How I Got Published: Thelma Mariano


Thelma Mariano began writing fiction in the confessions field, where she sold over 40 stories to women’s magazines (such as True Story, True Confessions and True Experience) put out by NYC publishers in the days of mass readership.

She also freelance edited at the corporate level of a major multinational and published dozens of articles in the self-development field, primarily on the Web. For ten years, she worked as a life coach and motivational speaker to help people overcome limiting beliefs and go after their dreams.

Fiction, though, is what makes her heart sing, both as editor and author.

She recently launched a website to offer her services as a Freelance Editor for writers of women’s contemporary fiction. She enjoys working with other writers to help them strengthen and improve their characterization, fix plot holes, and increase story tension. She values what wants to be expressed, whether working with another author or writing her own novels.


For Night Cries, I was offered representation by First Books, Inc., a Chicago-based literary agency, in 1994. They said they could sell it as “women’s mainstream” in the mass market but asked me to cut out two of my subplots and reduce the point-of-view characters from 4 to 2. At the time, I balked at the changes and put the book on the back burner. Twenty-three years later, I looked at the novel with fresh eyes and saw they were right! By then, the publishing world had gone through a sea change and self-publishing was a viable option. So I made the necessary revisions and put my novel in the marketplace.

A poignant novel about teenage sexual abuse and broken family ties … told through two sisters finding their way back to wholeness and each other.



For my second novel, ConneXions, I was represented by reputable literary agents in London as well as NYC. They told me that publishers wanted a focus on “the hunt for the serial killer” but I preferred to tell the story from the viewpoint of the potential victims he targeted.

It hasn’t been out on Amazon that long but has been selected as a Reader’s Favorite and given an excellent editorial review.

A dating site where lonely women have become prey … for a serial killer



My third novel, SeaStruck, is a paranormal romance (mermaid story) that first came to me in a dream.

In a race against time, a mermaid finds the perfect mate but an ancient curse binds her to another man.


For many years, I sold my copyright to publishing companies who bought my stories and published them without a byline, because that was “the deal” in the confessions market. With self-publishing, I feel I am taking my power back by maintaining control over my own material.  I decide on the covers and the content and keep my work on the market as long as I wish.

You can visit Thelma here and here.






How I Got Published: Julieann Dove

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Julieann Dove is a contemporary romance writer who lives in Virginia with her husband and five children. That’s right… Five children! She loves to mess outside in her flower beds, and work on her many quilting projects. Cooking new recipes is another joy of hers. “Although, when you’ve got five children, it’s difficult to please everyone’s palette.” A majority of thumbs up gets the recipe in the “keeper” file. At night, you’ll find her in the corner of her messy desk, writing about love. The Amy Series is one of her favorites to write.


I took a hiatus from my job of 20 years and decided to write a book. I have always been a writer at heart, but never took the time to seriously calculate a novel. At the end of a few months, I’d written two books. It was as if someone turned on a spigot and out poured all these words…and people…with problems and solutions. I was never so happy. I joined RWA and received notifications of writing contests. Of which I entered my fair share! What I got in return was valuable feedback. I incorporated the suggestions into my books and sent out queries to agents–about fifty to a hundred or so! I had a few requests, of which fizzled out with some light criticism for what to change. Close calls but no cigars.

January 2015 I received word from a small publishing company that they wanted to place my book on their list. I worked all year striving for this to happen. One month before publication, we separated ways. I quickly formulated a plan to self-publish it and did so this last February…the date it was supposed to release! I never set out to self-publish, but I’m enjoying the freedom that comes with it. The second in the series releases May 1st. I’ve since contracted with another agency to release a standalone in June, and am in negotiation to publish a YA contemporary.


28950526-e1458350321894 waking amy

Amy Whitfield is blindsided when she comes home and finds a note on the fridge from her husband, Wesley, stating that after four years of marriage, he’s leaving her. Amy was in the midst of trying to spice things up, to bring life back to their boring marriage. It seems now that she was too late.

As Amy sits with her head between her knees, trying to figure out what to do next, a call comes from Mercer General Hospital. The ER nurse is telling Amy’s answering machine that Wesley has been in a car accident.

When Amy arrives at the hospital, she finds her husband in a coma. The doctors say there is no sign of brain damage, and Wesley will eventually wake up. Relieved, Amy sees this as her second chance: the chance to get it right this time. To channel the girl Wesley won’t leave when he regains consciousness… She just needs some help to pull it off. After all, she was voted girl most likely to die a virgin in high school.

Amy would never figure on getting that help from Mark Reilly…Wesley’s doctor! He’s a non-committer, too-cute-for-his-own-good bachelor, and completely the guy Amy begins falling for. It’s a race against time to see who wakes up first—Amy or her husband.

Today is Julieann’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Julieann. Please visit her blog to see what she has to say about her birthday and her upcoming books.

How I Got Published: Caroline Fardig

Today is Caroline Fardig’s birthday so let’s all wish her a very  HAPPY BIRTHDAY and all the best in her writing career.  Caroline is the author of the Java Jive mystery series and the Lizzie Hart mystery series. Fardig’s Bad Medicine was named one of the best books of 2015 by Suspense Magazine. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.


I wrote my first book about five years ago and didn’t really know what to do with it.  I assumed the next step was to try to get an agent, so I spent about six months trying to do that.  As a first-time author with only one unpublished book under my belt, I didn’t get a lot of attention.  I put the book on the back-burner and tinkered with a sequel to it.  Finally, my husband had had enough of my sitting on the sidelines.  He’d heard about authors having success in going it alone, and he urged me to self-publish.  On January 30, 2013, I released my first book, It’s Just a Little Crush, and sat back and waited.

