of Second Chances. 

Love that frees the heart ~ also captures it.

Lady Emma Easton’s elopement to an elderly earl shields her from an abusive father, until her husband’s death leaves her vulnerable once again. Only one man can protect her—the earl’s trusted friend, Viscount Drake.

After losing his wife, Lord Drake vows never to marry again. But his heart warms to the young widow he’s promised to protect. Emma’s love frees him from the darkness that’s consumed him. But now Drake must protect her from her father’s evil whims, or face losing her forever.

Please enjoy an excerpt from Second Chances:

Northampton, England, February 1826

Emma smoothed a few strands of gray hair from Harmon’s forehead, wishing for a way to forestall the inevitable. The huge four-poster bed dwarfed his frail, feeble body. Gold brocade drapes and bedspread cast a regal glow to the chamber, adding a jaundiced yellow to his already pallid complexion.

A fit of coughs rumbled in his chest. Harmon reached for a glass of water on the bedside table. His clumsy fingers couldn’t quite grasp it and he knocked it over. “Bollocks.” He slumped back on the bed.

She’d been so young when they married five years ago, his gruff words and manners should have terrified her. But from the first moment they met, she’d found Harmon’s ways endearing. She knew if she offered any type of sympathy he’d scoff, willful old man that he was.

Emma snatched a linen cloth from the bedside drawer and swabbed the mess. After pouring another glass of water, she leaned over him. “May I be of assistance?” She carefully put an arm around him and held his head and shoulders straight, then brought the glass to his lips. After he took a sip, she leaned him back on the pillows.

“Damn. I hate that you have to do everything for me.”

She smiled. “You are quite welcome.”

A ghost of a grin passed his lips. “Please forgive me, dear.”

Shock ran through her. She’d never heard him utter the word please.

Hands slightly shaking, unsure if the tremors were from his words or because she hadn’t broken her fast this morning, she doused a cloth in the basin filled with warm water. She wiped Harmon’s face and neck. He would undoubtedly fall asleep soon and always rested better when clean. She splashed a tiny amount of sandalwood cologne on her palm and rubbed it on his jaw. Weeks ago he’d grumbled about how he feared he smelled like death, so she’d made this a daily habit. The clean, fresh scent tickled her nose.

Harmon didn’t open his eyes when he said, “Tell Simmons to send Drake up as soon as he arrives.”

 She straightened the bedclothes around him. “You’re going to drive Simmons to Bedlam. You’ve told him dozens of times.”

“I must see Drake.”

“I will remind him.” Her feet were leaden as she trudged across the floor. Before she shut the door, she glanced back at the bed. Harmon’s eyes were closed, and his chest heaved with each breath he fought to take. Stacked on the nightstand were his beloved books. He never tired of listening to Byron, Blake, and other poets and authors.

Tears pricked her eyes. How many more times would she enjoy reading to him?

Voices from the foyer caught her attention, and she glanced down the stairwell.

Harold Drake, the fifth Viscount Drake, his tall lithe form meticulously dressed in black, stood at the entrance. Simmons took his coat and pointed toward the stairs. Lord Drake acknowledged each servant by name. He had been an esteemed guest at Westbourne for years. She’d never known a time when he didn’t visit once a month. Not even two years ago, after his wife’s death.

She glanced toward Harmon’s door. What did he want to discuss with Lord Drake?

“Lady Easton?” Lord Drake had already climbed the steps. “How is he? Simmons practically pushed me up the stairs.”

A lump lodged in her throat. If she looked into his eyes and saw sympathy, she would not be able to stop her tears. Not meeting his gaze, she motioned to the door with her arm.

He gingerly slipped her hand through the crook of his arm and laid it on his coat sleeve—still cold from the freezing weather. Together they made their way to Harmon’s room. After a quick knock, Lord Drake towed her over the threshold. “Look what I found in the hallway.”

Harmon cracked his eyes open. “You have a treasure there, my boy.”

Lord Drake squeezed her arm and released her before he approached the bed. “We are due for a ride, Harmon. Shall I have Endicott saddled?”

Harmon’s eyes flashed with longing. “I am want for a ride.”

“It’s good to see you, my friend.”

“At least I’m alive.” Harmon coughed.

The men usually exchanged many quips during their visits, but today Harmon cut their banter short. “I’m glad you’re here, Drake. We need to speak.”

She started for the door.

“Emma, please stay,” Harmon said.

A shiver raced through her. He’d said please again. “As you wish.” She moved to the opposite side of the bed from Lord Drake and sat in an armchair.

Harmon reached out a trembling hand, and she leaned over the huge mattress to clasp it.

He inhaled a shallow breath. “Drake, the day your father saved my life, he and I became brothers. You are like a son to me. That is why I want to grace you with my most prized possession.” He grabbed Lord Drake’s hand and placed it over hers. “Emma will make you a good wife.”

Lord Drake’s stunned gaze collided with hers.

A heated flush spread through her body. She glared at her husband. “Bloody hell. This is what you had to speak to him about?”

Please visit my website here. And look for a free Prologue to Second Chances titled Emma’s Chance on my website, B&N, or SW.

Second Chances can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

Thanks again, Ciara!


TessStJohn said...

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Ciara!


Congratulations, Tess, on your indie! The excerpt is wonderful. I admire how you've coped. Keep it up! BTW, love Galveston :)

Patricia said...

Good for you, Tess! I know what you mean about being able to write on your schedule, given any personal restraints you might have. The publishing world can be soooo restrictive in terms of who gets an agent and why. Nothing really makes a lot of sense and it's so darn subjective that it's the luck of the draw who gets "in" and who gets "shut out".

Sue Palmer Fineman said...

Tess, this sounds like such a good book, and I haven't read a good historical in a long time. I'm on my way to Amazon right now.

Robin Haseltine said...

Congratulations, Tess on your first book. It's doing INCREDIBLY WELL in sales, and the reason is because it's such a lovely, well written book. I Loved the characters, loved the story. I always feel connected to the people in your book. I applaud your success and can't wait to read your other books!

TessStJohn said...

Thanks, Vicki. We should meet there sometime!

TessStJohn said...

Patti, I totally agree...It's so subjective! Thanks for stopping by.

TessStJohn said...

Thanks, Sue! Hope you enjoy it!

J K Maze said...

Congratulations on your Indie journey. Ilove this excerpt and hope to buy the book soon. I'll also be looking forward to the series - I am a big fan of series books where I can follow the adventures of a main character. I also am embarking on self-publishing. It's both scary and fun.


Suzan Harden said...

Yea, Tess!! Here's to many sales! And keep chugging away on the next book. I can't wait to read it!

TessStJohn said...

That's wonderful, Joan! I wish you so much luck!! Thanks for stopping by!

TessStJohn said...

Thanks,'s to many sales for you too!!!

For everyone!!!

Bethany said...

Congratulations, Tess! I'm looking forward to your new releases. Best wishes for the future

MiaMarlowe said...

I used to be against indie-pubbing, but your health reasons are so compelling, it makes perfect sense. Congrats on finding a way to get your work out there while not adding to your stress level.

Celia Yeary said...

TESS--I'm happy to meet another Texan. Welcome. I do admire you for knowing how to do all this. I have a rather large group of on-line friends who self-publish--indie publishing, rather...and I've kept up with them in numerous ways. I always say I'm going to do at least one to see what happenes. In the end, I know I need someone to do all this for me, and I desperately need editors! Still...maybe one day....
Congratulations on your success and your decision. We must all do what is best for us.

Ciara Gold said...

Thanks to all who visited. Sorry blogger was being evil and wouldn't even let me comment on my own blog.

And thanks, Tess for visiting!