Friday, January 18, 2008


I would like to welcome our guest blogger this Friday, debut author Mona Risk.

Perseverance: Is it the key to success or heartaches (and prospective heart attacks)?

It’s a strange question I‘ve been asking myself today while going through a rollercoaster time to say the least.

Last week I received two rejection letters and two requests. The editor requesting revisions for one of my manuscripts quit the publishing company after working with me for a year and promising a quick response.(?!) AND my first book was released yesterday.

Maybe I should rephrase the above paragraph in fewer words. Emotional words: Disappointed. Anxious. Relieved. Depressed. Joyful. Delirious.

If I keep hyperventilating the way I’ve done all last week, I am heading straight toward a heart attack. Can my poor heart accommodate so many emotions crammed in one week? Eventually I hope all my manuscripts will find a happy home. I believe it because I want to believe it, because without faith in myself, in my writing, my muse would hide, sleep would elude me and my heart would hammer, race, slow, and hurt.

So I decided to send the requests and then ignore them for the moment, forget about the departing editor until a new one reminds me of her existence, and celebrate the release of my first book, TO LOVE A HERO.

I am published. Yeah!!!. My first book, the book of my heart, TO LOVE A HERO came out yesterday at Cerridwen Press. I cried with joy last May when I received the Call. I thought it was the culmination of my dreams. Let me tell you about my Call.

It all started ten years ago. In a different life, I was Director of the Analytical Division of an environmental company. I supervised a staff of chemists performing analytical tests, and I worked on various government contracts. A monotonous predictable life that suddenly changed when I won a contract to refurbish a military laboratory in Belarus.

I traveled fifteen times to Minsk, capital of Belarus, and was well received by everyone. I worked with colonels and generals, chemists and engineers. I was invited to their homes and became friends with their wives. During the inauguration of the lab we were featured on their national TV. Needless to say, I fell in love with the country.

Five years later, I wrote my first book, TO LOVE A HERO. Through my novel, a fictional story about an American chemist and a Belarussian officer, I lived again my fantastic trips to Belarus. My story highlights the hospitality and warmth of the gorgeous and gallant Belarussians officers who sing, toast with vodka and make a woman feel like a goddess.

The hero, Major General Sergei Fedorin, has pledged to cleanup his country of the nuclear pollution that killed his wife and threatens his nation with cancer. American aid allows him to start his mission by refurbishing an old military laboratory. The patriotic Sergei is a true hero in his country who protects millions of citizens. He is watched and scrutinized by everyone, admired and revered, but not allowed to breathe, or love, or live a personal life. He accepts it all because of his love for Belarus.

BUT…When the lovely Dr. Lornier stumbles on the escalator of the airport straight into his arms, Sergei has more on his mind than nuclear pollution.

Raised in boarding schools, Cecile learned to fend for herself at an early age. She buried her loneliness under long hours of study and work. Now she’s determined to excel in her first international contract. So many people are watching over her shoulders: her boss at EAL; the government auditor who came with her to Belarus; the chauvinistic Belarussians officers; the treacherous Colonel Roussov who would go to any length to destroy Sergei; and especially Rob, her ex-fiancĂ©, the sleaze ball who snatched her promotion at EAL. Nothing can detract her from her mission

BUT… In Belarus, a Russian country dominated by male chauvinism and intrigues, Cecile finds much more chemistry than she bargains for, and in the arms of General Sergei, she learns that chemicals are not the only things that can generate heat.

Can she betray his trust to save his career? Would her love cost him everything he valued?

I had a lot of fun writing this book and I hope you will discover a new country and interesting culture while reading TO LOVE A HERO.

Writing a book is one thing. Seeing it published is another. During my journey to publication, I often pondered if it wasn’t easier to refurbish the lab in Belarus, struggle with the chauvinism of my foreign clients and pass the thin-comb inspections of government auditors.

I wrote my book in three months and spent four years editing it. I entered my manuscript in numerous contests and edited according to judges’ comments, submitted to innumerable critiques and edited according to CPs suggestions, requested help from wonderful mentors and edited according to pertinent advice, and I edited, and I edited…for months, for years, while trying to save the plot and create my voice.

