I am so excited to host Marian Lanouette, a New England-based author who, writing as Merry Holly, just released the story “Noelle’s Surprise” in A Season of Surprises. If you’re in the mood for a holiday read, take a look!
In this interview, Marian shares her regrets and successes with refreshing honesty and openness.
What was your biggest challenge with publishing your debut novel?
The first was finding a publisher. Joining CTRWA was a big help. The support and knowledge the members shared with me was invaluable. I’d recommend everyone seek out a writing group when they first start. I still value everyone’s opinions and advice. I believe that without them I wouldn’t have been published as quickly.
What would you have done differently if you could start all over again?
The small press that published my first two books was great, but I would have held out for a larger publisher. The larger the publisher the more time they have to assist in your marketing efforts.
If I had more patience, it might have taken another year, but it would have given me more time to learn the business and get a more established publisher. The reason I believe this: My writing group CTRWA offers so much to new writers in way of education and support, and I didn’t utilize the knowledge to the max, but I do now. The authors who did listen and who took it slow, now have multi contracts with the big sixes.
When I get inpatient with responses, I repeat this saying in my head. “Patience is a virtue no man possesses and few women.” And it slows me down.
How has the market changed since you first published?
I’m noticing more and more bestselling authors taking back their rights and self-publishing. It’s a tough decision to make, but I did exactly that with my romantic mystery series Jake Carrington. And I don’t regret that decision for a moment. I’ve built a fan base and network that surprises and thrills me every day. Their support and love of the characters keep me creating them. I did all the marketing for series, not my small publisher. I felt if I was going to do all the work, I should reap the benefits. So far it has been a good experience.
The disadvantages of self-publishing is that it is time-consuming and takes away from my writing time. Plus, there is still a stigma attached to it, though I believe it is loosening a bit. The most important thing a self-published author needs to know is that their work needs to be professionally edited. And not by your friends or mother, but someone who is knowledgeable in grammar and the publishing industry. You only get to present a first impression once, so put your best foot forward.
How has your life changed as you have published more books?
It’s been amazing, exhausting and an invigorating ride. The real work happens after you’re published. I spend more time on social media, advertising and book signings and appearances. The signing and appearances are my favorite. I get to mingle and socialize with readers and writers.
What is the single most important thing an aspiring writer should do?
Learn the craft. When I finished my first draft, ignorantly, I sent it out to every publisher in the world. One editor took the time to comment. It was the best rejection I got. She acknowledged it was a wonderful, well-crafted story, but she could tell it was a first draft that needed work. She suggested I join writing groups and take classes on writing. It was the best advice I was given. I still take four to five classes a year on the craft. It keeps my skills honed, along with keeping me motivated, and connected to other like minds.
Do you have a favorite debut author? If so, who?
I have so many. I try to read four to eight books a week. This week’s favorite is Ann Clement and Debt of Honor. She pulled me into her story with the first paragraph and didn’t let go of me until the end.
“Noelle’s Surprise” by Merry Holly, Amazon Bestselling Author, Season of Surprises
Noelle has a secret. One she doesn’t know how to tell Chase. Married and isolated on the tropical island they now call home, it’s not what she imagined their life would be. To complicate matters, one of the client’s he’s introduced her to has made her intentions toward Chase public. Noelle believes Chase wouldn’t cheat, yet the doubt has been planted. To make matters worse, the women have elected her to the Christmas in July committee.
Frustrated at Noelle’s unhappiness, Chase has tried everything to combat it. But her mood swings are driving him crazy. When he finds a brochure on plastic surgery, he flips out. His beautiful wife doesn’t need it, nor does he want her to look like the “plastic wives,” of his clients. How can he finish the job and keep her on the island until its completion?
Beginning at the age of eight, Marian wrote every day, whether it be a poem, a short story or in her journal. An eighth-grade assignment got her published. Though she failed the assignment, the nun was impressed with her poem. It was supposed to be a four-line poem, but she couldn’t still her pen. “The Beach,” her first official published work, is still her favorite, though much longer than four lines. It was the nun who submitted the poem for her to the local paper. Thus the writer was born.