When you have been writing as long as I have, I guess you have experienced just about every triumph and tragedy you can expect in the world of writing. I’ve written 59 books, working on #60 and hoping to reach 100 before I die. I started writing in 1979, sold my first book in 1981. It was published in 1983, and it was at that time the 9th book I had written in my effort to sell something. I re-wrote and sold only one of the other 9 books, the other seven becoming simply a learning process as I struggled to write something worthy of being published.
When I started writing there was no help of any kind as far as how to write and submit and sell, nothing like today. Today there are hundreds of writers groups who can help with critiquing, editing, and the “how to’s” of submitting your work and getting sold. You can find advice on all facets and all genres of writing, go on-line and download anything and everything you’d want to know about every publisher and editor and agent out there. Heck, today you can even publish your own book without a publisher. These days a lot of writers can make just as good – or even better – money putting their books on-line on their own. I love that as a way to get many of my older titles out there to the public again; but I still prefer printed copies of my books to be available, especially brand new stories. But that is another topic for another blog.
The purpose of this blog is to make sure new writers know that writing and getting published is never easy – not even if you publish your own book, because you still have to establish a social networking “presence” and hope readers find and buy your book. So as a writer you still long to have people reading your books. That’s all any of us wants, far and above even what we get paid for those books. A true writer loves what he or she is writing and dreams of the book(s) reaching the whole world – not to be a zillion seller, but because the stories themselves are so important to the writer that she wants to share them with as many people as possible.
That is how I have always felt about my stories. I am a bit of a maniac when it comes to writing because I love my subject so much – American history and especially tales of the Old West of the 1800’s – and America’s magnificent western landscape. I love that thin line between outlaw and lawman – and I love telling the truth about what happened to our Native Americans as the West was settled. I fall in love with every hero I write, and that is what led me to this blog.
Jake Harkner. Yes, all my readers know that the hero from my Savage Destiny series, Zeke Monroe, will probably always be top dog as a Bittner hero … but let me tell you, Jake Harkner gives Zeke a run for his money. They are two very different men as far as life circumstances, but in many ways they are very much alike. They are men who know no fear and take no “sh—“ and men who loved their wives to the point of no return. Both men carried tragedy in their backgrounds that led them to how they conducted themselves as men … and therein lies the reason I know readers have loved (and new readers will love) Jake just as much as they loved Zeke.
I say “new readers” because thanks to my publisher, Sourcebooks, Jake Harkner will come riding back into today’s readers’ lives sometime late 2014 when Outlaw Hearts is reissued with a new cover and made available both in print and as an e-book. Best of all, I will finally be writing a sequel, to be published not long after the original story is reissued.
What goes around – comes around. Outlaw Hearts was first published in 1993, and ever since then I have wanted to write a sequel. When I first wrote the book that publisher wanted me to go on to other things and didn’t want to think about a sequel at that time. Several books (and publishers) later, Outlaw Hearts became lost in the shuffle of older Bittner titles, somewhat forgotten, and finally sold out to the point that it was almost impossible even to find a copy of the book to purchase.
Through all those years and all the books I wrote after Outlaw Hearts, I dreamed of the sequel. Jake Harkner lived in my heart and mind almost constantly. His story wasn’t finished. Yes, Zeke is my super hero – but through 7 Savage Destiny books I was at least able to tell his full story and go into the lives of his children and grandchildren. I was able to have “closure” with Zeke. Not so with Jake Harkner. Something was unfinished, which is why he continued to haunt me.
My career took a downturn around 2000. I wrote and sold a few books after that, but the “hay day” of the western romance, in the 1980’s and 1990’s, was fading. I tried other genres and hated it. I just couldn’t quite get back the magic of what happened in my heart when I wrote western romance. Those books flow out of me as easily as breathing. But after almost ten years “off the shelf” – no new books by Rosanne Bittner – I knew my only hope of having the incentive and energy to write and sell another book was to write another western romance, even thought I was being advised to try other things. And through it all, I “lived” with Jake Harkner, still wanting to continue his story; but without a reissue of Outlaw Hearts, a sequel would not likely be a success. Readers had to get to know Jake and his beloved wife Miranda from the first book.
About ten years ago my long-time agent retired and a new agent was “appointed” for me. That was quite an adjustment and my new agent wanted me to try other types of books, which as I stated above, didn’t work for me. I will always remember that the FIRST THING I talked about with the new agent was how badly I wanted Outlaw Hearts reissued and wanted to write a sequel. I BELIEVED IN THIS STORY, IN MY HERO, AND IN HOW WELL A SEQUEL WOULD DO. At that time I think I was the ONLY one who believed that. My new agent and I learned to work together, and though she thought I should try other genres, she gradually began to realize that I belonged with western romance, even though that genre wasn’t all that popular for several years.
Then, finally, western romance began to re-emerge as a genre readers wanted. My agent, who was really beginning to understand Rosanne Bittner’s style of writing, found a publisher (Sourcebooks) who was willing to reissue a couple of my older titles, Wildest Dreams and Thunder on the Plains. Those books did well. I wrote another western romance, my first brand new book in years, (Paradise Valley) and bam! It sold. All those years I knew in my heart I had to keep writing what I loved. Sourcebooks bought Paradise Valley and wanted an option book. I wrote yet another western romance, Desperate Hearts, and Sourcebooks bought that one, too! I was back to what I love.
I stuck to what I believed in, and again I suggested Outlaw Hearts be reissued and expressed my desire to write a sequel. Well, finally, someone else believed that, too. I discovered that my Sourcebooks editor had read and loved the book, and the CEO of Sourcebooks also loved the book and agreed to reissue Outlaw Hearts! And finally, finally, someone listened to my dream. Sourcebooks agreed to a sequel to Outlaw Hearts and paid me the best money I have made in years for the rights to the book.
What goes around, comes around. Twenty-six years ago I had an idea for a book. I was curling my hair and the idea just hit me out of the blue. I had nothing to write on, so I wrote it on the back of a check book with an eyebrow pencil. That book became Outlaw Hearts, with (other than Zeke) my favorite hero of all other books. Outlaw Hearts was published in 1993, and now, twenty years later, my beloved Jake will finally be on the shelves again. Better yet, I will be able to write that sequel, which I am calling Do Not Forsake Me. I have lived with this sequel for so long that the book will pour out of me with little effort. I’ve already written the first two chapters, and the book isn’t due until next September!
The point of this blog is to tell all writers – BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND IN WHAT YOU WRITE! Most of all, WRITE WHAT YOU LOVE. Never worry whether or not that genre is popular. Never write just to follow what is selling today. WRITE WHAT IS IN YOUR HEART TO WRITE, and almost always, you will be successful – not just in the writing world and in the eyes of others – but successful in knowing you stuck to what you believed in and made it work!
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Publishers Weekly Review
"This Western historical is chock-full of danger, with families set on a vendetta, the threat of Emma’s stepfather, and the daily demands of Mitch’s job, but Emma is no wilting lily, proving she is a match for Mitch in every way."
Read More of the PW Review of