Monday, July 14, 2008

Guest blogger Devyn Quinn

I met Devyn through the Aphrodisia Author loop and when she asked if anyone wanted to host her for her blog tour, I jumped at the chance! Devyn has a wonderful Gothic edge to her work--be sure to check out her website to see what I mean. Recently, I read her novella, “No Strings Attached” from the Aphrodisia novel, Trio, and I found it throughly erotic and engaging. Please put your fingers to the keyboard and welcome Devyn Quinn!

For today's stop at Title Magic, I thought it might be interesting to write a bit about my first New York sale. For many writers, selling a book to a New York publisher is the brass ring. I know it was for me. What I didn't know is that actually making contact with an editor and making the first sale would take nigh on 20 years, and include a lot of stumbles, bumbles and just plain luck.

Let me begin my story at the beginning. I completed my first manuscript when I was about 22 or thereabouts. The title of the book was Darkside Exile and clocked in at about 70,000 words. I'd worked on the book with all my heart, convinced that I had created a true epic in the Goth-fantasy genre. Well, that's what I thought, anyway. Never having marketed a book, I got my first Writer's Market. The first thing that big sucker revealed was that I had a lot to learn.

A query letter. Had no clue what one was. An agent? Did I really need one? Most publishers seemed to have that requirement in their listings. So, I trotted back down to the bookstore and got a book listing literary agents. I won't detail my search for an agent and how many scam agents (and publishers) I encountered. That's an entirely different thing to blog about and I might just do that someday. (For more info on that see the SFWA's Writer Beware, and Professor Jim Fisher's book, Ten Percent of Nothing, in which I am mentioned as one of the founding members exposing scam agents and publishers.)

Needless to say, the entire search for an agent and a publisher for my epic tome came to naught. From legitimate agents and publishers I collected a massive amount of rejection slips--enough to paper my house, out-house, hen house and dog house. Ouch.

Let's skip forward ten more years, past the writing of the second and third volumes in my epic fantasy series (I obviously had faith to go and write yet more books, eh?) In the early 90's e-pubbing was beginning to raise its head on the internet. Having been unable to sell my series to a New York publisher, I began to consider e-publishing. Slowly, through many years, I did actually begin to build a name for myself. I started out writing my Gothics under the name of Caitlyn McKenna. Then came the demand for erotic material. After much thought I decided to take the plunge into writing for that genre. I even created a second pen name, Jeya Jenson, to separate the paranormal romance (low sex) from the erotic material (hot, hot hot!). That didn't work very long, as I found it too difficult to keep two websites for two pen names. Eventually I abandoned Caitlyn McKenna and simply penned my stories as Jeya Jenson. And with each release came a small readership. I was beginning to, as they say, take off. My books and novellas won awards, garnered terrific reviews and were even making a little pocket change every month.

But I still wasn't happy. Why? I hungered for New York. Through the years that brass ring always seemed to hover out of my reach. I wanted it. Bad. Trouble is, I still did not have a clue on how to break in. I was stymied. Stumped. And after almost 20 years of writing, I was tired. Yes, you read that right. I was tired and I was ready to throw in the towel and say I gave it my best, but the gig didn't work out. So I put down my pen and retired Jeya Jenson and Caitlyn McKenna in 2004.

And thus began the quiet genesis of Devyn Quinn. I just didn't know it yet. Yes, you read that right. I was in what I considered full retirement from writing when a cattle call came through in September 2005 on the Yahoo writer's lists that Kensington Books was to launch a new erotic imprint in January 2006. The email listed the details of what the new imprint was looking for and listed a contact name. I knew the imprint was going to be an exciting one. Several of my friends had already sold for the launch of the imprint, including Vivi Anna and Morgan Hawke. Also in the launch was author Kate Douglas, a writer I had admired for years. Her Wolf Tales series, which had been released by Changeling Press and one I had read and enjoyed, was going to be the flagship series of the imprint. I had read Kate's work for years and was mightily impressed.

I had a niggling thought in the back of my mind. If Kensington had purchased Wolf Tales, would they perhaps be interested in my Kith & Kynn series? The first book, originally titled Before Night Falls, had pulled in many awards, and even a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award nomination. With that in mind and thinking that this was going to be my final shot, I prepared a query letter for Kensington and emailed it off to the contact listed on the initial email.