After sitting back and waiting didn’t move very many books, I got myself a publicist.  She worked to get exposure for my book, and by August, I had a #1 Barnes and Noble bestseller in both the Humor and Women’s Sleuths categories on my hands.  Then, armed with my publicist’s guidance and some decent sales figures, I searched for an agent again.  All of a sudden, people wanted to talk to me about my book.  I landed a contract with Ethan Ellenberg, and he went to work to sell my Lizzie Hart series.

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How I Got Published: Katherine Prairie

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Katherine, a geologist and IT specialist, graduated from the University of Alberta and then went on to work in the oil and gas industry. Add a passion for computer programming and a M.Sc. in engineering hydrology from the University of British Columbia and you might call her the ultimate science nerd!

She stepped away from the international petroleum industry to fulfill a life-long dream of writing mysteries. And so Alex Graham, the intrepid mining geologist with a penchant for trouble, was born.

Katherine is an avid traveller with an insatiable curiosity, you never know where you’ll find her next! But most days, she’s in Vancouver, Canada quietly plotting murder and mayhem under the watchful eye of a cat. She is an award-winning presenter and the author of the thriller THIRST.


Like every debut author, I queried and pitched agents, searching for someone who believed in my story as much as I did. And like every author who’s gone down this path, I faced a mound of rejection letters. But I also received more than a dozen requests for the full manuscript, so I knew Thirst showed promise.

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How I Got Published: Phil Fragasso

Last May, in honor of Chick-lit month I wrote a post titled Chick Lit: Can Men Write it? That post linked to an article that raved about the enormous success of such male romance writers as David Nicholls and Nicholas Sparks and also included three other male writers in this genre.Today, I’m happy to add Phil Fragasso to that list and feature him on the series How I Got Published.


Phil Fragasso sold his first article at the age of sixteen and has written continuously since then. After a career as a marketing executive, he left the corporate world a few years ago to focus on activities that were more fulfilling on a personal level and more contributory to the world around him. Today he focuses on writing and teaching. He’s often said “I live the American dream” and that is indeed how he feels. With a wonderful wife, two grown children, great friends and a couple of rambunctious Labrador retrievers, he stays very active and involved.


 I’ve often said that my tragic flaw is having too many interests. I’ve written in a wide variety of genres and my most recent books have been nonfiction. My first published book, however, was a YA novel and I love the characters I created to this day. During the years when my kids were young and my career was taking off, I put fiction-writing aside and focused on books and articles related to business. I decided to return to my original love — in the form of commercial fiction — and committed myself to fiction.

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How I Got Published: Kate Hilton


I wanted to feature Kate Hilton in this series because her self published novel was picked up by a traditional publishing house.

Kate is the author of two novels, THE HOLE IN THE MIDDLE and JUST LIKE FAMILY (2017).  She is also the author of the non-fiction blog THE PEN PAL PROJECT.  For fun, Kate organizes stuff.  At the moment, she is on the Board of the Writers’ Trust of Canada, and is Deputy Control Freak for Authors for Indies, a grassroots event celebrating independent bookstores in Canada.  Kate lives in Toronto with her two sons, where she is working on her third novel.

I got published in three stages: I self-published, I published in Canada, and then I published in the US.  I still feel as though my own publishing story is unfolding, having entered the US market at the beginning of January.

Before you publish, as we all know, you have to write.  I wrote my book, The Hole in the Middle, while I was working full time.  It took me about three years to come up with a draft that I believed was worthy of publication.

Sadly, not everyone agreed with me.  I submitted my manuscript to 17 agents in Canada and the US.  Most never wrote back.  A few sent kind rejection letters.  Two agents asked for the full manuscript; one ultimately rejected it and the other broke off all communication with me.  In truth, the process was totally demoralizing and I thought seriously about giving up on it, since what had started as a midlife empowerment project was becoming the exact opposite.

I put the book away for a few months and licked my wounds.  Then, in January 2013, I took it out again and read it with fresh eyes.  I still liked it.  I still believed that it could find an audience.  But I knew that I would have to commit to self-publishing if I wanted to get it out into the world.

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How I Got Published: Judy Penz Sheluk




A few months ago I posted in this series an article on Judy Penz Sheluk in which she’d published her short mystery stories.  You can read more here. 

At the time she’d finished her debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, and was in the midst of trying to find a publisher for it.

She finally did find a publisher but not without a LOT of patience and persistence and in July 2015 her book was published.

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How I Got Published: Carrie Rubin


Carrie Rubin

Carrie Rubin writes medical thrillers. Not surprising given that she’s a physician with a master’s degree in public health. Nor is it surprising that she delves into sensitive and controversial issues in her novels. In her latest thriller, Eating Bull, Carrie tackles bullying, fat shaming, food addiction and the food industry’s role in obesity. Carrie lives in Ohio with her husband and two sons and manages a blog The Write Transition which has over two thousand followers.

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How I Got Published: Charmaine Gordon



Charmaine Gordon is an eclectic writer. The scope of her novels ranges from contemporary women’s  fiction, sexy seniors, romantic suspense, mystery and thrillers and  she’s written several stories about dogs and their capability as therapy dogs to heal.

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How I Got Published: Kristina Stanley

Kristina Stanley was the director of security at an isolated resort in the debts of the Purcell Mountains, British Columbia. Her time in that job and her love of skiing led her to write the Stone Mountain series.

Her books have garnered the attention of prestigious crime writing organizations in Canada and England. Crime Writers of Canada nominated DESCENT (July 2015, Imajin Books) for the Unhanged Arthur award for the best unpublished crime novel. The Crime Writers’ Association nominated BLAZE for the Debut Dagger (to be published fall 2015, Imajin Books). Continue reading