Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Long and Winding Road to being Brand New… again.

This week the Rockville 8 welcomes Emelle Gamble! She's been an invaluable resource for me, personally, and I am thrilled about her new book, Secret Sister, hitting the virtual shelves. You can find her at and on facebook at


On Wednesday, July 10, 2013, Secret Sister by Emelle Gamble will go on sale at Amazon.

It's  my first new book for sale in over a decade. I won’t bore you with the details of why this is (but it is spelled L-I-F-E), but let me say that, while it's just as exciting now being a ‘new author’ as it was the first time,  it’s also a lot more nerve-wracking and challenging the second time around.

In my past life as Harlequin Intrigue writer M.L. Gamble, when I got a new  idea for a book (always the ending first, then the title), I’d get a thrilling, chilling little ‘pop’ of excitement inside my head. Sharp inhale. I knew the creative process had begun.

Very soon after that I’d begin plotting, outlining, and note card noting…The evenings saw the first pages blooming on my computer screen, the next weeks would find me bundling those exciting ‘first three’ chapters off (surely they were perfect) to my critique group. This would be followed by hearing from my honest, supportive and encouraging critique group that the chapters were, in fact, not perfect. So I wrote and rewrote, suffered middle book malaise, last chapter loathing, and re-evaluation jitters, but completed the first draft. And the second draft. And the fifth draft.

A few days before the contract deadline (most of the time) I printed the whole thing out on paper. Addressed a big-ass envelope. Drove to the United States Post Office. Bought postage and insurance (“It’s a manuscript, I’m a writer.” This sentence was always worked into conversation with the postal worker). Watched the now impressed (surely) postal employee throw  the package in a bin, giddy with the knowledge it was going to end up on my New York Editor’s desk in 48 hours.

Over the next few months, after a couple of exchanges of edits, and proofed copy checks, art approval (which meant saying, “Yes, I like it” even though my concept of a hot guy on a motorcycle turned into a psycho bowler - see If Looks Could Kill cover), the creative work was done.

Then four to six months later there would be a knock on the door and you’d get a box of books. Beautiful books. Your books. This was the reason for the long hours and hard work.  (The reason you lived!)

Exhale. Delirium. My book will be read, my story will be shared. I’m a new author.

Now, ten years later, the creative process hasn’t much changed, except for the fact it’s done electronically instead of on paper. But everything else, and I mean EVERYTHING else has changed.

Though I am still contracted with a publisher, albeit a smaller one, in this new publishing environment I immediately discovered that there was much, much more I had to do to give my new book a chance of success. For many publishing houses now no longer support authors as they did in the Wizard of Oz olden days when I was at Harlequin. Publishers expect you, as an author, especially a new author, to not only write a great book, but hunt down your prospective readers and introduce yourself..

On behalf of Secret Sister, I’ve personally contacted over twenty review sites with email pitches for review consideration. I’ve asked friends, family members, and fellow authors to read an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) and consider posting a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, and have offered to spend the time required to read others’ books and return the favor.

I’ve spent hundreds of hours working with a pro to set up a website, without a pro to set up a Facebook Author page, a twitter account, a Goodreads Author account. And a blog. (Worth the ten hours it took figuring that out just to see the look on hubby’s face when I explained what a blog was. HA!)

I’ve designed storyboards to help create a book trailer and put it up on YouTube. I’ve talked to half a dozen local book sellers, three librarians, and two newspaper columnists about Secret Sister. I’ve spent money on a website, book covers, copy editors, and a top notch review/ARC giveaway site, Netgalley. I’ve spent money on a Facebook ad campaign and a Goodreads ad campaign and a publicity Blog tour campaign with a highly recommended company named Goddess Fish Promotions. (And I have the surreal Paypal receipt for the IRS to prove it!)  I spent money on an ‘expert’ social media consultant who advised me to do everything I’d already done. And frankly, I have no idea if any of this effort is going to result in my finding an audience for Secret Sister.

Which brings me back to Wednesday, July 10, 2013.

Exhale. Delirium. My book will be read, my story will be shared. I’ll be a new author.