Turned out that email belonged to a Kensington promo person. Not an editor. That alone should have put my email in the delete bin. It didn't. She very kindly forwarded my email on to Hilary Sares. To my utter shock, Hilary responded to my email and we began to correspond about my work. Through the entire process, lasting about a month, Hilary was very encouraging as I pitched proposal after proposal. Some she liked, some she didn't, but one title in particular caught her eye: Flesh and the Devil. Originally it was a novella, about 30,000 words. After reading it, Hilary asked me to make some changes to the characters and expand it into a full novel--and made an offer for a 2 book deal. Holy cow and magic beans!

I couldn't believe my eyes as I read her email. An honest to God New York editor had made an offer to publish my work! I immediately printed that email out and showed it around to every person who would bother to take a look. I was going to be a New York author, a dream come true. It seemed impossible. My family had told me to give it up. I'd even had other authors look at me and say it'd never happen, that there wasn't a demand for my style of Goth-erotic writing. I'd always believed there was, though, and I don't know what made me come back and take a last stab at submission.

I'm happy to report that I'm on the 9th of 11 books I currently have contracted with Kensington's Aphrodisia imprint. My editor has been a wonder, always encouraging me and letting me write what inspires me. How can a writer not love an editor like that? Best of all, I also landed my dream agent within 24 hours of the Kensington offer. Roberta Brown has been my agent ever since, and has been a godsend, holding my hand when I get the heebie-jeebies over a book, getting me through the meltdowns that come with learning to write on deadline. She is a treasure and not one I'd give up willingly! During negotiations over the first contracts, Hilary decided that the Jeya Jenson pen name didn't fit my dark style of writing. After casting around for a good name, we decided on Devyn Quinn.

And that is how I made my first New York sell...and became currently known as Devyn Quinn. It's not anywhere close to my real name, but it's who I'm now "known" as on the net as I build my career as a writer.

***Oh, and here's a postscript: I did sell the Kynn books to Kensington after all, where they are now known as Sins of the Flesh and Sins of the Night. :)

Win a copy of Sins of the Night! Simply comment on the blog and you will be entered to win your very own autographed copy of Devyn’s Sins of the Night. To whet your appetite, here is a brief blurb:

Sins of the Night

Once, Adrien Roth was a Shadow Stalker--a hunter of vampires called the Kynn. Captured, he was forced to pay a devastating price, to become the very thing he despised. Over a century has passed since that time and Adrien's revenge against the creatures who tainted him is almost complete.

Little does he know that his thirst for justice will turn on him.

Foiling an attempted rape, Adrien is stunned by his attraction to the would-be victim. Cassie Wilson is a vibrant woman, obsessed with living for every moment. Though he knows better, Adrien begins to fall in love with her. But Cassie hides a terrible secret: her cancer is incurable.

When he and Cassie are captured by his enemies, Adrien is given a choice. Should he choose death for himself, or life for Cassie by making her one of the clan he's shunned for too long?

"Deliciously dark and erotic, Sins of the Night will have readers on the edge of their seats as each character is introduced and their motivations revealed. Knowing that they will soon be on a collision course--and not knowing if someone will die, gives this enthralling tale a dark edge....

Devyn Quinn has once again created a tale that will leave you wanting more and expecting no less than another stellar story." - RRT Erotic

"Devyn Quinn delivers a sexy, dark and inventive tale of vampirism. Not for the faint of heart!" - Fresh Fiction

"An exciting fantasy thriller... 5 Stars." - Harriet Klausner

"Unique...part thriller, part love story and part fantasy. Quinn has created some intriguing creatures with unique interesting addition to the vampire genre." - Romantic Times


Cheryl M. said...

Hi Devyn!

Just wanted to say kudos to you for sticking with your dreams for so long! Your story is a lesson in perserverance for the rest of us who are struggling to find our voice, congrats on your success, you deserve it!

Laura K said...

Now that is so cool! I wondered if you were ever in epublishing because I've only known you as a print author. Sometimes unexpected things happen when you least expect them. That sure is the story BEHIND your story!

Evonne Wareham said...

Thanks for joining us on Title Magic and for sharing your story. It's amazing how often sucessful authors have this kind of tale of sheer determination behind them. It gives everyone hope, which is such an important thing.

Redz said...

I love the guy on your cover!!! ummm men in arm bands!! I think its very neat your expanding your horizons keep it up love your work

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

Welcome, Devyn! I love success stories and I know other writers do too--there is always something waiting for us around the corner if we stick with it. :)

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Hi Devyn, thanks for joining us on Title Magic. What an inspiring story. Glad you persevered and got your NY sales!

Eva S said...

Hi Devyn,
it's so interesting learning more and more about you and your books and they are all on my wishlist...I hope they have them in my bookstore...

Mai Christy Thao said...

Hi Devyn, welcome to Title Magic.

What I great post. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. This was an uplifting and realistic post about writing. Thank you for inspiring us to persevere to reach our goals!

Ma`i said...

hey Devyn great job. Hard work always pays off. Thanks for sticking it out because your adoring fans would have missed out on a jem such as youself
hugs :) Maisha

Cathy said...

What a wonderful success story, Devyn. Congrats on the great reviews for Sins of the Night, I would love to read it.

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Devyn, thanks for sharing your story on Title Magic. It's been an incredibly long haul for me too, although I'm not NY pubbed.
I'm so glad you could finally grab that brass ring and hold on!!!
Your penn name Devyn Quinn is absolutely perfect, IMO, for the novels you currently write.
I wish you continued success...and those covers are erotic yummy.

lrwirum said...

Very inspiring story about your start for a NY publisher. That is very cool. :-)

Love the blurb for your book. Great cover. Very attention grabbing. :-)


Devyn Quinn said...

Thanks, all, for your lovely comments. :) I admit that it's been a long haul and a tough road, but it's been worth the walk to get there. It was always a dream of mine to be NY pubbed, and I knew I'd get there. Just didn't know how, LOL

Last Friday I got some good news from my agent that we'd made another sale, my 12th, to Kensington. I'm going to be in an anthology with an "undercover cop" theme. I am so excited to get to try my hand at romantic suspense. My story, The Hard Way, will appear besode those of Myla Jackson and Delta Dupree.

orelukjp0 said...

That must have been a dream come true. To have your original baby published after so long. Congrats. Thank you for helping found SFWA and writing about scams to help new authors not fall into the traps that are set for the naive and unsuspecting.

DawnM said...

Congrats Devyn, I've read some of your previous books in your other incarnations, so I got a bit confused when I first started seeing titles where the blurbs were very familiar to me. Finally figured out that Devyn was Jenna/Caitlyn, LOL.

Laura K said...

How neat...I must admit I love the contemporaries the most of all. Cops....hmmmm...handcuffs?

Devyn Quinn said...

Orelukjp0, as much as I would have liked to have founded the SFWA, I can't make that claim. I did, however, turn over my files on scam agents and publishers to the SFWA when they were starting Writer Beware. All the credit for that entity that grew out of my original research belongs to AC Crispin and Victoria Strauss. :)

LOL, Dawn, I was concerned about the name change, too, but readers were very forgiving as I made the transition from epubbing to NY.

Trish Milburn said...

Devyn, thanks for visiting with us today and sharing your story. Huge congrats on finally achieving that dream of selling to NY! It's an awesome feeling.

Sue A. said...

There's so much we didn't know about your road to success. Until I started reading blogs I really didn't know what it takes to become a published writer and to stay in that position. Kuddos to you Devyn for staying true to yourself and chasing your dreams. Keep dreaming!

Lexie O'Neill said...

Thank you so much for blogging with us--I appreciate stories like yours when I get frustrated!!! I'm especially impressed in that you stuck with your basic story type--what you enjoyed writing:)

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

The name from the magic hat is Helen Scott Taylor!

Helen may choose Sins of the Flesh, Sins of the Night, Eros Island, or Trio.

Thanks everyone for commenting and please check out Devyn's website for more information on her blog tour--follow her around and get more chances to win her great books!