Writing What You Imagine

on March 13, 2015
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by Dani Collins One of the first pieces of advice a writer will often hear is, “Write what you know.” That is good advice in some respects because it helps you write with confidence. For instance, the fact that I live in a small town allows me to write with authenticity about Marietta, the small… Read More

Dani Collins

Dani Collins

I grew up in Maple Ridge, a suburb of Vancouver, when it was still a small town. My father and both grandfathers switched up between logging and fishing so I grew into a quintessential BC girl: green, natural, and impervious to rain.

I started reading romance in high school. The first one I really remember featured a heroine researching her family tree in Scotland who meets a distant cousin (very distant!) and falls in love with him. I don’t remember much about the actual story, just the amazing setting, a heart-stopping kiss, and a happily ever after. I knew this was my kind of book and began consuming romances voraciously. Within a year or so, I wanted to write them for a living.

However, I thought becoming a writer was something you did when you were old. It was your second career. (Kinda turns out to be true in my case. Hashtag SpoilerAlert.) I still gave it a shot at twenty, taking up writing about the time I moved in with my high school sweetheart.

The key to writing, for those of you wondering, is to actually show up to the keyboard and make words land on a page. While I received my first rejection from Harlequin Presents when I was twenty-one, for the first decade or so, I was hit and miss at actually producing stories and sending them in. We traveled, got married, had kids… the usual distractions.

I also worked at various office jobs from a ski hill, to a real estate office, to a chiropractor’s office, to an air conditioning installer and some manufacturing facilities. None of these jobs was particularly glamorous and rarely a day went by when I didn’t imagine myself quitting to write full time.

When my husband took a job in the interior of BC, I thought my ship had come in. I was a stay-at-home writer for the first year, started writing for the local paper and concentrated on finishing manuscripts. When money got tight, I took a part-time job in yet another office. It turned into a fulltime job and I kept writing on the side, still hoping, dreaming, of someday writing full time.

I should mention that along the way, much like a gambling addict, I had just enough success to keep me going. I placed in several writing contests, most notably: HUSTLED TO THE ALTAR was a Golden Heart finalist and an American Title finalist. I also had an agent for a time. In 2008, I was notified that my story was a runner up in the Instant Seduction contest with Mills & Boon in London. I was convinced this was finally my big break.

Four. Years. Later…. And several (five or six) manuscripts later, they called to offer me a two-book contract. Did I quit my job? No. All those years of rejection had taught me not to count my chickens. So I wrote and worked and somehow managed to stay married despite the fact I didn’t really participate in family life or household chores. I’m surprised my kids didn’t sue me for neglect.

Almost a dozen books and two years later, I did quit my job. As of May 2014, I am a full-time writer and it is awesome. Click for my printable book list and you’ll see that I don’t have any problem with showing up at my desk and doing the work. I’ve even managed to pull a few of my old rejected manuscripts into the pile of paying titles. (Take heart from that, fellow rejected authors!)

And I was lucky enough to have one of my first books, PROOF OF THEIR SIN, nominated for a Reviewer’s Choice Award from Romantic Times Magazine. Having been a bridesmaid in so many contests, I was fairly convinced I’d remain honored to be nominated, but I won! Click here to see me with my daughter after I accepted the award.

What’s next? Well, I love, love, love writing for Harlequin Presents so expect as many of those out of me as they’ll take. I have some fun novellas with Tule Publishing’s Montana Born imprint and I have a few more of my rejected tomes I’d like to revise and publish. Honestly, I’ll do whatever it takes to keep this career going so I never have to work in any office except my own ever again.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow—We’ll Keep Warm with Hot March Titles

on March 3, 2015
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by Jeanne Devlin When #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Robyn Carr’s Virgin River Series debuted in 2007, readers got something many didn’t even realize they had been missing:  heroes with honor and integrity. With her Thunder Point Series, the Nevada author tapped another unspoken but universal desire in the idea of the beauty of… Read More

The Sin of Lust

on February 20, 2015
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by Dani Collins Do you think lust is sinful? I have to admit I’m on the fence, probably because I’m a romance author and I see it as an expression of attraction and love. The definition is only “a very strong sexual desire,” which doesn’t imply anything really unsavory, does it? I guess the question… Read More