Last year at the FRW conference in Miami, Raelene Gorlinsky was sitting at a table waiting for the next writer to come and pitch her story. I stood at the door of the room admiring her adorable hat. No one showed up. A writer asked who was the lady with the hat. I said. "She's Ellora's Cave's publisher." Behind me the coordinator answered, "And Cerridwen Press's. But her last one didn’t show up. Do you want to go?" That made me jump. I hadn't planned to talk to Raelene and I didn't have a pitch, but a minute later I sat in front of Ms. Gorlinsky trying to summarize the book of my heart. Raelene smiled, asked questions, and I relaxed.

A week later I sent my requested material to Cerridwen Press and a month later came the first e-mail from Helen Woodall requesting the whole manuscript. By then my mother had been rushed to the hospital with congestive heart failure. I copied my manuscript on my laptop and stayed at the hospital all day, helping my mother drink and eat, and in between, reading, editing and revising. I sent my manuscript to Helen after two weeks.

It was 7:30 am on May 15. Still half asleep from a late night, I saw Helen's e-mail address on my e-mails and the heading, TO LOVE A HERO. I froze unable to open it and called my husband. He clicked on the e-mail and hugged me before I could even read it. Cerridwen Press would like to offer you a contract. Oh my God. I cried and I laughed. We bought a box of chocolate and took it to the hospital instead of champagne.

I was a published author. Finally. I wrote an acceptance letter to Helen, a delirious letter, that was far from professional.

Check to order for TO LOVE A HERO, a sizzling love story in an exotic setting.

Did I reach my goal? Hu…I guess….I’m not sure. Now I have to promote my first book, blog about it, send it to reviewers, bite my nails while waiting for their comments, sell it, sell as many copies as I can. And then write another one.

The road to publication is a long one, sprinkled with emotions, with tears of frustration and shrieks of joy. The end of this bumpy road is too far away to even glimpse. Put your hand on you heart, take a deep breath and keep going my friend. As a writer you have too much passion to stop.

Find out more about Mona Risk and her books.

Buy Mona's book To Love A Hero.


Helen Scott Taylor said...


I'm so pleased to see this book in print as it is close to my own heart having watched it evolve when I've critiqued it over the last few years.

You deserve this success. May this book be the first of many.


Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Mona. It takes tremendous dedication to keep working while a million things in life demand your attention. Congratulations on your fist book and here's to many more! :)

Mona Risk said...

Helen, Thank you for inviting me to blog, and for being such a wonderful CP.

Anitra, I'm sure each one of us creates her own mode of defense while trudging along the road to publication. We build friendship, gather support, beg for help, follow advice, and we keep going. The Call happens at the least expected moment. Wishing each one of you on this loop to receive the Call soon.

Mel Hiers said...

Hiya, Mona! Welcome to Title Magic, and thanks for sharing your story with us! To Love a Hero sounds awesome. :-)

Judythe said...

What an inspiriting story of your Call. You are an awesome role model for all us wannabees with your perseverance and tremendous professionalism. What courage it took to keep writing while your mom was ill. I can't wait to read To Love a Hero--sounds fascinating.
Congratulations on your first book and here's to many more contracts.

Anonymous said...

hmm... I'm having terrible trouble trying to leave a comment here. So if by change I suddenly have four messages pop in, my apologies!

Mona, your Call story is great to hear. (And I'm a big fan of Raelene's hats as well *s*) To Love a Hero sounds fabulous. I'm headed over to C.Press to check it out. Best of luck and congratulations on the book's release!!

-Jen McA

Savanna Kougar said...

Mona, what an incredible blog. And ain't it the truth, that roller coaster of emotions -- from absolute joy to complete despair. I'm riding that wave too with my first e-novel coming out. Your words have truly helped and inspired me. Mucho, mucho sales! And congratulations for what you have achieved.

Mona Risk said...

Thank you ladies for your nice words. I hope I'll see you all published soon. And Helen thanks again for inviting me here.

Lexie O'Neill said...

Dear Mona,
Thank you for blogging with us. I was touched by your blog--and that makes me want to read your book! Best of luck on sales and a wonderful writing future,

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

Thanks again, Mona, and my comment should be about your FIRST book, not your FIST book. LOL! My fingers get excited when I read about a novel I really can't wait to get my hands on--it's like I'm already turning the pages. :)

Holli Bertram said...


Thanks for the great blog! Your book sounds fascinating with an intriguing setting and plot. Loved hearing your "call" story: a great reminder to persevere, keep our passion and to always be ready to jump on opportunity.

Your story is also a reminder that life rarely plays just one note of joy or sorrow. We're generally in the middle of a whole crazy symphony of emotions. I hope your mom is doing well.