Success Story with Denise Weimer
Denise Weimer writes historical and contemporary romance and romantic suspense, mostly set in her home state of Georgia. She’s authored a dozen traditionally published novels and a number of novellas. As a managing editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, she also helps others reach their publishing dreams. A wife and mother of two daughters, Denise always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses.
A child of TV mini-series and family sagas the size of tomes, I began my writing journey back when an unpublished author could directly approach large publishers. Literary fiction rife with speaker tags and telling instead of showing via a narrator’s voice was the norm. I’d been writing since the age of eleven, when I’d penned endless stories in spiral-bound notebooks. The historical sites and old houses I toured with my parents provided ample inspiration. So, when I received a call-back on a Civil War series from my dream publisher just after college, it already seemed past time. My sample chapters had gone to the final review committee, and they loved them, but…
Wait. There was a but?
But they’d just committed to a similar series by an established author. Ugh. I’d already beaten the publishing bushes, so I put my novel-writing on hold as I worked in public relations, wrote magazine articles, and started a family. Finally, while my younger daughter took naps and attended preschool, I ventured to write a novella. This story lost more money than it made, but it introduced me to my historical mentor. His help with my Georgia Gold Series landed me a publisher—well, a second publisher. The first one, a startup house, fell apart as book one was released.
What made the difference the second time around? First, I let go of my dream. I had to be willing to do something else so my identity was not defined by my publishing success. Second, I forgot about the big publishers and searched for a regional publisher focusing on my genre and niche. As my books came out, I worked hard to establish a local readership.
By the time my second series, The Restoration Trilogy, came to print, massive changes gripped the publishing industry. My first shock came when one of the editors returned comments in track changes (what was that?). The concepts of using action beats rather than speaker tags, changing passive voice to active, and immersing yourself in the character’s head to show only what they saw/thought/felt/heard/smelled demanded a fast learning curve. So did the shifts in marketing.
As e-books and self-publishing boomed, I expanded my in-person efforts to online endeavors. I designed a website, connected with readers on Facebook and Twitter, and contributed to two historical blogs. Through blogging, I was invited to join several novella collections. Not only did one of those finally lead to signing with an agent and publication with a larger publisher, it taught me the error of one of my long-held beliefs—that writing was a solo endeavor. The biggest open doors in my career have since come through other authors. Another one of those opportunities surprised me when a co-author on that novella collection invited me to partner with her as a managing editor at an up-and-coming publishing house.
A dozen traditionally published novels and several novellas of my own later, I’m now seeing the historical novels of other authors from acquisition through publication. And this month, I’m celebrating the release of that twelfth novel, Bent Tree Bride. I’m loopy about it because it truly represents the culmination of my writing and editing journey… to this point, anyway. Plus, it’s my favorite genre—Eastern US frontier romance. Here’s the back cover copy:
As both Susanna’s father and Sam’s commanding officer, Colonel Moore couldn’t have made his directive to stay away from his daughter clearer to Sam. He wants a better match for Susanna—like the stuffy doctor who escorted her to Creek Territory. Then a suspected spy forces Moore to rely on Sam for military intelligence and Susanna’s protection, making it impossible for either to guard their heart.