- "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." Murphy's Law
I'm pleased to have the indomitable Francis Ray as guest today. The New York Times bestselling author writes multicultural romance and women's fiction.
My first introduction to Francis was the anthology, Living Large. I loved Monica's story, STRICTLY BUSINESS. To be honest, I enjoyed the work of all four authors so much I sought out other stories by them.
What impressed me about Francis Ray's stories is the sense of humor and well developed characters. Another thing I like about her stories is her strong, successful women, who are sassy, fun, and confident. She's a wonderful storyteller and I love the way she makes her characters work for their happiness. No pat HEA for her.
- I recently finished IT HAD TO BE YOU. An engaging story about the romance between RD and Laurel. The setting is in the music business with two artists at polar ends of music. This is a story rich in atmosphere of the business but without drowning you in unnecessary factoid backstory. Each piece is woven in as texture to the dialog happening right then or inner dialog happening at the moment--the now. I liked the way Francis worked in how misconceptions and prejudgements can color perception and that love is worth fighting for despite it. It's a story that makes you realize just why Ms. Ray consistently hits the bestseller list.
Francis Ray, is a successful author. She has over thirty books in print and you would think she's made the climb to success without any glitches, smooth sailing all the way, right? And you couldn't be more wrong.
Francis shares with us her ambition to succeed despite a lot of dancing with Murphy's Law.
I published 16 short stories before I sold my first full-length book. While I enjoyed writing short stories for confession magazines, I dreamed of publishing a book with greater depth, richer characters. I wrote FALLEN ANGEL with that dream in mind. Unfortunately, two editors didn't agree with me on the merit of the book. With each rejection, my dream seemed less attainable. Finally, on December 24, 1991, I received The Call.
FALLEN ANGEL was released November 1992. I had a book signing and sold 88 books! I thought I was on my way to having a long and successful career as a published writer. Unfortunately, the publishing house went under a few months later and I was left wondering what to do next.
After a few months of tears, doubts, and self-pity, because of the unwavering support of my family and my critique group, I decided to finish the two books I had been working on. Once that was done, I promptly sent both in the same envelope to Kensington. Although I knew you were supposed to send to a specific editor, I just put "editor" because one book was a Victorian historical romance and the other a contemporary romance. Once that was done I began the long difficult wait. At the 1993 RWA conference I was stunned when Denise Little approached me and made an offer for the historical, THE BARGAIN. At that same conference Monica Harris, an editor for Kensington, indicated she was looking for African-American romances. Yes, she'd read my book and would get back to me. A few weeks later she called to tell me she wanted to buy FOREVER YOURS, and best of all, it would co-launch the Arabesque line.
FOREVER YOURS went into 7 printings and was named one of the top 25 books of 1994 by The Library Journal. Once again I thought my worries were over.
I should have known better.
I received a quick reality check regarding distribution, shelf space, positioning, and spine out vs face out. I learned that writing the book might be the easiest thing a writer does, and perhaps the only thing she/he has some control over. Once the book leaves your house, things can and do go wrong.
When my 6th book, INCOGNITO, was the first BET TV movie, I forgot about past bumps and thought surly it would be smooth sailing from now on. Wrong. Once again I wanted to write a bigger book. I made the difficult decision to leave a wonderful editor who purchased every proposal I sent, and find a house that published women's fiction. Talk about scared, but I had a great agent and thankfully, I was picked up by St. Martin's Press. I was ecstatic. Not only could I write women's fiction, but romances as well. My editor even published my Living Large series about full-figured women!For me, writing is a journey. You never know what the next day or the next phone call will bring. Case in point, several months ago I was in the kitchen getting a Pepsi and the phone rang. It was my always supportive and fantastic editor telling me that NOBODY BUT YOU had made the New York Times extended bestselling list. I didn't believe her. My goal was to one day possibly hit the USA Today list. When it sunk in I was elated and already worried whether the next book would hit.
I was crushed. I had to remember that in publishing things can and do go wrong, you can be up one day and in the depths of depression the next. All that really matters is the work that will remain long after the writer is gone.
I love weaving stories and have no intention of quitting. Plots might be similar, but no one else can tell the story that I envision. My goal with each and every book is to make it the best that I can, and always be proud of the finished product. After all, it has my name on the cover and that and the story are the only things I can control.
- How about you? Have you danced much with Murphy's Law? How have you handled setbacks in your writing career?
- Francis is giving away and autographed copy of IT HAD TO BE YOU to a commenter today.
It Had To Be You Blurb
IT HAD TO BE HER
Most musicians would do anything to work with the hot, young record producer known as “Rolling Deep.” R.D. can pick and choose any artist he wants—and he wants Laurel Raineau. A classical violinist, Laurel plays soaring music that touches R.D. to his very soul. But the last thing Laurel wants is to work with someone whose exploits with the ladies appear in the tabloids every week.
IT HAD TO BE...WHO?
Not one to take no for an answer, R.D. keeps trying and failing—to let Laurel know that he’s not the player he’s made out to be. So he introduces himself to her by his real name, Zachary Wilder, hoping to win her over. But it’s Zach who falls under this beauty’s spell. Now it’s only a matter of time before Laurel learns who the man she’s losing her heart to really is—but can she walk away from a passion that feels so right?
Review from Urban-Reviews.com
Click Here to Read an Excerpt
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Francis Ray is a native Texan and lives in Dallas. A graduate of Texas Woman's University, she is a School Nurse Practitioner with the Dallas Independent School District. In 1999 and 2000 she was nominated for Texas Woman's University Distinguished Alumni Award.
Ms. Ray's titles consistently make bestseller's lists such as Blackboard and Essence Magazine. INCOGNITO, her sixth title, was the first made-for-TV movie for BET. She has written forty titles to date. Awards include Romantic Times Career Achievement, EMMA, The Golden Pen, The Atlantic Choice, and Borders 2008 Romance Award for Bestselling Multicultural Romance.
- Website (which has the blurbs and trailers for her books)