I am celebrating! This year marks the tenth anniversary of the publication of my first novel in print, A Desperate Journey.
This is me, holding the first copy of my first book, A Desperate Journey, which came out in March 2009. – Photo by Monica Parks. This was the original book cover.
My western historical romances have been described as “gritty.” The west could be a rough place for a woman, or a man, and I started out writing my first novel, A Desperate Journey, as a western. It started with a challenge. I was attending the Ozark Creative Writers weekend and Dusty Richards, a well-known western author, issued this challenge. “Write your first novel, make it a western and if it wins my contest, my agent will read the full manuscript.” I’d been writing short stories and poetry up to that point, never a full novel and that challenge was too good to pass up.
I sometimes will take a challenge or a bet and when I do, it can be life changing. For instance, I asked my husband out on a date, on a five-dollar bet, back in high school, but that is a story for another day.
Well I wrote that western, set it along the old Chisholm Trail in 1867, and along the way, as I wrote, the story turned into a romance. A Desperate Journey is a blend of romance and western. If you pulled the romance out, there would still be a lot of story. It’s interesting to me that men enjoy reading the story and I think that is one reason.
This is the new book cover.
Now you might wonder what happened with Dusty’s challenge and the contest. I finished the book by the following year and entered it in the contest. By then Dusty no longer had an agent, but he sat with me and went over the first chapters, giving me advice. I will always be thankful for his advice and his challenge. I revised the book and entered it the next year in a contest that western romance author Bobbi Smith held at the Romantic Times Book Lovers convention in St. Louis, where it won third place. Bobbi sat with me afterward and said, “Debra start your story in chapter three.” (I was giving too much back story and not getting to the action soon enough.) I rewrote the story and the next year entered it in the American Title II contest, where it was a finalist. During that contest I signed with an agent and a year later he sold my first book to Samhain Publishing. A Desperate Journey would be in e-book in 2018 and 6 months later be in print in March 2019.
After Samhain published A Desperate Journey, my editor invited me to write a novella. Another western historical romance for a new anthology to follow the first book was a good idea and to meet that call, I wrote Dangerous Ties. This one starts out with the heroine strung up over a mineshaft and the rope is breaking. I’d paid attention to my mentors and started my next story with action. Jumping right in. I thought this would be the first of many westerns with my publisher. But then my new editor turned it down and wanted me to write erotic romance instead. A third book, a contemporary romance I’d written right after I finished A Desperate Journey was turned down next. In the seven years I was with Samhain, I had five editors, but later editors were not as enthusiastic abut my work as my first two, who I’d enjoyed working with.
Dangerous Ties went on to be published by a different publisher, Desert Breeze Publishing. But now, writing a third book to connect the two books was going to be impossible. Because different publishing houses held the rights to the two books. So you can imagine how thrilled I am to have those rights back, and to have republished both books through Belo Dia Publishing Inc. It has also enabled me to be able to publish a third book to tie them all together. My readers deserve that and it’s exciting to be able to do it the same year I am celebrating of ten years of publishing.
I am celebrating the tenth anniversary with the release of a box set of the three westerns. A new book, Deadly Adversaries brings together the daughter from A Desperate Journey and a son of the couple from Dangerous Ties. The box set, Desperate, Dangerous and Deadly: A Western Collection is available now on Amazon.
Dangerous Ties is also on sale for 99 cents for the e-book up through June 15th. That’s the breaking rope after the mineshaft one, if you just want a nibble of one of my westerns to see if you like them. It’s a quick novella. It is also available in audiobook and in print.
Deadly Adversaries, the newest of the three westerns is up for pre-order and releases Tuesday May 7th.
I hope you will join me in celebrating my tenth year. To my readers, thank you for your support and for your love. It has been a wonderful ten years and I look forward to many more and can’t wait to share new books with you.
Over on my Debra’s Beautiful Day YouTube channel you will find my First Chapter Reads playlist where I read from the first chapters of my books, and I have many other things there as well. I am always adding new content there. You’ll find the link to that site and many more below.
Check out my books on these book sales pages and read a sample:
Debra on the web: www.debraparmley.com
And on social media: