Lesson In Persistence

This morning my guest is Diana Rubino, author of 18 historical and paranormal novels published by The Wild Rose Press and Moongypsy Press, where she is also an Acquisitions Editor.

You can also find Diana at her blog, DianaRubinoAuthor.

Her latest novel is A Necessary End,a paranormal about John Wilkes Booth and the plot to kill Lincoln. Unfortunately, for ebook readers, this is a print edition.

Diana's story is one of persistence. Here she is to tell it.

A Lesson In Persistence
by Diana Rubino

My story will inspire you to push on, if nothing else will. I'm probably the longest aspiring author to finally get published. My journey took 18 years. I wrote my first novel in 1982. Although my third or fourth novels came close to getting published with Harlequin, they didn't quite make it. My first published novel was actually the ninth one I'd written. Although I now have a great agent with whom I signed with her two years ago, I had 2 agents before becoming published: one retired; the other gave up. So I made my sales on my own.

I'd like to tell any aspiring authors who are frustrated because it's taking them 3, 4, 5 or more years to get that first contract, remember: I wrote for 18 years before getting the call so never give up!

My Backstory

I thought the way to publication would be to write short stories and get recognition that way, but my former journalism prof told me to forget that, and write a novel. The idea scared me to death, but he sent me titles of a bunch of how-to books, and I hunkered down and began. I quit my full time job, a bold move, and started the first draft of my first novel in 1981, at age 24.

Although I wrote and worked hard for many years, toward the very end, a year before my publication, I'd begun to realize publication wasn't my destiny, so I chose another endeavor. I started studying for a master's degree in archaeology.

Writing = Inventory

Because I kept writing through all those years of rejection, I've amassed quite an inventory. I love American history, so I've written a few books set in the U.S. – Colonial, Civil War, turn of the century, Prohibition, and the early 1960s. I've also written a few paranormals – ghost novels and time travels. My latest work is a chick lit vampire romance set on an Italian cruise ship. (I'd love to write a biography of Mayor Frank Hague of Jersey City, who was very good friends with my great grandmother in the 1930s. If only she'd kept a journal!)

Internet Intervened

I wouldn't be published if it wasn't for the internet. I met many great authors and made some wonderful friends at RWA and RT conferences, and I also increased my confidence to great levels at the editor/agent appointments.

Networking on the Internet helped me achieve my goal of publication. That's where I met my publisher, through Lisa Hamilton, another author I'd met on the CompuServe Romance Forum.

What I Learned

What surprised me most about the publishing business is that it's very hard to be recognized. You really have to work on promotion as well as writing. I've read many differing opinions on this, but I do believe you should promote as much as time allows, without taking away writing time. I have a website, a mailing list, and attend as many signings and conferences as possible.

But you have to be realistic; it's not easy to shoot up to #1. I'd had delusions of being on talk shows and seeing my name on the NYT bestseller lists after my first novel.

My Process

I take a year to finish a book, between research and writing. I've never had a deadline from a publisher, but I'd once sent an agent the first 3 chapters of my vampire romance. He said he'd like to see the entire ms., so I wrote ,5000 words a day til it was finished. He later rejected it. Oh, well. But at least I know I'm capable of turning out 5,000 words a day. My usual output is 2,500 words a day.

My Writing Advice

I never feel as if I have enough information to convey at a workshop, but I can tell aspiring authors this:

1. make the opening a grabber

2. make the characters compelling and interesting

3. make the reader care about the characters so they'll keep reading

4. make the novel well-structured so it doesn't have a sagging middle or pacing problems

5. make the stakes high and not easily achieved

6. make the secondary characters real, not mere cardboard

7. humor always helps.

My Personal Life

In my other life, I own an engineering business with my husband, based in Cambridge. I quit my full time job at a brokerage house to write my first novel, and I wrote full time for 7 years. But I wouldn't want to write all day, every day, all the time. Our work from the business comes in spurts, which gives me time to write all day when it's slow. But spending all day every day with no one but fictional characters drove me a little nuts.

My Last Advice

Keep believing, and keep the faith! And of course, keep writing, because you'll only get better. And never give up on your dream!


  1. Hi Joan and Readers,
    Thanks so much for having me here! I hope some of you will drop in to chat. Have a great day, Diana

  2. Good morning, Diana, thanks for being here.

    Best wishes,

  3. Hi Diana, it's good to see you again. Can you tell us more about your experience on the other side, as an editor? Thanks,

  4. Hi Nora,
    Great to see you here! I've learned a LOT about writing by being an editor, and it's made me a much better writer. When I read a manuscript to edit, I'm no longer reading it purely for pleasure, but with the eye of a critic. So I'm much more aware of the flaws that appear in prose. I apply all the 'rules' that I've learned as a writer, especially the technical rules, such as keeping the POV consistent, showing instead of telling, making sure the characters' eye color stays the same throughout, if someone is sitting, he's not suddenly on the other side of the room, all those pesky details. I've also learned to tighten and delete unnecessary adverbs and words that weigh down the prose-and I used to be a notorious overwriter myself--my Journalism prof once told me 'you overwrite like a rotten peach.' Editing's given me a much sharper eye for detail, ongoing on-the-job training. Diana

  5. Nora LeDuc ... Thanks for visiting and for asking that question. I'm sure a lot of readers wanted to know the answer to that.

    Best wishes,
    Joan Reeves

  6. Enjoyed your post, Diana; so informative and very encouraging! It would be great if all beginning writers could read it; I think they would benefit from the advice and perseverance you show!

    Hugs, Kari Thomas, www.authorkari.com

  7. Kari Thomas... Thanks for visiting, Kari. Like so many published authors, including me, always say: "The difference between published and unpublished is that the published never quit."

    Persistence is one of my favorite topics.

    Best wishes,
    Joan Reeves

  8. Testing--did the last comment I posted go through?

  9. I don't think my last comment got through.
    I said that I love to write, so I really had no reason to quit. And it's true, if you quit, you'll never make it--I'm still sharpening my skills, which is an ongoing thing, and am always learning.

  10. Just got home about an hour ago from today's round of doctor appointments for my daughter.

    I wanted to thank you again, Diana, and all those who visited today.

    Best wishes,
    Joan Reeves

  11. Thanks for sharing your story of perseverance, Diana. Your tenacity is inspiring.