Secret Sister by Emelle Gamble is a romantic novel with a paranormal twist. It came to me (with that thrilling, chilling little pop of excitement) when I thought of a single question… “  What if everything about you changed, would your true love recognize you?

It’s a contemporary story set in Southern California about Nick and Cathy, happily married. And Cathy and Roxanne, best friends forever. It’s about faith and friendship and true love, secrets and lies and the ties that bind. And an extraordinary twist of fate.

It’s a brand new book from a brand new author in this brand new world. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Watch the Secret Sister trailer here.


  1. What an inspiring story!! Can't wait for Secret Sister.

  2. Reading your publishing journey makes me believe in second acts. Your enthusiasm for the story is infectious and makes me look forward to reading SECRET SISTERS even more. Thanks for the marketing info. You are inspiring.

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Lavinia. I think I'm proof that writers are a hearty lot...we don't give up easily and while it might take some of us awhile to get up to speed, once a writer, always a writer.

  4. Thanks for stopping in, Deborah. And you are very welcome for the marketing unproven as it is, I think I'm learning as I go, helped by great support from fellow writers like you! Hope you enjoy Secret's true that I do still love this book despite the fact I've rewritten it about 8,000 times! But 'writer's write', right? And rewrite. HA! And I like the Second Act thing. I think that should be my new handle, "Second Act Emelle"!

  5. Wow Emelle, What a terrific story of your courage, tenacity and creativity. I'm so very wowed!

    I'm especially grateful to read your very candid description of all you've had to do to promote your book. It's an important wake up call and reminder that yes! you have to write a great book, but then you also have to do yeoman's work to promote it. It's very sobering.

    I wish you a plethora of sales and much buzz!



  6. Shellie, blushing here. Not sure it's courage as much as stubborness. But thanks so much for the great support. Yes, the marketing requirements for indie authors and small press people like us is daunting, but quite honestly I've found it energizing also. I've reached out to blogs I really like and respect, ditto reviewers, and it's given me a sense of control I never had when I was with a big publisher. So never fear...if you love your book and believe in it, reach out! We readers will be there, right?

  7. Love the trailer and like the book even better! Plan to break out the champagne and celebrate the minute it can be downloaded

  8. I loved reading about the difference in your writing journeys, Emelle. Seems you done everything you can to make Secret Sister a success! Having read it, I know it's a terrific story and will find an audience!

  9. Thanks, Mary Blayney. I tell anyone who will listen that critique partners are an integral part of the process, and having you as one has made the marketing learning curve bearable! That said, one of the biggest lessons for any writers is one I learned from you. Write. If you don't have product ready for market, you don't got nothing. Oh, and I'll pour...XXX

  10. Thanks for stopping in, Lauren Linwood. As you know yourself, the journey to being published is a tough one, but if you love a book (like you loved Music for My Soul's never too tough! And thank you for your kind words about Secret Sister!

  11. Really fascinating, the differences between then and now. I hadn't thought about it that way before. So the time we save not having to print and go to the post office and wait on the mail, we now have to spend pounding the pavement for readers! :) Which I KNOW Secret Sister will find. For one thing, it sounds like you're doing everything right, promo-wise. And for another, the book is fan-freaking-tastic!!!

    And it seems to me stubbornness is probably a key trait of successful authors!

  12. Hey Elaine Fox, thank you for stopping in! And for the very kind words about Secret Sister, which you may have read as many times as I have...(and for the totally not coersed endorsement...really, we've only been friends for what, 20 years?). But yes, promo-wise, get out there, and maybe most important, stay out there! Build a few hours a week into your schedule and just keep at it! And then when we all hit the NYT list together, we'll all go to Paris and celebrate!

