Monday, August 30, 2010

Never Never Never Give Up by Diane Gaston

The Washington Romance Writers would be poorer for not knowing Diane Gaston's warmth and commitment to our community. I would be poorer for not knowing her. As an instructor, a mentor and a friend, she plies encouragement, confidence and the occasional kick in the pants like a rock-star bartender at happy hour. Her latest book, Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress, Book Two in her Three Soldiers Series, will be released September 1st.

Please join the Rockville8 in welcoming Golden Heart and RITA-award-winning author, Diane Gaston, to our blog.

I started writing in 1995, discovering relatively late in life what I wanted to be when I grew up. Of course, at the time I was already entrenched in my career as a mental health social worker, but that’s a whole other story. From the beginning of my writing, I knew this was what I loved most to do. I always thought I would be published. I just didn’t know it would take me nine years!

Writing remained exciting and fun for me for a long time. It was a new adventure. I was learning new things, the craft and the business of writing romance. This enthusiasm sustained me through three completed manuscripts, each of which I was certain would sell. They didn’t.

But I didn’t give up. I took a deliberate turn from targeting category romance to writing regency historical. I thought I was on my way when that first historical manuscript became a 2001 Golden Heart finalist. My confidence only started to waver after that manuscript received rejection after rejection. It worsened when my next historical manuscript received rejection after rejection.

Then a wonderful thing happened. My friend Mary Blayney (Courtesan’s Kiss, 2010) gave me a small needlepoint pillow that said: Never Never Never Give Up.

That quotation from Winston Churchill made a deep impression on me. I started changing my mindset. I began to perceive myself on a journey to publication. Everything that happened—the good, the bad, the contest wins, the rejections—all brought me one step closer to publication. I was convinced of it! During this time period people used to say to me, “I thought you were published;” that’s how well my mind-set worked.

I’d passed up entering the 2002 Golden Hearts, because, after all the rejections, I was sure my making the finals in 2001 had just been a fluke. By the time the 2003 entries were due, though, my thinking had changed. I figured, “Why not enter?” I entered both my second historical and the first, the one that had been a 2001 finalist.

That first historical manuscript became a finalist again.
I received a phone call from Mills & Boon; they’d judged it in the Golden Heart and wanted to buy it!
It became my first book, The Mysterious Miss M.
(And it won the 2003 Golden Heart)

Now, eight books, two novellas, one short-story, and one RITA later, my latest book for Harlequin Mills & Boon, is due out Sept 1, 2010, from Harlequin Historical. Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress is just my latest example of what happens if you Never Never Never Give Up!

How do you keep yourself feeling positive and motivated in pursuing your dream?


  1. Thanks for spending time with the Eight, Diane! It's a pleasure to have you here.

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said you have to have the right mindset. After that, it's about putting one foot in front of the other, isn't it?

    Posts like yours, and pals like the Eight, are great for guarding my mindset and keeping me focused so I can keep taking those steps, a foot at a time.

  2. Hi, Nichole! Thanks so much for inviting me. And I thank Marjanna for the introduction which "put me to the blush" but left me all teary-eyed, too. No one's ever compared me to a Rock Star bartender at happy hour before, but I LOVE the analogy (you could write a book, Marjanna! did write a book!)

  3. Welcome to the Rockville 8, Diane! And thank you for your wonderful story. I am going to tryTryTRY to take your words to heart: "Everything that happened—the good, the bad, the contest wins, the rejections—all brought me one step closer to publication. I was convinced of it!" Because I'm having trouble convincing myself. Even though, I know you're right.

    p.s. You ARE a rock star bartender! I'll have a G&T off the rail.

  4. Diane, you had such faith that you would be published- and such commitment to that goal that you kept going - right to switching genre's. To trying something knew and completely different. Cos you knew you were going to publish. And then you did!

    How do I stay motivated? By hearing from my published friends, it's HARD but worth it. The wait can be long, but keep going.

    You are a Rock Star bartender at Happy Hour - you never seem too busy or too flustered to serve up advice, a pat on the back or a glass of wine (& not necessarily in that order) It is friends like you that make my dream seem more like fact than a mere possibility.

  5. Diane - I'll have a Comso with a straight-shooter chaser. You are one of the first people I met in WRW and you remain one of my favorite. I have taken such comfort (and stealthy pride) in your writing journey over the years. My mom shares a birthday with Winston Churchill, so in some strange way, I feel like your quote resonates for me on two wavelengths. As one might say in an historical: an heir and a spare helping of wisdom! Thanks for the reminder that writing is a process always in one state or another of (in)completion with many ups, downs, backs and forwards to move through. It's up to us whether we want to slog through them or gallivant, right? LOL!

  6. Gee, I'm visiting the Rockville 8 more often! This is good for my ego, which sometimes doesn't take my own advice.

    My career as a bartender is blown though. I'd be thumbing through The Idiot's Guide To Bartending to figure out what a G&T off the rail is (gin and tonic something...) or a Cosmo with a straight-shooter chaser. (although I do happen to know what Scotch neat means)

    Here's another good quotation:
    "It's always too soon to quit." Norman Vincent Peale

  7. Great post, Diane. Love the cover of your new book. What great encouragement you offer us to never, never give up. You're a wonderful example to us of how our perseverance can pay off if we just keep at it. Thank you for your inspiring words.

  8. There are so many challenges in this profession, Candy. Not only getting published but staying published. Darlene Gardner, Mary Blayney, Hope Tarr, Heidi Betts, and Karen Alarie/Karen Anders are just some examples of authors who had a hiatus in their writing careers and had to do the perseverence stuff all over again.

    Thanks again for having me, Eighties!

  9. Diane - Thanks so much for blogging! What a great post. I'm definitely going to revisit it often especially if I need a boost. You have such a calm and kind energy- I always love talking to you because you make the unpublished authors feel like they can do it. As far as what I say to myself in tough times? When my husband quit work and went back to school after 5 years of marriage, we used to say "failure is not an option" since we'd sacrificed so much to do this. This can also apply to writing and how much we all sacrifice to give our best to the craft we love.