  13. Your hard work will pay off my dear. Congrats and you're an inspiration for all writers.

  14. Hey all...Jackie Weger, great, great writer once with Harlequin (see Beyond Fate at Amazon...astounding novel) posted this on my FB page.
    Hey, Marsha. I went over and read the Rockville 8 post and I had to smile. Here's what happens: We stick a cautious toe into the cyber universe of ebooks and the next thing we know--we're swimming against a riptide and everybody wants $$$$--from book review sites to so-called marketing gurus. You nailed it on the set up costs. I could live a year on one of my little hideaway islands or in my tiny hovel in el Cacao on the money I've spent to gain little more than a obit notice in the cyberworld of books. Here's the skinny. I enjoy writing and that's what I'm gonna do. If my books find a readership and give some small pleasure--great! If they don't, I'm good with it, because I like my life and I like what I do. Am wishing you a fab launch of Secret Sister. You do tell a good story! Hugs, Jackie

  15. Hey Violetta Rand! thanks for stopping in fellow SoulMate publishing friend! And while 'inspiration' is a bit lofty, I do like it if you think, 'yeah, she did it. I can do it!' I thought that about many writers who went before me, and it's always been a comfort to know hard work will get you published. Congrats to you on your first book...a Viking Romance Series! I love that every genre, every combo of interests is represented on the web now! Great good you're inspiring others!

  16. Thanks so much for visiting us this week, Emelle. It's fascinating for me to hear how much has changed in the industry in ten years.

    You bring a wealth of experience and energy to your "new" endeavor. Good luck. I'm sure your hard work is going to pay off. And I love Secret Sister so far. I'll be talking about it on Wednesday at

    I have no doubt your readers will find you. You're an excellent storyteller! ;0)

  17. Oh, and a great big CONGRATS! I forgot to say that. LOL! It's all very exciting.

  18. Emelle, I saw this quotation from Thomas Jefferson: I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.

    Surely, that applies to you! Good luck with the launch of SECRET SISTER, though you won't need it. You've worked HARD!

    Thanks for celebrating your hard work here with us at the R8!

  19. This is a really honest and lovely blog post, thanks to the Rockville * for sharing. Your tenacity is inspiring...I know it will pay off, and that many others will love Secret Sister (and the rest of your beautiful stories) as we do.

    Great book, great post. Thanks for sharing:)

  20. Hey Mackenzie Lucas! Thanks so much for having me here at the Rockville 8 blog and for being such a great support group for writers and readers. I appreciate your reading Secret Sister, too, and do hope you enjoy it. It's a real blended genre work, something else that was rare 20 years ago when I started. So that's one more thing to be grateful for...readers who aren't genre police! Take that big publishers! See you in Atlanta!

  21. Thanks as always dear Olivia Nuccio for your never flagging support. In all my conversations with writers, the one thing we all say is how important it is to have people in your corner, pulling for you and taking up the household slack. I think it may be the most common element in what allows a writer to succeed. So thanks for that! It's your book too! So no crying over poor reviews. HA! XXX

  22. Great quote, Nichole Christoff! And isn't it the truth? Hard work does pay off, and in this case, if my head doesn't explode from learning all this new stuff, I'll be a better cocktail party guest! Thank you for hosting such a great blog.

  23. I'm looking forward to reading the book. The cover's great, and the amount of marketing you've done is amazing...Good luck...

  24. Thanks Anne! I'm glad you like the's version 3 from this publisher. One of the reviewers said
    'terrible cover! change it!' HA...more things one has no control over in this writer's life. Glad you dropped in!

  25. Emelle - you are an inspiration! I love your tenacity and your willingness to try different things to see what will work. That openness of spirit, that adventurous streak, starts when you listen to the little "what if" question in your head and clearly doesn't stop after you've written The End. Powerful mojo, woman. Brava!

  26. Thanks Keely! Yes, we writers are MOJO mamas! And yes, I think that has been a real challenge for me and many others who started writing years ago, adjusting to the new whirlpool of self-marketing requirements. And since you know as well as I do that writing isn't for sissies, brava! right back to all of us that are willing to step up and try it the new way!

  27. Thank you so much for blogging with us. I loved your description of the process you've gone through to get your book out there in this new day of publishing. There are so many avenues of marketing that it boggles the mind. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    I can't wait to read your new book!

  28. Thanks for hosting, Lisa McQuay! What a great site, particularly for we local WRW informed group of fellow writers and readers is a really good thing for we authors to be a part of! And yes, consider me boggled! I'm about to do a new blog on my website about "To QR or not to that a question?"
    HA! Hope to see you in Atlanta!!!